CTAM Summit 2009: Advanced Ads: Are They Ready to Rock?

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Cable's interactive and addressable advertising efforts are expected to finally start moving the needle in 2010.

Next year, advanced TV advertising revenue in the U.S. is projected to exceed $130 million and grow to more $4 billion by 2014, according to a recent Parks Associates report.

Jacqueline Corbelli, CEO of interactive-marketing consulting firm BrightLine iTV, sees a huge opportunity ahead for next-generation TV ads - if the parties can learn to work together better. The New York company's clients include Unilever, JP Morgan Chase, Burger King, Conagra, Kellogg's and Intuit.
Corbelli is scheduled to moderate a Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit panel Monday at 10:30 a.m., "What Is the Real End Game for Advanced Advertising?" in the Korbel Ballroom, Salon 1ABC. Panelists are scheduled to include Mark Garner, senior vice president of distribution, marketing and business development, A&E Television Networks; Vicki Lins, chief marketing officer, Canoe Ventures; Peter Low, president and chief operating officer, Ensequence; and David Porter, vice president of marketing and new media, Cox Media.
Corbelli spoke with Multichannel News technology editor Todd Spangler in advance of the summit.

MCN: What are the most important trends you see for advanced advertising? What are you keeping your eye on?
Jacqueline Corbelli: I think there are a few key areas that really should be discussed with some pretty specific focus. For one thing, there needs to be a refinement of the relationship between the programmers and cable operators. That's the kind of thing I think is going to be more and more important to focus on.

MCN: What do you mean by "refine" the relationship?
JC: There's natural tension anytime you have programmers dealing with distributors, which is rooted in the subscription side of the model. As we move down the track of maximizing the ad revenue opportunity, I think those two sides will have to work together to realize the win-win. They're going to need to separate themselves a little bit from what they've traditionally allowed to take center stage in their discussions.

MCN: What else is going to pick up the pace?
JC: Other things that need to happen are things we're already seeing. It's the continued acknowledgement of the agencies that they need to approach these discussions differently than they do with online marketing. The conversation among those parties needs to get tighter and more focused, to sate the growing appetite that advertisers now have for advanced television advertising.

MCN: Advanced-TV ads on cable are often compared to Internet advertising. Is that a valid comparison?
JC: The obvious similarity is that they're interactive - or perceived to be interactive - by the consumer. The differences are very clear: What makes you successful on TV, versus the Web, is that the living room is a lean-back environment. Simply porting a Web experience to the TV isn't going to cut it. The danger is forgetting that consumers tune in to television for very different reasons.

MCN: In practice what does that mean?
JC: When folks sit down to view television, they're looking for a video experience. When you can effectively blur the line between advertorial and programmatic content, you can get people to stay involved, with both the programming and the advertising. People don't care what it is - it just has to be entertaining or provide information to them.

MCN: What are your expectations for Canoe [the joint venture formed by the six biggest U.S. MSOs to coordinate advanced advertising efforts]? Will Canoe push things forward?
JC: Look, I think over time it certainly will. I think Vicki [Lins] and Canoe are going to be the ones to properly shape our expectations about how far and how fast. Their modified focus on interactive versus addressability is a great development, particularly for advertisers who have had addressability online for years and haven't really shown much interest in it. That's what we've observed, anyway.

MCN: Is Canoe's RFI [request for information] service attracting advertisers' interest?
JC: Marketers are interested, and they should be. It's a great accomplishment to be able to do that and standardize [interactive capabilities] across the various cable platforms. But it's really just one feature among several that need to be combined. It's not just direct marketing made interactive. It's about the overall ability to communicate with an audience. The good news is we have lots of data that shows an RFI, in an interactive TV context, can be made even more effective when you combine that with other interactive features.

MCN: What are your thoughts on Cablevision Systems' "Optimum Select" RFI? Is that attractive, or do you need more than Cablevision's 2.9 million digital subscribers?
JC: For us, our advertisers are mass advertisers. They still believe in the power of mass advertising. It would be nice to see things like the Cablevision RFI service across the rest of the 75 million digital TV homes out there.

MCN: Is satellite ahead of cable on advanced advertising?
JC:
It's interesting. In a literal sense, no - because technically satellite has no back channel, so it's not truly interactive. But from the market perception standpoint, satellite is ahead. The fact you can get to 25 to 30 million households through the satellite providers really is a distinction with cable now. But those are the kinds of things that Canoe are going to address.

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