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Yes ABC, that will work

May 6, 2008

New York – Viewers of video at ABC.com might soon be seeing two advertisements, one after the other, within each video break. “It would be premature for us to say people only want one ad,” said Albert Cheng, executive vp digital media at Disney-ABC Television Group (NYSE: DIS), to the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a likely sort of thinking, but we want to push it a little bit to see how it would go.”

First of all, lately on ABC I’ve been seeing no ads. I get this message, and then the show mercifully just starts.

This is the error message on Lost
Second, the difference between the internet and TV is the medium. Obviously. The Television airwaves are a mass medium that uses a complicated ratings system to see when and what people are watching on TV. Since not everyone is monitored, on a mass system, some assumptions are made.

On the internet, the log records every single viewing. And if you ask even the minimal information of people, people can be delivered ads demographically.

Think about it. A spot for feminine hygiene products appeals to a little over half the population. Meaning that half the ad spend is lost on regular TV. Remember the quote about half of my ad dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half?

We can know. If ABC was to give away episodes of Lost online (which it does now), and ask name and sex, the computer could deliver the right spot to the right person. Logged in as a woman? You get the spot for women. Logged in as a man, and you get the beer spot. Or whatever.

That’s how Google made gazillions. It knew what your were looking for, and delivered the message that was relevant to your search term. ABC.com (and any other network) could give away content at the cost of registering with a name, and age bracket and sex. And if you think no one would give that amount of information (or you think people would give more), they could easily test the amount of information one would give in order to watch shows for free.

Instead of experimenting with more ads, why not experiment with that?

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