Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ads That Know Who You Are, What You Want? Old News on the Web. Coming One Day to TV.

tv-catWhat if you could deliver ads, electronically, to people based on where they lived, what they liked and what they might be interested in buying?

Novel idea–for Web advertisers in the pre-Google (GOOG) world of the mid-1990s. But in TV land, where things move much, much more slowly, this is still a radical notion.

Hence, a long piece in today’s New York Times detailing Cablevision’s (CVC) rollout of a new targeted ad system that will reach 500,000 homes in the New York area. Worth a read, but if you’re in a rush, here’s what you need to know:

  • The cable operators, who make very little money from advertising, have been trying to get some version of this up and running for many years.
  • It shouldn’t be that difficult: The cable guys have a direct line to your house; they know, or should be able to know, what you like to watch and when you watch it; and they have all sorts of data about your finances and buying habits, via your billing information.
  • But it has been difficult. And for some of the reasons listed above, there’s going to be a hullabaloo about privacy as this stuff rolls out on a larger scale–one day.
  • Money quote is at the end from Visible World CEO Seth Haberman, whose company is providing Cablevision with the targeting technology: “Television was always big and dumb. Now, hopefully, we can be big and slightly smarter.”

[Image credit: cloudzilla]


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus