local media insider

Walkout Video ad unit scores $100,000 plus in two day sale in several markets

Alisa Cromer

Companies:   WAKA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama,  owned by Bahakel Communications ; and WPSD in Paducah, Kentucky, owned by Paxton Media Group

Initiative : Walkout Video sales

Key executives: Sara Droke, Digital Business Development, WPSD Television; Beau Boyd, Local Sales Manager, WAKA Television and Mike Schuch, VP, Local Media Sales Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM)

Summary: Taking on a new rich media ad unit with specatular CTR's  still requires planning. The Walkout Video unit offered by BIM includes a two-day in-market launch that has shown consistent results. Fifteen $9000 packages, for a total of more than  $100,000 in new annual revenues is an achievable target based on results in three  markets. Here's how the unit's sales worked for two broadcast markets, including pricing and packaging and COS.

Challenge: In launching a new rich media ad unit, two television stations had different challenges.

WAKA-TV was starting from scratch with zero digital revenues. Its new Digital Sales Manager, Beau Boyd, wanted to put some numbers on the books quickly, and prove that digital could generate relevant and consistent dollars.  

WSPD Television on the other hand, had a huge web site with 600,000 home page impressions and a digital specialist to support the team. They were looking for incremental digital dollars and a high response ad unit that paired well with broadcast ads. 

Strategy: Both teams decided to launch  WalkOut Video, a rich media ad unit that has some of the same characteristics of television, using  BIM'sin-market launch strategy.

Also called a "borderless video," the video ads show a spokesperson "walking out" onto the website.  Production required includes video capture with a spokesperson. The video itself is shot on a "green screen" (a colored background) so the background can be eliminated and the spokesperson appears to walk across the web screen. The video is then sent to BIM for editing and ad trafficking.

When the ad plays, the  spokesperson (or object) appears on the lower left side of the screen onto the publisher's website. When an arrow next to the spokersperson is clicked, a spoken message plays, usually a quick reason  to click for more information. The click goes to the client's site, where the same spokesperson delivers more information, such as an info-mercial about the product, pointing to a coupon, or data capture tool. 

The units were originally created by Mike Schuch at his Milwaukee ad agency; Schuch now heads up local sales for BIM media products.

BIM recommends restrictions to make the ads less intrusive: User-initiated audio (the sound is turned off until the viewer clicks the prompt); views  capped at one per user per day and a "skip" option on the ad. 

Sponsors provide the spokes people. "Every business we've worked with has had someone that works for them or someone they know that is able to do a good job on camera," Schuch says. Publishers are required to develop scripts and capture raw video on a green screen. 

Pricing and packaging 

BIM's's best practice pricing and packaging strategies vary. The goal is an average sponsorship of $9000, with 15 packages sold in-market over a two-day period. 

Smaller sites, packages may only include 5000 views for as much as a $150 cpm, bundled with other products. Larger sites typically sell packages of 10,000 views at $65 to $75 cpm.  

WAKA's package for example,  included 5000 Walkout Video ads on both WAKA.com, a walk-out video on the merchant website, monthly Facebook posts on the media site linking to Walkout Video on the merchant's site, 15 second web driver promos, four second web driver and a Business Spotlight (2 minute pre-recorded session on the morning news). The cost wa s$650 a month on an annual contract with a 90 day out clause. Today - after the sales drive -  a visitor "almost always" sees a Walkout Video ad on the home page, Boyd says. 

AT WPSD  on the other hand, Droke was  more worried about "inundating" their loyal visitors with too many rich media ads. So she opted to restrict the unit to 20% of the home page - still totaling 150,000 impressions.

WPSD also doesn't traditionally package  web and on-air advertising. Clients often buy both, just not in a bundle, which Droke thinks "skews the revenue for digital." So WPSD limited the sales drive to 15 packages with 10,000 impressions each for $650 a month, and no extra promotions.

Roll-out strategy

Both sales plans started with a Walkout Video email invitation provided by BIM. Sent to prospects, the invitation lets them demo the ad unit  on their own URL, using a demo it now  link, before signing up for presentations held over the course of two days. 


Schuch advises a over-inviting by more than double to get enough attendees, with the aim of closing 15 deals.  Some presentation days are held in a conference room at a hotel, (the KGNS station in Laredo, traded with the local Planetarium) while others are on-site at the media company.

At WAKA, for example, Boyd invited a select number of clients to a "nice" downtown venue. Everyone who showed up was entered to win a flat screen TV.

"It was a traditional cattle call. We scheduled 8 presentations to 40 people for two  days. 40% showed up. Its so hard to get people to come to these things these days." Still, those who showed up bought the program, the team sold 13 out of 15 available packages in two days. 

WPSD used a "Lunch and Learn" presentation at the station. 20 to 30 attended, buying out the 15 packages, and creating a small wait list. Droke says do to the station's location in western Kentucky marketplace, covering some some of Illinois and Missouri, is not as versed in using digital techonology. 

"There is always an element of teaching why internet is important and why they should consider it at all." 

A third station, which chose to remain anonymous, had their reps invite mostly existing clients to the station for demos over a two day period. 

"We found there is a lot of  'let me invite you to sell you something' fatigue. People won't show up for it any more.  We used a much more direct approach with predominantly existing and some non-clients." About 20 to 30 were invited to these "appointments, not a workshop." 

Again, however, those who showed up bought. The station had a 100% close rate for 13 packages and a wait list for packages, which include a Walkout Video, promos on station, prerolls on the online newsplayer, a monthly Facebook post that links to to the client's site, and a 90 day out with a two week notice. 

The presentation slides focuses on a few key value propositions, such as increased online consumption and how video ads increase engagement:

The other key selling point is the exceptional CTR's, which run from 4 to 18%, averaging  5%, or 50 times higher than traditional banner ads.  Key strengths of the local media site are also included as well as the "strength of using television to drive viewers to an online destination," in this case, one which can have common video elements. 

Business model

Like many rich media ads, the unit works on a revenue share model, which BIM only discusses with potential media customers.  Boyd says that  the total cost of sale is about 30%, plus the cost of production, that is shooting on the green screen and converting the video into the ad unit. 

To increase production efficiency, WPSD has a portable green screen, and tries to "incorporate the shoot into a shoot that we are already doing. A lot of our clients are broadcast clients." 

Results and lessons learned

- Revenues: All three  broadcast stations  we talked to  sold more than $100,000 in a two day period. WAKA says it has posted $30,000 last quarter and is tracking $120,000 in sales for the year. Only one customer has dropped out and was quickly replaced. WPSD Television remains sold out with a small wait list. 

"CTR's are unreal,"  Boyd says. Just 5000 impressions typically result in  600 to 700 people clicking on the video and going to the client site, where they see another walk-out video with more information. The average CTR is 5%, 50 times the rate of a regular banner at. Rates very from 4% to 18%, with the highest rate at 24% belonging to an ad for  barbecue sauce. 
- Creative requires thought and attention. The best AE's get very involved with their clients' web site and campaign. While he considers the station still experimenting with the  unit, Boyd's idea of best practice for creative is to shoot a video that is short and catchy on the media site.
"People are logging in to check weather and news, so you need something quick and eye-catching to get them to click. One they are on the merchants site, leave a longer message about the business, now that the user is engaged and wants to know more."
Some of the messages on WAKA's site he feels are still too long, in which case "most people  may skip it." 
- Units are production intensive.  In the list of lessons learned  from  one sales manager running a sold out program with 13 packages: "You have to have a good production team that knows how to produce with a spokesperon on a "green screen", and 26 scripts have to be written (twelve for the media site, twelve for the merchant site). So you have to be able to write and shoot efficiently."
WPsD cut some production costs by tacking the Walkout  Video shoot on to on-air shoots for clients who had broadcast campaigns.
- Clients who buy the program want traffic to their site.  All the sales managers confirmed  is no on category of "low hanging fruit" besides having an exisitng relationship and the client needing traffic to  their web site.
In spite of predictions, "we haven't sold one single car dealer,"  Boyd said. Instead, the offer attracted a caterer a barbecue restaurant, "bounce bubble" activity for kids, coffee shop, two carpet and flooring companies and  a lazik provider.
The ads also work well for campaigns that require a higher informational component. At WPSD, two hospitals bought, including one that was launching a new heart institute. They also sold a bank, home improvement company specializing in walk-in showers and accessibility, a dentist who specialized in sedation dentistry, a furniture store, and a pharmacy that specialized in hormone replacement therapy. For the latter ad, the spokesperson asked visitor to particpate in a study, and linked to a form to fill out a survey, on the basis of which the visitors could be brought in for a consultation.  

More Campaign Examples 

A variety of campaigns across other markets is available on BIM's web site,  walkoutvideo.com/gallery. 

A few of the more interesting ones: 

*Wendy's created an ad for its chopped salad, including a tomato being sliced with a voice over,  at this link, that ran on KCTVNews Kansas City's site. 

*A Nascar Hall of Fame  ad at this link sells tickets uing a nascar drive on to the screen and screech a turn, on FoxCharllote's home page. 

*Rock101 gave away a four wheeler, by having the DJ drive it on to the web page,"How would you like to win this hot little four wheeler?"   

*93.1 The Wolf ran a promotion for Green Ford, in which two people converse about the new Ford promotion. 

*A station on Texas is working on a borderless video for Cirque De Soleil, using a cast member. 

The gallery of ads  includes these categores: Political, Celebrity Endorsment, Health Care, Automotive, Retail, Event, Legal, Media sites and promos. 


1. Walk-out video's represent a hybrid approach, part broadcast ad, but also interactive. Highest and best use is a quick high-impulse suggestion, such as  "Click here for the best barbecue sauce" on the media site - a instruction that generated a whopping 25% click-through rate. 

2. Equally important is the video messaging on the merchants site. The client site videos, like television ads, are ideal for brand development and pointing to more information during the research phase of the buying process. But the video ads can also point to an intertacive call to action: Entering a contests that capture emails, pointing the user to online stores, or to download coupons, or click to call for an appointment. 

3. Prepare for production intensity.  Video production chops make Walk-out Wideo television friendly, but  Schuch said the company is is launching  its first newspaper site, the Arkansas Times in October. 

4. No blow-back about intrusiveness reported so far
"There used to be  little blow-back a few years ago but things have changed and more and more publishers are accepting the ads.  The client likes having  sight, sound and motion," Schuch said. None of the stations we spoke with reported complaints, though the ads are just launching in most markets.

As stated, WPSD's solution to the intrusiveness issue is to only sell a percentage of the home page, such as 20%.  "When someone comes to the site they are coming to see WPSD,"  not rich media ads layered on top of the content, Droke said.

WAKA's solution, on the otherhand, was to virtually sell out its home page but cap the number of times an ad is seen to once per user per day, and rotate the ads, so that even a visitor who refreshes their screen will see a different walk-out video. 

5. Huge CTR's and the extra engagement makes clients happy 

"Anytime I've incorporate walk-out video, I've always been impressed with the type of results."  The difference between, say, 50 click-throughs on a 50,000 buy (still $500) and 1000 click-throughs on a $650, 10,000 buy is huge. This is probably the best reason for launching the ads.

6. $100,000 plus from a two day sale is typical 

All three stations we spoke to verified sales from the two day event that topped $100,000, regardless of whether the ads were sold as stand-alone units or in a package, or what percentage of the home page was sold. Some stations carry a small waiting list. 

Many thanks to Sara Droke, Digital Sales Manager, WSPD Television;  Beau Boyd, Digital Sales Manager at WAKA Television for sharing their experiences with us. 


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