The rumor was that Microsoft had been interested in buying Spot Runner, which provides a range of targeting capabilities to cable TV advertising (as well as online). But instead the company has purchased Navic. Navic does many things but basically enables more targeted and, in some cases, interactive advertising on cable TV. It also enables so-called “addressable advertising” on TV, which is the ability to direct TV ads to particular groups and areas at specific times. The example that’s always used is a movie opening that may be of interest to a particular audience in particular markets.
As AdWeek reports, the acquisition is part of a larger vision for adCenter that will help turn it into a “wide-ranging ad platform that would allow advertisers to place, target and track ads on the Web, mobile, in video games and now TV.” Google has an identical vision and is somewhat farther along in executing across media.
Other companies that are focused on interactive TV advertising are Backchannel and Canoe. Accordingly, there’s now a momentum and near-inevitability about greater targeting and internet-style “accountability” for TV advertising. However, there are myriad problems for the business of TV in moving to a more performance-based ad model, which is what Google and Microsoft’s efforts imply. But the industry is under pressure to prove value to advertisers who see audiences fleeing to the Internet.
The larger “one stop shop” advertising platform strategy that both Google and Microsoft are now pursuing is fairly profound and has radical implications for media buying and planning in the marketplace. Lesser known companies such as Live Technology have already gotten there and built such multi-platform ad buying systems. However, in a fragmented media marketplace, it’s a direction that the entire industry is clearly moving towards.