Ad System Melds TV and Internet

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With advertisers increasingly plugging in online rather than on TV, Vehix.com is stepping up with a system it says will help cable operators capitalize on that trend, rather than fall victim to it.

Vehix.com, which is best known as a Web portal that provides potential car buyers with a raft of information on auto makes, models and features, has created a new cross-platform system that can extend auto advertising into on-demand, broadband Internet and future interactive TV offerings.

While better known as a consumer information site, Vehix.com’s main business is in providing auto ad sales for seven cable operators, including Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cable One, Bresnan, Insight Communication and On Media.

It’s no small business — auto ads for these operators on average make up about 30% of the local ad avails in a given market, according to Glenn Morey, Vehix.com’s chief marketing officer.

Now Vehix is expanding from linear TV to broadband Internet and on-demand placement systems, providing interactive, extended product video, banner ads and sponsorships from auto makers as well as links for customers to directly contact the dealers. At the same time, Vehix is expanding its existing library of video auto information via VehixTV to include clips of test drives, buying guides, crash test demonstrations, new vehicle showrooms and 360-degree video of car interiors.

“We’re taking that and we will combine that — and we will include crash test guides and buyers’ guides — with (automotive manufacturers’) product video that is make and model-centric and organize that into auto showcases,” Morey said.

Advertisers are increasingly looking online to place spots, and cable advertising is dwindling as a result, he noted. So the new cross-platform content will keep auto dealers and manufacturers coming back to cable with their advertising dollars. In addition to possibly retaining ad revenue, it could boost income by allowing advertisers to place combined advertising buys across TV, on-demand and Internet cable properties, as well as get more detailed customer leads and usage data.

“When you talk about how the cable model is changing with the triple play, all of a sudden you are beginning to see these expanded cross-platform ad models develop,” Morey said. “This is the first cross-platform interactive ad model for autos.”

Down the road, Vehix also can provide the same content to interactive TV platforms, if and when they gain greater adoption by cable operators.

“The thing we are looking for right now – and we all are aware that cable technology is changing and moving toward this beast called interactive TV – so we are creating all of this to integrate easily with iTV,” Morey said.

“We believe at some point it will be possible to search for a vehicle on TV. There’s no technical reason it can’t happen,” he added.

In the near future, Vehix also will add an upgrade that will divide its video auto guides into chapters for easier viewing. That way, customers can view only select information about a car — say, just the crash-test results — rather than the whole rundown of the auto’s features.

“Consumers as they view video in an interactive format — they don’t want to watch it in a linear fashion,” Morey said. “We’re just giving consumers video the way that want it.”

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