Remember the old slogan, "What’s good for General Motors is good for America"? Last month’s Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau annual conference demonstrated that what’s good for GM could be great for cable. Automotive is the biggest category for local cable ad sales, and GM is the No. 1 automotive spot cable advertiser. GM is also hot on interactive ads—online and VOD. In 2005 GM spent roughly $100 million on interactive advertising—about one-third of what it spent on local cable last year. GM has been creating virtual showrooms for its cars using long-form VOD segments with Comcast Spotlight, Cox Media and most recently with Time Warner Cable, and participates in the DriverTV VOD channel. "Success for General Motors means driving people into the showroom," says Curt Hecht, EVP of General Motors Planworks, the unit of Starcom MediaVest Group that handles GM’s strategic media planning and buying. "We’re looking at all of our spots as assets to do that." Betsy Lazar, GM’s executive director of advertising and marketing operations, says the automaker will spend even more on local cable’s advanced advertising platforms if operators learn to respond to its specific needs. To that end, Lazar hit the CAB conference and outlined what she calls her "keys" to helping CAB members get a bigger slice of her ad budget: GM’S `KEYS’ TO DRIVING CABLE AD SALES • Help GM and its agency, GM Planworks, better understand how "all of the pieces fit together" across current (and future) local advertising "touch points" on cable systems, including VOD, broadband, interactive and linear video. • Align the local cable ad sales process with how GM Planworks does business. Forget the traditional cable method of selling "avail by avail, system by system, market by market," Lazar says. She wants cable ad sales execs to think beyond the spot buy and present Planworks with a multisystem, converged digital sales plan. • Help GM customize its virtual car showroom with content from its local dealers and marketing groups. Also, integrate "dealer locators" that mimic what websites can do to connect potential car buyers with their local GM brand retailers. • Improve metrics by reporting VOD usage in the context of all its digital video and media buys on local systems. Lazar needs more than "views alone" as a reporting standard for on-demand ads; she wants deeper and more extensive data in line with Internet advertising standards. This will help GM get the big (yet granular) picture on how its advertising efforts, particularly in the new media space, are performing on cable systems—and invest more of its marketing dollars in local cable.