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Comcast Constructing 500TB User Data Warehouse
To store a year of viewing habits of 16 million households...
by Karl Bode 11:23AM Monday Jan 12 2009
Charter, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Comcast and Bright House Networks are collaboratively working on a new advertising system they've dubbed "Canoe." The effort, designed to help keep billions in ad dollars from flowing to the Googles of the world, will attempt to make TV advertising more interactive and user (or neighborhood) specific. The program, which will monitor your viewing habits, is expected to take off sometime early this year, and customers tell us they've been getting e-mails concerning Canoe pilot programs since last October.

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An early trial will be in the Baltimore market, where Comcast calls this "addressable advertising," which will "increase the relevancy of the TV advertising seen by our Digital Cable subscribers." According to Comcast, the data used to determine which ads users will see is based on "standard, widely available demographic information," so you know, don't worry. From the e-mail:
To do this, we match anonymous, non-sensitive, geographic and demographic household characteristics to ad messages we think will be more relevant. This will not increase or decrease the number of ads you see and throughout the test your privacy will be protected. Our privacy policy is detailed in our public Privacy Policy Statements and available on our web site.
To store all this data, an insider says Comcast is building a 500 terabyte "TV warehouse," which will be able to hold a full year of statistics gathered from digital set-tops in more than 16 million households. Cable companies aren't talking too much about this project yet, as there's still a lot of technical obstacles to overcome. There's probably going to be a lot of ongoing privacy debate as well, if the kerfuffle over behavioral advertising was any indication.

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