A neighbor and retired Ad Exec, sent over an article from the Times the other day. It documents cable operator efforts (specifically Cablevision) to target consumers.
Cablevision will use a new targeting technology to route ads to specific households based on data about income, ethnicity gender, kids and pets. They will do this in 500,000 homes generally in the NYC area. Matt Seiler from Universal McCann- Interpublic Group stated in the article…”we have been talking about this since the beginning of time, now that we have it in 500,000 households it is real.” Seth Haberman the CEO of Visible World was quoted as saying “TV was always big and dumb. Now, we can be big and slightly smarter.”
But is it real….and can TV be smarter…and mostly, does anyone care?
Between targeted web ads, opt-in intelligent emails, contextual banners, search, smart-mobile targeting and widgets….hasn’t the effective targeting boat sailed under the power of web 2.0? And hasn’t it sailed in a much bigger way than a half-million households?
I think a strong case can be made that the boat has well left the dock.
A business associate owns a company that does consumer analysis and targeting as well as runs targeted mail supermarket offers for clients. They talk about 3-5% redemption rates. MyWebGrocer, the largest online CPG and Food network, looks at 25% rates on targeted efforts as mid-range, with many offers generating better results than this. And they talk to millions of households…each week!
Part of the effectiveness in web-based initiatives (including e-mail and mobile) is related to the environment of the targeting. Either the consumer has opted into a program inviting offers, the consumer has search or clicked on an ad, or the consumer has visited a site that, depending on how long they stay or often they visit..indicates interest in what the site has to offer. All of these are much more effective “tags” than demographics. In short we have better data.
Part of the effectiveness in these initatives are wrapped up in the medium itself. The consumer is pretty much in charge of where they go, and what they look at. Not so much with TV. Choices on TV with ads, even “targeted” ads, are to flee the room, to “flip” to “skip” or to watch. Further, on the web, I can generally DO something about an offer I see and want. I can buy it online, put it on a list, or if it is a mobile offer while I am driving by the local Chipotle…I can click, pick, pay and devour!
Part of the effectiveness is based on the companies involved. Some have tuned their offerings based on an exquisite knowledge of their shoppers. For instance, one Grocery company wanted to build an email database of customers. They put out their program and built about 50,000 names in 4 months. Not bad! MyWebGrocer was asked to assemble 50,000 opt in consumers for an advertiser and had to shut down the offer in less than two days. I am sure there are able web marketing and services companies in the auto, book, computer, clothing and other arenas that can boast the same type of performance and expertise in their audience.
It would seem to me that while we should applaud the strides TV is making in gaining the ability to target their audience, I don’t sense that will stem the flow of ad dollars into alternate channels, particularly into online venues.