With today’s introduction of a subscriber information service that tells advanced TV advertising machinery what it needs to know about the “who” of targeted ad campaigns, BlackArrow aims to fill in a missing piece of the end-to-end addressable television advertising puzzle.
Here’s the release. It describes a tool that lets local cable ad sellers and national TV networks pour just about any demographic indicators they like into their addressable ad platforms so that decision-making and ad-execution systems can get the right TV commercial in front of the desired audience segment. The data integrates into backend ad distribution systems – BlackArrow’s or those from third-party providers – with SCTE 130-6 standard hooks.
Exactly what those demographic data sources are is up to the cable company or network, explains BlackArrow CTO Joe Matarese. BlackArrow itself never actually sees the specific data points, which can come from any variety of third-party data sources plus actual cable company subscriber records. Instead, BlackArrow pulls out abstracted information that’s used to divvy up spots by campaign target, like young moms or urban professionals.
Matarese says the SIS is agnostic when it comes to playback devices. It can spurt out ads for tablets, mobile smartphones and other IP-connected players, in addition to legacy cable set-tops. But the big initial target is cable VOD. Right now, more than 17 million “impression requests” pour in daily from cable companies – mainly Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Canada’s Rogers Cable – that are hooked into BlackArrow’s advanced ad platform. For the moment, only a subset of those requests involve program streams that include commercials, but the metric gives a sense of the rising breadth of VOD viewing in North America.
We visited with Matarese and SVP of Product Management Chris Hock about the announcement. Here’s the detail, plus some perspectives around go-to-market approaches.
Importance of subscriber data: Matarese said finding an agile way to link external viewer data inputs with backend ad delivery systems was a key goal of customers. “We’ve long recognized this was an important component…and that we need to offer a product that can deploy into the market at scale.”
First takers: Although the big-picture story happens at the national network level, as network advertising organizations begin to court media buyers with large-scale VOD addressable ad impressions, Matarese thinks it’s possible local cable sales organizations could quickly get to market with highly effective campaigns that make use of granular subscriber targeting. One early customer, says Hock, will likely be the cable company itself, which has a need to align various product offers with particular subscriber groups. (An upgraded Internet service for high-volume users is one example.)
Limitless data qualification: Matarese notes there’s no theoretical limit to how selective data inputs can be. But realistically, he sees an early focus on familiar qualifiers such as income level. “The point is not to do a deep dive into all the possible permutations, but identify what’s really important, and what produces great ROI.”
Deployment status: BlackArrow says it’s working with a large (but unidentified) North American cable company now to prove out large-scale addressable advertising suitability across multiple devices.
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