Scale Pitches Keep Advertisers Buying TV

NEW YORK — During upfront week, broadcast TV maintained its position at the top of the video food chain, even as more talk of streaming, data and addressability wormed their way into the familiar, still-glitzy presentations.

A bulked-up content portfolio was part of the presentation when Disney Ad Sales president Rita Ferro spoke to advertisers at New York’s Lincoln Center.

A bulked-up content portfolio was part of the presentation when Disney Ad Sales president Rita Ferro spoke to advertisers at New York’s Lincoln Center.

Scale and reach were among the big buzzwords that favored the broadcasters, and will be big factors in keeping demand by advertisers strong even as the supply of linear TV watchers shrinks. That combination is a formula likely to result in another season of higher prices on a cost-per-thousand viewers (CPM) basis.

“Reach and stability still works,” said one media buyer, ashamed that such a boring notion will dominate another $20 billion upfront market.

“Broadcast is still an important part of any video strategy,” Chris Geraci, chief investment officer at media agency OMD, said. But while broadcast is the engine, viewing is fragmenting away from linear, with media companies putting their content on digital, social and now over-the-top. “All of us are approaching these campaigns using all of the various platforms they are distributing on,” Geraci said.

Selling on Scale, Data

Buyers were divided on the quality of this year’s crop of shows — the main reason upfronts are held at huge theaters. If the clips didn’t generate sufficient enthusiasm, the networks offered other ways they could sweeten the pot for advertisers.

“Advertising on the CBS Television Network gets you reach and scale, and our multiplatform video offers you everything you need to drive business outcomes,” said Jo Ann Ross, CBS president and chief advertising revenue officer.

All of that data that the networks have been talking about for years is finally being put to use, creating measurable results. And more networks are willing to guarantee that results will be delivered.

“When you partner with NBCUniversal, you don’t have to worry about safety,” Linda Yaccarino, chairman of ad sales and client partnerships at NBCU, said. “What does live here is the best content in the world. Your biggest audiences, wherever they are. And the exact results you need.”

The Walt Disney Co.’s presentation featured a large portfolio broadened by newly acquired FX and National Geographic. But the loudest noises coming from Disney lately have involved streaming. Disney agreed to acquire full control of Hulu hours before facing advertisers.

“Among all of these incredible developments, the power of the advertising portfolio that we have brought together might be the exciting thing of all,” Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer division, said.

Disney Ad Sales president Rita Ferro invoked the “D” word, saying Disney’s first-party data was used to test 1,000 segments for consumer targeting. “We are expanding that tool kit to include geolocation and transactional outcomes to continue to build upon our ability to demonstrate effectiveness,” she said.

Using parent company AT&T’s data, WarnerMedia has seen its targeted ad campaigns rack up results like a double-digit lift in store visits for McDonald’s and a 6.5% increase in dealership visits for Volkswagen, said ad sales president Donna Speciale, who continued to urge advertisers to change the way they buy media. “Saying we’re delivering isn’t enough when you partner with us,” she said. “We now guarantee business outcomes.”

Ad sales head Marianne Gambelli said the new, smaller Fox was expanding its AIM targeting product to include Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network and introducing new ad products, including “Absolute A,” which provides exclusive ownership of the pre-roll ad position in its mostpopular streamed shows, news and sports.

Sharing Streaming Plans

Being a subject that’s top of mind in the industry, the big media companies with plans for ad-supported streaming services spilled a bean or two.

NBCU’s Yaccarino said the programmer’s streaming service would be free to pay TV households and feature new originals and old favorites, including maybe The Office, now at Netflix.

At WarnerMedia, Kevin Reilly, chief creative officer for direct-to-consumer efforts, said its ad-supported video-on-demand product would be the second of three phases to roll out and start with library content and originals.

While those companies were getting ready to launch, CBS has already been over-the-top with CBS All Access and other outlets. “We’re not crawling into the streaming space. We’re already running and we’ve been ad supported since we started five years ago,” said Ross. “We’re also moving full steam ahead into addressable TV, helping you target your customers at the household level.”

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.