Television Retargeting – The Computer In Your Living Room

We’re all now accustomed to seeing those or Facebook Dark Posts popping up in our news feed a website we may have just left, or maybe it’s one of their competitors.  It’s called retargeting, and by now we’ve become almost immune to it online, but there is a new battleground opening up in your living room.

Odds are your home is one of the 90 million homes that has at least one DVR or set top box in a living room or bedroom recording your favorite shows, which is incredibly convenient.  What you may not have realized is that some of these same boxes also allow the cable and satellite providers to record what shows air on the TVs in your home as well.  Marketers can then combine that information with other publicly available demographic data and segment their target audiences with laser like precision.  Companies like Simulmedia aggregate the set top box data from millions of Americans to help companies target consumers watching “long tail” cable inventory, or shows that are generally cheaper than prime time hits but have an almost cult like following.  For example, a 30 second spot on a “The Today Show” or “Good Morning America” might go for around $43,000, compare that to a “long tail” like “Big Cat Diaries” which also runs mornings for around $650.  The difference is not just the price point, it’s the information about the viewer.  The “Good Morning America” buy offers mass reach, but the “Big Cat Diaries” buy has precision.  In short,  you end up paying less and you know the right person is watching.  It’s king of like choosing between a shotgun or a rifle.

Up until now, the television industry has been in the stone age when it comes to ad-targeting compared to online services.  We can place online ads and segment customers not just based on age, and gender.  We can identify age, gender, geographic location, shopping habits, websites visited, social media habits, and the list goes on.  That kind of precision is one of the reasons that digital ad spends are expected to reach $82 billion by 21018 according to eMarketer.

Companies like Simulmedia began springing up a few years ago as set top box makers began licensing out their data and the result so far has taken place in the background where an advertiser has swapped out the Cheez-It  commercial for Special K.  However, now that Pandora’s box has been opened on your television sets, the next generation of set top boxes may very well begin allowing advertisers to show specific commercials by individual box in the house.  Combine that with the recent announcement of Verizon’s “supercookie” tracking program in January of this past year and it’s not hard to imagine that Zappos display ad following you from your computer to your phone to your tv.