Comcast Puts New Twist On VOD Advertising

NEW YORK — With ad-supported TV representing the top video-on-demand category at Comcast, the cable giant last week gave more details on how its programming partners can better monetize that content.

Roughly 40% of VOD viewing on the Comcast platform is in the “C3” window, Rob Holmes, vice president of advanced advertising for video at Comcast, said during a keynote interview with Multichannel News editor-in-chief Mark Robichaux at the “Advanced Advertising: Profiting From a Targeted Audience” conference. As tracked by Nielsen, C3 refers to the first three days following the debut airing of a TV program.

The newest weapon being forged to take advantage of this trend, and viewing window, is the On Demand Credit Rating, an initiative launched by Comcast that uses dynamic ad insertion to splice the ads from the most recent episode of a TV series into the prior episodes that are banked in the VOD system. Boiled down, ODCR picks up part of those ad views and applies them to the Nielsen C3 rating.

As previously reported, Comcast has conducted or is conducting small ODCR technical trials with NBCUniversal and ABC, and is on track to do the same with CBS.

“We’ve proven we can execute from a technical standpoint,” Holmes said.

He said Comcast has developed a scalable solution for dynamic ad insertion and believes new initiatives like ODCR can accelerate the overall DAI market for video-on-demand.

Generally, dynamic ad insertion “is a great opportunity,” Holmes said, noting that Comcast had about 1 billion DAI impressions last year and expects to be on pace this year to double that.

While ODCR presents a way for advertisers to buy full seasons of TV shows on the VOD platform, consumers don’t tend to gobble episodes all up at once. Instead, viewers tend to use VOD to keep pace with the current season.

In fact, 75% of VOD views involved one household watching one episode of one series per week, according to data pulled together by Comcast in partnership with Rentrak. “So it’s not really binge watching,” Holmes said.

Although ODCR is still nascent (it’s a topic of a Comcast VOD ad “road show” that’s underway to help educate the market), don’t get too comfortable with the term. “We’re looking for a better name,” Holmes joked.

And ODCR is just one of a “portfolio of solutions,” he said. Comcast will offer multiple options so programmers can figure out how best to map themselves to the operator’s dynamic ad insertion platform.

One of those options is NBCU+Powered by Comcast, an addressable/targeted VOD ad product that was introduced last month.

While that product is in the early stages, Holmes said he anticipates more addressable ad inventory will become available soon as Comcast and NBCU look to attract more advertisers to it, continue their work with the ad agencies and add it to the structure of the upfronts.