Broadbandcasting

You arrive home from work one evening and flip on your TV. You’re presented with a menu of options that help direct your interests. Wanting to catch up on the day’s headlines first, you click on the icon representing your news feed. You’re presented with science news that profiles recent breakthroughs in medical technology, movie reviews, a weather forecast for your immediate area, a business recap profiling the stocks your own, and a look at the leaderboard for the upcoming darts championship. Then, you check your email and call up a recipe to make for dinner. Later, you and your spouse settle down to watch the new action movie that’s sitting in your Netflix online queue.

Not long ago, a scenario like this would’ve been fodder for sci-fi buffs. Today, that future is upon us.

Although the Internet has been about on-demand content from its inception, available content types have been fairly simple and generally not very dynamic due to data bandwidth restrictions. Smaller pipes mean less content. Now, close to 60 percent of Americans have access to broadband service through home or work. This larger audience means content developers are willing to create more video streams, fully dynamic projects, and access to more complex content.

Quality on-demand content has become a very real concept. In recent years, cable companies have offered on-demand replay of digital programs to subscribers. TV viewers’ desire to watch programs when it best fits their schedules, not the broadcasters. This has driven sales and advancement of TiVo and other DVRs.

During the past few years, there’s been plenty of speculation on the convergence of TV as we know it and the Internet. This is becoming more of a reality as technology catches up with intent. This past week, Maven Networks announced a five-picture promotional deal with 20th Century Fox to bring DVD-quality movie trailers to the Web. According to Todd Boes, Maven’s VP of marketing, film and media companies have been approaching the Internet more aggressively as a way of reaching their primary target audience (males 18-35), who spend a lot less time watching TV.

The biggest draw for media promotion, however, has been the ability of the trailers to drive ticket sales directly. According to Boes, the 2004 Maven promotion of “Master and Commander” allowed viewers to check local show times and purchase tickets while watching the trailer and see behind-the-scenes segments. This resulted in a 24 percent CTR (define) overall.

Maven represents an example of form and function coming together to benefit consumers. Yet true access to dynamic on-demand content is still in its very early stages. DiMA Group is working to bring this nascent paradigm into the mainstream. This mix of digital media consultancy and media organization is exploring new commerce and usage models. Pat Dunbar, cofounder and EVP, is actively working with advertisers to develop new models that will allow advertisers to benefit from broadband advances.

For example, though VOD (define) is making greater strides, finding ways to provide advertiser with value in these models is often difficult. According to Dunbar, future models include allowing viewers to access “free” media content embedded with ads, very much like TV today. The value add to consumers and advertisers is the ability to provide interactive tools within the ad content. The tools allow immediate access to additional product information and e-commerce tools.

This value add has Klipmart pushing the envelope. Like Maven, Klipmart deals primarily with media advertisements and is focused on providing an experience that can’t be achieved with trailers alone. It uses branded skins around its video ads, which enhance an ad’s usability by providing access to menus that allow users to see additional clips from the film, play games, learn more about the characters and storyline, and so forth.

Klipmart recently ran trailers for Disney’s “The Pacifier,” starring Vin Diesel. In its basic trailer-running-in-a-box format, the ad resulted in a 40 percent view rate beyond the 22-second mark. Working with Disney, it created an online-only trailer experience that featured Diesel talking about the movie along with a skin that allowed users to explore further. According to Klipmart CEO Chris Young, the changes in the trailer format increased the view rate to 82 percent.

As the market begins to fully understand consumers want to be empowered and won’t settle for passive experiences, we’ll see more solutions allowing advertisers to get their messages out to consumers in ways consumers can control and enjoy. My bet is broadband access will lead the way.

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