GroupM forms new agency to specialize in addressable TV ads

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Ad agency GroupM has launched a buying and planning agency dedicated to digital distribution, addressable TV, hyper-local TV and interactive TV. The unit, called Modi, will be available to GroupM's agencies and clients, and will also seek business from clients not affiliated with GroupM shops.

Modi will focus on addressable TV, which allows marketers to send commercials only to set-top boxes of households that fit specific characteristics desired by the advertiser. According to GroupM, 40 percent of U.S. households can receive addressable ads. The unit will have 20 employees and be led by Michael Bologna, GroupM's director-emerging communications.

The TV industry has struggled with enhanced TV advertising platforms that would enable both addressability, as well as interactive advertising experiences. However, the kinks are beginning to be worked out thanks to the development of new technologies and the availability of new sources of data, GroupM said in a statement.

GroupM is an investor in Invidi Technologies, a company that owns the primary patents for, and has developed the software enabling most of, the addressable TV advertising infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada. The company recently settled a patent infringement suit with Visible World, another TV advertising developer. While details of the settlement haven't been released, Invidi CEO David Downey told MediaPost the settlement only permits Visible World to continue developing addressable TV advertising campaigns with Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC), which was a party to the original patent infringement suit. However, as a result of the settlement, Downey said Invidi is also working directly with Cablevision to deploy its addressable TV advertising solutions to the cable operator's subscribers.

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