Mining the Promise of On-Demand Advertising

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Ad-supported VOD has come a long way in a short time. “Five years ago when I started in VOD, it was just a thought prospect and hadn’t launched,” said Jen Soch, VP/activation director, advanced TV at Starcom Mediavest Group.
Now, said Andrew Capone, senior VP of marketing and business development at spot cable firm NCC, VOD is the “most ubiquitous” of its advanced advertising tools.
“There are now billions of views of free on-demand content that have occurred,” Mr. Capone said. “We have worked with 100 different advertisers on VOD advertising opportunities. And it’s starting to become a real business for us. Both the use as well as the revenue attached to it is starting to become meaningful.”
Ms. Soch listed some of Mediavest’s recent projects. “We have one live now for Dove Chocolate where we follow a new fashion designer her first time at Fashion Week,” she said. “We have 10 minutes of content live on the virtual channel, and the tagline is ‘My moment.’ There’s brand integration within the shots, woven into the program, and it’s the next level of getting a great message out to your consumers. In this case, for Dove consumers, take a moment to step back and think about your passion.”
‘The Next Level’
Another, for Kraft Foods, features a channel with recipes, and General Motors presents a virtual test drive. “Virtual channels take it to the next level,” Ms. Soch said. “And 10 minutes is more than enough content.”
But ad-supported VOD still has limited impact, said Bill Reynolds, director of media services at Erwin-Penland, a Hill Holliday agency. “If you have digital cable, you have VOD capabilities,” he said. “But cable subscribers have very low awareness.”
Also problematic is ease of use. “You have to go to your menu, surf to VOD, surf to categories of content and find individual shows,” said Mr. Reynolds. “It is very difficult to navigate and poorly labeled. Consequently the usage of VOD—especially free VOD, which is what advertisers would sponsor—is a very small fraction of what’s possible.”
Project Canoe
Project Canoe, a powerhouse consortium of the Big Six cable MSOs, may go a long way to dispelling ignorance of free VOD offerings. In the meantime, solutions like Navic Networks enable telescoping, an interactive overlay during the 30- or 60-second ad that turns navigation into a one-button solution. All these steps lead to interactivity, which opens up the possibility of all kinds of transactions.
Though the numbers haven’t hit levels that make ad-supported VOD a slam-dunk for advertisers, the possible rewards are great enough to engage many in experiments and trials.
“People on the couch watching a 50-inch plasma, seeing a commercial in their favorite TV program and, with a button click or two, diving deeper into that product—that’s an elegant solution,” said Mr. Capone.

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