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Xerox’s Foundation Built on New Media

Oct 31, 2004  •  Post A Comment

By Daisy Whitney

Xerox’s advertising director believes new media platforms will “rock” the advertising world over the next two to four years. That’s why the company made a decision to get its marketing message into as many emerging media forms as possible, including the placement of ads starting last month in on-demand programming from Discovery Channel and History Channel and more ads in CNN’s on-demand service.

That initiative was sparked by the visit Xerox made to the interactive lab that its agency, Mediaedge:cia in New York, is touting as a show-and-tell room to demonstrate to clients the advertising opportunities in video-on-demand, interactive television and sync-to-broadcast applications.

When Xerox’s Barbara Basney, director of global advertising for the company best known for its photocopying machines, first visited the studio in the agency’s New York offices a year ago, that trip signaled a significant change in Xerox’s ad strategy. New media has become a line item on Xerox’s media budget for the first time this year.

Appeal Is Growing

Xerox is not alone. Mediaedge:cia said the majority of the major brands it represents are either experimenting with emerging media or plan to do so in the next quarter. The studio, operational for a little more than a year, is emblematic of the even more vital role that agencies need to play as envoys for and shepherds of their clients into this new media world. Mediaedge:cia has executed more advanced television campaigns this year than in the three years leading up to it, said Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications for the agency.

The studio-designed like a living room, with two purple couches, a table and a remote control the size of a small laptop-boasts the latest in video gee-whizzery-three television monitors, two of which display HD programming from cable and satellite; three digital set-top boxes; an integrated digital video recorder; a TiVo digital video recorder; video-on-demand programming from local cable operator Time Warner; a DVD player; Web TV; an Xbox, digital surround sound, a computer screen and a Microsoft Media Center.

Visiting the studio sold Ms. Basney on emerging media. “It brings it to life, seeing it in action,” she said. “We are going to see things happen in the next two to four years that are going to change how we choose to reach people through this convergence of interactive TV and people’s expectations on how they want to consume media.”

Reaching New Consumers

As evidence of its growing interest in new media, Xerox began placing ads on both Discovery on Demand and History Channel on Demand and ramped up the number of ads it has run intermittently on CNN on Demand for about a year.

The new media exposure is part of Xerox’s effort to reach new consumers that started with the new branding campaign it kicked off in 2002. “As part and parcel of that effort, we are looking for ways to reach our target audience more effectively and reach them in new and different ways,” Ms. Basney said.

Xerox advertises on linear networks CNN, History Channel and Discovery. “Discovery and History complement the traditional broadcast media buy and extend it,” Ms. Basney said.

Xerox and Mediaedge:cia expect to receive information on actual program views by household and title and the number of households watching. That’s an improvement from a year ago, when agencies and advertisers received virtually nothing in terms of VOD usage data.

“If [VOD advertising] is going to work mainstream, it has to work for the agencies. We need reach and frequency [gross rating points],” Mr. Bologna said. VOD data is, however, generally not available for about four to six weeks.

The ultimate goal is to have minute-by-minute tracking of on-demand content, said Bill Jennings, VP of interactive and enhanced TV sales at A&E Television Networks, which includes the History Channel on-demand service.

Xerox declined to disclose its VOD expenditures. VOD ads are generally being bought on the expected number of impressions, in the same way that TV shows are bought on projected ratings, Mr. Jennings said.

VOD advertising can help make an advertiser whole again as viewers migrate away from linear viewing and toward VOD and other time-shifting TV habits. Lost viewership on linear networks could be made up for in increased usage of on-demand content. “This is kind of like an insurance policy,” Mr. Bologna said.

Xerox’s presence on all three programming services includes a series of five-second billboards leading into various 30-second spots. In the future, Mr. Bologna said, he’d like viewers to be able to jump from the bumper ad to a long-form ad or additional branded content from advertisers.

Discovery on Demand has been a key force in driving interest in ad-supported VOD content this fall. “The entire [ad] industry was waiting in line for Discovery on Demand,” Mr. Bologna said.

Mr. Bologna said Xerox is sponsoring the signature shows in on-demand programming, like “CNN Presents” and “Larry King Live” on CNN, “Modern Marvels” on History Channel and “American Chopper” and “Monster Garage” on Discovery Channel.

“We’re not testing this in 25,000 homes in Tupelo, Miss., anymore. This is real,” Mr. Bologna said.