Does your television know you?

Nexus of ForcesWhen we think of targeted and personalized ads, most people think of mobile and Web as the delivery mechanism. That will rapidly become less and less the limitation of digital marketing. Let me tell you why.

Gartner’s Nexus of Forces spotlights the coming together of the biggest factors that affect technology in our time. Listening to the Keynote at last week’s AADI conference, Jeff Schulman, Gartner’s Managing VP, stressed that mobile is about pervasive access. That’s a very important way of phrasing things for several reasons:

  • Access is a two-way street that involves customer access to content and content owner access to customer information (history, preferences, location, etc.). It isn’t by any means limited to delivery of ads or offers.
  • Smartphones are (not surprisingly) telephones, but one could easily debate whether that’s the standard feature of the future. We can’t count on text as a delivery mechanism.
  • We will very likely remain consumers of much more than goods. Entertainment may have been disrupted, but it still reigns supreme as our biggest use of time outside of work.

Minority Report

Minority ReportOne of our favorite films is Tom Cruise’s Minority Report, where a retinal scan of a customer automatically changes the language and content of ads as he walks through a commercial center. It wasn’t so crazy…we can easily live in a world where everything around is tailored to who we are, what we like, our historical preferences and what we’re doing right now.

Enter the future. A paidContent article yesterday, Coming in 2013 – targeted TV ads, revealed that targeted ads will be coming through televisions in the UK starting in 2013. Two of the largest pay operators, Sky and Virgin Media, will deliver ads through the set-top box. This, in a way, could be the salvation of television, which is headed toward disruption unless it becomes more able to differentiate the consumer.


The key to personalized content isn’t ubiquitous delivery. It is instead the delivery of the right message to the right person at the moment most likely to create influence. Sky, one of the two companies rolling this out, will segment their market and decide when to send ads based on the following list. This represents segmentation that takes into account 90 separate demographic attributes rolled up as viewer profiles:

  • Region and Metropolitan Area – 16 standard TV regions and 15 large metropolitan area
  • Experian Financial Outlook – 13 household types based on their financial needs, behavioural influences and preferences
  • Demographic and Lifestyle – 15 Experian Mosaic segments
  • Affluence and Home Ownership – Created in partnership with Experian, a 7-band predictor or disposable income and perceived wealth.
  • Life-Stage and Kids age

With this approach, networks can see what gets watched, how much of the ad plays, and can even store ads up for playback at a later time. If you’re watching a Bond film and you fit the demographic for a BMW, they can deliver an ad now or later based on what powerful analytics tell them will work best.

Not without disruption, though

Television knows youThis won’t happen without disruption, though. It works fairly easily where the content owner is the delivery vehicle, but becomes messy when you consider the network of television stations, especially in the U.S., and who would decide which commercials get played and when.

For now, your television will remain a one-way vehicle, but soon enough will know you better than you know yourself (it will have a longer memory).

Pervasive access is arriving, it isn’t limited to smartphones and the Web, and is the two-way street that we saw in a Hollywood movie just a few years back. Interesting times.


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Categories: Marketing

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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