Pitching to the Savviest Viewers

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

As head of Cablevision’s Advanced Platforms Sales initiative, Barry Frey develops and launches measured video-on-demand television, branded content executions and interactive television. He previously held senior sales and marketing positions with USA Networks, Crown Media and the National Basketball Association. He currently guides industry initiatives for advanced advertising within the Cable Advertising Bureau, CTAM on Demand and the cross-MSO consortium Canoe Ventures.
Mr. Frey recently talked with TelevisionWeek correspondent Debra Kaufman about Cablevision’s experiences with advanced advertising endeavors.
TelevisionWeek: What interactive advertising initiatives is Cablevision engaged in?
Barry Frey: We’ve developed innovative platforms for the advertising communities that combine the best of VOD with the best of interactive TV. Our advanced services enable advertisers to be flexible and support their brands.
The reason that we’ve been very aggressive in the space is that we have a very advanced physical plant, which is tremendously interactive—in many ways as interactive as the Web. Not only do we have a very advanced plant, but we’re nearing 90% digital penetration. What that means is that, with Cablevision, the advertisers have to address our market differently because the consumer has a wide choice of services.
In this age, the consumer is in control. Consumers are viewing and consuming TV and advertising on demand, on their own terms, and advertisers are now learning to communicate with the consumer in the same way they’re consuming media.
The question is how we get into the hearts and minds of these active consumers who are consuming on-demand. We’ve answered that with these VOD platforms. We’ve done an array of projects for American Express, Sony Electronics, General Motors, Unilever and numerous other brands.
TVWeek: Can you describe a recent project in detail?
Mr. Frey: Let’s take the Disney vacations channel. In the old days, they’d take out a 30-second ad. Now, a 30-second unit takes the consumer to the Disney vacation channel, where the consumer can see videos of vacations, behind-the-scenes videos of the attractions and the restaurants. They can press a button and receive a free DVD in the mail about Disney vacations. We’ve taken this a step farther. When watching a Disney vacations video, you can press a button for more information and someone will call you and help you book a trip. We’re enabling people to purchase trips by remote control.
We’ve learned that close to 25% of the people who click on that button book trips. It’s great targeting because it’s self-selected media consumption.
The goals of advertising, to detail it in a simple manner, have been brand awareness, consideration of the value/price, and then purchase. Traditionally, you’d get brand awareness from TV, consideration of value from details in magazines and then walk into a store or, later, go online to purchase. Now, TV, which creates brands like no other media, can take you through the whole continuum.
TVWeek: What have been the biggest obstacles to adoption of interactive and addressable advertising?
Mr. Frey: Content can be a challenge, in terms of advertisers having something in addition to 30-second units. VOD works best when there’s video. It’s a learning curve. What’s happening is that because there’s been an unbundling of media from creative in ad agencies, the media people are becoming very creative in dealing with innovative technologies. As the creative community starts to see all the great creative opportunities with VOD and ITV, they’re starting to get on the bandwagon. They’re also repurposing some of their Web content and realizing a big flat-screen TV is a great component to sending a message to a small computer screen.
But whenever there’s a new medium, it takes time to educate and proselytize. If the media opportunities are good, consumers will utilize them. If they continue to utilize them, advertisers have to be there.
TVWeek: What do we know about viewers who are engaging with interactive ads? What metrics are you providing to advertisers?
Mr. Frey: We get the metrics from set-top box data, which is census-based. Our studies show that people are spending between six and 12 minutes with an advertiser brand on TV. We can measure fast-forwards and rewinds. We can tell how long they watch a video, how long they stay on the advertiser channel. We work very closely with advertisers to optimize the branding and advertising experience.
TVWeek: What have you learned about the user experience?
Mr. Frey: It’s a sophisticated consumer we have today in this highly cable-penetrated area. We’ve done focus groups and found that these advertiser platforms can help build a connection between the consumer and the brand. People have a better time at Disney World after they watch a video about it because they’re able to get jazzed about the trip before they go, and reminisce when they go home. If it’s relevant info and entertaining, they’ll stay, even if you’re selling them.


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