Want a little VOD pre-roll with your morning coffee? Comcast says it now can insert dynamic advertising content into on-demand video streams reaching 17.4 million homes, with extension to its entire 19 million ad-supported HH footprint happening by Q3.
That’s a big reach for a long-anticipated TV ad medium that’s essential to bringing cable up to par with a more sophisticated and much larger online video advertising category.
The numbers came from a webcast earlier this month produced by Comcast Spotlight in association with Adweek magazine. (You can listen in here.) Among data points shared by Rob Klippel, VP New Products & Operations for Spotlight are these:
Monthly VOD views: Comcast digital cable customers are now requesting just about 300 million VOD streams each month.
Total unique STBs: There's a new term in the advertising lexicon: “Unique set-top boxes.” It tracks the number of set-tops actually used to request VOD orders. In Comcast’s case, there are about 33.8 million unique boxes now used to order VOD.
Free VOD views: The fastest-growing contributor to VOD demand is “free VOD,” which comprises the programs that can carry advertising. Free VOD transactions were up 18.1% in 2011 versus 2010, with 16.7 orders a month from unique STBs. That compares to a 13.8% rise in the total VOD category, including movie orders and subscription (read: no commercials) VOD viewing.
HH rating: Here’s the most interesting metric – albeit an unofficial one. Comcast says its “back of the envelope” calculation from Nielsen data suggests the total-day rating for all VOD content within Comcast households is about 1.37. As Klippel notes, “that’s higher than the total-day ratings of key cable networks.”
The numbers are designed to help make the case for dynamic VOD advertising, which gives advertisers newfound flexibility to associate commercial messages with VOD stream requests by geography, demographic markers and time of day. Cable companies are hopeful the back-end capability invites more use of the medium by existing advertisers, plus new categories such as retailers.
Chad Urice, Managing Director of media agency Media Storm, says he sees dynamic ad insertion within VOD streams helping to lure skittish retail advertisers that have shied away from television because they can’t change out copy elements quickly enough to keep up with dynamic pricing practices. With dynamic VOD insertion, it’s possible to change price and promotion data frequently, even by time of day.
From the content-owner side, dynamic VOD insertion is part of a bigger pool of inventory that includes online and mobile video. Rick Mandler, ABC VP of New Media Sales, says cable’s new capabilities will help make it possible to “re-aggregate” audiences across various mediums so that advertisers can purchase “on-demand” campaigns that blend all three mediums.
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