Deal Links TV News Stories, Sites With Procter & Gamble Products

Consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble is trying out a new way to market its products — by attaching them to TV news stories’ Web sites through a deal with San Diego, Calif.-based INNX.

INNX produces television news stories (such as “Smile Savings: Cosmetic Dentistry Can be Cheaper than Orthodontia”) which it then distributes for free to affiliated TV news stations. Advertisements are attached to the TV news stories in a 10-second commercial following the segments, which urges viewers to visit the station’s Web site for more information on the story.

Clicking on the story’s icon (branded with the advertiser’s logo) on the station’s Web site brings up a co-sponsored page with additional links and information.

INNX handles all the technical aspects of the service, distributing and automatically updating participating stations’ sites.

The system, of course, aims to associate familiar brands to the related news stories — so, for instance, when a story airs about dentistry, Cincinnati-based P&G’s Crest could be mentioned, ideally linking the brand and the issue in the mind of viewers.

Affiliates, for their part, get news stories to air without production or syndication costs.

Hirschfeld said that their affiliates like the INNX stories “because the quality of our journalism and our product is so far above what [most] stations are capable of providing — because of the time and effort we place into stories.”

“We believe our model enables news stations to air higher-quality news by having advertisers attached,” said INNX chief marketing officer Teri Hirschfeld. “And likewise, we believe very strongly — and hear this in focus groups — that consumers really appreciate branded endcap ads and the opportunity to get additional information.”

The stories currently focus on health and healthcare, and are disseminated to most NBC News affiliates through an earlier arrangement with NBC. INNX is still ramping up for its work with P&G, which will include linking stories with the company’s healthcare brands including Crest, NyQuill and Metamucil.

“We believe in holistic marketing and finding new ways to more fully communicate with our consumers,” said Bob Wehling, global marketing officer for P&G. “This agreement will allow us to test new waters with a promising and innovative marketing tool.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; however, Hirschfeld said the agreement, which gives INNX access to all of P&G’s consumer brands, could potentially net “millions” in billings.

INNX also said it’s in talks with other traditional consumer-oriented advertisers — interested in both the TV airtime, but also the co-branded Web information — to launch similar relationships.

“We recognize that TV advertising is still the primary marketing thrust for most consumer products and products marketed to consumers, but we recognize there’s this important emerging medium called the Internet — though everyone’s trying to make it effective,” she said. “This is kind of like convergence is really happening.”

For this reason, INNX calls all this “the future of information” — a prospect that not surprisingly might seem frightening to those who perceive the service as commercial exploitation of news media.

However, Hirschfeld waves away such implications, saying that television affiliates are attracted to INNX for its production quality and journalistic integrity.

“Frankly, they love our stories, for a number of reasons — in part, because of the high quality of them, and in part because of the journalistic purity of them,” she said. “Again, they’re always going to be making sure what they show to viewers is something they can ethically stand by. They’re holding us to high standards, but those standards are part and parcel of our model.”

“We’re extremely committed to journalistic purity,” said Hirschfeld, who added that advertiser spots are considered and attached added only after a story is finished.

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