The Humpty-Dumpty Problem: Can Addressable TV Pick Up The Pieces?

21 08 2008

UPDATE 8/24: Steve Smith has a fantastic interview with Mitch Oscar about addressable TV. Read it here.

Once upon a time, a massive audience cheerfully gathered in front of a box of blinking lights during prime-time. They watched CBS, NBC, or ABC.

They had their wallets out. They were ready to buy. And life was good.

Today it’s less fairy tale and more nightmare. I call it The Humpty-Dumpty Problem: audiences have fragmented into a zillion micro-audiences, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s media buyers can’t put Humpty back together again.

Or can they?

An Addressable TV Breakthrough?

For some time now, our beloved idiot box has been slowly growing a brain. The promise? Everything we love about advertising online — optimization, the ability to test multiple versions of the same creative, and improved ROI — will come soon to a TV near you.

It’s all about hitting the target, even when it looks impossible. Check out this basketball trick shot video and you’ll see what I mean.

Today there’s a piece of big news from Joe Mandese in Media Post that I’ll bet most people will miss.

Visible World (has created) an open standard that will enable advertisers and agencies to easily and seamlessly integrate any method they use to target TV viewers, and then have those ads served to specific dayparts, programming genres, geographic zones, or even individual households. The breakthrough (is an) application (that) allows advertisers to utilize any source of data they use to define their consumer targets, and then have those ads served to any platform capable of delivering targeted TV advertising, including network television, local broadcast, local cable, broadband, as well as household-specific addressable television outlets.”

… As part of the announcement, which is being made public today, Visible World is disclosing deals with both Acxiom and Experian, two of the leading sources of data used by agencies to target consumers across media, but Walpert-Levy says the system will easily port data from virtually any source an advertiser or agency prefers, including their own proprietary consumer databases, and that the system is capable of serving TV ads to as “granular” a target as an advertiser can define and as a media platform can distribute.”

Addressability has always been possible.

What’s exciting here is the idea that it might actually become practical.

If Visible World’s solution works as advertised, we may have a shot at solving our Humpty-Dumpty Problem after all.

P.S. The basketball video is fun, which is why I posted it first. The below presentation from Visible World’s Tara Walpert Levy is a bit more practical, especially if you’ve never seen a Visible World demo.