Questions for Fancast SVP Karin Gilford

Among the aggregators of professional video content, Comcast-owned Fancast has emerged as a favorite owing to its diverse blend of television programming, movies and short-form entertainment, as well as its strong relationships with major media companies.

According to Karin Gilford, SVP of Fancast and online entertainment at Comcast Interactive Media, the site is a hit with wired moms, an easy demographic to sell to many advertisers.

In a recent interview with ClickZ, Gilford discussed Fancast’s content and advertising strategy, and described some new ad formats it plans to roll out soon.

Q. How would you compare Fancast to other TV network sites and video sites on the Web?

A. We’re not competing head-to-head with online video sites. We’re not going to be a repository of video. We want to be the TV viewer’s fan site. For every hour that people spend watching a show, they probably spend another hour or two talking about the show or looking online. We want to capture that, we want to give them the 360-degree view… We basically want to give them the information around their show, and tell them exactly how they can consume it, whether it be online or offline. It’s another dimension to their viewing experience.

Q. What is the target audience of Fancast?

A. Broadly what I’m trying to reach is the audience watching TV with their laptop, the simul-surfer.

[Another] group we call the wired mom; they are very loyal. They can start using a site like Fancast to have more freedom. They have more freedom to enjoy their favorite shows and not have to sit down at the TV at eight o’clock, or wrestle their husband for the remote.

Q. How do you Extend Fancast to your Comcast cable subscribers?

B. With Fancast we’re striving to be the ultimate television destination. We have the ability to move some compelling marketing features forward. We have the database of 25 million subscribers, and we know what channels and premium channels they subscribe to, and can link to that [without revealing IP data]. In the middle we have our assets like the platform that make this whole round trip happen.

Q. How is advertising sold on the site?

A. Right now we’re primarily a display business on Fancast. We have a lot of great solutions for endemic…cable and network advertisers, and we’re getting in front of non-endemic advertisers. How do we harness the marketplace around television content online? [By] packaging around soaps, late night TV, and coming up with an innovative approach to fall season TV.

Q. Are you looking to other opportunities such as sponsorships?

A. We definitely want to get sponsors involved with the site. I think we have a unique opportunity. We do a lot of interesting things around shows, especially with reality, and even old favorites because we have the full assets. We have people involved with online chats, and we’re getting personalities involved with shows old and new… We’re tapping social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

What I learned in my experiences with Yahoo [is] I like to take a bit more of a consultative approach. I sit down with advertisers and tell them what’s available. The least valuable conversations I had with advertisers at Yahoo was when we came to the table with fully-baked ideas and said this is what’s available.

We’re always going to be super-serving the big finales, and dropping in the momentum that happens around television.

Q. What do you have on the horizon?

A. You’re going to see a few interesting things happen over the summer. We’ve been head’s down on…and have an end of summer launch for on-demand online. It brings a lot of the cable programming online in a full, consistent manner. It brings a promotional window, a sustained marathon window to a show’s [season] launching period. When you’re a Comcast subscriber, we can give you content channels to subscribe to, and if you subscribe to a premium channel, we can give you that programming.

The other prong that we’re executing on right now, moving up a little bit from our killer application of online video to stuff advertisers can take part in and end users can enjoy is Internet snacks. The Internet is a part of the new coffee break. Browsers may watch part of a movie. Users get involved for a shorter part of the day, it’s a way to cross promote.

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