Visible World-Google Deal Comes As Addressable Advertising Picks Up

Three permutations of targeted TV ads from Lenovo

Three permutations of targeted TV ads from Lenovo

August 6, 2009 – Targeted advertising technology firm Visible World has greatly expanded its already wide reach via a deal inked with Google TV Ads, the search giant’s television buying marketplace.

Under the new agreement, Google TV Ads will incorporate Visible World’s tools into its offering, so advertisers can customize their messages when they place their ad buys using Google’s auction model.

Visible World’s advanced advertising tools let advertisers tailor their commercials to different markets and demographics by dynamically swapping parts of messages on the fly, depending on where the ads are delivered. Google TV Ads operates as a self-serve, real-time auction system allowing advertisers to buy specific programs, day parts, networks and demographics at the prices marketers pick.

“This is all about media targeting and message targeting together, which is always the goal but so rarely done,” says Tara Walpert Levy, president of Visible World.

With the new partnership, marketers will be able to automatically create multiple variations on spots to mix up the offer, products, Web sites and even search terms for the ads based on elements like target audience and the performance of the ad, Google says. Google TV Ads measures ad effectiveness using data from set-top boxes.

Visible World and Google share natural synergies, with Google’s tools allowing for targeted media buying and Visible World’s for targeted creative. The kind of targeting the Visible World-Google TV Ads pair-up affords is becoming increasingly necessary in a cluttered media environment where advertisers need to eliminate wasteful messages.

That’s why they’re gravitating toward both Web-based solutions that allow for targeting and to the small but growing cadre of TV options in this vein. A deal like this can help lure more ad dollars to TV as marketers hunt out techniques to improve their ad performance.

Google TV Ads clients include Priceline, Lenovo, Buy.com and Jenny Craig. The deal came together because of Lenovo, a shared client.

Google and Visible World had worked together previously on some one-off campaigns for Lenovo, Walpert Levy explains.

“Lenovo had asked us to handle some campaigns where they were looking to use Google’s automated buying and selling and our automated customization,” she says. The computer maker compared the programs, audience and media plan from Google TV Ads and paired that data with the message tailoring tools from Visible World, she says.

The deal is also a response to the economy. Business has been up this year at Visible World as advertisers look for more efficient ways to spend their marketing dollars, Walpert Levy says. “With all the focus on the economy and doing things better and different, demand has actually been going through the roof,” she says.

On average clients are using Visible World’s tools to create nearly 20 permutations of an ad, a three times increase from three years ago, she says. Lenovo, in working with Google and Visible World, ran at least 50 different variations of its ads.

“They had all of the different pieces of their ads in our system, the product, the call to action,” she notes. “Sometimes they swapped the creative, the offer, sometimes just the URL. The whole point is to take away the fear of ‘how do I make 50 ads’ and make it easy with the system doing it automatically. More messages drives performance.”

Walpert Levy says clients are seeing 30 percent improvements in results compared to direct marketing campaigns. Other Visible World clients include Wendy’s and Sears.

Through deals with the largest cable operators, Visible World’s footprint reaches about 80 percent of local cable homes. The company’s technology is also used on national networks like MTV, Comedy Central, TVGuide, A%26E and History and local broadcast stations via a partnership with DGFast Channel.

Targeted ads are usually delivered to specific demographics or by time of day or network. Addressable advertising adds another layer by sending relevant ads to specific households based on demographic data. Addressable rollouts so far include Cablevision’s 500,000-home addressable ad effort that launched earlier this year in partnership with Visible World, a handful of market rollouts from Comcast and Echostar’s Google TV Ads launch.

Early data from addressable trials is encouraging. In its Huntsville, Ala. market, Comcast says customers are 38 percent less likely to tune away when an addressable ad is delivered. In general, targeted ads on TV generate a seven percent click-through rate, meaning consumers click on the ads using the remote seven percent of the time, which is much higher than the typical one percent or less response rate with direct response ads, according to figures from database company Acxiom.

Cablevision has used this technology to pitch phone, cable and Internet service to its own customers. The phone spot was directed to homes that didn’t have phone service from Cablevision and so on. The result was a double digit lift in sales results, Cablevision has said.

Google TV Ads is rising in usage. The unit reported earlier this year that it has begun booking upfront deals with major agencies and advertisers for the first time. Agencies like Deutsch have committed upwards of seven figures to spend in the system in the year ahead.