Commercials Go Online

Jan 19, 2004

By George Anderson

Marketers, including Pepsi, McDonald’s and AT&T, will begin showing commercials produced for television online through a new format from Unicast using Microsoft’s Media technology.

Richard Hopple, chief executive officer, Unicast told Reuters, “This allows advertisers to take assets they already know are effective. There’s no learning curve involved. They can run a commercial on (sports cable channel) ESPN … and run the same commercial with interactivity on”

The commercials will launch as users move between Internet pages and will have a close button for those who prefer not to watch. Sites running the spots will also have control over the frequency in which they play., and will offer advertisers the option of running their TV spots online.

MSN’s chief media revenue officer, Joanne Bradford, said, “We are going to test it later this month to figure out how this unit can impact brand awareness. The Internet experience is changing rapidly and I think … marketers have to pay attention.”

MSN plans to run the online commercials with entertainment, news and sports clips.

Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the positives/negatives associated with advertisers running television commercials online? Will consumers accept
this form of interruption marketing?

We see some upsides to this approach.

The first being consumers interested in an advertised message will have the ability to act, making a direct purchase or by supplying personal information
in exchange for receiving promotional offers, educational information, etc.

The second is advertisers may now be able to get a better handle on what spots best connect with targeted audiences by the number of times a spot is played
online and the responses it generates. It could help provide insights on how many people actually stick around for the commercials on television instead of going to get a snack,
bring us some laundry, take the dog for a walk, etc.

Anderson – Moderator

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Anna Murray
Anna Murray
18 years 4 months ago

The ability to display spots on the web will be a critical factor in transitioning online to a major advertising medium. But, marketers must think hard about what works online. My guess is that just running your 30 second spot in a box or banner isn’t going to work. Marketers who are experimenting in the TiVo space are discovering the same thing. Commercials must be imagined for each specific use. A TiVo representative at the New York AD:Tech in November said to the audience, “We tell marketers, ‘Don’t just sent us your 30 second spot and expect it to work.'” In the interactive medium, commercials may have to be more like little entertainment pods or infomercials for people to click to watch them. The following Marketing Sherpa case study discusses a deployment of commercials online that worked.