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Comcast, Charter and ViacomCBS Join Forces to Make TV Ads More Targeted

Targeted advertising has been prevalent online for years, but is still in its infancy for traditional television.


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Three of the nation’s largest pay-TV companies become co-owners of a platform designed to make it easier for brands to leverage data to deliver targeted ads to people who watch cable TV, a move that comes then as cost-pressed ad buyers increasingly turn to Targeted Advertising.

Comcast Corp.

CMCSA 0.54%

is in the process of spinning off its Blockgraph LLC unit and selling two-thirds of it to Charter Communications Inc.

CHTR 0.97%

and ViacomCBS Inc.

with the aim of giving greater scale to ad buyers relying on the platform. Each firm will own a third of Blockgraph following the deal, which the three partners announced on Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Targeted advertising (delivering specific ads to specific viewers based on their interests, demographics, and viewing habits) has been prevalent on websites and online video services for years, but still is. in its infancy when it comes to traditional television, where advertisers have fewer opportunities. to gather information about viewers consuming television from a set-top box rather than they would from a smartphone or computer.

Blockgraph acts as a service that helps brands and ad inventory sellers match data sets without sharing too much personal data about viewers, the company says. For example, if an automaker buys a dataset of people in the market for a car, it could use Blockgraph’s technology to match that list with cable subscribers based on their home address, the chief executive said. by Blockgraph, Jason Manningham. The automaker could use this data either to find out which programs and what time of day attract the most viewers of the desired audience, or to buy advertisements aimed only at households on the market list.

“For the ad buyer, it’s really about scale and simplicity,” Manningham said. As a joint venture, Blockgraph provides “massive inventory that can now be unlocked.”

Privacy restrictions have been a barrier to the growth of targeted TV advertising, as data matches are often based on personally identifying data such as viewers’ home addresses.

Comcast and Charter are the two largest cable companies in the country, accounting for nearly half of US television and broadband households, and ViacomCBS is one of the largest owners of cable and broadcast channels.

The joint venture is entering the TV advertising market at a precarious time, as the coronavirus pandemic forces many brands to cut marketing budgets and think more strategically about ad placements. The pandemic has prompted marketers to revisit their planned TV ad spend commitments and think more strategically about ad spend.

As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, companies are looking to find the right tone and messaging for their marketing. How are some of the world’s best-known companies rethinking their advertising? Photo: Mint Mobile

Write to Patience Haggin at [email protected]

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Appeared in the May 30, 2020 print edition as ‘.’