ADOTAS – Comcast’s partnership with Rubicon Project, announced earlier this week, gives marketers the ability to buy display ads programmatically across its web properties like Xfinity and xfinityTV.com. To anyone immersed in the ad industry, this news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, since everything is moving towards the programmatic ad delivery model – using algorithms to quickly and easily fuel ad buys for display and video inventory across the web.
So what does this announcement mean for Comcast, who currently reaches over 20 million subscribers and who has been making moves towards a merger with Time Warner? Starting this week, both Xfinity and xfinityTV.com will be added to Rubicon Project’s real-time-bidding platform so that potential advertisers can vie to purchase display ad inventory on Comcast’s websites. This allows brands to reach uncharted new audiences and since this may be perceived as a premium ad buy, the platform will allow for both an open exchange and a private exchange for a group of hand-picked advertisers.
“The overlying need is that the advertising community is certainly looking for more efficient ways to purchase ad inventory, and particularly display inventory,” said Tom Straszewski (pictured), VP of Interactive Sales at Comcast Spotlight. “It was important for Comcast to partner with the leading company that addresses interest in the automation need.”
This move brings the company further into the 21st century, although Comcast has been criticized recently for its own advertising campaign on its net neutrality stance, running a full-page print ad in the Wall Street Journal listing 4 potential benefits from the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. (I guess print isn’t dead?)
The ad was formatted like a multiple-choice question stating “Which Would Your Choose?” and with “Net Neutrality Protection” as the first answer choice. With “All of the Above” selected, it implies that the merger will create faster, more secure, and lower-cost Internet for consumers. While irksome to some, the ad seemed to trivialize issue of net neutrality – a highly important issue that will shape our views and may stifle our free-flowing access to information in the near future.
Comcast’s foray into programmatic display will be a testing ground of sorts, as the company evaluates possibilities to roll-out this approach across other properties in the near future. Only time will tell though about the looming Comcast/Time-Warner Cable merger but people are certainly not afraid to share their opinions on the topic.
“This doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” said Rep. Rochelle M. “Chellie” Pingree, a Maine Democrat who has posted an online petition opposing Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable with 161,000 signatures. “Nobody believes that by combining these two companies they will be twice as good. People think they will be twice as bad.”
In fact, The American Consumer Satisfaction Index just named Time Warner Cable Internet at the very bottom of a list of 236 companies in terms of customer satisfaction while Comcast’s Xfinity service placed at 234.