First cable co. to handle interactive ads

Cablevision’s ad sales unit has launched itself into cyberspace by forming the first interactive advertising and marketing unit to be owned and operated by a cable company.

The New York-based unit, called Rainbow Interactive, will be a part of Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp. (RASCO) that’s exclusively devoted to marketing and advertising for such new media platforms as the Internet, digital tiers and high-speed data.

RASCO chief operating officer David Kline called the timing “perfect” for bringing the cable-advertising model to the Internet. “We get into cable when there was only $50 million in advertising,” he said, “and now it’s an $11 billion business.”

Similarly, cable penetration was between 20% and 25% when RASCO was formed, just as only 22% to 23% of the U.S. population currently has access to the Internet.

Although companies such as DoubleClick already sell for Web sites, Kline said Rainbow Interactive would expand on current offerings with such add-ons as video-on-demand.

The RASCO unit will open with a staff of 10, which should grow to more than 100 by the end of 1999, said Kline, who also expects the Internet’s current $1 billion in annual ad sales to triple by the year 2000.

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