Cable Cos. Unite to Build Ad Network

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks have been working together on Project Canoe, a jointly owned company that would create a national ad network across all six cable systems. The united front is in an attempt to stem the flow of TV ad dollars from going online — and to block Google from making a successful jump to TV advertising.

Work started on Project Canoe six months ago; the companies will collectively shell out $150 million to build the service, which is worth it, considering the payoff. Consider that 90 percent of all video in the U.S. was watched on oldteevee last year, according to Starcom USA, compared to the 2 percent watched online.

Canoe will collect data from cable set-top boxes to sell more targeted advertising (which is delivered right back to those same set-top boxes). It will then be able to get a piece of the TV advertising revenues by allowing networks like ABC or TBS to sell ads on this highly targeted network. Execs at Canoe think they can triple their TV ad take, to $15 billion from $5 billion a year.

The initiative is also an attempt to block Google from further encroaching into TV territory. The search giant already has a deal with satellite TV service EchoStar to sell ads.

Ideally, this is better news for TV watchers as well. With better-targeted ads, viewers won’t have to sit through as many irrelevant commercials.