NEW YORK: Cablevision, the US cable operator, is testing a targeted ad system that will broadcast specific TV spots to viewers based on factors such as gender, income, ethnicity and whether or not they have children, which could be rolled out to all of its users later this year.

The scheme will run in 500,000 homes in the areas of Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey, following on from an initial smaller scale trial in 100,000 homes, and the company could expand the programme to its 3.1 million subscribers by the summer.
Results from tests conducted by Cablevision for its own services over eight months are said to have resulted in new subscriptions increasing at a “significantly higher rate" than the non-targeted ads.

Matt Seiler, global ceo of Universal McCann, said that targeted TV ads were something this industry has "been talking about this since the beginning of time", but that Cablevision's system meant this aim was becoming “real”.

However, the company is not writing directly to consumers to inform them of the rollout, and Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, argued it needed to be "very clear to the consumer what's being collected” and ensure it gives "people a choice."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff