CNN mixing content with ads to retain viewers

AdvertisingAge has an interesting article on a tactic CNN has been experimenting with during its much touted “John King, USA”: running program content during commercial breaks.

During breaks for the new program, CNN displays a small box in the corner of the screen with a live view of the studio, in many ways similar to how some programs offer a live Web cam of the studio.

The idea is that by adding program-related content and reminding viewers that the program will continue they might stick around during the breaks or perhaps even chose not to skip through commercials using their DVR controls.

CNN hasn’t rolled this out to other programs. “It’s got to make sense,” Greg D’Alba, exec VP and chief operating officer of CNN advertising sales, told AdvertisingAge, though he didn’t elaborate on what exactly that means.

Another CNN show, “Anderson Cooper 360” has experimented with offering a live Web stream of the studio between commercial breaks, sometimes even including additional content by on-air talent, but has never gone to the extent of placing such a view on the cable channel feed.

CNN’s effort to integrate programming more closely with advertising is hardly new; broadcasters have been tweaking various approaches to this for years, spurred on the growing popularity of time shifting programming and watching programs online. Business channels like CNBC have been using this technique for years as well by leaving the on-screen ticker up during breaks, a feature that’s often touted in its media kits to potential advertisers.

AdvertisingAge reports that there was talk of using a split screen format during the now-canceled “Jay Leno Show.” Ad agency DraftFCB had approached NBC with the idea of integrating a commercial with behind-the-scenes video, though the the idea never got anymore before the show was canned. ESPN has also been asked about the possibility of feeding the first few seconds of commercials onto on-set monitors behind anchors before going to the break, though this hasn’t been implemented yet either.