Viamedia, an independent company that sells advertising for more than 60 small and mid-sized cable operators, promoted 17-year company veteran David Solomon to CEO from chief revenue officer, effective immediately.
Solomon replaced Mark Lieberman, who had the job since 2014 and will remain a director on Viamedia’s board.
Viamedia -- which has been embroiled in a four-year-long antitrust lawsuit against Comcast over the cable operator's ad-selling practices -- had been headquartered in New York and Lexington, Kentucky. Solomon, a University of Kentucky graduate, will remain based in Bourbon country and the company will retain a sales office in the Big Apple.
While it’s been a challenging year for cable and for advertising, the company said economics was not the reason for the change.
“Viamedia has always been at the forefront of innovation, delivering advanced solutions that make advertising simpler, more effective, and more profitable,” said Terence Graunke, co-founder of Lake Capital, Viamedia’s premier investor. “We are grateful for Mark’s many contributions over the years and are happy that he will be continuing as an active director on our board.”
Graunke added that “David has been a key player in Viamedia’s growth and many innovations and is the ideal executive to take the company to the next level.”
Solomon joined Viamedia after holding sales management jobs at Comcast Spotlight, Insight Media, AT&T Cable and Tele-Communications Inc.
"Having worked closely with David over the past number of years, I know he embodies the customer- and employee-first philosophy that Viamedia has become renown for," said Lieberman in a statement. "With David at the helm, I am confident that Viamedia will continue to meet the needs of the ever-changing local advertising marketplace."
Solomon noted that pandemic threw the industry a curveball. “We got a PhD in dealing with adversity here,” he said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of every person in this team. I think we’ve performed as well or better than anybody in the industry,” he said, noting that the company has done better than the revised forecasts it made in the second quarter.
Core advertising is going to finish the year “a little shy of last year” but election ad revenue is way up. “It’s the best political year this year I’ve ever seen. And we’re still seeing it with the Georgia runoff elections. It’s unbelievable.”
Looking ahead, Solomon said he planned to build on the things Viamedia has been doing right.
Solomon said his first priority was the people and culture at the company, the second was taking care of advertisers and the third was its cable operator clients and maintaining their trust. If the people take care of the advertisers, things will work out for the company’s investors, he said.
In a changing media environment, fragmentation has made it difficult for advertisers to reach their target audiences. Solomon said. Viamedia’s job is to make advertisers' jobs easier by re-aggregating those viewers across cable and, increasingly, with digital media. “We believe we’re going to be first to solve those problems,” he said.
Because one of Viamedia’s operators has been Google Fiber, Viamedia has been a leader in digital ad insertion, which enables advertisers to reach targets with surgical precision,” Solomon said. It was also a leader in selling based on impressions.
Viamedia has been helping the other cable operators it works with upgrade their plants and install equipment that enables dynamic ad insertion and more granular targeting capabilities.
“I think there’s a huge opportunity, I don’t care if they’re small, medium or large,” he said. “If we were late to the game I’d be nervous, but I’m not.”
Viamedia also has to deal with the industry’s cord-cutting trend, which reduces the number of homes reached by cable. “It is a reality,” Solomon said, adding that Viamedia will continue to grow in multiple ways.
“Our MVPDs have been with us forever and they trust us, and so we’re laser focused on doing our job on their behalf and delivering for them. But we also want to make sure that if an advertisers -- a pizzeria in whatever city -- they have solutions. When you start combining the traditional linear business, which might be losing some subscribers, we can pick them up and then some on the digital side and be really effective,” he said. “Now we’re offering solutions that are television, but like direct mail. We can get that finite and reach the exact customer you want.”
Viamedia’s digital inventory includes over-the-top, reaching those cord-cutters, mobile and even digital out of home.
Earlier this year, Viamedia launched QTT, a new technology designed to enable local cable TV operators to attract ad dollars now being spent in the programmatic digital marketplace but allowing digital ad buyer to access linear cable ad inventory.
“Again, that’s another example of being first,” he said. ”So I think as long as he's our employees are pushing the envelope, we're going to continue to have great opportunities, unique opportunities, and our partners are going to be really pleased.”
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