Time Warner, Comcast top digital ad company

Eager to harvest more dollars from Madison Avenue, six of the major cable operators are working together to create a company that would allow advertisers to buy time across hundreds of cable systems.

Under the leadership of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the initiative, called Project Canoe, would use digital technology to target different ads to different subscribers simultaneously. For the past couple of years, major advertisers have pushed cable ops to use their electronically sophisticated set-top boxes to move ahead on such targeting.

Spokesmen for Comcast and Time Warner declined to talk about the strategy because it’s still in development. Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks are the four other cablers participating in Project Canoe.

The time these cable ops have to sell to advertisers is the two minutes within each hour they’re given by all the ad-supported cable nets. Right now, the ops sell this time locally, often interconnected with other cablers in the area.

Advertisers would love the chance to learn, from data collected from set-top boxes, who’s watching a particular show on a given network at a specific time in market after market throughout the country.

This knowledge would allow advertisers to even more precisely direct their ads to viewers, not just for the two cable-op minutes but for the 12 other national minutes sold by a given network.

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