From 1984 to 2010: The Emergence of “Household-Level Addressability”

big_brother Regardless of the state of the wider human and ecological world, corporate capitalism pushes market totalitarianism ever farther up the asymptote.

Advertising Age is reporting that addressable television advertising, long coveted by corporate marketers, has reached the point of being “an emerging concept.”  2010, Ad Age says, is the year when TV addressability will move from small test runs to full implementation into the broadcast streams for millions of U.S. households.   “Next year is when you’ll start to see how addressability gets sucked into a more core marketing strategy,” said Visible World President Tara Walpert Levy to the long-running marketing journal.

So what is “addressable TV advertising” and why does it matter?  Ad Age explains the technique:

Two types of addressable technologies are available: zone addressability and household. Zone refers to a group of ZIP codes or neighborhoods that can often be bundled demographically, so a marketer can target a predominantly upper-income neighborhood or a predominantly Spanish-speaking area. Household addressability can target TV viewers based on specific data ranging from age to sex to current ownership of consumer goods.

In other words, big business marketers are about to gain the ability to send customized advertisements to specific geographic and demographic targets, down to the level of the individual household.

Thanks to cable television’s progressive replacement of old-fashioned ether-based broadcasting, corporate marketers have long been able to collect detailed viewing-behavior data from individual households.  Now, their customers (big business advertisers) will also be able to tailor the marketing communications going back into those households according to what they’ve learned from their prior analysis of not just viewing, but also shopping, demographic, psychographic, and financial data.  Corporate capacities for creating and measuring the effects of behavioral stimuli are poised, once again, to expand.

Will it actually work?  Will ad-addressability bring our already comprehensively commodified, commercialized, and deskilled personal lives into still tighter compliance with the dictates of the bottom line of the world’s private-jetting overclass?

Ad Age again:

Ad Age, Visible World and Cablevision’s poll found over 59% of respondents considered addressable advertising to be at least 50% more effective than a non-targeted campaign.

Cablevision’s Optimum Cable recently advertised its triple-play subscription packages in New York with household addressable ads that targeted customers based on current subscriptions. Households that subscribed only to wireless and phone packages received ads offering a package that included cable, while cable-only households were offered a package that included phone and high-speed data services. David Kline, president-Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., said the company saw a double-digit lift in subscriptions among the targeted households. In zone addressability, Cablevison’s recently launched Optimum Select allows viewers to interact with an ad to request information or request a product sample, “We’ve seen really phenomenal response from consumers in our first month,” Mr. Kline said. “We often run out of product.”

Though capitalism remains comparatively subtle and anarchic, the arrival of “household-level addressability” constitutes a real step beyond the telescreens of Orwell’s Big Brother.  Those could only look in on you.  Nobody in Oceania sat in front of their telescreen for fun.  Certainly, nobody was addicted to sitting in front of them.  People didn’t stand around the water cooler talking about what they saw on the telescreen last night.  Oceanians didn’t purchase giant, energy-sucking, room-dominating plasma telescreens and hook them up to telescreen recorders.

We “Americans,” the supposedly privileged residents of the allegedly history-ending, best-of-all-possible-worlds, do.  Meanwhile, our Earth-wrecking masters are laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank.