Cable Companies Ready To Take Another Swing At Ad Targeting

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Despite continued rumblings from regulators and lawmakers over ad targeting, the cable company consortium Canoe Ventures is ready to release its first ad-targeting product, dubbed "community addressable messaging," WSJ reports. Canoe, which is backed by Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable, Charter Communications (NSDQ: CHTR) and Brighthouse Networks, plans to roll out the ad targeting system this summer, though the company's CEO David Verklin previously told an industry conference that the platform was scheduled to be released in the middle of this month. Canoe has been tripped up by difficulties in making the system work on a variety of set-top boxes.

The advertising landscape has changed drastically since Feb. 2008, when Comcast first announced it would spend roughly $70 million to get Canoe off the ground. In addition to Congressional hearings after Charter began testing a software that would track its ISP broadband subscribers while online, the ad economy has been devastated. Still, cable TV is one of the few major media categories expected to show healthy growth this year. And there are signs of a slow recovery on the horizon. More after the jump

Aside from the lingering affects of the dismal economy, Canoe has to contend with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV, which has been expanding from its own "addressable TV" plans, while TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO) has also been building up its ad targeting offerings. On top of that, Canoe's initial offering is fairly limited, at least terms of the kinds of targeting marketers like Unilever are hoping for. At the moment, Canoe can't target individual households and the list of demographic groups available for targeting remains fairly limited.

By David Kaplan