We’ve all heard about it but the cable industry is still keeping details about "Project Canoe," the clandestine, cross-MSO, advanced advertising initiative, relatively close to the vest. The venture is an effort by all six major cable companies in the U.S. to deliver targeted TV ads to viewers via set-top boxes. The cable companies may control the set-top boxes, but they only collectively control about $5 billion of the $70 billion spent each year on TV ads. With better ad targeting through Project Canoe the cable operators hope to triple their take to $15 billion.
This coalition has been spurred on by Google’s aggressive moves into new spaces, they are already testing their own TV ads on EchoStar’s Dish Network (no satellite companies are part of Project Canoe). Just last week, some Google TV Ad beta testers were able to start buying TV ads through AdWords as part of their regular advertising campaigns. In other words, they can buy search ads on Google, contextual online ads across the Web, and TV ads on Dish all through the same Google interface.
Clearly the cable companies have a lot of work to do to pull this off, but the prize is huge. Forming a viable coalition where incentives are aligned to encourage continued cooperation in the long term is a major step forward. I’m sure that we will be hearing a lot more about this in the coming months and it will be interesting to see how (and how soon) this plays out. Link: NYTimes.com, March 10, 2008 - Cable Firms Join Forces to Attract Focused Ads