New MTV Unit Seeks More Online Ad Dollars

Viacom’s MTV Networks has formed a new advertising unit to consolidate the marketing and ad-placement operations of its new media content across its wide-ranging portfolio of digital holdings.

Developed within MTV Networks’ Digital Advertising group, the new Digital Fusion unit will bring MTV’s Web sites, mobile units and creative staffs together under a single operating entity.

Tallying up its online, wireless and interactive TV brands around the world, MTV boasts more than 300 interactive properties. The new group aims to consolidate the advertising activities of those disparate holdings to improve efficiency and strengthen the connection between advertisers and audience members.

Digital Fusion will also produce original interactive ad content, such as new videos, online games, widgets and microsites.

MTV’s growing litany of niche Internet properties and virtual communities will come under the oversight of Digital Fusion, as will the advertising and marketing activities relating to Flux, its recently launched social network catering to the young-adult and adult audience.

MTV also announced that it plans to spend more than $500 million during the next two years developing and distributing games to drive consumer engagement among its key demographic.

Through its television properties alone, MTV Networks already has an enviable pipeline to the younger audiences that represent the ripest fruit for advertisers. Viacom owns more than 145 television stations under the MTV Networks umbrella, including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike TV and VH1, to say nothing of the digital units affiliated with these properties.

In a separate but related announcement, MTV today said that it would continue efforts to broaden the digital reach of its programming by distributing free, short-form clips of popular shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” through AOL Video.

The hope is that that the clips will drive traffic back to its own online properties. The videos will also include a video game channel, featuring world-premier game trailers, interviews and other items about the gaming industry.

MTV said it would make the content available for viewing by embedding its broadband video player on AOL’s pages.

The new Digital Fusion unit will oversee the placement of ads within the embedded player.

“AOL will retain all display ad inventory in co-branded areas,” AOL spokeswoman Jay Esmele wrote in an e-mail to

MTV’s Jason Witt will head up the new Digital Fusion division, assuming the title of senior vice president and general manager. Witt will report to Nada Stirratt, MTV Networks’ executive vice president of digital advertising.

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