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Reaching Young Viewers in New Ways is Viacom's Pitch

Though young people are cutting the cord and not watching Nickelodeon or MTV on cable the way they used to, Viacom’s pitch to advertisers is that it can help them reach these hard to reach consumers in new ways.

This week Viacom begins a round of high-level dinners for marketers and media buyers. CEO Bob Bakish and the presidents of Viacom’s agencies will be there to spell out the company’s strategy, according to head of ad solutions Sean Moran.

The smaller, focused dinners are also a way for Viacom to get a better handle on what its clients are looking for.

The message Viacom is trying to deliver in those meetings is “we’re here with the solutions that are going to help you reach the most valuable younger consumers in a way no one else can that’s going to drive your business,” Moran said.

Over the past year or so, Viacom has acquired a number of companies in an effort to expand its marketing capabilities. Those include the influencer marketing company WhoSay and digital branded content producer Awesomeness TV. More recently, Viacom paid $340 million for Pluto TV, the ad supported over-the-top video platform.

“Now we’re in a position where we’re going to market with this feeling of providing solutions that really makes us this younger, safer, smarter option in the marketplace,” said Moran. “We really see ourselves as having the broadest TV quality reach for this younger audience. Simply put, that’s a real distinction between what out there.”

Moran said that between Viacom’s linear networks, its digital content and its over-the-top Pluto TV, it reaches more than 50% of all of the 18- to 34-year-olds in the country.

“That’s a tremendous point that CMOs as well as [agency] holding company execs are very interested in,” he said.

Viacom will be talking about its plans to add programming to Pluto TV. Moran said that over the next few months Viacom will roll out between 10 and 15 channels associated with brands including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Pluto gives Viacom billions of new high quality video impressions and those impressions will be added to upfront deals as an extension of clients’ TV buys. Moran says 50% of the Pluto impressions are viewers 18-34 and 80% of them are seen on the “big glass” of TV screens, where brand recall is likely to be highest. Dynamic ad insertion will be available right away on Pluto TV and ads will be addressable, making them that much more attractive to clients, he said.

The Pluto TV ads will be part of Viacom’s Advanced Marketing Services unit, which includes Viacom Vantage, Viacom Velocity and its other advanced advertising capabilities.

While Viacom’s overall ad revenue have been shrinking for years, AMS revenue grew 54% in the company’s fiscal first quarter and account for 10% of total ad sales. “Vantage will be playing a big role in the upfront and it’s been rolled into every holding company deal we’re doing,” Moran said.

So while traditional ratings are down, Viacom is “embracing that fragmentation rather than being put off by it,” Moran said. The company is offering marketers solutions that include multiple touch points and new ways to cut through the clutter.

“”It’s not about whether one distribution platform is up or down, but who can connect them [with young viewers] en masse, whether you’re a disrupter, like one of those new [direct to consumer] brands or you’re a defender, one of those legacy brands, like those in consumer packaged goods, the automakers or a studio with a new release.”

With it’s new capabilities, Viacom has been able to win new business from both new companies like Spotify--Viacom created a digital campaign featuring RuPaul looking back at last year’s big hits--and long-time clients like Pepsi, which needed to reach additional viewers around the Super Bowl using an influencer campaign.

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.