This week, MTV Networks (including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land and Spike) becomes the first national network group to partner on a continuing basis with Visible World, a New York direct-response company that allows advertisers to update their campaigns in real time on linear TV and online. So when the first campaigns from the partnership air in September -- likely during the MTV Video Music Awards -- a marketer such as Subaru can congratulate Beyonce on winning her award for Best Dance Video in the first on-air commercial break following her win.
It's an answer people on both sides of the table are clamoring for in this year's upfront. If an ad's not keeping viewers glued to your commercial on a specific network, you can change it on the spot.
Better than the Sunday supplement
Visible World President Tara Walpert said the company's technology primarily has been used on local TV and online, with automotive dealerships and retailers jumping at the chance to update their messages to reflect sales and bargains (think: "Final days: 50% off now!").
"As we brought more national advertisers into that platform, one of the strongest desires was to bring that capability to national media," Ms. Walpert said.
One of the more notable early ventures Visible World made into national TV advertising was a campaign done by Wendy's for the NFL football playoffs at the end of last year, which aired on Fox Sports. A series of 11 prerecorded ads starring animated raccoons could be implemented by the advertiser to air throughout the broadcast to match the activity in the game. (Sample dialogue: "Touchdown. Those fans are as rabid as we are.")
"The advantage to Wendy's was all of a sudden they had a live story [to their messaging]," Ms. Walpert said. "And the advantage to Fox was Wendy's was willing to invest in more spots because they knew they weren't going to wear out their audience with the same commercial."
Hank Close, MTV Networks' president-ad sales, said prior to the Visible World deal, he was hearing significant interest in real-time advertising in recent discussions with automotive, retail and movie-studio marketers. "Agencies and clients obviously need to engage their creative messages in this [technology], and this really takes us to having some of the tools and abilities you have in the online world and the digital world," he said.
"Our goal is to fundamentally change the way our viewers experience advertising by giving them an innovative experience, and our partnership with Visible World gives us the leading edge," said MTV Networks Chairman-CEO Judy McGrath. "Our consumers can access relevant information from our marketing partners across every screen."
Since no marketers are officially onboard for the Visible World partnership, Mr. Close couldn't disclose how pricing would be affected by any deals cut using the technology. But, Ms. Walpert said, "The incremental cost of using technology, whether it's on media or services provided, really is dwarfed by the impact on campaigns for the clients. If a client is setting results on a direct-response ad or a branding ad, it vastly outweighs the incremental cost."
Though local and online advertising has proven to be lucrative for Visible World, the key to the company's growth is to follow the money where major marketers are still putting the vast majority of their dollars -- in prime-time TV.
"If you can get the desire of [interacting with] an online ad introduced to mass reach, then you've got the holy grail, right? Some people have referred to us as the DoubleClick of video. It's taking all the precision and flexibility of a new medium and combining it with the old. It's providing a reason why the old party is here to stay," Ms. Walpert said.