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Comcast Offering Classifieds Via VOD

Jul 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Just as local broadcasters are doing on their Web sites, cable operator Comcast is now targeting the classified ad business that newspapers have long held near and dear. But Comcast is putting a new twist on this age-old business: It’s offering paid classifieds on its video-on-demand service.
The operator also is poaching from the experts. To build up its on-demand classified division, Comcast Spotlight, the ad sales arm for the multiple-system operator, just hired 12 newspaper classified-ad salespeople.
The hiring follows a yearlong rollout of VOD classifieds in real estate, automotive and employment. Comcast expects to reach its entire VOD footprint with the ads by the end of this summer.
Concurrent with this effort, Comcast has built an online companion product that lets advertisers and consumers upload and post their classifieds online in a self-service fashion.
Comcast Spotlight hired those dozen advertising executives from papers including the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Seattle Times and the Denver Post.
Comcast logged some early successes during the initial rollout. In the last year, the operator has included paid listings from real estate firms such as Coldwell Banker, Re/Max, Prudential, Century 21 and Keller Williams.
The Boston market, one of the most mature, generates about 125,000 views each month of its classifieds, with viewers spending more than 5,800 total hours per month watching the listings, according to Tom Wolfe, VP of product marketing at Comcast Spotlight.
VOD classifieds is an entirely new business. But to get a sense of its potential, the online classifieds business is worth $10 billion, with newspapers commanding $2.2 billion in online classifieds, according to media-research firm Borrell Associates.
Once VOD classifieds reach critical mass, Comcast will promote the VOD listings using cross-channel spots. It’s done that already in Boston and other markets.
“This is a great opportunity for advertisers to utilize their newspaper dollars in a more efficient manner,” Mr. Wolfe said. “You are viewing images and viewing them on a large screen. It’s 24/7, never misplaced and never thrown away.”

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