Industry Conference Leaves Ad Execs Seeking Next Step

After a senior level conference arranged by NBCUniversal’s sales head Linda Yacarrino, ad industry executives said they were looking forward to taking the next steps towards addressing issues that threaten ad-supported television.

Related: TV Ad Industry Leaders Gather

The meeting came at a time when TV networks are seeking metrics that count viewers using digital devices and delayed viewing, while at the same time, providing a more accurate, apples to apples way of comparing their reach and effectiveness to digital competitors like Facebook and Google.

The event attracted top execs at NBCU’s competitors, senior media buyers, clients and leaders of measurement and data companies, as well as leaders from digital companies including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Mike Law, executive VP, managing director, video investment for media agency Amplifi, said the discussion piqued his curiosity, with people from all sides of the industry addressing key issues. “Can we keep the momentum going?” he said.

“We need to follow up and take the next steps and solve the things the industry needs to figure out,” said David Levy, president of Turner. Among those issues are finding a currency that’s workable on multiple platforms.

No one company can solve the issue on its own, said Joe Marchese. “Fox can do everything right, but we’ll still lose unless we get together,” he said. “I’m glad Linda put this together.”

Chris Geraci, president for broadcast ad media buyer OMD said he was impressed by the participation. “We need to drill down on these issues,” he said. “The first step is making sure we count everything. That needs to be addressed.”

Although some thought the meeting was designed to position the TV business against the digital giants, Tara Walpert Levy, VP of agency and media solutions at Google, said she thought the event was a fair discussion of the issues.

“You’ve got to follow the users,” she said. She pointed to the shorter six-second spots YouTube pioneered and that some TV networks have adopted. "You’ve got to give users what they want.

“People who look into this issue find market opportunities they can capitalize on,” she said.

Yaccarino said that NBCU would be looking to move away from the traditional single ratings-based currency now used for buying and selling ads and using metrics more tailored to address its clients business outcomes.

She also said NBCU might reduce commercial loads as part of its effort to improve the viewer experience.

She said NBCU would probably make an announcement about metrics around January and its moves on commercial load were in development and would probably be discussed as the upfront discussions begin.

“It’s an exciting time,” she said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.