Michael Kubin '71 Helps Advertisers Find Their Television Audience
With all of the buzz about internet as a marketing medium, "TV is still the number one medium for major marketers at companies like Johnson and Johnson, Procter and Gamble, and the like," according to Michael Kubin '71.
|Michael Kubin '71 speaks with ORIE Director Adrian Lewis (left) at the 2011 ORIE reunion breakfast
Kubin is Executive Vice President of Invidi Technologies, a company that has borrowed an approach from internet marketing to enable advertisers to overcome the fragmentation of television viewership and home in on their target customers, akin to what direct mail advertisers do. Currently "there is a huge amount of waste" in TV advertising that goes to other than the appropriate audience, waste that Invidi has set out to reduce, Kubin said.
Kubin, who followed his BS from ORIE with an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an MS from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, is no stranger to internet advertising. He founded an internet company to track advertising that was eventually acquired by the largest media communications company in the world.
As he outlined to a session of the Enterprise Engineering Colloquium, Invidi Technologies uses the addressable digital set top box, working with satellite, cable and optical fiber transmission, to segment and target viewership. Through Invidi's technology different viewers, even in the same household, receive different commercial spots.
Appeal of the technology
"Reaching and monetizing the 'long tail' of TV, expanding the volume of advertising inventory, and enabling precise target delivery as well as 'reach' and frequency tracking" attracted Kubin to Invidi. Phenomena having the statistical property that a larger proportion of observations lie towards the extremes than is predicted by the Gaussian (normal) distribution are called 'long tailed' or 'heavy tailed' phenomena. The 'reach' of an advertisement is the number or proportion of people in a category are exposed to it in a given period of time. These concepts and others used in media clearly relate to Kubin's OR background.
Using Invidi's set-top box makes it possible that, for example, "all men 35-49 get to see the same spot, no matter what program they are watching." This "allows us to put the audience back together again," Kubin said, expanding reach and reducing waste. Even though their technology is new, Invidi already is employed in 20 cities for 3.7 million subscribers, and is "98.23% accurate, with ads that are 65% more efficient and 32% more effective," Kubin claimed.
""Privacy is a huge part of this business," Kubin said, noting that "5% of households choose to opt out." Although technology that is able to deduce who is actually watching a program is "scarily accurate," that information does not go back to database companies such as Experian that advertisers use to pinpoint target groups. Kubin also pointed out that "if spots are relevant to users, viewers won't zip through them" even if they have used a digital video recorder (DVR) to shift viewing times.
Investment in technical skills
Kubin said that patents and other intellectual property are "critical to what we do" at Invidi and that"98% of the money raised has gone to hiring software developers." These software engineers are both implementers and planners. "Figuring out what the advertisers are going to want entails some "pretty heavy duty math," he said. Invidi investors include Google, GroupM, and DirectTV.
Although Kubin works at the intersection of engineering and business, he also loves and practices journalism. His articles have been published in the New York Observer, The New Yorker, and the New York Times, including a first-hand account of his experiences as a victim of Bernard Madoff. In his 30+ year career, he has managed a significant string of successful entrepreneurial ventures in the world of media, in addition to contributing media content.
The Enterprise Engineering Colloquium is sponsored by the Cornell Engineering Alumni Association.