DirecTV to Serve Up Targeted Ads

In a deal that will allow DirecTV to serve up local advertising, the satellite TV operator today said it would begin deploying software developed by the GroupM-backed Invidi Technologies.

The agreement follows a similar pact between the addressable-advertising software company and DirecTV rival Dish Network. That deal was announced in November 2008.

Once the Invidi software goes online — DirecTV will upload the program to its subscribers’ digital set-top boxes — the operator will be able to insert local advertising, allowing marketers to target a range of demos from DMA to ZIP-plus-four to individual households.

Under the new targeting system, DirecTV will push local ads in advance of their airdates, where they will be stored at the premises level (i.e., in the set-top box). From there, the Invidi software will cue up the spots from the set-top hard drive. In other words, rather than viewing a scheduled national spot in the two-minute local window, DirecTV subs will see relevant ads targeted specifically to certain consumer behaviors/demographic contours, depending on what that particular advertiser is looking to achieve with its campaign.

DirecTV will begin serving up the Invidi software to “friendlies” in early 2010, with an eye toward full deployment to its 18.1 million subscribers by 2011. “It won’t be a matter of just flipping a switch, but once they start lighting the boxes up, the progression will be rapid,” said Michael Kubin, executive vp, Invidi.

In the early stages of the service, DirecTV will offer a quarter of its available inventory for targeted ads. Schedules and deliveries will be verified by Invidi’s ADN (ad delivery notification) software.

“Advertisers hate waste, and what we offer marks a significant change in the ability to get the right spots in front of the right people,” Kubin said. “Our spot optimization allows advertisers to carve up the audience into segments, so they can hit different demos in the same break. A targeted audience is exponentially more valuable than the sort of deliveries you can achieve with a shotgun approach.”

Founded in 2000, Invidi is backed by a number of investors, including GroupM, Motorola and Menlo Ventures.

“Individual household advertising solutions have for decades been the holy grail of marketers and media professionals,” said GroupM global CEO Irwin Gotlieb. “We hope this is an early step in the establishment of a common ecosystem for the television industry’s delivery of advanced advertising products.”

The deal comes as the cable industry readies its own advanced-advertising cooperative, Canoe Ventures. While AMC kicks the tires on Canoe, parent company — and Canoe investor — Cablevision is expanding its own targeting capabilities this summer. After an 18-month trial reaching 100,000 subscriber households, Cablevision is opening the aperture, prepping a targeted-ad push that will include 500,000 households across the New York metro area.

Nielsen Business Media