NEW YORK: Companies like Cablevision, GroupM and Direct TV are all engaging in initiatives seeking to develop rigorous targeted TV advertising systems capable of attracting major brand owners.

Cablevision recently ran a trial scheme with GroupM, part of WPP Group, broadcasting ads on behalf of five brands simultaneously to three million homes in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

The exact spot shown in each case depended on "likely relevance", as derived from profiling data, and the participating GroupM clients received individual metrics demonstrating how their commercials performed.

The wider objectives of this effort incorporate delivering addressable and measurable communications, thus minimising wastage.

"This is an important win for the entire industry ecosystem because advertisers get better targeting, consumers get more relevant messages, and media companies create more valuable inventory," Irwin Gotlieb, GroupM's ceo, said.

"The fact that major advertisers are now using these advanced targeting capabilities signifies a seminal shift towards broader adoption."

The technology driving Cablevision's platform is provided by Visible World, which ensures all details are anonymous, in recognition of the ethical concerns that may result from the opposite model.

"We don't want to look in the window," said Seth Haberman, Visible World's chief executive. "It is a little spooky."

Simulmedia boasts an equivalent offering, drawing on information from organisations including TiVo, DirecTV and Charter Communications.

It has identified a range of viewer categories, such as "heartstringers" enjoying romantic comedy, "fake news followers" preferring satire, and "wild n' crazies", typically made up of young men.

"Most of the work that has been in online advertising over the past 20 years has really been preparation for the big screen," said Dave Morgan, Simulmedia's founder. "That's where the money is."

"Some data is second-by-second."

MagnaGlobal, a division of Interpublic Group's Mediabrands, has joined forces with Simulmedia to conduct research and formulate best practice guidelines.

"This could be marketing nirvana, or fraught with potential peril," Tim Hanlon, chief executive of IPG's investment wing Velociter, said, suggesting the balance between personalisation and intrusiveness is not yet determined.

However, Bank of America anticipates US "addressable advertising" expenditure might hit $11.6bn (€8.3bn; £7.2bn) in 2015, prompting cable specialists to become more involved.

Dish Networks is somewhat behind but should begin trials in 2011, Tom Cullen, its evp, programming, sales and marketing, said last month.

"We are on a path to have addressable and local advertising and the product - I reviewed it just the other day - is looking pretty good," he told analysts.

"I think we're getting close to being able to Beta test that. And I would forecast that we'd probably be in the market, certainly, later this year."

Elsewhere, DirecTV has predicted this area may yield approximately $250m in incremental returns over the coming three years.

"We're talking about local ads that we've never been able to sell before, so that's a brand new revenue stream and we're confident in it because we're going to sell it," said Patrick Doyle, DirecTV's chief financial officer.

"Moving into addressable, obviously, gets excellent value for the advertisers."

TiVo has also rolled out an Ad Scorecard, accessible online, serving up in-depth statistics covering how well TV ads retain audiences.

"We continue to educate the media world that there are alternatives and a better, more efficient, effective and granular way to measure their ads in ways that provide internet levels of accountability," said Tom Rogers, its ceo.

Data sourced from Cablevision, Wall Street Journal, SeekingAlpha; additional content by Warc staff