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Cable/Video

Web v Wireless

Is the Web, not wireless, cable's true path to the 'quad-play'? The new CTO of Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) thinks so.

Establishing a solid "Web presence is the quad-play for a lot of us," said Balan Nair, one of the keynoters at Tuesday's "Tech It Out" conference at The Cable Center in Denver.

Nair, in his first formal speaking engagement since coming to Liberty Global from AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) this summer, said the Web, particularly Internet advertising, represents cable's next frontier for new revenues. (See AOL Exec Joins Liberty as CTO.)

Today, that online ad market is worth about $16 billion (versus a total ad market of $145 billion), with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) gobbling up about $9 billion of it.

While MSOs are going gangbusters with the so-called triple-play, "no one has been able to make the quad-play work," he said, citing the traditional view of video, voice, data, and wireless. Mobile service customers, he added, tend to buy based on fancy handsets and price plans, rather than how the offering is bundled with other services.

Nair, who believes "Web 3.0" is about personalization, called on cable operators to capitalize on the Internet ad model by mining for and using valuable subscriber data. Cable, he said, has an advantage over Google because operators can associate an IP address with a customer, opening the door to ads that are targeted using key demographic metrics.

At the same time, MSOs must be careful with the data they are mining. The day privacy is breached "is the day you lose that customer," he said.

And it's also true that Nair isn't the only person aware of this potential opportunity. Data collection is said to be one of the components of "Canoe," the code-name for a big cable industry-wide project aimed at developing a common back-office and architecture for advanced advertising. (See Cable's 'Canoe' RFI Paddles Toward Deadline.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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