Advanced Ads: Dish Exec: Hopper Not Affecting Our Clients

Panelists Offer Best Uses for Addressable Ads at 'B&C'/'MCN' Event
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NEW YORK — Can the Hopper, Dish Network’s ad-skipping set-top box, be a non-issue for advertisers? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dish director of advertising sales Adam S. Gaynor thinks so.

Speaking at the Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News Advanced Advertising event here on Wednesday, Gaynor defended the technology. “I don’t think Dish has created the ability to skip over commercials,” he said. “I think it was something that’s been around for a long time, now it’s just easier for consumers.”

Dish’s ad-sales division is concerned about innovating for its clients, connecting them to the viewers and subscribers they want to reach, he said.

“That’s where addressability comes in; that’s where interactivity comes in; that’s where data comes in,” he said on a panel titled, “Multiscreen Targeting - How Addressable Ads Are Aiming at the TV” moderated by B&C business editor Jon Lafayette. “There are a lot of other remote controls that can do that as well from other operators. For us, it’s really about controlling the message to the right folks.”

 He acknowledged that he spent a lot of time after Dish’s Hopper announcement last year with his team talking to clients.

 “Yes, people were upset,” he said. “When you speak to them and communicate with them, what we have to offer is a lot stronger than this little thing over here that’s not really affecting our clients.”

While the panelists agreed on the usefulness of addressable advertising, they agreed it’s just one part of the larger advertising ecosystem and a complete media plan.

 “At Turner, we’re not so much aiming ourselves at addressability as creating strong branded experiences,” Andrea Ching, senior vice president of marketing and promotions, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital, said. “People still need national platforms to tell compelling stories. There’s a place for addressability but we think you just need to have multiple tools to achieve your marketing priorities.”

For instance, Ching cited partnership with Coke Zero for March Madness Live, Turner and CBS Sports’ authenticated streaming product for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, for a branded social arena that integrated such media as Twitter into the viewing experience.

“We were able to keep them engaged in every story whether a video was running or not,” she said.

Scott Schiller, executive vice president of digital advertising sales, NBCUniversal Digital Entertainment, noted NBCU’s own online platform efforts like the streaming of last year’s Summer Olympics, which enhanced the viewing experience without hurting linear TV ratings. He also talked up Zeebox, the second-screen app that Comcast owns a stake in, for helping drive CPMs through addressability.

 “An eyeball in the right place is worth more than just an eyeball,” he said. “The greater engagement you can drive in an audience, the higher the CPM.”

Canoe Ventures, which famously got out of the interactive ads business a year ago to focus solely on building a VOD ad service, said it will look into addressability again, as clients ask.

“For this year it is about scale for the platform — distribution and programmers taking advantage of it,” Chris Pizzurro, head of sales and marketing at Canoe Ventures, said. “We will go there to the extent possible, but the first thing you have to do is build up that audience to a mass scale.”