American cable television operators have launched a combined initiative to offer targeted interactive television advertising under the name Canoe Ventures, but could face concerns from consumers over the implications for privacy. The greater challenge is more likely to be one of technical integration.
A consortium of leading cable operators — Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, and Bright House Networks — created Canoe Ventures to offer advanced advertising services. Based in New York City, it will be headed by advertising executive David Verklin, who was previously with Aegis Group.
“His appointment as CEO of Canoe Ventures demonstrates our commitment to working more closely with the advertising community and to delivering products and services needed for advertisers and programmers to compete in today’s media landscape,” said Steve Burke, the chief operating officer of Comcast Corporation. “David’s insight will help make cable a more valuable advertising medium.”
“What we have developed as the basis for this joint venture is a groundbreaking collaboration that will unlock the potential of cable’s competitive advantages and take advertising to a new level,” said Landel Hobbs, the chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable.
“Cable is in a unique position to take advertising to another level — for marketers, programmers and consumers,” said David Verklin. “As technology has evolved and consumers have been given greater control over their viewing experience, we are all looking for innovative solutions and greater accountability.”
Canoe aims to create an interactive television advertising platform to enable commercials to be targeted at viewers. The platform will be promoted to television networks, rather than directly to advertisers, to avoid competing directly with the programming providers on which the cable business relies.
As cable companies also provide many customers with broadband internet services, viewing data could potentially be combined with information about web browsing. The plans have already prompted concerns about privacy implications.
Charter Communications recently decided to delay its own plans to offer targeted advertising based on web browsing data after customer complaints.
Cable operators say the Canoe platform will comply with the relevant legislation. The real issue will be one of consumer acceptance, which could require users to opt in to the service.
Beyond that there is the considerable technical challenge of offering a unified service across the disparate cable networks.
While the cable industry aims to paddle its own canoe, Microsoft recently took the opportunity to announce the acquisition of interactive television company Navic Networks, which has developed an advertising management system known as Admira.