Ads feel at home online

The art of commercials

And now, a word from the sponsors.

Six execs from the worlds of Hollywood and Madison Avenue –including Steven Bochco, John Kamen and Ken Solomon — are teaming to launch a broadband video Web site devoted to new and classic TV commercials.

Site, dubbed adTV, is to launch in mid-January with a collection of roughly 3,000 ads from past and present. Users will be able to search for specific ads, browse ads by theme and watch programming related to advertising.

Goal is to create a sort of YouTube for commercials — but with some important twists.

Videos won’t be uploaded by users, but submitted directly by advertisers. That will allow companies to control and coordinate their marketing messages, in stark contrast to the unregulated chaos of sites such as YouTube.

“It’s an opportunity for advertisers and consumers to meet,” said Mark Patricof, one of the founders of adTV. He views the service as more of an MTV for commercials, with ads packaged as entertainment for consumers.

Patricof — an ex-CAA staffer and founder of digital media pioneer KPE — said adTV expects to have deals in place with at least a half-dozen major companies at launch. He wouldn’t discuss specifics regarding the site’s financial model, but hinted that in most cases, companies would pay adTV to have their products and content featured on the site.

In addition, adTV plans to work with advertisers to get their messages to consumers via other platforms, including VOD and cell phones.

Bochco believes adTV will tap into consumers’ emotional connection to advertising.

“There are commercials that all of us remember or can be moved by, the same way songs can move you,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary form of brief entertainment … (and) we’re looking to create a site that will engage you on an entertainment level.”

Idea for adTV originated more than four years ago, with Bochco and Patricof independently developing the notion of a cable channel devoted to advertising. The two men were brought together by Solomon, a cable pro who suggested broadband would be an easier way to get the idea off the ground.

Bochco, Patricof and Solomon then recruited three more partners: Kamen, CEO of Radical Media; film financier David Molner of Screen Capital Intl.; and music industry vet Jeff Ayeroff.

“We started talking and meeting about it, but we all had day jobs,” Bochco said.

Things sped up in the past year, with all the partners investing equal stakes in the company and moving forward with a plan to launch the site themselves.

Success of YouTube and other video-sharing services have gotten consumers accustomed to watching video on the Web, making the timing for adTV right, Bochco said.

“I think we potentially could be catching a wave,” he added.

Possible programming for adTV is still being developed, but an early prototype of the site shows sections devoted to themes such as music in advertising, car ads and humorous spots. Site also lets users search by product category or company.

“When Volkswagen comes out with a hot ad or Sony is launching PS3, nobody knows where to go to find that commercial,” Patricof said. “We can be that platform.”

Patricof also hopes to work with the Hollywood guilds to make sure talent is compensated for the use of online work — something that doesn’t happen when a commercial is posted to YouTube.

Planned Jan. 15 launch for adTV is no accident. It comes just before the Super Bowl — aka the biggest advertising day of the year.

Patricof hopes to use the ad hype around the big game to get consumers to surf over to adTV.

“Ads are the only thing bigger than the game on Super Bowl Sunday,” he said.

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