Interview: Canoe Ventures’ Verklin: Google TV Ads Is A Potential Partner

imageBack in February, six of the largest cable companies in U.S.– Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications, Charter Communications (NSDQ: CHTR) and Bright House Networks– came together to create a separate company that would allow national advertisers to buy customized and targeted ads. In August, David Verklin said he would step down as CEO of media agency holding company Aegis Media Americas to head up was to that point called Project Canoe. Now as CEO of Canoe Ventures, Verklin is charged with not only holding all the disparate companies together, but on helping make “addressable TV” (i.e., ad targeting) a reality on a national basis. While that sounds daunting enough, Verklin also has to manage increased scrutiny over ad targeting from federal and local officials, growing competition from tech companies and relationships with the ad industry at large. I caught up with Verklin following his appearance on the final panel at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mixx conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Audio of the interview is here; excerpts after the jump:

Canoe as metaphor: This company isn’t called “Battleship,” Verklin said. Nor is it called “Ocean Liner.” So what does the name signify? “A canoe is kind of tippy. The mission here is to bring interactivity and addressability to a national advertising and national content. But we can only do that if we — the MSOs, the networks and the advertisers — stay in the boat, rowing together. There’s been enormous enthusiasm from the MSOs. Part of this is mutual self-interest. That’s always a marvelous basis for a partnership. The six MSOs know that only by working in tandem, that’s the only way we can offer an addressable solution to the problem of national advertising and cable TV. The need is driving the cooperation and the cooperation is driving the need.”

*Google* on Canoe: A few weeks ago, I spoke with Mike Steib, director of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV Ads, which exited out of beta and has been working with satellite TV company EchoStar (NSDQ: DISH) on selling targeted ads using set-top box data. I asked Steib how Google regards Canoe. He told me, “We view Canoe very favorably and we