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Moving Forward With Micro-Targeting

NEW YORK — One big reason for President Obama’s re-election victory Nov. 6 was “microtargeting” of voter groups through TV advertising, supporting the advances in addressing messages to groups or individuals.

Joan Hogan Gillman, president of Time Warner Cable Media, cited an Obama campaign official’s statement in Time on Nov. 7 that the re-election effort was 14% more efficient in buying TV ads that reached “persuadable” voters than the 2008 campaign was.

That’s because of databases with demographic breakdowns by geographic market of the audiences for shows on television, Gillman noted. The New York Times also had a story on Nov. 13 about the Obama campaign’s use of data to decide what cable shows to buy, including reruns on TV Land watched by “folks who may not be as political,” an official said in that story.

On a panel at last week’s Multichannel News/B&C Advanced Advertising event here, Gillman and Kevin Smith, group vice president at Comcast Spotlight, touted cable, satellite and telco capabilities to target ads to groups by viewer profiles and neighborhoods. Comcast, for example, has divided its 20 million subscribers into about 600 “zones,” Smith said.

On the same panel, Steve Silvestri, director of advanced advertising sales at DirecTV, advocated satellite TV’s work on addressable advertising based on set-top box impressions. The satellite TV provider now has an addressable base of about 11 million DirecTV homes, a figure that grows with each new customer who gets a DVR.

“We want to get down to the household level, and that’s exactly what we can do today, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Silvestri said.

Using an example that panel moderator Todd Spangler cited, Silvestri said DirecTV would target dog-food ads to dog owners, catfood ads to cat owners and, to a home nearby with three kids, a minivan ad. Early customers for DirecTV’s and Dish Network’s householdaddressable technology include Allstate.

Gillman said that even when household addressability is available on a wide scale, it probably won’t attract more than 5% to 10% of TV ad buys. Smith said that kind of scale won’t be available for years.

Most brands will prefer to target consumer segments by such characteristics as income and gender, using improved measurement to judge the returns, she said.

Gillman, Smith and panelist Bill Livek, CEO of measurement firm Rentrak, urged advertisers to get involved in addressable and interactive advertising campaigns now and learn ways to reach potential consumers more efficiently. Especially with consumers still feeling uncertain and marketers wanting to reach buyers without spending more.

“These advanced targeting platforms — the time, I believe, is this time, because the economy is compatible with these platforms that exist in cable, satellite and telco,” Livek said.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.