Serious buzz about multichannel video advertising

Monday, July, 8 2013

Where’s cable going with VOD inventory?

By: Stewart Schley Monday, July, 8 2013

Fast-forward the calendar three years from now and you’ll see cable/telco companies firmly entrenched in a data-rich video advertising marketplace where the inventory pool has widened dramatically thanks to new on-demand ad availabilities in prime time TV shows ordered up nightly by viewers.

The question is: In this new world, what do local cable advertising organizations do with the new inventory at their command?

The answer: Umm, stay tuned. Actually, nobody for the moment seems exactly sure how they’ll exploit the new advertising features of a video on demand world where it becomes relatively easy to dynamically insert commercials into available pre-, mid- and post-roll positions within VOD programs. What they do know is that it will almost certainly involve a mix of current local advertisers and new-to-the-market clients.

That much was apparent at a Cable Show 2013 panel session where cable industry ad executives talked about the role of dynamic VOD advertising.

Cox Media SVP Billy Farina was among the panelists talking about how his company will integrate DAI inventory into its selling environment. Although Farina’s optimistic about the overall possibilities of local dynamic ad insertion (or DAI) into VOD streams, he says there are no rigid rules being formulated for how Cox Media blends the new medium into its existing ad sales portfolio, which is heavy on traditional linear TV advertising but also includes web and mobile media products. And he’s also sensitive about how a new inventory pool might upset the supply-and-demand balance.

Already, Farina pointed out, Cox Media has a certain amount of live inventory that’s sold at a deep discount, sometimes by third-party agents such as AT&T AdWorks , which represents Cox Media and other television advertising providers to outside-the-market clients. “And now we’re going to increase the amount of inventory we sell into this pool,” he said. “Nine times out of 10 putting more supply into the pool doesn’t necessarily work.”

Because of those concerns, Farina said Cox Media will likely pursue a blended strategy in which some DAI inventory is added into packages for existing linear TV advertisers, while other VOD positions are reserved for incremental revenue-producing sales in a more “offensive” approach.

Comcast strategy
Cable’s largest advertising seller, Comcast, also sees opportunity in the DAI world to produce incremental revenue by selling positions to non-traditional advertisers. Andrew Ward, Group VP for the Comcast Spotlight unit Comcast 360, said he sees promise in courting national TV network advertisers and/or direct marketing companies that traditionally are not spot cable buyers. “We see this as an opportunity to go after advertisers that have possibly painted us in the past as the overpriced spot TV guy,” he said.

The discussion here is all about DAI inventory in the post C3 window – a fancy way to refer to ad positions in VOD shows that are seen four days or later after they first become available. That’s when the original national TV commercial load measured by Nielsen vanishes from VOD programs and is replaced by a different mix of national and/or local commercials. Because DAI insertion offers detailed metrics about the number of viewing sessions and demographics tied to them, the medium brings multichannel video advertising closer to an Internet-like experience that may help to lure new-to-the-medium advertisers.

That’s partly what Farina, Ward and others are counting on. But they’re not about to leave cable’s bread-and-butter local TV advertisers out of the mix.

“It’s not that there’s not a significant opportunity regionally and locally; of course there is,” said Ward.

Image courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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