Publishers and advertisers will be able to pair overlay and display ads with specific pieces of video content. Viewers watching a segment about the interior of a car in a DriverTV video, for example, may see an overlay ad about new types of leather or audio technology for the car.
"The category is very important to us, and we're looking for all kinds of ways to reach out to in-market consumers," said Devin Johnson, VP-digital media at NBC Universal, which owns a 35% stake in DriverTV. TV production firm Radical Media is another stakeholder. "Any message the car manufacturer wants to place, they can do it and they can correspond to the actual shots you're seeing in video," said Jan Renner, CEO of DriverTV.
The move towards specificity comes as more advertisers begin to question the ingrained practice of beaming ads to the broadest possible audience each and every time. With the rise of the web and smaller cable networks, more advertisers are looking at the idea of targeting a specific demographic or behavioral niche. On TV, marketers are experimenting with addressable ad units, and on the web, placing overlay ads in strategic moments of video.
Charter advertisers in the new network include General Motors, BMW, Toyota and Volvo. Launch network affiliates include Cox Auto Trader AutoMart, NBC Local Media, CBS Radio, AskPatty.com, Kosmix RightAutos and The Car Connection.
The DriverTV video player can be "skinned" to match the look of any publisher site. DriverTV will share generated advertising revenue with network affiliates. In many cases carmakers pay for the production of the DriverTV videos and pay for clicks by consumers.
More content, more traffic
Known best in recent months as a video-on-demand selection on cable, DriverTV is broadening its offering at a time when car manufacturers are seeking more non-traditional ways to advertise. As a group, auto marketers are one of the biggest suppliers of ad dollars. The move to widen DriverTV's aegis would not only help the venture deepen relationships with clients, but also assist NBC and other media properties in furthering their ties with car manufacturers.
"The more content around the auto vertical we can have on our sites, the more traffic we're going to get," said Mark Lund, exec VP-local media sales for NBC Universal's local media group. "More content is going to result in more traffic and is going to result in more leads for our dealers." TV stations have been among those hardest hit by the auto industry's woes, with ad dollars in the category slumping in recent months.