VOD Begets the "BNU"

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In simpler times, a commercial was just a commercial. Now, for some cable industry ad sellers, it’s a “branded navigation unit” or BNU, that serves as a lead-in to deeper forms of TV advertising. That was apparent earlier this month at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention. At the annual show, as representatives of cable companies, networks and ad agencies talked about changes to TV advertising sparked by the growing popularity of cable’s video-on-demand television platforms. Among key themes:

  • 30-second spots on linear networks still rule as a TV mainstay, in part because “You need a 30-second commercial to let people know where all this stuff is,” said Cox Communications SVP, advertising sales Billy Farina. Cablevision Systems Corp. VP, advanced platform sales Barry Frey said the New York cable company has adopted the “BNU” vernacular to describe: 30s that offer links to longer-form, on-demand material. “Thirty seconds now can get an advertiser 20 minutes of deep engagement,” Frey says.
  • Buying TV ad time is getting more complicated for agencies. Some are now employing VOD specialists. One reason is the absence of clear demarcation lines between national cable networks and local cable providers when it comes to placing VOD ads. “Agencies have to buy now in a bifurcated manner. They have to buy from the network, and they have to buy from the cable operator,” says Cox Media director of new business development David Porter.
  • Pricing approaches for VOD advertising vary. Turner Broadcasting System Inc. bases prices for short ads and “bumpers” it plants in front of VOD programs based on a cost-per-thousand rate multiplied by the number of impressions a VOD program delivers, says Chris Pizzurro, VP, multimedia marketing Chris Pizzurro. Cox, which sells advertisers time within a VOD “showcase” menu, formulates rates based on the number of enabled VOD subscribers with access to the content.

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