Cable Guys Try To Head Off Google

From the NY Times, a little more about the cable industry’s ad gambit known as “Project Canoe.” The plan is to use data from cable subscribers’ set-top boxes to create an ad targeting network. That’s supposed to help the cable guys turn their meager ad revenues into something significant — and give them a viable alternative to Google, which is trying to get into the same business.

Six of the biggest U.S. cable operators are on board — – Cablevision is sitting this one out  — and have committed $150M to fund the project. Comcast had previously said it would spend between $50 and $70 million to fund the joint ad platform.

The project is being guided by Comcast COO Steve Burke and Time Warner Cable COO Landel C. Hobbs. The group estimates that building a national TV ad-targeting platform will boost cable’s annual share of TV advertising from $5 billion to $15 billlion.

Interesting that the two leading satellite TV operators, DirectTV and Dish Network are going in a different direction, partnering with TNS and Google TV, respectively.

One major downer for cable: The NY Times cites Starcom research claiming that after all the investments the cable industry has made in infrastructure and digital set-tops, only 1% of TV viewing is represented by cable’s on-demand services. That’s less than the 2% now watching TV online, and a lot less than the 7% of viewing of recorded shows on DVRs.

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