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Discovery Will Sell Ads In Virtual Reality In Time For Upfront

Discovery Communications said it would offer to sell advertising in virtual-reality experiences it produces, becoming the latest media outlet to attempt to hook Madison Avenue on this new content format.

Discovery, which operates cable networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery and Science Channel, said it was ready to create “fully immersive virtual reality experiences that put client’s brands in the center of the action.” The company said it has produced “more than 50 experiences” and is adding new content on a regular basis. The media company said it was willing to work with ” top production and distribution partners, and talent” in its efforts to interest advertisers in the nascent medium.

Virtual-reality remains more of an experiment than a viable form of media that can be sold nationally on behalf of blue-chip advertisers, but Discovery’s efforts to gain traction in the idea is emblematic of the media-industry’s interest in further developing this emerging frontier.

Earlier this month, ABC experimented with the medium as well, inserting Lexus into a virtual-reality experience related to the start of the second half of the drama series “Quantico.” Viewers were recently directed to a three-minute-plus vignette that showed members of the “Quantico” cast taking on a mission using a LX 570 SUV. Viewers who paid a visit were rewarded not only with a 360-degree view of the action, but a few “Easter egg” reveals about the show and its storylines.

Discovery makes its pitch as the TV and advertising sectors focus more intently on the annual upfront market, when U.S. broadcast and cable outlets try to sell the bulk of their advertising inventory for the coming programming season.

Discovery also said it was willing to sell ads across its TV programs and digital properties in more seamless fashion, echoing moves made by other media companies in the recent past as viewers of TV programs tap new methods like streaming video to access their favorite series.

Discovery said it had set itself up so that advertisers could purchase inventory across TV and video on demand, as well as its digital-media properties relating to science, technology, history, adventure and world events.

The company also refashioned an initiative that gives advertisers access to new kinds of data that help them place commercials alongside content most likely to reach a specific audience that is defined by more than the typical age and gender categories. The “Discovery Engage” offering lets advertisers share insights from data gleaned from set-top boxes.

Discovery placed some emphasis on its in-house production team that develops and produces content on behalf of advertisers for TV shows and digital content.



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