Digitalsmiths-Warner Bros. Deal Demonstrates Importance of Video Search

Mar 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Video search and targeting firm Digitalsmiths has signed a deal to provide video search for a new Web site that Warner Bros. Television plans to launch in early April.
The partnership with Warner Bros. is the first deal Digitalsmiths has struck to manage video search on a consumer Web site for a major media brand, and it demonstrates the growing need for media companies to make video content easy to find on their sites.
As consumers continue to devour Web video, media companies are developing new sites, services and online shows to meet that demand. As they do so, they need the tools to help their site visitors find the videos they want to see. More than 75% of Internet users watched online video in January, according to comScore.
Digitalsmiths CEO Ben Weinberger referenced the Warner Bros. deal during a presentation at media agency Carat last week, but did not disclose details. However, the partnership is emblematic of a larger industry trend toward targeting, which means offering more relevant ads and content to either TV viewers or online consumers. In fact, targetability was a key topic of discussion at the Carat meeting, a sort of modern-day Algonquin Round Table for advanced television hosted by Mitch Oscar, Carat’s executive VP of digital.
More than 100 advertising, media and television executives from companies such as Cablevision, Visible World, Time Warner Cable, Google, Bear Stearns, Weather Channel and ABC gathered at Carat’s offices last week for a series of presentations on targeting tools for television and the Web.
With the effectiveness of traditional TV advertising being called into question, advertisers are increasingly eager to find ways to target their consumers through video search and addressable ads, which help drive more efficient ad buys.
“Targetability is key in advertising right now. It’s about addressability. It’s about the audience,” Mr. Oscar said.
DigitalSmiths’ video search technology lets media companies and Web sites find video and also marry ads to contextual Web video content.
Mr. Weinberger said the Warner Bros. site would launch shortly and will include video search, with video ad-targeting capabilities slated down the road. “We are building consumer search and targeted advertising,” he said, adding that Digitalsmiths will be able to provide information to media companies on what type of content their users search for, what they click on, how much of a video they watch and what they watch afterwards.
“We will build a picture of what users look for on a site,” he said.
He added that video search has been proven to increase time spent on a site.
Warner Bros. Television Group declined to comment specifically on the Digitalsmiths deal.
However, the company provided the following statement: “We are in the process of developing several Warner Bros.-branded Web destinations and will announce all the details in the coming weeks.”
Digitalsmiths is one of several companies aiming to provide this sort of “private label” video search for specific media sites and Web destinations. Competitors include Blinkx, Clipblast, Truveo and others.
Experts believe that private-label search on a Web site makes sense for smaller firms, rather than competing head-on with Google as a consumer search destination for video.
While Google is dominant online, it’s also making a bigger play for TV ad dollars these days with its Google TV ads project. Through its AdWords advertising platform, Google has been providing clients with an auction system for TV ad time on EchoStar for nine months. Ultimately the search engine would like to provide a “dashboard” for advertisers to let them view their ad campaigns across all mediums, including online TV, radio, print and others.
“Can Google do that in TV?” said Daniel Gertsacov, senior account executive for TV at Google, who spoke at the meeting. “I will put as evidence the last nine years what we have been able to do on the Web, with both Google’s growth and that we have made $1.44 billion in the fourth quarter for our partners. That’s our proposition as we approach television today.”
So far Google has been able to provide detailed reports to its TV advertisers within 24 hours of running a spot, he said. That includes information on whether a consumer changed the channel during a commercial, watched the entire commercial live and the percent of a show’s audience the ad retained. Google also provides information on what portion of a commercial consumers watched, in which show and on which day.
“That approach to buying television is a search online approach applied to TV, and our initial experience over the last nine months is that not only does it work, but it’s one dashboard for ROI for advertisers with TV, online, offline, billboard,” Mr. Gertsacov said. “We have the computer know-how to provide those answers.”
TV networks also are providing targeted ads in some cases. The Weather Channel, using the same technology it relies on to deliver local forecasts, is delivering ads to viewers targeted to their local weather, said Chris Raleigh, senior VP of ad sales at the cable channel, during his presentation.
For instance, the network can peddle air conditioners when the weather in different locales hits 90 degrees. By the same token, advertisers like Home Depot have used the geo-targeting tools to market different products and services depending on the local forecast.
Cable operators are keen to explore targeted ads and content. “As television … continues to take on the interactivity of the Web, it is important that we all work together to take advantage of these technologies for our businesses and our clients.” said Barry Frey, senior VP of advanced platform sales at Cablevision.

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