Mediaweek, May 14, 2007
Pioneering online video ad network Broadband Enterprises will unveil five original made-for-the-Web series during an upfront presentation on May 17. On that day, the company will also lift the curtain on Vindico, its new video ad-serving platform that promises to significantly raise the level of trafficking and tracking standards for the young medium.
At its first-ever upfront event, intentionally scheduled during the week that the broadcast networks hold their signature ad sales extravaganzas, Broadband Enterprises will announce the renewal of Cube Fabulous, the mock-makeover series launched last May, as well as five new short-form series planned for later this year. Among the new shows is Anatomy of a Socially Awkward Situation, a spoof instructional series; The Fantastic Two, a mockumentary series that follows a pair of sports fan rivals who try to outwit each other while playing fantasy football, and the soapy Scuba Sun, which chronicles four New Yorkers who open a diving shop in Key West, Fla.
Though some in the ad industry have questioned whether online media is ready for—or needs to replicate—the upfront sales model, Matt Wasserlauf, Broadband Enterprises CEO and a former CBS executive, said that directly targeting TV dollars is where the Web's best opportunity lies. "The market is a TV market, and we are an extension of that," he said. "Advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Pfizer are making commitments to this space as an adjunct to TV. The machinery of the TV world is about scale and quality."
Wasserlauf said that Cube Fabulous, whose 16 5-to-7-minute episodes have been streamed 200 million times by a whopping 25 million unique users, proves that theory.
Suhaila Suhimi-Waldner, East Coast director, OMD Digital, who handled AOL's sponsorship of Fabulous last year, said she is in favor of more pure online players embracing the upfront model. "A lot of our budgets are determined [during upfront season], and we can take advantage of a similar timeline," she said.
Suhimi-Waldner is also bullish on the promise of Vindico, since online video is desperate for standards. "The ability to track and measure video streaming is becoming more and more important as more money comes into the space," she said. With video, unlike with display ads, buyers typically have to leave trafficking and tracking responsibilities in sites' hands. "We need to be able to be more accountable."
To make certain Vindico is held accountable, Broadband Enterprises has enlisted both the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Media Rating Council to accredit the platform, under the guidance of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The process will be completed by July. Meanwhile, Vindico has been serving ads for P&G since the second quarter of this year.