On-Demand Ads: Format Moving Out of the Box

Feb 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Video-on-demand is touted as a cool, cutting-edge medium for advertising because it’s opt-in, flexible and increasingly popular among consumers. But few programmers have taken advantage of that inherent flexibility to serve up out-of-the box advertising opportunities. Most marketers in VOD have relied on traditional 15- and 30-second ads. While those work fine, a handful of programmers have been crafting unconventional ad buys to test the potential of the platform.


Ripe Digital Entertainment built its VOD service, RipeTV, on the very premise of integrating advertising into the content. CEO Ryan Magnussen refers to the approach as “fast-forward-resistant” because the ads live with and on the content.

The VOD network, which targets men 18 to 34, is currently running a campaign for Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice that’s based on this “immersive advertising” concept that RipeTV first expounded two years ago.

Old Spice and other advertisers participate in multiple ways in the content. A bumper spot ranging from eight to 15 seconds runs in front of the programming. Within the shows, the network rotates different types of the “fast-forward-resistant” ads. They appear on the screen at various times during the programming as a “brought to you by Old Spice” logo in the lower left-hand corner, a message in the lower third of the screen, and a skin that wraps around the content, for instance.


Music performance and documentary network Concert has worked to shape fresh new advertising opportunities for its marketers, especially since Concert is a VOD-only network. “Frankly, for a little guy, one of the few advantages we have is flexibility,” said Jeff Shultz, CEO of the network.

Concert has used that advantage to align its ad partners closely with specific content. For instance, last summer Coca-Cola provided music-related creative that followed the story of an up-and-coming band on the road. Concert split the creative into bite-size 15-second spots and wove them throughout the programming.

While the length of the spots was somewhat traditional, the approach was unique because the ads were related contextually to the content and told their own story. That also made it less likely for viewers to want to fast-forward through the ads, Mr. Shultz said. In addition, the network posted Coca-Cola logos as “bugs” on the screen.

“It doesn’t feel like an interruption,” he said. “We are trying to engage them in that story. The more music-related and closer it can be, the more sense it can make to the consumer.”

Along that same line, Starbucks advertised on Concert last year to promote the 10th- anniversary edition of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” an album that contained acoustic re-recordings of the original songs. The coffee purveyor carried the album for several weeks before it was released to traditional record outlets and ran spots in front of Concert’s Alanis Morissette retrospective, providing a perfect marriage of ads and content.


G4’s VOD content, found in 18 million homes, consistently ranks in the top five of all ad-supported cable networks on VOD, said Neal Tiles, president of G4.

The cable network’s advertising approach has been to offer customization opportunities with its ad partners. When Microsoft introduced the newest Xbox 360 in November, the software giant chose to buy VOD content rather than ads, Mr. Tiles said. Microsoft bought the entire month of November on-demand and all the content was devoted to the Xbox. That was possible to do editorially because the release of the Xbox was precisely the kind of programming that’s interesting to G4’s audience.

Next month, the U.S. Navy will be the sole sponsor of the military-themed content in the game reviews section in G4 on-demand. That’s an alternative approach for VOD because it links traditional spots thematically with content.

“There is no way they will be able to escape without seeing the messaging from the U.S. Navy,” Mr. Tiles said.