Video services

Cable Project Tries to Jolt VoD Advertising

Hoping to draw media buyers to video-on-demand (VoD) programming, several cable networks and technology firms are teaming up on a research initiative aimed at figuring out the most effective way to reach viewers through VoD advertising.

The Advanced Advertising Media Project (AAMP) plans to measure several variables, including how subscribers respond when the fast-forward function is disabled in VoD programming, how effective 15- or 30-second spots are when compared to long-form ads, and how many spots programmers can squeeze into a show before the viewer loses interest.

The initiative is backed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), ad insertion technology firm BlackArrow Inc. , A&E Television Networks, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), Rainbow Media, NDS Ltd. and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

AAMP says it will soon release the results of a survey it conducted with media industry leaders about their take on dynamic VoD advertising and what may be keeping media buyers from spending on VoD ads. It will also soon conduct tests with viewers in lab trials to measure their response to various forms of VoD ads and, later this year, plans to conduct a consumer trial on a cable system.

Why this matters
While cable networks and operators have long hoped that inserting ads in VoD programming could drive increased revenue, the category hasn't become a substantial business. By studying how best to reach subscribers, and which ad formats are most effective, the cable industry could grab a bigger share of spending from media buyers.

"The goal is to make advertising within VoD a viable marketplace," said BlackArrow President Nick Troiano. AAMP will only measure dynamic VoD advertising, and won't study interactive VoD spots, he added, noting that Canoe Ventures LLC is already studying how best to deliver interactive VoD ads.

Some cable programmers have resisted placing long-form shows on free VoD platforms out of concern that the move could hurt ratings and ad revenue for their linear networks. If AAMP is able to determine which ad units are most effective with viewers, and help cable networks bundle inventory for VoD ads similar to the way they sell traditional TV networks, more cable programmers may expand the amount of full-length shows they distribute on VoD platforms.

For more
For more on VoD advertising, please check out these stories:

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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