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Comcast Spotlight to pinpoint customer desires with targeted ads

Steven Kim
04.08.08
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Comcast is rolling out its Spotlight program in Baltimore in Q3 of this year. There's a scary threesome involved in the effort: Comcast, media agency Starcom MediaVest Group and technology partner Invidi. Central to the program is Invidi's Advatar technology (no, not that Advatar) to deliver ads targeted to individual users. Before you get too scared by the "Big Brother" sound of all this, consider that Comcast's initial trial of addressable placements showed 38% less ad-skipping; that's a pretty good indication that people preferred the ad flavor cooked up by Comcast. Let's face it -- in conventional broadcasting (and increasingly online as well), advertising is a proven model. So programming is going to be sprinkled with ads; wouldn't you rather have them be personally interesting? We certainly prefer this to the "run the ads louder" approach. The real tricky issue will be maintenance of anonymity; we'll see how consumers respond as TV increasingly watches them. All companies involved would be wise to keep in mind the cost of winning back violated customer trust.

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