'Next step' for advertising

Rainbow Media ready to showcase interactive offerings at upfront

Before the upfront officially gets under way in May, agencies and advertisers purchasing time on Cablevision's Rainbow Media networks will have the option to juice their buys with interactive applications.

In the face of what could be the most tumultuous upfront marketplace in recent memory, Cablevision is positioning its interactive platform as a means to wring more value from its clients' ad dollars.

Cablevision's Rainbow Media collective includes AMC, WEtv, Sundance Channel and IFC.

Among the advanced interactive TV features on offer are telescoping spots, VOD channels devoted exclusively to marketers and a request-for-information overlay that will allow viewers to call up a prepopulated form that is routed back to the advertiser.

This marks the first time Cablevision will put its suite of interactive applications on the upfront block, said senior vp advanced platform sales Barry Frey, who added that the tricked-out functionality will be limited to Rainbow clients making buys in the MSO's New York/Long Island footprint.

Boasting the greatest digital penetration of any major cable operator, Cablevision's 2.8 million iO subs account for 91% of its customer base.

"Our leadership position in the interactivity and VOD space has allowed us to really take advertising to that next step, where measurability and accountability fortify the traditional spot model," Frey said. "In the past five years, we've seen consumers increasingly embrace interactivity, whether it's online video or VOD. And once the consumer adopts a medium, the advertisers have to follow suit."

Cablevision's newest advanced-ad applications will be ready to roll in the fourth quarter, Frey said. One feature that already has begun generating a lot of conversation is the Power :30, a telescoping 30-second spot that will serve as a gateway to a longform (three to five minutes) marketing pitch. Two clients that have taken advantage of Cablevision's dedicated VOD marketing channels, Walt Disney Resorts and the U.S. Navy, will be the first to build creative for those telescoping ads.

Anthony Crupi is senior editor at Mediaweek.