Making the most of broadband

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The always-on, super-fast broadband medium-now in 18% of U.S. homes-can be a rich canvas for storytelling and brand-building using original content, but many marketers still see it only as another outlet for TV ads.

"Repurposing a 30- or 60-second spot and posting it on the Internet is ineffective, it doesn't offer consumers anything that they haven't already seen," said Doug Scott, exec VP-creative director, branded-entertainment marketing for Hypnotic, the New York and Los Angeles-based branded-content production company. "It's not perceived by the consumer as being something of value because it's a commercial."

Mr. Scott's Hypnotic partnered with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Arnell Group, New York, to create original content for Reebok based on a fictional office linebacker named Terry Tate. Apart from TV spots, Hypnotic produced long-form video content specially created for broadband at terrytate.reebok.com. A viral component allowed people to e-mail Terry's exploits to friends.

PepsiCo's Gatorade, Intel Corp., Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation and Toyota Motor Corp's Lexus are among advertisers on Walt Disney Cos.' ESPN Motion, a free broadband-enriched content service on ESPN.com, that have run existing 15- and 30-second TV spots.

dual approach

"But we're currently in discussions with a number of advertisers to develop unique, Internet-focused creative," said Andrew Snyder, director of East Coast/Midwest Sales, ESPN.com.

Visa USA, for one, takes a dual approach. The company's interactive agency AKQA, San Francisco, will create a series of online branding spots to run on ESPN Motion, while TV ads created by Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, Visa's offline agency, will also run on the broadband portal.

ESPN Motion has attracted 1.9 million registered users since its launch in late February. Broadband Internet connections are used in 22 million U.S. households , according to Forrester Research.

"The TV experience is radically different than a 16-inch-away experience with a computer monitor," said David Cohen, senior VP-interactive media director, Interpublic's Universal McCann Interactive. "The answer is not simply to take your commercial and stream it online," yet more often than not, marketers view this as a relatively easy and cost-saving solution since the creative is already shot.

Media and marketing executives point to the BMW Films series and Reebok's "Terry Tate" vignettes as examples of innovative uses of content. Long-form video including short films, trailers and episodic original content that encourage repeat visits point to the future. One of the most elegant examples of content created specifically for the Web is "Drift," a 60-second original film created by Psyop, a New York-based production company, for Bombay Sapphire Gin, a client of Margeotes Fertitta & Partners, New York. The unusual animated short film created in PhotoShop ran on cable TV and can be found on Bombay's Web site. It portrays a man and woman's journey toward falling in love.

"The days of the cutting-room floor are over," said Alan Schulman, senior VP-creative director at Universal McCann, New York, Interpublic's media buying and planning unit. "Meaning, that when we shoot assets, whether they're for commercial units [or not], we're recognizing that those assets could potentially be deployed across multiple platforms," including broadband portals, video-on-demand and DVR environments, movie theaters and online media players.

2 to 5 seconds

"We need to take a page out of the broadcast branding world and look at how network brands have learned how in two to five seconds or less, to declare their brand proposition," Mr. Schulman added, citing Viacom's MTV and Nickelodeon and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN as key examples. Clients include Coca-Cola Co., Sony Electronics and Sony Pictures and Entertainment, Bacardi and Johnson & Johnson. L'Oreal, another client, is in the process of creating long form content for distribution over a variety of on-demand platforms including broadband.

Yet Mr. Schulman and others concede that in the near term at least, the majority of marketers will continue to stream existing TV commercials via online portals. On Launch, Yahoo!'s broadband music venue, Coca-Cola has run existing TV ads, but also unique Internet-only Flash-enabled page takeovers to an audience of 10 million per month. Frito-Lay's Doritos brand sponsors the "Live at Launch" leveraging a mix of assets. But Microsoft Corp., Nokia and even pioneering Reebok have used existing :30 spots on Launch. "We actually think the :30s by themselves can be very effective," said Dave Goldberg, Yahoo! VP-general manager, music.

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