GM Revs Up Time Warner VOD-Ad Pact

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General Motors Corp. is about to park a video-on-demand advertising deal with Time Warner Cable.

After working with Comcast Corp.’s Comcast Spotlight and Cox Communications Inc.’s Cox Media, the automaker will soon drive a similar long-form messaging pact with Time Warner, GM executive director of advertising and marketing operations Betsy Lazar said during her keynote address at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau’s Cable Sales Management Conference in Atlanta Monday.

As is the case with Comcast and Cox, Time Warner will open the door to a virtual “GM Showroom” through which viewers can access new car videos, test-drive segments and generally gain more information about cars and trucks.

Comcast Spotlight president Charlie Thurston said at the MSO’s April 21 VOD-advertising presentation in New York that a GM campaign in Philadelphia produced 125,000 orders of four-minute videos about different models.

For its part, Time Warner has been offering long-form auto messaging via a dedicated channel called Driver TV, which also supports info about Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler models. Lazar said users are also spending considerable time exploring GM’s offerings in these settings.

“Think about it: Potential customers voluntarily spending three minutes with a commercials -- that’s a game-changer,” she added.

Additionally, Lazar told CAB conference attendees that there were what she called “five keys to moving forward together in this new frontier” as a means for cable operators to get more of the automaker’s budgets.

“Consumers today are inundated with an array of new options. In other words, the phenomenon that drove our media dollars to cable in the first place is identical to the phenomenon that can now drive those dollars away,” she said.

“We came to cable because that’s where consumers were,” she added. “Today, they are increasingly moving to digital media. If we stay where we are, buying spots and billboards alone, our business with [local cable] will shrink … This much hasn’t changed: The name of the game is still consumer choice.”

Among the specific points Lazar made were that whereas the cable industry is selling “avail by avail, system by system, market by market,” that doesn’t necessarily jibe with GM’s advertising approach.

“Going forward, your industry needs to help us comprehend how all of the pieces fit together,” she added. “Our agency, GM Planworks, is structured to leverage all TV and video touch points, and we need your sales process to better align with our structure.”

She also noted that the automaker wants to “customize the GM virtual showroom to every local cable system with content from our [local marketing groups] and our individual dealers. In other words, GM Showroom will provide the entry point for product information, and customers should be able to drill deeper into local content such as dealer locators, just as they can on the Web.”

Finally, she talked up the need for improved metrics: “While we believe in the potential of VOD, we also know that measurement currently lags behind the Internet,” she added. “Our expectation is that we will soon begin to understand the value of our investments across digital channels. To accomplish that, we’ll need to move past views alone and provide more data and metrics related to the specific performance of our messages in your space.”

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