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Advanced Advertising: Group M's Bologna: Addressable Ads Finally Approaching Scale

New York -- After six years of everyone in the industry talking about it, including himself, Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications for GroupM, said addressable advertising is finally starting to resemble scale.

"By the end of this current year, we could see scale in addressable advertising upwards of 15 million homes and that's important to our business," Bologna said at B&C/Multichannel News's Advanced Advertising 4.0 event here Tuesday afternoon.

Bologna calls the ability to target not just core demographics, but specific households and eventually individual viewers "the holy grail of television," with improved targeting and reducing waste equaling a better return on investment for advertisers. But to achieve real scale, that 15 million households will have to grow to 40 million, to the point where all DVR boxes have addressable capability, he said

"Only then will we be able to take a commercial that was purchased nationally and divide it and cut it up addressably across all the participating systems," Bologna said in a question and answer session with B&C business editor Jon Lafayette.

But achieving that scale is going to take more than just time, especially working with advertisers accustomed to a traditional cost-per-thousand basis. With hyper-targeting, Bologna has found the planning -- who to reach, how often, et. al. - to be the hardest part of the process.

"There's nothing quick, short or easy about coming up with a targeting scenario," he said.

Another major hurdle is that interactive advertising still lives within each local cable operator's system, requiring clients to rebuy schedules on networks and programs they have already secured nationally to support the interactive functionality. It's a problem that companies like Canoe Ventures have tried to solve, so far with limited success, though Bologna did offer some kind words to the MSO-backed ad consortium Tuesday.

"People give Canoe a hard time. At the end of the day, their model still is what national advertisers are asking for," he said. "They will get there, in a little bit while longer they will give everyone what they set out to do."