Within the year, cable companies are going to invade your privacy Google style. Canoe Ventures outlined its strategy today at the NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco, where David Verklin, the CEO, outlined the cable industry’s answer to the competition from online video. The vision wraps compelling features for consumers around a hidden advertising and data gathering agenda. Within 100 days, better targeted advertising will be rolled out in some markets, and within the year consumers will see new features.
Canoe Ventures is a joint venture between the top six cable providers and Verklin took to the stage to tell us cable’s vision of television as a platform. “I came 3,000 miles to deliver one simple message. Don’t count out the television business,” Verklin said.
He pointed out that cable companies are in 70 million of the 101 million video-subscribing households. Canoe represents about 60 million of those households and is the Internet service provider for 35 percent of the country. Verklin says the cable guys invested in Canoe because the video content creation and consumption business is changing right before the industry’s eyes.
To answer this change, Canoe wants to bring more features to television from your remote control, focused on interactivity and addressablity. Verklin says, this isn’t just about the ads but about the programming. For example, he said, Canoe is going to add voting and polling where consumers can vote on their favorite player during a football game or on American Idol. Cable also wants to add a feature called request for information, that allows you to watch Emeril Live and click a button to get a recipe via email or text or perhaps get a catalogue via mail after seeing it on TV.
The third product is “t-commerce,” where you can buy from the television and be charged on your cable bill or credit card. It’s easier than phone calls or filling out forms online, according to Verklin. Fourth is telescoping, where you can click through on a movie and and see a whole trailer, or click through on a video game ad and see a demo. The final product is addressibility — ads targeted to you. No more dog food ads if you don’t own a dog. But a question consumers need to ask is, “Do I really want my cable company knowing that much about me?“
“Data is the new creative,” Verklin said. He said Canoe thinks the key to that data is the set-top box that’s already hooked up to the televison. That box can tell advertisers exactly how many people are watching an ad. But Verlkin says they’ll keep personally identifiable information anonymous (just like Google.) “We can bring at last one of the interactive applications to 15 to 20 million households by this time next year,” Verklin says. He added that the cable guys are working on limited network addressiblity within the next 100 days. That’s our countdown to privacy loss.