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TV Ads Are About to Get Personal With New Targeting Tools

 Gerry Smith, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, examines the recent capability of television ads to target audiences with greater precision, rather than with broad demographics.  By utilizing data and new targeting tools, TV networks are better able to compete with the highly targeted marketing messages on the Internet.

Media companies, such as Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, Time Warner Inc.’s Turner and Viacom Inc. are using data from cable set-top boxes that track TV viewing, credit card information, and additional sources to compete with the ability of companies to track online users which enables marketers to advertise to narrowly defined audiences.

According to Brad Adgate, Senior Vice President, Director of Research, for media-buying firm Horizon Media, “TV has to move in this direction.  There’s a lot of concern about dollars migrating to digital from television.  This is a way for TV to keep pace.”

The technical capabilities for TV to target audiences have only recently become available.  NBCUniversal introduced a new product this year which enables it to use cable set-top box data from Comcast, its parent company, in addition to credit card data, automobile data, plus other sources, to advise advertisers on the specific program on a network that is more likely to include their target audience.  According to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke, NBC is giving advertisers “very targeted and unique capabilities that are much more like what advertisers get when they go to Facebook.”

Time Warner’s Turner networks have expanded the number of advertisers to which these networks have been offering targeted ads.  Michael Strober, Turner’s Senior Vice President for Client Insights and Innovation, explains in this article that the ad sales team can now sell commercial time that guarantees brands will reach a specific audience rather than audiences defined only by age and gender.

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