Time For the Cable Guys to Put Up or Shut Up

Dennis Faas's picture

Over the last several years, Google has been slowly sucking up advertising dollars that might normally be spent on television. Now, the six largest cable companies want to stop that. To do so, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks are planning a joint venture to allow advertisers to purchase interactive and custom ads across their cable systems. Collectively, the companies will invest about $150 million in the project. (Source: nytimes.com)

The announcement of the cable company's "Project Canoe" comes only a week after Google opened Google TV to beta testing of ad placements created through Google's Adwords. As a result of Google's partnership with EchoStar (satellite TV), advertisers can begin bidding on marketing opportunities targeting by demographics, geography, time-of-day, day-of-week, and network. Google advertisers will also get viewer analysts to report how many viewed an ad, how long they watched the ad, and at what point they lost most of their viewers.

The cable companies want to ensure that Google can't encroach on their territory. What is at stake is the $5 billion of national television advertising that could grow to $15 billion with better ad targeting. (Source: techcrunch.com)

For the cable companies, it is now a question of 'do or die'. For years, the cable industry has promised better targeting and measurement but it has yet to materialize. Through the user's cable box, cable companies could provide custom television advertising. Those same boxes could also enable interactivity, such as requesting an online brochure, or other ad information. Also, the cable industry has the ability to compile more accurate data on customers but they have yet to deploy any of this on a national scale. Project Canoe would change that by offering such advertising targeting a national level.

Unfortunately, it might be too late for the cable guys. TV seems to be moving to the Internet quicker than targeted advertising is moving to cable. Hulu.com is now offering TV programming from Fox, NBC, Sony, and MGM, and ironically will be available over at least one of the cable owners -- Comcast. If the cable industry can not move quickly, the Internet and Google will almost surely eat their advertising for lunch. (Source: nytimes.com)

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