I have written a few post about the future of television advertising (10/2004, 11/2006, and 12/2006). Yes the web has taken over and yes video on the web is advancing rapidly but that does not mean that the $60b spent on television advertising will disappear overnight. What is needed for the industry is a way to make television commercials more relevant, targeted, and dynamic. In other words, some of the best practices and technology from Internet advertising should be brought to television advertising. Throughout the years Visible World (full disclosure: my fund has an investment in the company and my partner is on the board) has been working on making this a reality. Today, there is a great article on the front page of the New York Times business section discussing Cablevision's launch of targeted commercials. Visible World is the company that is helping Cablevision do this. We still have a long way to go but it is great to see forward thinking companies trying to redefine television advertising instead of giving up and letting the web take over.
"Beginning with 500,000 homes in Brooklyn, the Bronx and some New Jersey areas, Cablevision will use its targeting technology to route ads to specific households based on data about income, ethnicity, gender or whether the homeowner has children or pets.
The technology requires no hardware or installation in a subscriber’s home, so viewers may not realize they are seeing ads different from a neighbor’s. But during the same show, a 50-something male may see an ad for, say, high-end speakers from Best Buy, while his neighbors with children may see one for a Best Buy video game.