MarketWatch to Offer TV Commercials in IAB Units

Web publisher MarketWatch.com said it plans to streams television ads online in its online ad units, beginning with a spot for American Airlines’s AA.com .

In the AA.com execution, the 336×280 pixel ad (the same size as the Internet Advertising Bureau’s “large rectangle” specification but dubbed an “embedded commercial unit”) won’t begin playing until users expressly opt-in.

On page load, the unit displays a message that says, “See the premiere of the world’s first TV commercial without the TV.” (If users don’t have RealNetworks’ RealPlayer, the ad unit displays a link to download the software instead.) Once users click on their desired bandwidth, the 30-second spot — created by Interpublic’s Dallas-based Temerlin McClain — begins streaming. The commercial concludes with a link to AA.com.

While MarketWatch isn’t the first to dabble in streaming rich media ads — iWon.com recently featured eyeWonder-powered streaming ads for Toyota and Unilever briefly on its homepage — it’s the first time that television creative will effectively replace Web-specific ads throughout a site.

The effort is aimed at attracting traditional advertisers to begin moving more of their media spending online. And with an initiative like this, that spending comes almost entirely out of a client’s media budget; that is, there’s no need to spend money developing creatives expressly for the Web.

“Advertisers can repurpose their existing creatives, and they don’t have to do any conversion to Flash or DHTML or anything like that,” said MarketWatch spokesperson Dan Silmore. “It’s a great way to … get Internet reach into a media buy.”

Spending was not disclosed on the effort, but Silmore said the ad comes as part of AA.com’s current advertising buy on the site, and will run for about two weeks.

While AA.com has been advertising on MarketWatch for about three years, spokespeople said an additional effect is that the effort could attract advertisers who have been holding out on making their first Internet buy.

“We’re hoping to bring neophytes to the Web and make them understand that Web advertising works,” Silmore said. “Hopefully, this will make it easier for some folks.”

While Silmore said the user-initiation feature was designed to help viewers not become “inundated with the ad,” the company said it would consider having the ad stream in directly in the future, without the user’s okay.

“We’re not keeping that door shut,” Silmore said.

At any rate, the news is just the latest effort by MarketWatch to woo new advertisers. In March, the company experimented with selling Web page backgrounds and dayparts. And last month, the company said it would no longer report click-through rates to advertisers unless specifically requested — an effort that the firm said it hoped would convince clients to treat the Web as a medium for branding rather than direct response.

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