Carat Digital’s Mitch Oscar has no patience for naysayers who harp on the failures of VOD advertising. By the same token, Magna Global’s Brian Wieser said PowerPoint charts comparing the Internet boom to the modest VOD scene (see chart below) were meant to help executives avoid past mistakes in preparing for on-demand mobile video. "I wasn’t trying to knock VOD," Wieser said about his talk this month to the DiMA Group, a cross-industry educational consortium. "I was talking about…the obstacles to getting deployed…and it wasn’t hard to read between the lines. VOD has been anything but a robust business." Conversely, Carat EVP Oscar is a glass-half-full kind of guy. In detailing at the DiMA event Chase Bank’s December ’05 long-form VOD marketing trial in Comcast’s Philadelphia system, he acknowledged the critical issues facing VOD, but nonetheless said in an interview, "They will all do [VOD]…Advertisers are going to cable operators and giving them long-form content" and a growing number are using VOD in upfront buys. Bull or bear, the DiMA meeting underlined the point that despite the spate of recent press releases trumpeting new VOD ad deals between Comcast, Gatorade and GM, it will take some time before VOD yields meaningful dollars. In its trial, Chase used on-demand movie trailers for King Kong and Underworld: Evolution to drive viewers to a long-form ad showcasing its new Blink credit card. In the Philly system’s 785,000 digital homes, about 167,000 people watched the available on-demand trailers, of whom 2,400 viewed the Blink ad and 128 visited the website. The lessons, according to Oscar: The moral? It’s like dating, Oscar says. "If there’s enough you like about [VOD], you’ll spend more time to see if it really will evolve." Andy Grossman has covered cable television for 20 years.

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