'Fat Actress' Online Video Shows Ad Promise

NEW YORK Online video could provide compelling advertising opportunities, according to a new study examining Showtime’s Fat Actress streaming video promotion on Yahoo.

Interpublic Group media planning agency Initiative and ComScore Networks measured the multi-platform launch of Fat Actress, which Showtime aired via streaming video on Yahoo as well as on its pay cable channel. The Showtime airing of the program on March 7 received a .62 household rating, which translates into 942,000 viewers.

The Yahoo streaming video, which could be accessed when the viewer chose, reached another 151,000 viewers. Including those who viewed individual scenes, 197,000 saw the pilot or streaming content related to the show. Including multiple views of the video, the number of visitors hit nearly 390,000 in the first two days. Yahoo will stream the episode through March 12.

The findings put the Web’s portion of total viewership of Fat Actress at 16 percent, Initiative said, providing a glimpse of the potential of online video as an ad vehicle, although the program did not carry ads on Yahoo.

“It’s a window into changing consumer behavior,” said Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive vice president and director of global research integration at New York-based Initiative. “Traditional media is not the only game in town.”

Yahoo has hired former ABC Entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun to head its media unit. Rivals MSN and AOL are also pouring resources into online video. MSN, which has dozens of ad-supported videos on its site, has added an online video category to its online advertising awards. AOL plans to simulcast the premiere of Project Greenlight, a Bravo documentary airing March 15, as well as clips throughout the season. Video offerings figure to play a prominent role in the launch of the AOL portal for non-members slated for later this year.