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On-Demand Ads: Chase Initiative Breaks Ground

Feb 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Chase Card Services ran a video-on-demand campaign in December on Comcast Spotlight in Philadelphia that was a first in the VOD business because the advertiser decided to share the results publicly. Advertisers and multiple system operators traditionally have kept measurement and usage information relatively close to the vest.

Chase shared the details of its VOD efforts earlier this year at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference in an effort to spur dialogue and move the ad-supported VOD business along. Those early findings will also inform how the advertiser moves forward with additional new media experimentation later this year.

“I do believe that it is critical for the success of the ad-supported model for advertisers to share stories, best practices, learning-so we can go back to the MSOs and content providers, so we are asking for the right thing,” said Manning Field, senior VP of branding and advertising for Chase Card Services.

Chase is finalizing new media plans for this year, which will include more VOD. “VOD we believe is the strongest application out there and will be around the longest,” Mr. Field said.

While Chase has not determined where to experiment further with VOD ads, it will use the initial data from its Comcast efforts to fine-tune its approach in the next campaign.

Here’s an inside look at the four-week December campaign and the results.

As part of a broader marketing outreach that included TV, direct mail, public relations, radio and out-of-home, Chase ran two long-form VOD spots on the Comcast Spotlight platform in Philadelphia, which counts about 785,000 VOD-enabled subscribers.

The Chase ads explained how Chase’s new Blink feature on its credit card works.

The ads, crafted by new media creative agency Words & Pictures, were 73 and 83 seconds each. They described features of Blink, demonstrated how to use it, and then directed viewers to a Web site for a chance to win a home theater system.

The purpose of the longer VOD spots was to use the flexibility of the VOD medium-which is not confined to traditional 30- or 60-second messages-to explain the Blink feature that Chase is rolling out with retailers in Philadelphia. With Blink, Chase card users simply “wave” the card in front of a card reader. Because of the newness of the feature, Chase required a fresh communications approach, Mr. Field said, and long-form VOD provided the right forum for a more educational message.

To drive viewers to the VOD spots, Chase tagged its traditional linear 30-second commercials with a message that viewers could get more information on VOD. In addition, Chase sponsored on-demand movie trailers that urged viewers to check out the long-form ads.

The Chase long-form spots were bookended by a call to action, encouraging viewers to visit a Chase-branded Web site, where they could fill out a survey and be entered to win the home theater system. The goal of the survey was to gauge the effectiveness and impact of the VOD ads.

This multistep campaign allowed the marketer to measure the impact of its messaging at each stage.

The movie trailers Chase sponsored were seen by more than 167,000 unique viewers during that four-week time frame. Of those, nearly 2,400 unique viewers watched the long-form Chase ads, said Mitch Oscar, executive VP of Carat Digital, who shepherded the VOD buy.

The fact that about 2,400 people, or a little more than 1 percent, chose to engage in an ad is promising, with direct mail generating less than a 1 percent response rate, Mr. Field said.

The response rate for the Chase ads is especially strong considering the technological limitations inherent in the marketing campaign. Viewers had to consciously choose to leave the linear programming, go to VOD and then search through the VOD menu for the Chase spots. Or they had to actively choose to find the Chase spot after watching the Chase-sponsored on-demand trailers.

Mr. Field is confident that the response will grow in future campaigns as it becomes easier to guide consumers through the steps. That’s because Chase will take advantage of “telescoping” technology that cable operators are starting to deploy that allows viewers to jump seamlessly with the click of a remote from the linear spots to the VOD spots.

That capability should help Chase, or any marketer, preserve more viewers by making it easier for them to stay with the brand because there will be fewer opportunities for fallout.

“The less clicks you have to get to something, the more successful you will be in getting users to it,” Mr. Field said.

Technology firm Navic Networks has tested telescoping capability with Time Warner and found that viewing of a long-form ad increases sixfold when viewers can click a remote to link from the 30-second spot to the longer VOD ad, compared with when the 30-second spot simply has a call to action urging viewers to get more information on VOD.

“If you can make linkage easier, there has to be benefits,” Mr. Oscar said. “We will do whatever we can with technology to make it a seamless experience.”

Chase plans to use Navic technology this year in connection with its additional VOD efforts.

The partners in the Chase campaign learned from this first effort that the creative needs to be varied. There can’t be similarities in the copy, Mr. Oscar said, because viewers have opted in to watch the VOD ads. “It has to feel like a new experience,” he said.

Many clients hesitate before embarking on long-form VOD because they don’t have the creative or the content, said Kristi Faulkner, co-founder of Words & Pictures. “While there are a lot of interesting new media opportunities, there isn’t always a strategy for how to leverage that,” Ms. Faulkner said. But she added that the kind of spots her agency created for Chase cost less than a traditional 30-second spot.

Mr. Oscar wants the Chase campaign to be the start of a new strategy of openness in the industry about VOD marketing. “Every tidbit we can share and someone else can share, we can improve everyone else’s experience,” he said.