Microsites Deliver ‘More Bang' for Client Bucks

Comcast Spotlight has been pushing the idea of multiplatform advertising packages for some time with some pretty good success. But in Chicago, the concept has taken on a new twist: the ad sales arm of Comcast Cable has created micro-Web sites designed to give ad clients an online outlet for long-form video. The effort has been so successful, the division now has four such sites and more could be on the way, according to Dave Pajeau, director of advanced media for Comcast Spotlight Chicago.

"We know there is tremendous value in the Internet," Pajeau said. "With our focus on long-form video formats, the multiplatform concept works well for clients."

Comcast Spotlight Chicago created summerfunchicago.com last year featuring customized video content from area entertainment companies. Clients could provide their own content or Comcast could create content for the site, Pajeau said. Thirty-second spots on linear channels also drove viewers to the summerfunchicago.com site and to the video-on-demand channel.

"The response to summerfunchicago.com was strong right out of the gate," Pajeau said. "So we went ahead and did winterfunchicago.com and had similar success."

Indeed, the concept of microsites was working so well for Spotlight in Chicago that last fall the division launched a new education site: mycollegelink.com featuring long-form video from various area colleges.

"We didn't see any good resources for parents to find out about schools for their kids and the schools didn't have a one-stop shop for promoting themselves. Education was an untapped area and we went for it. We started in Chicago, but the concept has worked so well we are rolling out similar sites in our other Midwestern markets."
Pajeau, who used to be with the Tribune Co., knew that microsites would work well in the cable television environment. They are inexpensive to create -- though driving traffic is not always easy. But the ability to cross-promote clients' messages on linear TV through 30-second spots, VOD and online, makes the concept very viable and profitable. The microsites are not only giving existing clients "more bang for their buck," Pajeau said, they are bringing in new clients and giving Spotlight an opportunity to turn online-only clients into multi-platform advertisers.
"We are proving the true value of the bundled approach and it's working," Pajeau said. "We're testing various microsite concepts at this point and will continue to tweak the sites we already have. And when we find something that does work, we'll introduce them in other markets."

Pajeau noted that it's generally easier to launch a site in the Chicago market because there are more resources available and the pool of existing and potential clients is larger. However, he noted that smaller market rollouts could benefit from their size because it might be easier to be recognized. At this point, Pajeau said Spotlight Chicago and a few other smaller Midwestern markets have created micro-sites to sell advertising and push the bundled concept of ad sales. But he said he expects other divisions to begin launching their own versions because of the success the Chicago division has had with them.

"They are not expensive to get up and going," he said. "The content is primarily the advertisers' content. We'll create some content; things like calendars and schedules of events. But most of the content is paid by for or provided by the advertisers. For instance, Six Flags has its own page and they have text, video and a link to their site. We have a terrific Web designer who has done a great job of creating the sites. We have limited resources and we have to think strategically when we think what sites we want to create. But they are great way to provide client satisfaction and expand our ad sales efforts."