Time Warner Plan Would Let National Brands Target Locals

Time Warner Cable Media Sales has called on Austin, Texas-based Live Oak Interactive to build a multimedia Web marketing tool set to roll out later this year.

Details are sketchy: The application will give Time Warner Cable Media Sales--the ad sales arm of Time Warner Cable--a central location from which to push targeted advertising and information into local markets, as well as empower consumers to manage the advertising they view. Initially, the application will launch in two undisclosed markets. "Live Oak Interactive is developing a Web site portal with one brain that can operate 11 Web sites," a Time Warner Media Sales spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

National brands targeting local markets are contributing to the growth of online ads, albeit slowly, admits David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer. "It's more difficult for national brands to target local markets because they typically have to tweak the ads slightly to appeal to consumers," he said. "Most national brands that advertise locally are retailers and auto manufacturers."

Local advertising should represent about 13.4% percent of $21.7 billion in online ad sales this year--up from 12.1% of $16.9 billion in 2006, respectively, Hallerman estimates.

The application also would enable companies that have traditionally relied on television advertising to repurpose their marketing tools for Internet-based delivery platforms. Companies familiar with Internet-based marketing could use the product to extend their traditional reach into television, according to Andy Meadows, CEO of Live Oak Interactive. "The information feed would come from multiple sources to create and present one local message to consumers based on their location," he said.

Live Oak Interactive began developing the system in April on an open-source platform--HTML scripting language PHP and relational database MySQL. The application is scheduled for completion in September. The system works with any Web browser, from Microsoft Internet Explorer to Safari and Firefox, used commonly on Apple computers. Meadows said Live Oak Interactive also built a Web-based content management system for Symbol Technologies, which Motorola acquired in September 2006, allowing company employees to manage content.

National brands targeting local markets have successfully moved into movie theaters, too. Two years ago, National CineMedia began building a digital cinema network that targets moviegoers with local and regional advertising, as well as localized national ads by demographic, geography, movie rating and auditorium. From one central location in Colorado, the system relies on sophisticated software, bandwidth, hard drives and digital cinema projectors to push ads into 12,300 movie theater auditoriums nationwide.

Launched in 2005 as a joint venture, National CineMedia supports sales and marketing efforts for three major movie-theater chains Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark USA. The company went public in February, and recently reported advertising revenue increased 52.8%, from $50.2 million to $76.7 million year-over-year in the second quarter, ending in June.

Hot summer blockbusters like "Superbad," "The Simpsons Movie" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" continue to attract more national advertisers to local markets, said Lauren Leff, National CineMedia vice president of communications.

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