Comcast Spotlights Targeted-Ad Trial In Baltimore

Comcast Spotlight  has scheduled a third-quarter launch for an addressable TV advertising test in the Baltimore area, in partnership with media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group.

In Baltimore, the operator’s ad sales division said it will use Invidi's Advatar technology to deliver targeted ads. SMG will continue to be the media agency partner for an additional 12 months and will play a “central role in the Baltimore area trial,” the cable operator said.

SMG and Comcast Spotlight also announced results from their initial technical trial in Huntsville, Ala., which began in December 2006 – including the finding that homes receiving addressable advertising tuned away 38% less of the time than homes that received non-addressable advertising.

Comcast said it delivered thousands of ads across eight popular cable networks, addressed to different anonymous groups of households based on general characteristics selected by the trial's participating advertisers.

“Addressable advertising gets us closer to the power of mass personalization by delivering highly relevant brand messages to engaged consumers, and this is the ideal connection in a world of scarce consumer attention,” Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest’s Americas group, said in a statement.

Separately, Comcast is leading a multi-operator effort – code-named “Project Canoe”  – to standardize the technical interfaces for delivering interactive and addressable TV ads. The Canoe companies, which include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House, are reportedly investing $150 million in the initiative.

Major marketers active in Comcast’s Alabama trial, which are all SMG agency clients, included General Motors, Discover Card, Hallmark, Kraft Foods, Mars, Miller Brewing Company and Procter & Gamble.

Comcast said it worked with Experian Marketing Services to segment the market and match relevant messages to groupings of households.

Addressable ads were delivered with OpenTV's SpotOn targeted-advertising system, which switches video ads to aggregated groups of set-top boxes. SMG received reports and analysis based on aggregated, anonymized viewership information from Comcast and TNS Media Research.

Comcast said it will expand the deployment in Huntsville in 2008.