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Innovation Expands Cable Media Options

1 May, 2008 By: Response Contributor Response

Tips on mixing media, where to find great rates and the sexier side of ROI.

It's like the Jean-Paul Gaultier runway show of advertising. The MTV Networks (MTVN) upfront event, notorious for elaborate presentation and an A-list lineup of ad firms, media buyers and entertainers — not to mention industry gawkers and trend watchers — will debut the cable giant's latest line of programming initiatives, digital platforms and a sexier style of ROI this month. However, this ROI isn't necessarily about a return on investment, but rather a return on innovation.

MTVN, a division of Viacom and owner of more than 150 channels worldwide, including MTV, VH1, CMT, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Spike TV, is a loud proponent of integrated advertising and multi-channel media campaigns. One of the key messages from senior executives, which they promise to deliver in a concise one-hour presentation at the Nokia Theater Times Square, is more partnership opportunities.

According to Brian Fays, executive vice president of ad sales at MTVN and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board, advertisers and media buyers want just one point person to coordinate and manage their spending across a variety of MTVN channels and multimedia outlets — think participation TV, interactive Web sites, mobile Web sites and video downloads to cell phones.

"Advertisers want one voice internally, so we've become a turnkey operation for our clients," says Fays.

By centralizing operations, MTVN promises return on innovation, a fresh concept that ultimately means a more streamlined approach to delivering highly targeted messages to consumers through engaging, and often interactive, multimedia ad placements. Fays also guarantees that their research and analytics support is unrivaled. This piques the interest of direct response marketers as well as Madison Ave. aficionados with a newly found appreciation for the other type of ROI — return on investment.

These new marketing capabilities are equally captivating for direct marketers and brand advertisers, but much like Gaultier's innovative designs for Madonna (remember the cone bra from her "Blond Ambition" tour?), is it possible that these emerging technologies are too fashion-forward — not to mention lofty — for traditional direct response advertisers?

Mix and Match

The Home Shopping Network (HSN) reported in February that it would be one of the first companies to use Web-like pop-up ads on TV. The idea is to entice viewers on other channels to watch HSN. And the pop-up ads work just the same as they would on TV. Viewers can click on the pop-up using their remote controls and will be taken to HSN.

In a company announcement, John McDevitt, vice president of advanced services, said, "The whole idea is to capture the consumer at the moment of interest as quickly as possible. Why just put an ad out there and then wait for the customer to have to go through the trouble of finding you later?"

Though still in the testing phase, the pop-up ads have already debuted on A&E and represent a new way to generate revenue for cable and satellite companies. It's also a shift toward what Fays defines as investment in innovation. The pop-up ad collaboration is indicative of cable and satellite investments in interactivity and consumer engagement. complements Discovery Networks  Planet Green network, which programs shows that help viewers learn to eat, work and live a green lifestyle. complements Discovery Networks Planet Green network, which programs shows that help viewers learn to eat, work and live a green lifestyle.

Similarly, another new-media feature rearing its head in the direct marketing industry is the banner ad, now appearing somewhere other than on the Internet. RE/MAX teamed up with Carat Digital and the Navic Network to target viewers interested in home improvement and real estate in the San Diego area.

RE/MAX targeted Cox Cable consumers who were most likely to be homebuyers and sellers and then ran a banner ad at the bottom of their TV screens. If viewers were interested, they could elect (or not) to click on the banner ad using their remote controls and be redirected to the RE/MAX promotion. They could also opt to be contacted by a local real estate agent about offers and pricing.

Using the aggregated data from Cox, RE/MAX also had the ability to run the banner ads in front of any consumer who watched A&E's "Flip This House," even after they switched to another channel.

However, with a lot of new-fangled technology, the essential direct response metrics can be challenging to track. Mitch Oscar, executive vice president and director of Carat Digital, said in a company news release that it's too early to draw any conclusions about the new ad format. "It gets very complicated to gauge effectiveness when you add interactivity to advertising," he says. "Once you aggregate all the information, the next step is to figure out what it all means."

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