Advanced Advertising: Addressable Ads Still Face Hurdles

New York -- With the majority of marketers wanting to target their advertisers in an age of increasing viewer fragmentation, panelists at B&C/Multichannel News' Advanced Advertising event here Wednesday afternoon addressed the question of "Mass vs. Individual - Which Really Sells Better?"

"Mass advertising is never going to go away," said Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications for GroupM. "You're never going to see 100 percent of national TV advertising going to a targeted audience."

Looking at waste is a good starting point in leveraging addressability, Bologna said, keeping in mind that one advertiser's dross - like viewers outside the preferred 18-49 demo - could be another marketer's target. But though the industry has been slow to take advantage of hyper-targeting -- highlighted by Canoe shuttering its interactive TV ad business last week -- Bologna says there is blame to go around.

"We all need to commit to this, but it doesn't come without a cost," he said. "We're just as much to blame for the slow adoption as the operators and programmers."

Andrew Capone, senior vice president of marketing and business development at NCC, argued that adoption depends on a rational marketplace for addressable ads, like there is for traditional TV advertising at the upfronts.

"If the advanced advertising platform is to evolve, there have to be generally accepted sales principles. It has to be a rational place to do business, instead of a lurching test scenario that we've been operating in for quite some time," he said.

More than reach, branded content environments are key according to Greg D'Alba, president, CNN news networks and Turner digital ad sales and marketing, who said that a consumer is more likely to buy content in an environment in which it is shared.

"The notion of shared content within a community has never been more valuable," D'Alba said. "If we push our content out to consumers way they want it, that's a value proposition that has to be defined by different currency," than traditional CPMs that measure reach.

Weighing in on Canoe, Viamedia COO Joe Noonan said he was disappointed by the closure of the advanced ads business, expressing concern that technology companies will begin to bypass cable operators and go directly to the consumer, as they have started to do through apps like Shazam for TV.

"What we can be focused on as an industry more than anything else is to consider the customer and what's important to them," he said. "We have to solve some problems with customers in mind rather than engineers in mind."

Bologna had less love lost for Canoe: "National advertisers are disappointed, but at the end of the day we have to move on," pointing out, as Noonan did, that the same applications can be used on tablets and smartphones.

But as Rich Forester,vice president, new business development national advertising sales at DirecTV, noted without cooperation among operators like that attempted by Canoe, national campaigns miss that scale of reach - and it's a hurdle that's not easy to get over.

"What we're really talking about is trying to make money in the mass market one person at a time," he said. "I think each provider has to get together with their own staffs to solve that problem."