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Comcast Advertising Taps Rooke as General Manager of Effectv

Comcast has named James Rooke, an executive at its FreeWheel ad tech unit, as head of Effectv, its local ad sales unit which recently rebranded to emphasize its data-driven targeting and addressable capabilities.

Effective Jan. 1, Rooke will report to Marcien Jenckes, president of Comcast Advertising, and succeeds Hank Oster, who had been senior VP and chief operating officer. Oster announced last month he planned to retire and will transition to an advisory role with Comcast Advertising.

“At Effectv, we’re at the forefront of an exciting and interesting time in the company’s history and future: We’re leading the organization – and industry – into a new era of audience-driven growth, and we sought a leader with the right credentials to spearhead that charge,” Jenckes said.

Effectv had been known as Comcast Spotlight before it was renamed in November.

“Since leading the Comcast Advertising business, I’ve had the terrific opportunity to work with James. He is smart and inquisitive and brings a strong understanding of both the TV and digital sides of the business, having held leadership roles across several industries, including pay TV, cable, media, publishing and sales,” Jenckes said. “In short, he grew up in cable ad sales and has literally helped build the future of the industry as we know it today. He is a standout leader to guide Effectv into its next chapter.”

Currently, Rooke is general manager of Comcast’s FreeWheel Publishers unit, which provides television programmers and distributors with ad tech and services that manage the monetization of video content.

In an interview with Broadcasting+Cable, Rooke said it was no coincidence that an exec with his tech background was selected to run Effectv.

“The value proposition of the business moving forward is one of looking at how do we move to more data-driven, cross-screen audience-delivery solutions that reflect what the local, regional and national advertisers are looking for,” Rooke said. “I don’t think there’s a surprise that they’re putting a software guy in to run the new business.”

Rooke said he will be looking at both developing new ad products and working with the sales force to drive solutions that Effectv takes to market.

He noted that the platform companies--Google, Facebook, Amazon--have started making progress in the local ad world. Effectv will focus on its strength, which is bringing together the best of traditional television with the best of digital, including using data to enable addressability, targeting and proof of performance.

To compete Effectv will have to offer a “combination of great product and great solutions, but that has to be combined with trusted, deep consultative service and partnership,” he said.

Rooke said one of his priorities during his first 90 days is to be “rolling up my sleeves and getting into the field to understand the pulse in each of the 66 markets” in which Effectv operates.

“I need to get out and listen to the voice of the customer and really understand what’s going to move the needle for them so we can deliver better performance,” he said.

But even as it looks to deliver next-generation solutions traditional local TV advertising will remain important to Effectv.

“We have to deliver full-funnel solutions,” Rooke said. “That is everything from demo-based campaigns to audience-based executions to household addressable executions and do that across screens, across digital and linear.”

He added that it wasn’t clear what share of the business should be traditional versus data-driven. “It’s still early days as it pertains to the scaling of addressable, he said.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal has been aggressive in the advanced advertising space and Effectv will look for ways to work with NBC’s local stations and regional sports networks. “There’s nothing specific I’m able to share, but that partnership matters and I think it makes a lot of sense,” Rooke said.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.