A-B Lowers Expectations for Bud.TV

Abandons Goal of Up to 3 Million Monthly Visitors, Shoots for Audience of 500,000

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Tony Ponturo, the Anheuser-Busch executive in charge of the brewer's pioneering online TV network, said last February that an audience in the mid-six figures would be evidence the site has "missed the mark." Now, he's citing that level as a target.

The drastically reduced expectation follows news that Bud.TV's traffic fell 40% in March, to 153,000 visitors.

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The brewer's VP-global media initially hoped to have as many as 3 million monthly visitors to Bud.TV by next February. But in an interview late last week with the Associated Press, Mr. Ponturo said he's now shooting for 500,000 monthly visitors to the site by then.

Reduced expectation
The drastically reduced expectation follows news that Bud.TV's traffic fell 40% in March, to 153,000 visitors.

In a statement in response to questions from Ad Age, Mr. Ponturo said A-B would not be reducing its reported $30 million-plus first-year investment despite reducing its audience goal to one-sixth of what it had hoped for earlier. "We are simply recasting our expectations based on two months of actual data," he said.

In beer terms, that means A-B is now buying a single can for what it planned to spend on a six-pack.

Traffic woes
The site's traffic woes to date have generally been attributed to a combination of tepid content -- Mr. Ponturo earlier said it was still looking for a "wow factor" -- and an age-verification firewall that requires viewers to enter personal information to access the site.

While the age-verification measures go further than what other brewers, and other A-B brands, have traditionally required online, a group of state attorneys general has said it doesn't go far enough. As the AGs see it, A-B, as a content producer and purveyor, has a greater responsibility to avoid marketing to youth than it does as a mere advertiser.
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