2009-06-25 / Local & State

Cable Venture Suspends First Advertising Product

By Deborah Yao AP BUSINESS WRITER

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A joint venture formed by the nation's six largest cable operators is suspending trials of its first advertising product before it even gets off the ground.

Canoe Ventures said Friday that it will discontinue plans for now to launch "community addressable messaging,'' which sends ads that vary by household depending on factors such as income and age.

The product has sparked privacy concerns. Privacy groups fear that these ads could lead to unwanted tracking of viewing habits and discrimination against poorer households.

Canoe cited limitations of older cable systems, and one problem was that ads had to be scheduled more than a week in advance of air date. Programmers usually set ad schedules a day in advance of broadcast.

Moreover, certain Motorola receivers would have to be upgraded for the ads to work properly. Canoe didn't want to force operators to upgrade.

Confirming an earlier report by Multichannel News, Canoe said it is working on a more flexible form of addressable ads for later unveiling that would bypass the older ad insertion systems of cable operators.

It still plans to introduce interactive ads in the fourth quarter, in which consumers who press a "request for information'' button will receive coupons and promotional material for the product or service they're viewing.

"This doesn't affect plans for future products,'' said Canoe spokeswoman Dana Runnells.

Canoe was formed last year by Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. in Atlanta, Time Warner Cable Inc. in New York, Charter Communications Inc. in St. Louis, Cablevision Systems Corp. in Bethpage, N.Y. and Bright House Networks in Orlando, Fla.

Cable operators wanted to bring addressable ads to television, as a way of letting advertisers better target consumers than traditional overthe air TV commercials.

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