The type of tailored advertising found at high-traffic Web sites such as Google and Facebook is coming to television.
Its proponents say addressable television advertising, which uses financial and cable company data to generate targeted TV commercials, can give banks and other advertisers more bang for the marketing buck.
"It's advanced advertising for television," said Josh Herman, multichannel marketing innovation leader for Acxiom Corp., which has tested the service in two markets, with a bank and an insurance company.
Acxiom manages consumer data and integrates it into an advertiser prospect and marketing database. "The bank [chief marketing officer] will be able to leverage investment in database marketing into television in a way that's more measurable than ever before," Herman said.
Acxiom has struck a partnership with Experian PLC, Nielsen Co. and Visible World Inc. — an interactive advertising vendor that allows different versions of ads to be shown in different households — to merge television set-top-box data into a single database that can be used to help companies better target the addressable ads.
Other companies developing addressable television systems include Invidi Technologies Corp. and Navic Networks, which was purchased by Microsoft Corp. in 2008.
Cable providers such as Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. have said that by the end of this year about 10 million households will have access to advanced advertising capabilities, a number that should double by the end of 2010.
In the Acxiom pilot programs, consumers viewed ads and could click a button on their remote controls to call up an interactive graphic to obtain more information about the advertised product.
In one test 61% of the respondents were customers of that advertiser, Herman said.
Addressable advertising works by matching consumer relationships, financial information and transaction data from the bank with neighborhood demographics from the cable company and creative from the advertising agencies.
The result is television advertising that threads a narrower demographic needle, promoting specific financial products or services to specific customers or groups of customers.
"A lot of national banks are trying to embrace localized marketing. Advertisers, agencies and CMOs are looking at ways to measure effectiveness of advertising," said Kosta Skoulikaris, a senior director at Experian, which has participated in addressable television trials with firms including Comcast, Discover Financial Services and the French ad agency Publicis in the past few years. "Addressable television allows you to go to micro targeting and micro measuring."
The technology could help banks better match television campaigns to certain segments and help them allocate marketing resources, analysts said.
"I can't for the life of me think we're going to see huge growth in deposits or accounts because of this," said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group. Consumers research those decisions too carefully to be wooed by a television ad, Shevlin said. "But what [addressable advertising] should be able to do is stem the flow of dollars from television to other channels," he said.
Banks spent about $70 billion last year on TV ads and about $20 billion on online ads.
To date there have been few examples of addressable campaigns from financial institutions, but marketing executives who have participated in the pilot programs say the concept shows promise.
"The set-top box allows you to monitor the tuning behavior, so second by second you know the ad is playing," said Tracey Scheppach, a senior vice president and the innovations director for Starcom MediaVest Group, a Publicis division that has done extensive testing of addressable advertising over the past couple of years with Comcast in markets such as Huntsville, Ala.; Baltimore; and Brooklyn, N.Y.