Bell Media talks its super pod strategy

The Launch will serve as a launching ground for single-advertiser commercial breaks ranging from 15 seconds to two minutes.

On Jan. 30, CTV’s original reality series The Launch will return for a second season. It’s got a new roster of celebrity mentors – from pop superstars Jann Arden and Sarah McLachlan to rockers Bryan Adams and Max Kerman – and a whole new cast of would-be musicians looking to launch their music careers.

It’s also got something new for advertisers.

This year, Bell Media has introduced “super pods” to The Launch, a new ad product which will give the show a slightly longer run-time than a standard program in a one-hour block. At the same time, instead of running pods of multiple advertisers delivering 15- to 60-second spots, a single advertiser will occupy the pod with an advertisement of their choosing.

Laird White, Bell Media’s head of partnerships, says the ad is both unique for the viewer and the advertiser. “There’s a countdown on the ad which indicates to the viewer that we’re going to be back to the show right after the spot. That provides a bit of uniqueness, because the viewer stays tuned and they know we’ll be right back.”

White says that although there are some advertisers and categories that benefit from programming their ad amidst a larger group of advertisers, being the sole product in the pod helps it feel more exclusive and communicate a message that feels “more custom.”

The super pods will extend to all episodes in the season. With some partners already activating, White says the pods are open to all advertisers, even those not sponsoring the show. “Our partners are involved because we shot their spots along with the show content. So there’s a real connection with them between the content of the show and the super pod.”

White says The Launch is ideal to test super pods in, because as an original Canadian program, it doesn’t have to worry about simulcast synchronization. Since most of Bell Media’s big gets – like The Big Bang Theory, The Good Doctor and World of Dance – come from stateside, White admits it’s not so straightforward to plan special ad formats. But he says the company isn’t above trying.

“We’re looking at developing super pods potentially for a simulcast show. If there was a show with a two-minute commercial pod out of the U.S., we could work with a client where the pod was developed into a two-minute spot.”

The Launch took in an average AMA (2+) of 1.14 million viewers in its first season CTV, CTV Two, Much, VRAK and Canal Vie. White says it played strongest with adults 18 to 49 and the psychographic of the show’s audience is “music lovers, heavily.”