Media Storm Launches Dedicated Interactive TV Division, BOLT

--Has Signed on WE tv, Food Network and MLB Network as Clients

Strategic media agency, Media Storm, on Wednesday announced the formation of a new division, called BOLT, that will be focused solely on developing and implementing advertising campaigns that use interactive TV, addressable advertising and VOD platforms. According to the company, the new division--which, like Media Storm will be based in New York City and South Norwalk, CT--will provide brand marketers with "best practice alternatives for using the television medium in non-traditional and more engaging ways," and has already signed up WE tv, Food Network and the MLB Network as clients for campaigns that it says will reach 35 million viewers on DirecTV, DISH Network, Bright House, Charter, Cox and Time Warner Cable.

Media Storm co-founder and managing partner, Craig Woerz (note: for an in-depth interview with Woerz on Media Storm and on the interactive TV advertising space in general, see the article published on itvt.com, April 21st), will serve as BOLT's chief interactive officer. "Media Storm has maximized ITV applications for the past seven years, having run over 350 individual campaigns, and we believe that now is the time to break out this medium and assist clients held back by traditional agencies," Woerz said in a prepared statement. "Increasingly, our clients have been asking for more opportunities that--while initiating with traditional TV spots--eventually result in much larger extensions of their brands. BOLT is our response to overwhelming industry demand and we'll deliver creation, execution, optimization and data sources for emerging TV applications, while clearly connecting these elements to the broader digital/online/gaming and mobile media mix. These ITV environments attract and encourage consumers to not only engage but to jump in with both feet in relation to a client's product. Across the board, these consumers are more attentive, have more allegiance and a higher level of unaided recall in relation to our clients' brands."

According to Media Storm, BOLT's mission will be to create and deploy actionable, data-driven TV and mobile strategies that "take TV way beyond the 30-second spot," and the division's campaigns will aim to make TV "the most actionable media among consumers" while delivering a high level of return on investment, driven by behavior. "While much of the ad community's dialogue to-date has focused on online click-through and interaction-rates, we believe not nearly enough of this conversation has been directed at the ROI that ITV can provide," Woerz explained. "Though ITV applications may not deliver the cume of a Super Bowl audience, a select group of savvy marketers are already experiencing the benefits of television response rates that deliver behavioral data, consumer targeting, as well as specific dayparts. Planning with traditional tools like MRI or Nielsen, we only get a cookie-cutter look at our target. When using data collected from the campaigns we initiate--to inform real-time decisions--we see ad recall, intent to purchase and general product awareness jump up to 250% higher than plans driven just by traditional metrics. Of those that have engaged in trigger advertising out of :30's to long-form video, we see the length of tune-in at 87% of content that varies between 2 and 15 minutes. Call-to-action for us is truly call-to-action."

Media Storm says that the launch of BOLT represents the "next step" in its evolution as an agency. Since its launch, the company claims to have run, on average, at least "one to two" interactive TV campaigns per week, and to have seen measurable increases in consumer usage, commerce and engagement. Woerz will continue to serve as co-managing partner of Media Storm, which he founded back in 2001 with Tim Williams, and which, in addition to interactive TV, has incorporated such non-traditional platforms as interactive/active out-of-home and mobile into its clients' campaigns. "As the ITV landscape continues to grow in fragmented ways, we have embraced each and every launch based on its individual merits," Woerz continued. While a campaign reaching 150,000 households in Los Angeles may seem small to some, we don't get caught up on scale...scale is there today. Clients and agencies will never succeed if they wait for that 'ideal test' and spend their time complaining about broken promises on the operator side. The only promise that has been broken is from agencies that fail to innovate and find new and effective ways to engage their clients' consumers. ITV definitely won't fit into the traditional structures of the many agencies staffed solely by order-takers. Interactivity has been proven to make a swiftly expanding media world a little more manageable and streamlined for users. In turn, consumers without interactivity are increasingly being left to navigate choppy waters while trapped inside a straightforward linear TV journey. The nice thing about having a heritage in entertainment is that film, TV programming, music, etc. are the ultimate perishable products. Our retail approach is applicable to any advertiser that needs action and does not want to wait for branding to lead to demand. We create immediate and maximized demand for our clients."

According to Media Storm, its recent work includes campaigns in partnership with TiVo, Comcast, Cablevision, Ensequence and Navic that involved "telescoping and triggers to different linear and non-linear 'hubs' in the television space." It says that its work with Cablevision on a dedicated branded VOD channel was an industry-first that saw "record-breaking views" over the course of its multi-year term. The company also says it has a "partner" deal with DirecTV for interactive TV and other advanced advertising applications that makes it one of the "top three ad spenders" on that platform and a "very influential client of DirecTV inside the entertainment space." The company says it currently has over 65 employees and a client list that includes such major entertainment brands as HGTV, Food Network, Shopzilla/BizRate, The Weather Channel, FX Networks, Speed, NFL Media, Fox Broadcasting, TruTV, Fox VOD, iN Demand, WE tv, DIY Network, Fine Living TV Network and Miramax.

Region: 
North America