NBCU Plans TV Spot Portal

NEW YORK Banking on the lure of great commercials, NBC Universal said it would launch a portal with classic and current TV spots.

Didja.com, built by NBCU’s USA Network, will serve as a brand portal, carrying old and new TV spots that are meant to celebrate entertaining advertising. Advertisers will be able to upload commercials to the site and establish brand pages with product offers, store locators and other sales tools, the company said. Didja.com’s debut is set for early 2008.

The effort is one of several experiments taken to bring together brands and consumers transparently as more interruptive forms of advertising face challenges from scattered consumer media habits, commercial clutter and tools like TiVo for blocking ads. This fall, Droga5, the agency helmed by David Droga, is launching Honeyshed, a site he has described as “celebrating the art of the sell.” Yahoo! is establishing “brand universes” to gather consumer-generated content related to 100 popular brands. Turner Networks last year launched VeryFunnyAds.com to house entertaining TV spots.

The sites in many ways are attempting to capitalize on the proven appeal of some advertising on video platforms like YouTube, which regularly has commercials or brand videos among its most popular content.

“Advertising should be treated as entertainment,” said Chris McCumber, svp of marketing and brand strategy at USA Network. “We know people love commercials. You see that around the Super Bowl and Academy Awards. Why not create a destination where it’s celebrated?”

Didja.com is expanding beyond TV spots to also include movie trailers and other brand content, the company said. It will welcome content from all advertisers, but it also plans to use the platform to showcase sponsors with NBCU properties like NBC, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Bravo, CNBC and MSNBC. Paying brands will get preferential placement and brand channels with extra features.

“In order for us to make it a truly compelling site, we need a tremendous amount of content,” said McCumber.

The ad portal plans to tap into the social media craze with tools for visitors to rate and comment on commercials, and a “mash-up toolkit” will let them remix spots.

The site is the first stand-alone digital property created by USA Network as part of NBCU’s effort to establish a broader presence in new media. The company’s new distributed video network, created through a partnership with News Corp., is due to launch soon to beam programming throughout the Web.