Cable Show: Multiscreen Advertising Grows With Digital

Los Angeles-- As more consumers view television content on digital platforms, networks and distributors are slowly but surely convincing advertisers to follow those viewers, helping to monetize those viewers.

At panel discussion at the Cable Show here Tuesday, executives talked about the opportunities in multiplatform advertising and some of the challenges the industry still faces in selling ads against non-traditional viewing.

“There’s been an explosion of ways to consume content, both TV content and made for digital content,” said Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of strategy and operations at NBCUniversal. 

Bhatia said that between 5% and 15% of the consumption of NBCU shows happens on digital platforms. “We want our advertisers to benefit from that consumption,’ he said.

Some TV advertisers are looking to expand their reach while associating their brands with NBCU content and running campaigns across platforms, he said. There are also digital advertisers who want to associated with digital content on digital platforms.

At ESPN, digital consumption of live programming doesn’t cannibalize traditional TV viewing, said Eric Johnson, executive vice president of multiplatform sales at ESPN.

“It’s all additive,” Johnson said. “It is really important for ESPN to e the second screen for all sports. We’re spending more time and investment to make sure we understand what the effectiveness of the advertising.”

VOD is a platform with growing viewership that advertisers are beginning to show interest in. Joel Hassell, CEO of Canoe Ventures said that in the last four months of 2012, Canoe did 100 million ad insertions. “We do that in three days now. By June, we’ll e doing one billion insertions a month,” he said. “There’s a lot of money in it for the programmers. It’s real dollars.”

Rob Holmes, vice president of advanced advertising at Comcast Cable, said that advertisers should be interested in VOD viewers. “People are committed to the viewing.  You’re not channel surfing. There’s less fast-forwarding for a variety of reasons,’’ he said, adding that VOD viewers tend to e younger, wealthier and better educated.

While a very attractive picture was painted of advertising on digital platforms, some ad buyers and clients are resisting.

There are still measurement issues, with different sources providing different types of data.

“Advertisers are increasingly becoming comfortable with data from other providers, set top box data and other types of data,” Holmes said.

But there are also still many advertisers and ad buyers who just aren’t familiar with VOD advertising, said Hassell.  He said Canoe held an event about VOD advertising at Time Warner Cable’s facilities in New York. “I was stunned at how little was known about [VOD]. We have to continue to educate the agencies to make sure they understand what this space is capable of.”

Bhatia said NBCU was using the upfront period to go on an agency road show about how viewing is changing. “By the time you get to the upfront you’re conducting negotiations on price and volume and it’s too late to do education,” he said.

“You’ve got to find the simplicity,” ESPN’s Johnson added. “The [media buying] system rejects the complicated. “

But the best line of the evening came when Canoe’s Hassell was asked about interactive advertising. “Interactive will always have a great future, which is why we got out that business.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.