Comcast Tries to Unite Cable Industry on Addressable Ads

With advertisers clamoring for more targeted TV commercials, Comcast Advertising has launched a new cable industry addressability initiative and has gotten Charter Communications and Cox Communications to join.

Satellite providers and upstart over-the-top streaming services have pushed their addressable capabilities, but the cable industry has been slow to unite behind a standard that would make it practical for advertisers to mount addressable campaigns with national scale.

Comcast’s On Addressability initiative, introduced Tuesday morning at the Cannes advertising festival, is designed to help the industry deliver scalable and sustainable addressable advertising to marketers in order to maximize the impact and value of television.

“TV is a tremendous, resilient medium with unparalleled reach and engagement, but data has changed the way that marketers use media. Historically, TV has lagged digital in this area, and this must change,” said Marcien Jenckes, president, advertising, for Comcast Cable. “Our industry needs to find a way to fully participate in, and lead, the data-driven future of advertising as only TV can. We’re fully committed to making this happen. That’s the impetus behind the On Addressability initiative.”

Comcast recognizes that for addressability to work, the distributors need to step up.

“It’s the distributors who bring the ads into viewers’ households each day. It is therefore incumbent upon us to lay the groundwork and set up the infrastructure to truly ‘turn on’ addressability for the industry in a way that is secure, scalable and effective,” Jenckes said.

TV programmers have been pushing to create more targeted advertising based on data about consumer behavior and purchasing patterns. But most of those targeted ad products increase the odds of the ad reaching a targeted consumer. Addressability nearly eliminates the waste involved in showing a commercial to random households.

A study commissioned by Comcast conducted by Advertiser Perceptions in May found that 92% of advertisers agree that enabling greater addressability is very important to the future of television.

“Advertisers want to use television as a full-funnel solution that marries the best of traditional television, with increased data-driven capabilities for targeting and measurement,” said David Kline, executive VP, Charter Communications and president of Spectrum Reach. “We look forward to working with Comcast, and the rest of the industry, to establish best-in-class practices that learn from digital media, yet maintain the security and brand safety that have long been at the core of television advertising.”

Comcast has learned a lot about addressability from Sky Media, which it acquired earlier this year. It plans to share points about how to enable addressability with the other distributors.

In addition, Comcast said the On Addressability initiative will work with the industry on definitions and standards, educating advertisers on use cases. It will also work with inventory and content owners on best practices and business standard for transacting on addressable campaigns.

“Clients face a common set of challenges to increase addressability to their TV advertising strategies. As an industry, we must find a common set of solutions to these challenges in order to offer the scale, security and ease of buying that today’s advertisers demand,” said Louis Gump, senior VP, Cox Media. “We look forward to working with Comcast, Charter and a growing list of other partners to make this happen.”

According to the Advertisers Perception study, marketers were more willing to buy addressable campaigns if there were better measurement, proof of return on investment, easier ways to buy at scale, more inventory available, agreed-on standards and better consumer privacy protections.

“NCC is speaking to national advertisers who are eager to put addressable TV to work for their brands. NCC is committed to working with MVPDs and the broader On Addressability initiative to address and solve for the roadblocks that have stunted addressability to date,” said Nicolle Pangis, CEO at NCC Media, which is owned by Charter, Comcast and Cox.

Jon Lafayette

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.