By Sheila Dang
(Reuters) - U.S. cable provider Comcast Corp on Tuesday launched a program to further develop an advertising strategy that better targets audiences, as the TV industry looks to lure more advertisers away from digital players like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google.
The initiative, called "On Addressability," aims to create standards for addressable advertising, which targets ads to certain households based on their interests. It has so far been done only on a small scale in TV advertising.
Comcast said it will partner with two other cable providers, Charter Communications and Cox Media, the ad division of Cox Communications, to pool what they have learned from offering addressable advertising, help other content distributors do the same, including how to ensure customer data is used in ways that comply with privacy standards.
While TV is still the best way to reach large numbers of people at one time, it has lacked the targeting, data and measurement that digital platforms like Facebook offer advertisers, said Marcien Jenckes, president of advertising for Comcast Cable.
"TV is often looked at as the lowest common denominator medium (in advertising), and unless addressability is achieved at scale, we're going to fall short," he said in an interview.
Comcast has worked with TV networks Fox, Viacom and A+E in the past to develop addressable advertising, Jenckes said. He declined to name current programmers the company will work with.
U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc and its advertising unit Xandr have also heavily publicized their efforts in addressable ads. Xandr and Comcast-owned advertising technology company FreeWheel are both part of Project OAR, a consortium of companies that is trying to standardize addressable advertising.
Comcast is open to working with Xandr for the On Addressability initiative, but "our understanding is they want to take a more solo approach," Jenckes said.
A Xandr spokesman declined to comment.
The addressable TV advertising market is expected to hit $3.3 billion by 2020, up from $2 billion in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer. Addressable is still only 3.7% of total TV ad spending.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Leslie Adler)