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Web Outlets Shift Focus of Ad Sales

Mar 8, 2009  •  Post A Comment

With auto sales for February plunging 50% for most U.S. car makers, the online television outlets that rely on auto advertising have been forced to look elsewhere for revenue. Some, like online TV studio Next New Networks, are finding success shifting their sales focus in auto-centric content to packaged-goods marketers, movie studios and car-related companies.
Television networks and online programmers alike have been feeling the pinch of rapidly shrinking advertising budgets from the gigantic auto marketing category in the past few months. As a medium, online video is faring a bit better in winning ad dollars from automakers and in offering them the targeted audience they want right now, said Adam Kasper, senior VP and director of digital media at Media Contacts.
“As budgets shrink, they are looking for more targeted and efficient media, and this type of ownable, endemic content delivers on that,” he said. “The downside of it is scale. You will reach enthusiasts and ‘top of the pyramid’ buyers, but it will be hard to reach the average auto buyer, as this content still does not penetrate the mass audience.”
That’s why online auto shows are broadening their hit list of potential advertisers. It’s of particular importance for Next New Networks, which has developed the auto-Web video niche intensively. It programs three Web networks about autos: Fast Lane Daily, VOD Cars and Garage 419, which have generated nearly 90 million views in the past two years. Those networks grew 60% in views in 2008 over the year before.
But they’re not only going after Detroit’s money anymore. The online network altered its ad-sales approach last fall when the auto business began to crumble, moving its Detroit salesperson to cover Minneapolis and Chicago and to mine packaged-goods companies rather than the Big Three car makers, said Lance Podell, CEO of Next New Networks.
In addition, the company is developing programming segments for its auto shows to focus on news about the auto economy. The goal is to use that editorial content to capture some of the so-called “in-market” ad buying that remains from the automakers. Car makers still are spending money to reach consumers in the market to buy a car, Mr. Podell said.
“Some of that can be about how the economy is a robust opportunity to buy a car because rates are down and there is more inventory,” he said.
Advertisers who have worked with Next New Networks’ auto shows in the past year include Valvoline, Royal Purple, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Castrol, Spike TV, Windows Vista, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, U.S. Navy, Dr. Pepper, ASUS, Intel and Puma. Many of those advertisers also bought across the studio’s other networks.
“We are not going for the endemics,” Mr. Podell said. “Our goal as an entertainment company reaching young demos was to never just appeal to automotive manufacturers, but to young men, thrill seekers, fashion-conscious, the current and trendy.”
Mr. Podell added that revenue for Next New Networks as a whole is up year-over-year and month-to-month. In addition, the company has already met its March budget and has booked ad deals through the end of this year.

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