Mike Bologna is on the super-short-list of video-on-demand power brokers.
More often than not, when a network or programmer is chatting about new ad deals for its VOD shows, Mr. Bologna orchestrated the buy.
As Mediaedge:cia’s senior partner and director of emerging communications, he has been stacking up a lot more deals this year. In the past nine months alone he has guided the company’s clients-including Cingular, Colgate, Sears, Cadbury and Paramount-to include for the first time VOD ads in their media mixes . He also continues to steer Xerox and Lincoln Mercury on their VOD courses. In addition to the influx of new VOD advertisers, he has made a mark on the business as one of the first media agency executives to strike longer-term deals and renewals in VOD.
“He doesn’t just do a test,” said Christina Tancredi, executive VP of VOD network Music Choice. “He wants to do a big deal and wants to do renewals.” This year several Mediaedge clients have signed VOD deals with Music Choice that extend beyond a month or two, which had been the norm previously.
Mr. Bologna has brokered buys for his clients in Concert TV, RipeTV, TV Guide, Havoc, Anime Network, Discovery, A&E, Cartoon Network, CNN, Nickelodeon, MTV, Music Choice and others. Because he works directly under Rino Scanzoni, the agency’s chief investment officer, Mr. Bologna’s mandate is to strategize on the emerging media components in television for new multiplatform deals.
“My job is to help people do things they haven’t done before-to help with the strategy and bring the idea and to help clients understand the benefits and limitations of new media,” he said.
In its favor, VOD claims targetability and engagement, but strikes against it include long lead times for creative and sparse measurement data, he said. However, VOD is also a flexible medium that lets advertisers stretch their creative muscles.
This year Mediaedge clients have begun crafting custom messages for the VOD medium, Mr. Bologna said. That can mean developing new creative of various lengths-as short as a few seconds to as long as a few minutes-as well as product placements and “DVR-proof” messages that pop up during a program. “In the VOD environment, we have the ability to go beyond the traditional message,” he said.
Clients also point to the work Mr. Bologna has done in finding just the right thematic fit. For instance, he engineered a buy for Paramount to promote its on-demand title “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” earlier this year in front of rapper 50 Cent’s videos in Music Choice. 50 Cent stars in the movie. That kind of tie-in is critical to advertisers seeking to reach a targeted audience.
“He helps us to know what the newest networks are out there and what are their capabilities,” said Kristie Macdonald, director of marketing for Paramount domestic pay TV ancillary sales. She added that she looks to Mr. Bologna to stay on the cutting edge of VOD developments. “There is no one more on the pulse of what’s happening in VOD,” she said.
Beyond VOD, Mr. Bologna is also charged with evaluating opportunities in the emerging mobile advertising space.
He joined Mediaedge after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University in 1997, moving from media planning to online buying to emerging communications. N
Title: Senior partner and director of emerging communications, Mediaedge:cia
Date of birth: Aug. 7, 1975
Place of birth: Greenwich, Conn.
Big break: Mediaedge gave him the opportunity to help develop the Emerging Communications Studio and lead the new media practice in February 2003.
Mr. Bologna is a music buff and has attended more than 250 concerts.