Skip to main content

Q&A: TWC's Joan Gillman

Time Warner Cable is marrying its interactive-TV
capabilities with its video on demand service to create Promotions On Demand, a
new VOD technology that enables viewers to
request more information or coupons from advertisers through their remote
control. POD is a turnkey product that AEs across the country will be able to
offer to clients by the fall. TWC, which launched its POD test in Los Angeles
in January, expects to roll out the service in its top-five markets this spring,
with every market selling the product by this autumn, said Time Warner Cable
Media Sales president Joan Gillman.

"When customers get marketing materials they really want and
advertisers get customers who are interested in their offers, everybody wins," Gillman
said. "In addition, POD can help marketers maximize their marketing dollars
during this unprecedented economic downturn."

TWC initially tested the POD service with client Big O Tires,
a national auto-service chain.

"Promotions On Demand has proven to be one of the most
successful response media programs for Big O Tires," said J.C. Cordero,
principal with Big O's agency, San Diego-based Cordero & Davenport Advertising,
in a statement. "By providing turnkey and innovative marketing solutions that
meet our client's needs, Time Warner Cable has helped increase our efficiency
and decrease our cost. That's a true victory for any marketer."

Gillman spoke with K.C. Neel about the new advanced-advertising
product. An edited transcript follows:

Q: What made you
choose
Los
Angeles
for
this test and how long has it been underway?

A: We launched
the test in January with one client -- Big O Tires -- and in the last month, we
have since added four more clients in different sales categories. We chose Los
Angeles, we already had a core group of [account
executives] that have been selling interactive products for two years and all
of our AEs have had the opportunity to sell video on demand so it was easy to
bring them up to speed with this product. The sales messaging, sale pitches and
training took about a week.

Q: How was this
product conceived?

A: We created
dedicated channels on various topics three years ago. As part of that, we
created Journey TV in conjunction with various tourism bureaus and resorts. We
wanted to take that VOD offering and give
clients the ability to target their audiences better and more closely. We
kicked off that product in Los Angeles,
and it's part of the POD product we are launching today. We are currently
actively talking about the POD product in all our markets now and we plan to
have it up and running in our top five markets (New York,
Los Angeles, Cleveland,
Dallas and Charlotte,
N.C.) by mid-May. We expect to start
launches in our largest markets first and continue until we have it in every
market by the fall.

Q: How is it being
sold and what are you offering clients as part of this service?

A: We are handling everything end to end right now. That
means we can create two-, five- and 30-minute videos that will run on the VOD
platform. When a viewer requests more information for either a brochure or
coupon, we are currently mailing them out. Brochures are generally provided by
the client but we have a fulfillment partner that can create coupon direct mail
pieces. If larger clients would like to handle the direct mail aspect of the
transaction, we can accommodate that. But with this initial trial at least, we
wanted to make sure the requests for information were fulfilled quickly and
effectively so we handled it from our end.

Q: Is this product adaptable
to both local and national clients?

A: Absolutely. We
have found that real-estate agencies and restaurants are very interested in
this product. They are strong local and regional clients and can benefit from
this. For instance, some real estate agencies will send out high-end brochures
and they can save some money on direct mail and postage costs, because those
brochures are sent to people really interested in what they are offering. It's
a great way to pre-qualify prospective clients.

Our national sales partner, NCC
[National Cable Communications], can sell this product in our markets as well.
We have said we want to roll this product out in our top five markets by
mid-May and have it in all our markets by the fall.

But if NCC came to us and
said they had a client who wanted to buy this product in five different
markets, we could easily get it up and running in no time.

Q: How does this
product differ from your interactive sales offering now available in
Hawaii, upstateNew YorkandNew York City?

A: During certain
30-second spots, a banner will pop up at the bottom of the ad and viewers can
push a button and request more information or coupons from that advertiser with
our Response For Information product. It's only available in limited markets. Our
POD product will be available on our digital platform to all our digital
customers in every market. It turns our VOD
platform into a very powerful tool.

Q: What have you
learned with this trial?

A: We started
with Big O Tires and they launched the test with four different offers and four
different creative ads. They have been experimenting with what drives the
highest response and that testing continues today. We now have five clients
from different sales categories participating in this trial, and they are all
experimenting. I think this product gives marketers a wide range of ways to
sell their products and services.