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Profile: Dave Leitner

Dec 11, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Dave Leitner has spent the past year working on a how-to book. But it’s not your traditional do-it-yourself guide. As VP of sales and marketing for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, he’s charged with spearheading the group’s efforts to market leading-edge cable advertising vehicles, such as interactive television and video-on-demand ads. As part of that mission, he worked with CTAM’s On-Demand Consortium over the past year to develop a guidebook for agencies and advertisers that gives the lowdown on how to plan, build and buy video-on-demand ad campaigns.

As VOD has grown in importance and ad dollars in the past few years, CAB has assumed a larger role in educating advertisers and agencies about the medium. Kagan Research estimates that cable operators will generate $1.1 billion in VOD revenue this year. The firm also reported that VOD now reaches 26 million homes, a figure that is expected to rise to nearly 66 million by 2016.

Part of Mr. Leitner’s job is to proselytize the benefits of cable as a marketing vehicle, which include newer ad opportunities such as VOD. The how-to guide works as a sales positioning document that explains the nuts and bolts of how to advertise in VOD. “It’s a combo of best practices and a day in the life of anyone who has to do these things,” Mr. Leitner said.

Mr. Leitner has been assembling the guide with members from the consortium, an industry group that includes cable operators, advertising agencies, programmers, technology firms and other players interested in driving growth of the VOD business. CAB is heavily involved in the ODC through Mr. Leitner.

“I am trying to increase the education for the general planning and buying folks, creative departments, everyone else at an agency who doesn’t know as much as an in-house expert. … There was no central point of education,” he said.

Media and creative agencies need more education about VOD, said Jen Soch, VP and group director for advanced TV for MediaVest, who is on the ODC and has engineered a number of VOD buys for clients. “The business is changing so quickly and on a dime,” she said. “There are new things on the market every day and education is a gigantic piece of that.”

Some television executives have privately questioned the effectiveness of the consortium, asking whether it has moved the needle for VOD. Mr. Leitner believes in the impact of the group. “These are the people who will build this and bring it to life. … At the end of the day we all need a foundation and roof and we all need four walls; you might use one technology, one builder, I might use another for VOD. … Apart from aesthetics, the functionality has to be the same,” he said.

Mr. Leitner also counts ITV under his purview. “ITV is more advanced in terms of ad units, but those will come into VOD-all of the viewer-controlled triggers, like polling, coupons,” he said.

As part of his education role, Mr. Leitner is developing an “encyclomedia,” a DVD with visual examples of the various types of new media ad units, such as a branded showcase on VOD, an interactive ad with a graphic overlay, and examples of VOD navigation. The project should be complete by year-end. By increasing the knowledge of VOD and ITV, more ad dollars should flow to that area, he said.

Next year he expects the hot VOD topic to be dynamic ad insertion, with some emphasis on metrics. “2007 should be going from infancy to toddlerhood,” he said.