Addressable Media

In 2004, the Internet was still in its infancy, really: marketing databases couldn’t match email addresses to actual people reliably, Ad Tech was still very much a manual process. “The Facebook” had just launched in a Harvard dorm room and was only available on that campus; Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail was still 2 years from publication. Online advertising revenues in the U.S. were $9.6 billion1source: IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report 2005, and represented about 3.7% of total U.S. ad spending.

2004 were the early days. “Addressable Media” have become vastly more sophisticated since then, and revenues have grown accordingly. Online ad revenue in 2015 was over $80 billion – literally the square of what it was in ’04!2This includes mobile, which wasn’t even a category the IAB tracked until 2011.



Data Providers

Meanwhile, the ecosystem to support data-driven marketing was about as sophisticated as it needed to be. There were basically three main “original source” providers of consumer marketing data: Experian, Acxiom, and InfoUSA. Apart from these three, there was a vast network of data resellers of varying degrees of “value add”. And there were a few upstarts — including Merkle, who has since become a major player. Wunderman also had a data company called KnowledgeBase Marketing, which has evolved to KBM Group, but they weren’t really original source providers in any meaningful way.

The Project

Phase I

I pitched senior management at Experian. My case was: hey, the world of Addressable Media is about to become a whole lot bigger. (See Future of Consumer Data.) I offered to do a small project to explain — analytically; quantitatively — what that meant. Here’s that project:

I called this “Phase I” because, as a consultant, of course I was angling for a much larger follow-on project.

Phase II

Phase I identified as a top priority MVPD, or Multichannel Video Programming Distribution. As I saw it — and as the data corroborated — video content was poised to become an enormous opportunity for targeted communication.

Experian senior management agreed, and commissioned “Project Horizon”. I hired some help3Clareo Partners, who at the time were a new consulting firm in my network, and we produced this strategy piece:

and the accompanying deck, which I presented to Experian’s president and her top management team:

Download the full deck here:


Experian Marketing Solutions created an entirely new business unit based on this work, responsible for positioning the company for growth into the still-nascent addressable media industry.

References   [ + ]

1. source: IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report 2005
2. This includes mobile, which wasn’t even a category the IAB tracked until 2011
3. Clareo Partners, who at the time were a new consulting firm in my network