Video services

The Ad Question

1:00 PM -- ANAHEIM, Calif. -- TelcoTV -- I'm still mulling this quote from yesterday's Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) keynote: "Customers don't dislike advertising. They dislike advertising that's not relevant to them."

That's the Web 2.0 mantra, isn't it? And John Harrobin, Verizon's senior VP of marketing for digital media, was applying it in kind, citing future targeted ads as one way FiOS -- and U-verse, too -- will help the TV industry regain ground lost to the Web. (See Telcos Declare TV Love.)

Problem is, the mantra is wrong. Consumers don't like advertising, period.

I'll concede that targeted advertising can work. Fashion magazines exist primarily for the ads. I subscribe to Signal to Noise, a magazine covering obscure music, and I do sometimes open it just to look through the ads.

But there's an enormous difference between my reading StN over coffee and you shouting an advertisement at me randomly while I watch TV.

More generally, there are scores of products that fit my demographic but don't fit me. Cars, for instance. I lack the male car-loving gene. No car ad is ever welcome. And yet, automobiles are probably the most obvious case of products that can be targeted by age group or familial status. So, fine, I'll receive car ads. But the targeted experience won't be any different.

Like anything in technology, targeted ads have a power that's being overestimated. Targeting can make advertising more effective, and I agree with Harrobin and everyone else that it could be helpful to the TV industry. But targeting isn't magic. It will not cause consumers to fall in love with your ads.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Be the first to post a comment regarding this story.
Sign In