Advertisers want Web with their TV buys
By THERESA HOWARD
By THERESA HOWARD
NEW YORK — Advertisers are clamoring for online options along with their broadcast TV ad purchases, but a test by ABC indicates some are more ready than others for prime time on the Internet.
As broadcast TV networks this week begin selling ad time in advance for fall shows — the annual "upfront" bazaar — their Internet initiatives are getting as much attention as their new shows.
With consumers spending more time online, advertisers are looking for ways to reach them beyond 30-second TV spots.
"We're looking beyond ratings and pricing," said Vance Overbey, Cingular's head of advertising. "We want ideas from the networks that will allow us to place our products and services in a unique way."
The networks, meanwhile, are trying to supplement and repackage content online so those dollars don't slip away.
ABC is testing this month a model offering four of its hits, including "Lost"and "Desperate Housewives," for ad-supported, free viewing at abc.go.com a day after they air. Each of the 16 episodes offers three ad breaks for one product. ABC urged the 10 marketers who signed up to creatively emphasize and explore interactivity.
"It's kind of TV, kind of interactive, kind of a direct-marketing opportunity," said Alan Ives, vice president of interactive sales. The first two weeks drew 2 million viewers, and a survey found 87 percent could recall a show's sponsor, ABC said Tuesday.
While some sponsors came in with little more than banner ads and streamed commercials, Cingular was among those who took it as a chance to experiment.
"This form of advertising and these kinds of models and innovation are just starting," says Andreas Combuechen, CEO of online agency Atmosphere BBDO, which created Cingular ads for the test.
An ad for the Slvr phone and iTunes music player lets consumers "see, hear and feel" phone features. Mobster-themed game ads let viewers guess "the snitch." Another game ad involves images resembling Cingular's "raising the bars" icon.
Other advertisers who raised the bar:
"Interactive is really important because we know people's viewing habits are changing," said Mark Simmons, Toyota's national manager of ad strategy and media. "We want to make sure we are with them wherever they are."