Virgin Starts Pitching Pre-Roll Ads On Cable VOD

Given the success of Virgin Media’s VOD effort, it would be criminal if Neil Berkett’s cable operator didn’t try and leverage it as a revenue-maker. Now its IDS digital sales house has declared its three-month trial of VOD adverts a success and is beginning to pitch the format to advertisers.

From the release: “The ad trial drove a 62 percent increase in the spontaneous awareness of brands and products amongst the triallists. Awareness of individual ads increased by 27 percent and overall campaign recognition also showed a clear increase of 27 percent.” In many ways, these are obvious findings (any campaign that goes from no ads to several is bound to increase awareness). What’s more important is viewers’ response to the ads…

— 54 percent were “positive” about seeing the spots
— 65 percent preferred the ads to come as pre-rolls
— the most popular format amongst 10-, 30- and 60-second spots was the half-minute length (just the ticket, since TV ads already come in that size)
— 42 percent of viewers said ads were okay if relevant to the show requested

Adding adverts before VOD shows could prove lucrative for Virgin, which clocked up more than 500 million VOD views through 2008 and for now has a big VOD advantage over rival BSkyB (NYSE: BSY). And it could also benefit Channel 4, whose agency sales unit managed the ad inventory in the trial of 100,000 London customers.

The ads won’t, of course, figure on Virgin’s iPlayer implementation, but on its commercial content providers including Bravo, ITV (LSE: ITV), C4 and Living. Advertisers were Kelloggs, Lurpak, O2, John Frieda, COI Army, Alberto, General Motors, Royal Mail, Littlewoods, Bodyform, John Lewis, Warner Bros. and Anchor.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) is taking on Gmail as white-label provider of email service for its accounts.