“Change is disturbing when it is done to us, exhilarating when it is done by us.”
 – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School

I recently read an article in Campaigns & Elections magazine on a technology application that perfectly encapsulates the above quote.  The technology is cable addressability, and the application is targeted advertising. In a nutshell, each cable box has a serial number, or “address.” It’s what allows the cable company to reset your cable box from a remote location or send you messages. That same address can be used to deliver specific ads to your cable box, and some providers are beginning to offer that as a premium service to advertisers.

…exhilarating when it is done by us:
Video is where communication – not just advertising – is heading. Using data to micro-target consumers is where advertising and campaigning are heading. Social media is already available as an outlet for targeted video content, and direct mail is available for targeted print, but we haven’t been able to optimally marry the two.

Although still not offered by most providers, targeted ads via addressable cable box technology hold the most promise for achieving this marriage. You can take data collected through targeting and survey research efforts, create specific messages for various audiences, and then send different ads to different households.

…disturbing when it is done to us:
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING! Well, maybe more like Big Neighbor. Yes, it’s already disturbing enough that the data is so readily available that can tell you virtually everything about me other than what I’m currently thinking (slips on tinfoil hat just in case). And I know that with every mouse click and debit card swipe you know me a little better, but getting into my TV?!? It took me long enough as a child to realize there weren’t actually people in there talking to me (stop looking at my hat!). I don’t want to have to think about them getting back in there so they can tell me how to vote or what to buy. I know there are safeguards in place to prevent the advertiser from getting any data gathered by the cable companies, but color me skeptical that the firewall is particularly stout.

Change IS:
It’s an inevitable fact of life: things change.  The question is who will take advantage of those changes and who will be taken advantage of.  Thus, our responsibility is two-fold: use the most effective means of getting our message out and moving people to act, while also preserving the privacy rights of individual citizens.  So, collect your data and micro-target, but never let them take your tinfoil hat!

I’d love to talk to you more about how 24 Communications can help your organization or campaign use new technologies like cable addressable advertising. Contact us to find out more information.