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New channel for online content

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As online video grows more sophisticated—and pre-recorded material on Web sites becomes the norm—some of the top media companies are starting to offer live and “near real-time” programming to enhance their online content and establish new revenue streams. “Digits,” which launched in late February and runs live each weekday at 1 p.m. ET, is the latest online news program running across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, whose Web sites include AllThingsD.com, Barrons.com, MarketWatch.com and WSJ.com. The network is owned by Dow Jones & Co. In March Dow Jones introduced “Media Matters,” a biweekly online interview series hosted by MarketWatch's Jon Friedman, and in September WSJ.com debuted “The News Hub,” a live, twice-daily online news broadcast. “Digits,” which is hosted by MarketWatch's Stacey Delo, covers tech news and features interviews with Dow Jones' reporters and editors from the field via Skype. It runs for about seven minutes. “One of the things that we didn't anticipate is that it's actually more efficient to do live video content creation than pre-recorded and edited programming,” said Brian Quinn, VP- general manager of digital ad sales for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Three minutes before “Digits” goes live, a video player (with a countdown) appears on the homepage of WSJ.com. After its initial run, “Digits” is posted on the homepage for the remainder of the day and then archived in the Journal's Video Center. The show is being plugged via e-mail marketing and ads the print version of The Wall Street Journal. “Digits” is being sold to advertisers as run-of-site. However, a major brand advertiser has agreed to be the exclusive sponsor starting in the second quarter, Quinn said. “Pre-roll video is a nice business, and it's growing, but everyone does that.” he said. “A lot of these [shows] have a sizzle to it that advertisers are very excited about, specifically if there's an ownership opportunity.” Exclusive sponsors to “Digits” will get a “Brought you to by” message at the beginning of the show and ad impressions throughout the program, Quinn said, adding that other advertisers have expressed in “Digits.” FedEx is the exclusive sponsor of TimesCast, a near real time program which NYTimes.com rolled out in March. TimesCast is available every weekday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. ET at the top of the homepage of NYTimes.com. The show, which runs a little more than five minutes, is also available on The Times's mobile site Each daily TimesCast program takes viewers inside The New York Times' newsroom and includes the editors' daily “Page One” meeting and discussions between editors and reporters about the stories they are covering that day. After the show airs, it is posted in the NYTimes.com's video section. The ad unit features a stationary banner that runs above the video player on the homepage, branding at the top of the player and a 15-second mid-roll ad unit within the video. “Advertisers are interested in video and they're also interested in high-profile opportunities,” said Denise Warren, chief advertising officer of The New York Times Media Group and general manager for NYTimes.com, adding that TimesCast is being promoted through online marketing tools. The program gives “readers insight into the New York Times and how we make decisions,” Warren said. “It's also behind the scenes and a little bit sexy, and all of that added up appeals to advertisers.” The proliferation of broadcast-style programming online comes amid an increasing appetite among advertisers for online video. According to eMarketer, ad spending on online video is expected to grow to $1.4 billion this year, compared with $1.1 billion in 2009. It is projected to grow to nearly $2 billion in 2011. “Every media company, whether print-based or digital, is trying to stay on the cusp of the newest forms of online content,” said Frannie Danzinger, senior VP of media for b-to-b agency GyroHSR. “Those that are going to succeed are going to provide what their audiences need, and not just what's really cool.”
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