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For Upfront, Custom ContentIs Now a Big Deal

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In this year’s upfront market, don’t expect advertisers to limit their
buying to 30-second commercials.

“A large portion of our clients are looking beyond what their CPM
is, and spots and dots, to see how they can leverage the contextual
relevance of the networks and show where they’re going to spend
money,” said Brent Poer, president of LiquidThread North America,
the content creation arm of media buyer Starcom MediaVest Group.

Poer said clients are looking for custom created content and
new forms of storytelling to connect brands to consumers’ lives
using paid media, owned media and earned media with programs
that add digital and social to traditional television.

“I don’t think it was really until this year that people saw the
value of that, and how you should not
only engage with that audience but
market in real time,” Poer said.

The ability of networks to help execute
multifaceted marketing campaigns
for clients can affect their share of
those clients’ marketing dollars. That’s
one reason programmers are building
up their marketing groups.

Poer, a former Lifetime executive,
said he used to see cable networks as
the first line of innovation, but he now
said the broadcasters are catching up. “I think that our broadcasting
partners have shown they’re willing to innovate and work in
very different ways than they ever have before,” he said.

Branded content ideas can’t be put together during upfront
negotiations about prices. Instead, they’re put together in discussions
that take place in the month leading up to the upfront.

Poer refers to this as place-holding. “I would not say that it is fully
baked. That happens afterwards,” he said. “There are many details
that have to be worked out. But there are enough rules of the road
going into it that you have clear guidelines and guardrails set up on a
deal so that everyone’s very clear about what the expectations are.”

A few years back, Poer worked with The CW to create a deal for
Microsoft’s Bing search engine that promoted CW shows online
and attached Bing to The CW’s onscreen bug. “It is a very complex
world right now,” Poer said. “It used to be we knew exactly what
we were asking for: ’I want to integrate in XYZ show.’ Now you’re
going to be saying, ‘What if we did this and this and this?’ And you
have people who say ‘I don’t know, I’ll get back to you,’” he said.

Different networks have different ways to pay for these deals.
Some seek fees. Others look for an increase in the scale of the
overall media buy, Poer said. And there are different ways of determining
the effectiveness of these programs.

SMG recently started what it calls convergence modeling, which
measures changes across multiple mediums. In some cases, Poer
said he has seen content marketing programs amplify the impact
of a traditional marketing campaign by five times. “You start to
understand that TV does this, digital does this, and the combination
equals this,” he said.