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AOL Lets GM Own 128 Pieces of Broadband Content

Deal for New Online Video Channel Hints at Portal's Branding Model

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When AOL launches its series of broadband channels under the Living banner, which will include how-to programming from chef Tyler Florence and home improvement guru Eric Stromer, General Motors Corp. will have plumb placement in an integrated deal that the portal's sales chief calls "indicative of future ad deals."
AOL's deal with GM is another example of a marketer sponsoring extra content, a move that is proving to be an important ad model on the web.
AOL's deal with GM is another example of a marketer sponsoring extra content, a move that is proving to be an important ad model on the web.

'Trade secrets'
The programming is a series of three shows on AOL's Living channel: "Cooking with Tyler Florence," "Home Entertaining with Michele and Gia" and "Home Improvement with Eric Stromer." GM's GMC line will have sponsorship of the shows, running pre-roll video, along with a static ad. But the automaker will also own a series of 128 branded "trade secrets" videos.

If the show is about redesigning a kitchen, said Kathy Kayse, exec VP-sales, AOL Media Networks, the tips could be about how to pick out the right appliance. GMC will have its vehicles integrated into the tips, which will be offered every two weeks to complement the programming.

The deal is another example of a marketer sponsoring extra content, a move that is proving to be an important ad model on the web, where commercial interruptions are far less likely to be tolerated.

Online video entertainment
"There's a dearth of quality video entertainment online and it's a focus of ours to continue to differentiate AOL as being a content provider with quality, fun information and info that provides a lean in experience," Ms. Kayse said. "In turn we hope it'll create a great platform."

She added that while the online video ad model puzzle hasn't yet been solved, "all of us are creating new paths and being challenged by marketers to come up with new programs."

In particular, AOL had been trying to feed GMC's objective for a year and a half when the AOL programming team brought the three Living shows to the table and the ad sales team realized he target audiences for the shows matched up well with the demographics and psychographics GMC had identified for several of its vehicles. It's unclear exactly how the buy will be measured and what metrics will be used, but "we'll be working closely with [GM] to determine the right metrics," said Ms. Kayse.

AOL plans to promote the programming throughout its site and GMC will do offline promotion as well. While AOL wouldn't comment on the deal's pricing, an integration of this size by a major portal would be likely to fetch a seven-figure ad commitment. According to comScore Video Metrix, in September 2006 AOL's video products had almost 20 million unique viewers per month.
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