Google is teaming up with Visible World, a software company that provides customizable TV ads, to make a push into the "addressable TV" space. The partnership hopes to serve consumer-specific ads based on demographic and viewing data gathered from set-top cable boxes. For instance, to tap The Wall Street Journal's example, an ad for a car company could push minivans in a home with children, while next door the same ad might promote a sports coupe to a household with no children.
Google TV Ads, the company's auction-based system for pairing television ads with content, will assist the partnership on the media placement side of things, while Visible World's software will allow advertisers to create several versions of the same ad for different demographic segments. The software allows marketers to finesse graphics, music and other audio to target those specific segments, and even lets advertisers swap out ads in stride based on their performance. Then its simply a matter of placing the right ad in front of the right eyes.
Ideally, Google would like to serve targeted television ads to households across the land, but addressable TV has hit hurdles in the past. Several smaller companies have attempted to conquer the space, but cable channels have been slow to get on board and privacy concerns over the use of data extracted from set-top boxes has further stymied progress. Previously, even Google TV appeared to be shifting more toward Web video ads, as it struggled to develop partnerships with cable channels.
Then there's the problem of reach; while addressable TV can target subgroups, sometimes advertisers need to blanket a large part of the population, and competing technologies in the addressable space make that more difficult. Both Cablevision and Direct TV are also developing their own platforms to offer addressable advertising, crowding this corner of the advertising market.
But as Google TV Ads Director Mike Steib told WSJ, increased fragmentation among television audiences (especially in cable, where more and more interest-specific programming emerges all the time) means some marketers need the customization addressable TV offers. "One ad with one message for one audience is not the right thing for everyone."