OnDemand Summit: Ad Sales Reps to MSOs -- Money Moving Quickly to Broadband

On-demand viewership data vague, but platform still promising
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Philadelphia, PA-- A panel of advertising executives and sales reps had some strong words for MSOs at the On Demand Summit Wednesday, saying operators need to move quickly before advertisers leave money on the table or let it all go to broadband.

"I applaud anybody who's going to help us move towards any kind of dynamic insertion," said Jen Soch, VP and activation director of advanced TV at Mediavest, speaking after Cablevision Advanced Platform Sales Executive VP Barry Frey spoke at the Summit luncheon. Cablevision announced Wednesday  that it will begin offering marketers 24 hour ad insertions on VOD. "But they have to start involving the networks in these discussions," Soch said.

Many panelists said viewers are clearly watching content on-demand but the numbers showing exactly who is tuning in to the programming are frustratingly vague. Ad executives believe statistics showing that on-demand can be a smart targeted buy, would, "help everybody to give a little bit more money to some of these [VOD] areas," Soch said.

Jan Young, director of network sales for TVN, said initiatives like Cox Communications' MyPrimetime-which shows selected network shows on-demand the day after their original airing-is a good "intermediate solution," but that the biggest problem facing on-demand in terms of ad dollars is the time it takes from the time an initial call is made to the time an ad is placed.

"I have people dying to get into video-on-demand but the minute I tell them the lead time, they say ‘no thanks,'" said Soch. The long lead time is a result of the fact that advertising needs to go to the network, be edited, and coded before it is ready to be placed. While current lead time is often several months, Soch said the system needs to speed up considerably.

"Three or four weeks is it, or you're not going to be seeing anything from [my clients]," Soch said.

Beyond lead time, programmers need help from promoters to direct viewers to the on-demand platform, the panelists said. That means getting them "away from the broadband, away from the computer screen," said Sunflower Broadband Programming Manager Andrea Pritchard, "and back in the living room."

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