Cable Show 2013: The Evolution Will Be Televised

Complete Coverage: Cable Show 2013

The cable business has many innovative wins it can point to, but still has many challenges to overcome before the full revenue potential of multiscreen advertising is unlocked.

That was a central theme of "Redefining the Zone: Cable Advertising's March to Multiscreen Addressability," a panel session held late Monday at the Cable Show. The title fit the tenor of discussion - it's not quite a "sprint" to addressability.

"As much as people say they like the future, they like the status quo," said Billy Farina, senior VP of ad sales at Cox Media, generalizing about the industry. "Cable companies were the ones who initially created change in the media marketplace. They were the disruptors... Now everyone has a survival rate of zero. Customers have more control than they've ever had and they want more."

Another panelist took note of how much the business has already been transformed, even if more change is certainly due. "Creating a media plan used to be pretty easy," said Andrew Ward, group VP at Comcast Media 360. "I remember years ago when I was at Young & Rubicam, you'd put a signpost on primetime TV and the customers came to you."

The conversation covered a lot of ground, including structure of ad teams on the sell side and the need for restructuring on the buy side; the risk of clutter; and VOD load versus linear load. Of any topic, dynamic insertion of ads into on demand content generated the most vigorous discussion.

"In the satellite world, around 20 million homes, it's already happening," noted Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications for GroupM. "We can identify people's income, credit, whether they have children. We identify people with a certain income with a credit score of over 750 and send them a credit card ad."

Panelists from Canoe and Blackarrow described major leaps forward in the technology of sending targeted ads to certain viewers, but others expressed concern about appropriate creative or about overwhelming viewers with too many ads.

"If I could, I would watch TV without any ads," Bologna dryly concluded. "I hate 'em. But with no ads, there would be no programming and we'd all be playing Scrabble."