Cable Consortium Pushes Political On-Demand Ads

On-demand political programming effort picks up steam.

A cable industry on-demand programming effort to attract political advertising is gaining momentum as the Barack Obama campaign placed a sponsored seven-minute video program on Elections ’08 On Demand, it was learned Friday.

 The on-demand elections program package is available in about 32 million on-demand cable homes of Bresnan Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications and Time Warner Cable.

 The Obama campaign is the first national candidate to buy time on Elections ’08 via video it produced, though local candidates have also placed content or bought pre-roll advertising on news/informational programs. Energy advocate T. Boone Pickens also placed a sponsored program.

 David Porter, vice president for marketing and new media at the Cox Media division of Cox Communications, says Elections ’08 On Demand is emphasizing sales of sponsored programs, thought 30-second ads are also sold. A big pitch is that viewers see the programming on regular TV, and not computer screens like web video. The TV medium means a big screen picture and often communal viewing by multiple people at once.

 Porter said even local candidates have basic videos, which can be as simple as a fireside chat produced by a candidate. “You’d be surprised,” he said. Advertisers so far have included judges up for election in Los Angeles.

 Regarding paid placement of sponsored videos, Porter says that advertisers are given granular data of when their videos were viewed, if there was repeat viewing and at what points viewers may have turned off This means that Elections ’08 provides advertisers with Internet-style metrics.

 So far, Cox subscribers have viewed 500,000 on demand programs in Elections ’08, and Porter says the effort that launched in spring is “building momentum.”

 To help viewers find the content, cable operators place promotional spots in local avails for regular TV channels, which often direct viewers to channel that provides a directory. Some Cox systems put this information on channel 557, for example.

 Porter says Election ’08 is under the umbrella of Canoe Ventures, which the cable TV industry consortium with a mandate to create a common and scalable platform for advertising and audience reporting. Six cable operators founded Canoe, but make its output available to other cable systems.

 Political ads for Elections ’08 are sold by NCC, which is the sales rep firm owned by Cox, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.