DirecTV, Dish Team On Interactive Ads With 'ASAP'

DirecTV and Dish Network may be fighting tooth and nail for subscribers, but they have buddied up to try to sell interactive TV advertising to big-budget marketers by proffering a combined footprint of almost 30 million U.S. households.

The two companies -- the second and third-biggest pay-TV distributors in the U.S. after Comcast -- on Monday announced the Advanced Satellite Advertising Platform (ASAP).

Under the ASAP partnership, DirecTV and Dish sales reps will jointly pitch large advertisers and agencies on a two-week campaign that showcases long-form advertorial content on a dedicated channel coupled with interactive features. Interactive elements can include product information, photo galleries, simple games, regional locators and request-for-information offers.

The actual media buy for each two-week ASAP campaign -- including ad rates -- will be negotiated separately, the companies said.

"Scale is really what these advertisers are looking for," Dish Network vice president of advertising sales Mike Finn said. "We believe we'll have a lot better sales proposition if we go out together. We believe we're making it as easy as possible to bring the bigger advertisers on board."

The two ads sales teams will initially target the top 50 advertisers that neither Dish nor DirecTV has been able to sign up for interactive campaigns, Finn said. He added that the satellite operators have already approached advertisers about the joint offering in the last few weeks.

DirecTV executed 60 interactive campaigns in 2009. With the Dish partnership, DirecTV could do as many as 110 this year, senior vice president of advertising sales Bob Riordan said. "We're trying to bring efficiency and scale to the marketplace," he said.

At some point in the future, DirecTV for one could potentially work with Canoe Ventures to achieve even greater reach for advertisers, Riordan said. "Anything's possible," he said. "We'll work with anybody if it can help bring revenue back to TV.... We want Canoe to succeed."

Canoe, formed in 2008, is the advanced-advertising joint venture of the six largest U.S. cable operators: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks.

Dish uses the interactive TV middleware provided by OpenTV, while DirecTV runs on a proprietary interactive TV system. Both companies have been operating interactive TV platforms since 2004.

The ASAP campaigns will be measured by each company's media-measurement partner: Dish uses Rentrak, and DirecTV uses Kantar Media (formerly TNS Media)  for reporting viewer metrics. For each ASAP campaign, either Rentrak or Kantar will consolidate results for a combined report back to the advertiser, Finn said.