For all the talk of the
potential for advanced TV advertising,
one place where marketing
dollars today are freely
flowing — and growing — is on-screen
Operators, including Comcast,
as well as Rovi, which sells ad
units for its Passport and i-Guide
interactive program guides, are
seeing demand surge for placement
on cable’s IPGs.
The biggest IPG advertisers are
cable and broadcast programmers
looking to prompt viewers
to watch or record their shows.
Comcast Spotlight, for one, has
hit a high-water mark in the category
by nearly selling out its
IPG ad inventory for September,
according to Chip Meehan, vice
president of Western division integrated
“We definitely had programmers
who couldn’t get in where
they wanted,” he said. “It shows
we’ve reached a certain maturity
in this space.”
The increased spending, Meehan
noted, was driven by the fall
broadcast season, coupled with
cable counterprogramming and
more syndicated shows.
In addition, Comcast is seeing
more ad buys from movie studios
to promote their video-on-demand
titles, Meehan said.
Rovi’s IPG ad business also has
historically focused on entertainment,
with recent clients such as
National Geographic Channel,
Fox and ABC. Now, it’s starting to
get more business from consumer
packaged goods, auto and other
sectors, said Tom Wolfe, senior director
of business development.
Recently, advertisers in the
Rovi ad network have included
Ford and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise,
which placed clickable ads
linking to videos of celebrity chef
“It’s a highly qualified consumer,
because they’ve clicked
through on the ad,” he said.
Rovi now has a staff of 22 employees
dedicated to selling IPG
ads and related sponsorships.
Thanks to the increased focus,
the company grew the number of
clients by 89% in the first half of
2010 versus the year before, Wolfe
said, though he declined to provide
dollar figures or number of
The Rovi Advertising Network
comprises 15.8 million U.S.
households in which its television
guides are available, including
service providers and active
Cable operators currently in Rovi’s
IPG network include Time
Warner Cable’s Los Angeles and
Dallas systems, as well as Charter
Communications and Bresnan
Rovi wants to increase the
reach of its IPG ads and is hoping to
strike deals with the likes of major
distributors like Comcast, DirecTV,
Dish Network and others.
“Very simply, the bigger the
scale, the better — that’s a priority,”
Wolfe said. “If you have a grid,
we are talking to you.”
The Rovi Ad Network offers three
formats: a “standard portal,” to
let consumers record a program,
set a reminder, watch content
or learn more about a product
or promotion; a “video portal”
that links directly to VOD video
content; and a “dynamic portal”
comprising video, graphics, text,
programming and/or interactive
content. Santa Clara, Calif.-based
Rovi also provides marketers with
set-top box data collected by audience-
measurement firm Kantar
Media to track campaign metrics.
Comcast uses i-Guide, the IPG
developed by its joint venture
with Rovi, but sells its own ads.
Right now those ads are delivered
to some 15 million households
with Motorola set-tops. By
the end of the year, the operator
expects to have i-Guide version
S25 deployed to an additional 5
million households in its Cisco
Systems footprint .
“We see the i-Guide as being
the connective tissue for a multiplatform
campaign with VOD, the
guide and 30-second spots,” Meehan
According to Rovi, in the first half of 2010:
• 83% of subscribers accessed their guides weekly.
• Viewers visited IPGs 10 times per day on average.
• Guide usage was 10 minutes per day per subscriber.