Can Original — Or Semi-Original — Programming Produce Premium Ad Inventory?

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April 6, 2012 – 2:08 pm

Online video advertising has been growing at a breakneck pace the last few years. Despite all the money media buyers have been pouring into the video space, the complaint remains the same: there just isn't enough premium video ad inventory.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, plans to address that issue and related matters at its Digital Video conference in New York on Tuesday, while Publicis Groupe's Digitas has released a study that attempts to map out what kind of content is more inhabitable for lucrative brand-building ad efforts.

"Agencies often complain of a dearth of premium inventory for online video, but we're starting to see pure web and multi-line publishers, such as TV networks and studios,  responding and producing video content for advertisers," said Seneca Mudd, director, Industry Initiatives for the IAB and head of the trade organ's Digital Video Committee . "This kind of marriage between brands and content does harken back to the early days of TV advertising, so it does feel a bit familiar.

"Separately, this is the kind of thing that drives viewer engagement -- after all, if someone clicks on a video, they're directly expressing interest in the content," Mudd continued. "As such, video is a particularly sticky form of content, and the proof is that time spent is high and makes users more connected to the media brand. Lastly, unlike TV, video is naturally social, and that extends the life of the ad."

It's a good argument for the value of online video. But ultimately, "premium dollars" will only follow "premium content." And figuring out what "premium content" means is something traditional media companies are still trying to figure out. For NBC Universal Spanish-language network Telemundo, the answer they have come up entails creating web programming that is at once related to existing hit series, and yet still qualifies as an "online-only original" show.

With the approach of the "Newfront," that counter-TV upfront marketplace first started by Digitas and now embraced by the IAB to promote online ad spending at a time when advertisers and agencies are thinking about their long-term marketing, media companies are thinking more deeply about how to bridge the gap between the $13 billion display ad category and the $70 billion TV ad marketplace.

Telemundo has taken a hybrid approach, as it seeks to build a stronger online presence on top of its offline audience for its telenovellas and sports programming. "

"Unlike other networks who acquire content from others and dealing timing issues and rights issues, we produce Telemundo shows in-house," said Peter Blacker, EVP Digital Media & Emerging Business, NBCU-Telemundo, in an interview with TVExchanger. "That allows us to retain the same quality of our shows to create complementary content around popular series. Secondly, we don't have to create a whole other set of marketing programs for an unknown show online."

For series like Una Maid En Manhattan or 12 Corazones, a prompt may appear during the action on within broadcast episode telling the viewer to check out a related sidestory online. An advertiser, such as McDonald's or Procter & Gamble's Tide, can attach an ad to that prompt and then continue with a pre-roll before the spin-off program starts to run. The online shows typically run about 10 or 12 minutes, in keeping with the kind of structure web users are accustomed to.

"We have been approached by advertisers to create, not what was on last night, but new programming, branded productions, that they can wrap around these snackable webisodes," Blacker said.

On the sports side, Telemundo is also taking some lessons for NBCU's recent Super Bowl, which was the first time the big game was streamed live online. Although it's too early to tell if Telemundo can do anything on that scale with the FIFA World Cup this year, the network will be creating web programing around its announcers, such as Andrés Cantor, the voice of "¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLL!" during soccer matches.

"We’re learning a lot from the NBCU family," Blacker said. "What worked for the Super Bowl will influence us. But we’re still seeing what works. We’re looking at how we can leverage the relationship with fans and sports announcers create made-for-digital segments around the news of the week."

Telemundo's strategy of using the familiar on TV to make something new online seems to reflect some of the findings of an unconnected Digitas study that surveyed 2,200 adults in the U.S. about their online video habits:

-- 53% said that if their favorite celebrity announced that they were starring in or launching an online video or web series, they would check it out

-- 58% said that if their favorite TV posted exclusive videos online, they would go to watch them

-- 46% said that if an online video mentions a new product or brand, they're likely to look that brand up afterwards

-- 63% have looked at online content while watching TV - a number that goes to 71% when you focus on adults 18-44.

"The point that we want to get across to agencies is that as publishers produce more original online content, the creativity and quality of the ads have to match that," the IAB's Mudd said. "As TV has shown, superior creative turns heads and wallets. Agencies that invest in that will reap greater brand rewards.

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April 6, 2012 – 2:08 pm

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