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Oxygen Touts Digital Media

Mar 1, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Nine years after launching, cable network Oxygen is returning to its new-media roots.
The female-centric channel has started pitching advertisers on a suite of new digital properties as it aims to become the multiplatform brand it originally tried to be nearly a decade ago.
Internet advertising appears to be the lone bright spot in the advertising business this year, so Oxygen is peddling games, e-commerce, iPhone apps and online quizzes to marketers eager to reach young women online.
It’s a full-circle move for a company that entered the cable world with 17 Web sites and the cable channel in 2000. But then the dot-com business imploded and Oxygen narrowed its focus as a pure-play traditional TV network. When NBC Universal acquired Oxygen last year for $925 million, it reinvested resources in the digital business. Now, Oxygen hopes to use new-media fare to attract wary advertisers in the upfront advertising market.
“We needed to have digital opportunities we could make into powerful [multiplatform] opportunities in place before the upfront,” said Jennifer Kavanagh, VP of digital and new media at Oxygen, which targets women 18 to 34.
“Our sales team is dedicated to making sure when they come to the table, there is someone from on-air and from digital,” she said.
Most networks have pursued a multiplatform sales approach during the upfronts for the last few years. But there’s a new urgency this year to develop innovative online advertising options because the Web is one of the few mediums targeted for growth during the recession.
eMarketer said online ad spending should reach $25.7 billion this year, up 9% from last year.
“Digital is a key driver for our business, an efficient and effective way to target the ultimate GenO consumer,” said Jason Klarman, general manager of Oxygen.
As an example, in January the network introduced an online makeover tool that lets users upload their own photos and then test out new hairstyles or looks. It’s generated more than 1.3 million page views since launch, Kavanagh said.
Later this month, the network will roll out “Quizolicious,” a section of its site for users and brands to create quizzes about fashion and lifestyle.
“We see it as a vehicle for capturing information for various brands,” she said.
A makeup company, for instance, could sponsor the quiz and use it for market research on mascara preferences. Oxygen is talking to fashion and retail clients about sponsorship opportunities.
Another new tool from Oxygen is the “Hormone-o-scope” iPhone app and Web widget that tracks the user’s mood and horoscope based on the first day of her last period.
“In an era of extremely tight budgets, it’s critical to become more innovative than ever,” said Scott Lackey, co-founder and strategic director for Jugular Advertising in New York. “Combine great strategies with highly attention-getting, even controversial, creative. Play the work out across new-media platforms, and it’s much more likely you’ll be noticed.”
In January, Oxygen.com drew 650,000 unique visitors, who watched 2.8 million video streams.
(Corrected number of video streams in final paragraph.)

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