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Wednesday, January, 30 2013

Geo-specific TV ads: more players emerge in cable’s backyard

By: Stewart Schley Wednesday, January, 30 2013

Forget Groupon. Today’s sweetest daily deal comes from an upstart national video programmer that’s offering 30-second local TV spots for $2.50.

Not $2,500. Not $250. $2.50.

The bargain-basement price comes from music producer Chris Black’s ., which is courting advertisers with the promise of ZIP code-specific commercial placement across a virtual-MSO network launched by a Los Angeles-based start-up, Wisecast Television. Black Pearl says its music and entertainment channels cover 43,000 ZIP codes (now there’s a novel way to couch a distribution story), reaching homes that have downloaded Wisecast’s software or connected a proprietary set-top box to HD TV sets.

It’s a fringe play at best on the national media scene. But the intriguing angle here is the notion that national TV programmers are starting to promote geographically specific placement of TV spots – a sliver of the TV ad business that historically has been owned by local cable systems.

Black Pearl accomplishes the feat through a variation of “dynamic” ad insertion, meaning advertisers can supply creative directly to Black’s production company, where it gets parsed out among specific household groups via a geo-coding approach. The whole thing rides across an IP broadcast network launched by Wisecast, a sort of Vimeo-modeled platform for aspiring entertainment producers. (And one that seems to have an outlandish view of profit potential for its contributing partners.)

The bigger story is that cable companies are going to start seeing competition for geo-specific television advertising placement. A variety of online video ad syndicators like Tremor Video , for example, make geo-targeting a standard online video campaign offering. YouTube also began offering geo-specific in-stream ad insertion in 2010, targeting political campaigns , among other categories.

The upside for cable is that as geo-specific video advertising choices broaden, cable should retain a significant advantage over centralized competitors through its local feet-on-the-street presence. Even in an era of online video competitors large and small, there’s no substitute for a sales force that can call on advertisers in local markets – and negotiate rates that are north of $2.50 a spot.

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