IAR Bits and Bytes

Covad Ad Campaign Targets Small Businesses

High-speed Internet provider Covad Communications said Monday it would roll out a national media campaign to promote its high-speed Internet services for small businesses.

The campaign, with the theme “Broadband Makes Small Business Better,” will focus on cable television, radio and the Internet. San Francisco-based agency Gee Jeffrey handled the creative work and media buying. Financial details of the buy were not disclosed.

The centerpiece of the campaign will be TV spots on CNN Headline News, CNBC, CNNfn, Fox News, ESPN and Business Week TV. The commercials take a humorous approach to showing how broadband Internet access can make small businesses run faster, smarter, more efficiently, and with better focus. In one spot, for example, a florist is transformed into a super-charged, speed runner. Three other spots highlight broadband’s other attributes for small businesses.

The company launched a small-business initiative earlier this month, aiming to attract customers with Web hosting services costing from $20 to $80 a month.

Covad plans to buy radio time in four major cities: New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago. The online campaign will run on business sites, as well as search destinations.

The company hopes its small-business services focus will help it revive its business from its financial collapse in the wake of the telecom meltdown. Covad filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2001 with $1.4 billion in debt, emerging from bankruptcy in December 2001. It ended last year with 381,000 lines in service.

Lightning Cast Scores Funding

Ad technology provider Lightning Cast said on Monday that it closed a round of financing, led by Nokia Venture Partners, Redleaf Group and Birchmere Ventures. The amount of the round was not disclosed.

All three investors previously backed Lightning Cast, which provides technology for inserting ads in audio or video content online. The company said that continued broadband adoption would allow it to grow its network,

“Completion of the fundraising efforts will allow the company to focus on expanding our leadership position in the market,” said Tom Des Jardins, Lightning Cast’s chairman and chief technology officer. “We continue to see a growing audience of consumers, piquing the interest of the advertising community.”

A recent study by Arbitron and Edison Media found that 103 million Americans had experienced either audio or video content online. The study found that streaming content users tended to be a young, affluent demographic appealing to advertisers.

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