CBC, AOL Canada ink online advertising partnership

The online arm of Canada’s national broadcaster has signed a one-year deal with AOL Media Network in Canada under which AOL will serve as CBC.ca’s third party representative for all of its online advertising.

The deal, which was signed earlier this fall, is an extension of AOL Canada Inc.’s relationship with CBC.ca that entitles the Internet Service Provider to provide various news stories on its Web site from CBC. Under the new agreement, announced Tuesday, AOL Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of America Online Inc., has the right to also play CBC news and sports video. It also includes the addition of syndicated search engine AOL Search to CBC.ca, providing enhanced searching capabilities to the existing CBC archive search. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The advertising market is hot and is getting hotter online,” said Claude Galipeau, CBC’s executive director of digital programming and business development. “We’re bringing new inventory to market in Canada. There’s a lack of inventory in Canada. We’re helping to grow the category.”

AOL Canada will sell ads for CBC.ca as well as “custom inventory” on the CBC.ca Web properties. This includes sponsorships, contests and ad units. Prior to the deal, CBC.ca did all of its advertising sales in-house.

“It creates a lot of new online advertising inventory into a market that is already pretty tight,” said Jonathan Lister, vice-president, audience group, AOL Canada. “It’s been hard to get quality online ad inventory from advertisers for a couple of years now.”

As online news outlets have become more and more popular with Internet users, so too has online advertising as a means to reach that audience, Lister added.

“Online continues to become more and more mainstream both as an advertising vehicle and as a media outlet,” he said. “Deals like this indicate that online is becoming more and more mainstream.”

And the proof is in the numbers — combined with the reach from its existing online news partner CNN.com, the partnership with CBC.ca gives AOL Canada a reach of approximately 4.5 million Canadians online every month, according to comScore Media Metrix as of September 2005. That number gives AOL Canada Media Network, which includes numerous Web properties including AOL.ca, AOL.com and Agoracom.com, what it is billing as more online Canadians in the general news category than any other Web site or online media network alone.

In addition to expanding its reach, advertisers will also be able to target over 2.4 million news-savvy Canadians that surf CBC.ca’s Web site every month, according to data from comScore Media.

“The CBC.ca audience is a very strong and loyal Canadian audience,” said Galipeau. “If you want to reach Canadians this is a very good place to find them. There’s not that much inventory in Canada that reaches Canadians.”

On the other side, having advertising that is attuned to the market helps news outlets like CBC.ca engage and be relevant to their audiences in an indirect way, added Galipeau.

Advertising aside, the use of AOL Canada’s infrastructure for new search engine capabilities allows CBC to focus on delivering content rather than wasting time and money trying to develop its own. AOL Search features Web search tools as well as video and image search capabilities that deliver more accurate search results, according to the company.

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