Two Ad Networks Pool Local TV and Radio Site Inventory

The local media buzz may be focused on newspaper site networks, but a partnership between MediaSpan and Broadcast Interactive Media will allow advertisers to buy on over 1,200 local online radio, TV and newspaper sites across the country. Through the new alignment, the “frenemies,” will work together to sell targeted display and video ads to national advertisers across their expanded networks.

The deal allows MediaSpan to combine its radio station sites with 50 percent of Broadcast Interactive Media’s TV site-heavy inventory, and sell it directly to national advertisers. The amount of in-stream video advertising MediaSpan can now offer is “exponentially bigger” than what it previously had available, according to CMO Mark Zagorski. Broadcast Interactive is “really bringing the video to the table,” he added, noting his firm’s focus on in-stream audio and display ads. Combined, the networks will reach over 13 million unique visitors monthly.

For Broadcast Interactive, the relationship represents a better ability to serve national advertisers. In essence, MediaSpan will act as a sales rep firm for its new partner, said Jessica Underwood, Broadcast Interactive’s national traffic manager. “They’re going to help us sell and reach more advertisers,” she said, calling the partner network “a stronger force to be reckoned with.” Till now, the company has handled display and pre-roll video ad management for local TV station sites in medium-sized markets, and sold geographically-targeted and run-of-network placements to national advertisers such as Verizon and Circuit City on behalf of its television partners.

MediaSpan boasts over 1,000 mainly radio station sites from ABC Radio, Radio One and others in markets nationwide. In addition, the company has begun adding newspapers and alternative newsweekly sites to its roster, including Omaha World-Herald’s Omaha.com and The Orange County Register’s OCRegister.com. The network sells national advertising through its media agency relationships, targeting campaigns to demographic groups such as the “soccer mom block,” which might combine in-stream radio ads on an adult contemporary site with display ads in a newspaper site’s Home section.

The new alignment could also give the two firms a leg up on other local online networks such as WorldNow’s Local Media Network, which allows advertisers to target video and display ads across its network of 176 local TV sites.

While the pairing is designed to grow both their offerings, there’s an element of “coopetition” involved. Both firms have grown through relationships with media properties that use their Web content management and technology services. “We actually compete with them on the services area,” said Zagorski. “There’s potential for us to partner in a lot of different areas.”

As newspaper publishers hint at building online ad networks to woo much needed national ad dollars, MediaSpan could proposition newspapers from a different angle. The company sells print and delivery software to nearly 3,000 local papers, and according to Zagorski, it has its sights set on adding those paper sites to its ad network. Newspapers are “our next real focus,” he told ClickZ News. “There are lots of little properties out there that need to be brought above the water level so they can be seen by the national advertisers,” he continued.

Because local TV sites offer video programming oriented around weather and sports, said Peter Krasilovsky, principal of local media consulting firm Krasilovsky Consulting, “For a lot of people, TV station sites offer a more appealing package than what they’re getting from local newspaper sites.” Most local newspaper sites have yet to roll out video content or ad opportunities, though some are taking the plunge.

A wide-ranging network relationship with TV and radio sites may not be appealing to some newspaper publishers, however. According to Broadcast Interactive Marketing Director Marivic Valencia, newspaper sites compete head-to-head with those other local media entities. “We’re trying to help the local TV and radio stations,” she said. “Newspapers really dominate.”

Zagorski is hoping advertisers appreciate the ability to buy all sorts of local media sites through a network. “It’s all complementary in that advertisers want to reach a local market,” he said.

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