PDN has a narrow focus: dental issues. The short video segments, created in conjunction with Fairplay Pictures, often feature Dr. D., a dentist who provides background information, smile makeovers and dental trivia, along with real-time news headlines.
The network has been tested since 2003 in California. This month it will expand to New York and then roll out in other major cities.
Free for dentists
Dentists' offices can sign up for free to receive the network, which is funded by sponsors. The ads take the form of 10-, 15-, 30- and 60-second spots and can be bought in packages similar to those offered for TV, ranging from a month to a year long.
"We provide a way for the dentist to have a soft sell to talk to their patients, and anything that increases the communication between the patient and the dentist they find valuable. ... Anything that introduces a patient to a new product and service, they like," said Matthew Berriman, operations officer for PDN.
PDN is not the first network of its kind. For years, doctors' offices have had special TV networks that screen shows related to health issues. However, PDN is the first targeted toward dentists' offices. People make more than 550 million visits each year to the more than 120,000 dentists' offices in the U.S., according to the American Dental Association.
For advertisers, PDN offers out-of-home advertising to a captive audience. As pointed out by executives at PDN as well as the agencies selling ad space for the network, the only other entertainment at most dental offices is magazines. For now, advertising space can be bought nationally, but the network has technology for customizing advertising down to an individual office.
Oral-health brands already advertise at dentists' offices in a number of ways. Procter & Gamble's oral-hygiene brands have videos, product displays, office merchandise, patient-education materials, consumer purchase incentives and product samples. Still, another advertising tool such as PDN is not out of the question. "We're always open to new ways of reaching our consumers," said Tonia Elrod, oral-care spokeswoman for P&G.
PDN's agencies, Peak Advertising and SeeSaw Networks, see prospects for ads from beyond the oral-hygiene field as well. "We're starting with oral care, but we're probably going to open up the network to everything from movie trailers to consumer products," said Steve Berns, co-founder of Peak Advertising.
Rocky Gunderson, co-founder and VP-marketing and networking operations for SeeSaw, sees potential for health- and travel-related brands. "We'd look at running business-specific type of brands early in the day and family ads later in the day, when the alpha mom is there with her kids," Mr. Gunderson said.