Viacom Advertiser Agrees to Nearly Double Digital Spend

Viacom has sealed an upfront multimillion deal with a “major advertiser” agreeing to nearly double its digital ad spending, the media firm announced during yesterday’s second quarter earnings call. The company also expects to surpass the $500 million digital revenue mark this year, and will build out its online properties to expand its network for advertisers.

“This is a multi-million dollar upfront digital sale, pure digital sale. This is also a major advertiser on-air,” said Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman. The media giant did not make public the name of the advertiser; Viacom representatives did not respond to interview requests in time for publication.

The CEO also touted the company’s digital revenues, noting “We are well on our way to exceeding our goal of $500 million in digital revenues this year.” He added the dollars from digital are “still majority driven by ad sales.”

The company’s top 25 advertisers also do the most ad convergence across online and traditional channels, Dauman told investors.

Viacom CAO and CFO Tom Dooley continued that the firm has been experimenting with developing cross-media campaigns to provide advertisers with reach across platforms. He noted advertisers are buying on properties such as Nickelodeon and MTV — on on-air and on-demand TV, online, as well as wireless and Apple iTunes platforms.

“We are working with the advertisers to bring them and have them participate across the board through each one of those vehicles, those reach vehicles,” said Dooley. “As a result, we are experiencing very, very strong growth on the digital/traditional television side.”

Viacom’s global ad revenues went up 6 percent in Q2 2007, and overall revenues rose 13 percent to $3.19 billion, it reported. The company does not publicly provide a break out of its digital ad earnings separate from its traditional media dollars.

In April, Yahoo signed an exclusive agreement with Viacom to provide sponsored search and contextual ads through its Panama platform to all of Viacom’s 33 broadband sites, including MTV.com, VH1.com, Nickelodeon.com, Comedy Central and BET.com.

In the coming year, Viacom plans to launch hundreds of new sites associated with TV shows, characters or other topics, said Dauman during the call. “As we link these targeted sites on a common platform, we will draw highly dedicated, enthusiastic audiences, which in turn attract a premium in advertising revenues,” he said. This could result in more pre-roll video advertising on the company’s growing site network. Viacom already sells pre-roll ads to advertisers including Burger King on video-centric Web sites like its Comedy Central site.

In an effort to monetize its archived material, the firm in February announced a deal with Joost allowing users of the video site to access full-length Viacom TV and movie content. Viacom said it would probably sell the ads seen on Joost, so it “would be able to sell multiplatform” ad packages, VP Corporate Communications Jeremy Zweig told ClickZ News at the time.

During the earnings call, Dauman also said the company intends to boost its casual online gaming and mobile presence; its Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group will invest $100 million in creating and distributing casual gaming titles, sites and platforms. “This is another great example of how we intend to extend our brands to new revenue-generating opportunities,” said Dauman.

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