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CBS Pitching Sticky Videos

Apr 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When selling marketers on digital deals at this year’s upfront advertising market, CBS plans to claim that it engages audiences better than its competitors.
The network is coming armed with research on engagement, how many video streams it serves and how audiences use full-episode streaming of its TV shows on the Web.
It’s part of the maturation of Web video as a business proposition. Television networks are looking for data points that distinguish their digital products as they struggle to keep upfront revenue steady amid an overall decline in viewership. This year, CBS and other networks are coming to the table laden with stats on how their shows perform online.
“There is more and more of a microscope on performance this year,” said Patrick Keane, chief marketing officer for CBS Interactive. “You have big brands that have moved beyond the test–and-learn phase into measurable large-dollar transitions [from the Web to TV] this year.”
CBS’ emphasis on metrics and research underscores the bigger role that online video will play in the broadcast networks’ upfront presentations to advertisers this year. Convergence Consulting recently predicted advertisers will spend $2.3 billion this year on broadcast and cable network Web sites, including banner and online video ads, a 64% increase from last year.
To grab its share, CBS will tell advertisers that the average visitor spends about 17 minutes on CBS.com when watching video programming—the longest time for any broadcast network, according to comScore, said Ken Lagana, senior VP of sales for CBS Interactive.
Advertisers like data, and they say they’re investing in online video because of the metrics available.
“The single biggest reason full-episode streaming has taken off is it’s supported by foundational research that proves to clients its value,” said Tracey Scheppach, senior VP/video innovation director at Starcom USA. “That’s the primary reason money has moved to that space.”
In March, CBS delivered nearly 40 million video streams, a figure that includes full episodes as well as promos and clips, Mr. Lagana said. Right now, CBS offers about 420 hours of full-length programming on its site and across the CBS Audience Network, which includes sites such as AOL, YouTube and Joost.
“We tend to see spikes before a new episode … as people catch up on episodes they have missed,” he said.
CBS expects to see an increase in digital sales revenue over last year, although the network won’t estimate how much that revenue will rise. CBS did say it expects to sell more of its streaming video in the upfront because that’s the hot commodity, while display ads likely will be sold more on a year-round basis.
Because of the growing popularity of online streaming, CBS has developed additional interactive components for some shows. In addition to full episodes, CBS offers original ad-supported Web shows such as “Ghost Whisperer,” “Big Brother: House Calls” and “Interns,” which are spinoffs from on-air shows “Ghost Whisperer,” “Big Brother” and “As the World Turns,” respectively.
The network also will sell its interactive Web shows, including “Wallstrip” and “Moblogic,” during the upfront.
CBS plans to bring integrated ad packages of online and network content into conversations with advertisers earlier this year than it did last year. That means CBS can work with advertisers to craft unique ad buys during the development process of a show, Mr. Lagana said.
“We’re looking at unique ways to tie advertisers in with different plot lines, and we can get them in earlier in the process to drive incremental viewership,” he said.
The interactive sales division at CBS now reports directly to Jo Ann Ross, president of network sales and interactive sales. That internal structure helps link digital sales more closely into overall network prime-time sales, she said.
“We want to be able to provide an end-to-end solution for our advertisers, with everything from the interactive platform to movies to network television from a sales perspective,” Ms. Ross said. “It’s really important to offer that combined solution to our advertisers.”

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