MTV Enters Crowded Ad Network Sector

MTV Networks yesterday said it would develop ad networks called “Tribes” anchored by sites in the MTV universe. Pepsi will participate as the charter sponsor of the MTV Generation Tribe.

MTV Generation Tribe seeks to attract publishers focused on music, movies, teen sports, gaming, and style. One launch publisher is echo, a Ticketmaster company that hosts official Web sites of artists such as Alicia Keys, Kanye West, and KoRn. To date, Pepsi has bought all the ad inventory as the charter sponsor, though the sales team is actively selling follow-on deals.

The sales staff will sell across Tribes networks. “We want to leverage the relationships that our current sales force has within existing blue-chip advertisers,” said Heather Hopkins, general manager of Tribes at MTV. She is also ramping up Tribes-specific staff to sell within each network to “improve fill rates and keep publishers happy.”

Additional Tribes networks slated for September are CMT, Spike, and VH1, and Comedy Central by the end of the year. Five more are expected for next year. Currently the networks are actively recruiting publishers, and signing about 10 sites a day. Hopkins said Tribes networks are expecting to receive about three- to five-times the number of unique visitors as the anchor MTV sites. The network sites serve as “natural extensions to our consumers as the content networks on our own sites,” she said.

Burst Media’s AdConductor ad management platform is handling the ad serving for each of the networks.

The first network to launch was the MTV Networks Parenting Tribe, anchored by ParentsConnect.com, which went live in February and now has 46 publishers and 37 advertisers. However at the time it wasn’t introduced as a Tribe, and will now be rebranded.

Hopkins joined MTV Networks within the past few months from Digitas, where she was senior vice president and worked with brands including Nike, American Express, and Barnes & Noble. Her role there was talk to brands to buy inventory on ad networks, and now she is creating ad networks.

In the time since Hopkins joined MTV, she admits the market for ad networks has become crowded. “This is something we feel is a service to our advertisers, both in terms of the ease in which to reach an audience, and the campaigns [they can run],” Hopkins said. “We feel like we are building something we can help grow the business with our partners, and for us distributing content for advertising throughout the network.”

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