Ad-Sales Execs Eye Web, ITV Roles


LOS ANGELES -New Internet- and interactive-advertising fueled revenue opportunities can only grow in the future, four cable sales executives and a media buyer on a Western Show panel agreed last week.

One such opening is the sale of regional spot inventory on networks'Web sites, AT&T Media Services vice president and general manager Jim Sullivan suggested during the session, titled "Catching Dollars in Your Web."

Operators could also sell time on their local Web sites, as AT&T Broadband does with its Channel 3 in Boston and information portals that link to other sites, such as

. BMW and Ford Motor Co. dealers are among those that have bought such Web avails, he said.

The panelists widened the discussion beyond the role of the Internet. Among the broader issues still to be resolved: whether clients will eventually prefer pay-per- performance over cost-per-thousand buying and whether such Internet selling will require a separate sales force, Sullivan said.

The limited deployment of new media is frustrating for some advertisers, particularly national accounts, conceded Cox Communications Inc. vice president of new media development Deborah Mullin. However, "standards will emerge, market deployment will grow," she noted.

"There are still a lot of CPM dollars out there," pointed out media buyer David Smith, president of MediaSmith Inc. More than half of what's spent on Internet advertising today is for brand advertising, rather than direct response, he added.

For major clients, however, "size matters," Smith said. "You must have enough unique visitors per month to be listed in [research by] MediaMetrix"-a minimum of 200,000 per month-to be considered as a media buy.

Of 5,000 sites that sell ads today, he said, only 50 attract 80 percent of Internet ad revenues.

Less-visited sites should aggregate through geographic interconnects or according to some other affinity. "The bottom line is get critical mass quickly."

Interactive TV, the Web and wireless platforms have become increasingly important in networks'integrated or multiplatform ad sales, said The Weather Channel executive vice president of national ad sales William Wiehe.

"Our business model is the advertising model," he said. But there may be other possible models in the future, he noted, such as selling forecasts to clients interested in how the weather will affect their long-term economic planning.

Turner Network Sales has started to sell advertising with Cable News Network content sent to mobile phones, said vice president of ITV Kevin Cohen. "If anybody's going to cannibalize our business, make sure it's us," he said.

Wiehe raised another unaddressed concern. When middleware companies and other third parties are involved, he asked, "who owns the relationship with the advertiser?"

Predictably, he felt that the program provider should control such relationships.