CYNOPSISMEDIA Presents: UPFRONT with 20th TVa By Randee Dawn
It’s no accident that 20th TV’s 2016 roadshow presentation – which went on the road in late February and will be shown at as many as 300 meetings around the country before the official upfront – kicks off by playing Journey’s 1980 hit "Any Way You Want It."
“For one thing,” says EVP media sales Michael Teicher, "millennials through baby boomers love Journey. We love Journey. It’s cross-generational." And for another, that cross-generational approach along with the title of the song could easily stand as his company’s précis for 2016. Upfronts this year are guardedly optimistic, but no big shows are looming. So 20th TV is emphasizing its cross-demographic, cross-generational programming offerings, and its flexibility to help meet any buyer’s specification.
In other words, they’ll serve it up any way buyers want it. "We see ourselves as more of a marketing partner, versus just a media partner," says Teicher. "We’re speaking a different language here than we did a few years ago."
Selling syndication (not a word Teicher uses) ad slots is not generally sexy. Even when the programming is as topline as 20th TV’s is (they have off-net Modern Family and Family Guy, to name just two shows), it’s really the vegetables on the plate next to the meaty options broadcast and cable pose each fall. But like your veggies, syndication programming is good for buyers – they know they’ll get solid ratings, proven demographics and yearlong programming stability few others can offer.
"Our programming is viewed live, in shorter commercial pods – about 82% of ads that run in our shows run in the ‘A’ of ‘B’ positions – resulting in significantly higher recall and ad effectiveness levels,” says Teicher. “Many of our shows deliver higher ratings than the average broadcast show, which means we control a fairly high proportion of GRPs in the market. This delivery across a wide range of titles affords us the ability to reach a variety of target groups with scale.”
As for reaching the multicultural and millennial viewers, Teicher adds: “Especially noteworthy is that we reach a multicultural audience in a mass environment and we are capturing the elusive millennials that everyone is chasing. That’s because this group watches linear TV in early and late fringe, when our shows air live more so than in primetime, when they tend to watch OTT and their DVR. All of this together makes for an effective ad environment that people can count on. If reaching your target consumer both effectively and efficiently is important to you, 20th TV is the place to do it."
Mapping the landscape
"By its very nature, syndication makes it hard to be as innovative as you can be in other spaces," says Dave Campanelli, EVP of national TV for Horizon Media. "Reinvention is difficult in syndication."
Yet 20th TV is managing stay on top of the game. Teicher and his team have pushed the marketing envelope and are now offering a broad mix of cross-platform-online, mobile and social opportunities along with the more traditional in-show integrations and :60 second stand-alone pods. 20th TV is also putting a lot of effort into finding ways to customize the ad integration with its shows in the hopes of making them watchable and less invasive for viewers. Using “Exclusive Integrated Pods,” for example, allows 20th TV to align content from a show with a client’s brand objectives and build a pod exclusively for one brand. For shows like Dish Nation and Wendy Williams, brands can amplify their messages with customized branded integrations. Brands that have teamed with Wendy Williams include Chevrolet, Disney and the Peanuts gang.
In presenting his upfront, Teicher notes that the complex media landscape marketers are venturing into this year is a challenge. One of his goals is to debunk and clarify myths that have sprung up around cable, broadcast and digital networks. It’s no secret that ratings for broadcast and cable television have been falling. “Furthermore, there’s a decline of cable coverage, so one of our key selling points is that our programs are fully distributed across 95 to 98 percent of the country,” notes Teicher.
Additionally, digital media is poorly measured at best, and a lie at worst, says Teicher. "Digital has done a great job of winning over the press and having them salivate over headlines without looking under the hood," he says, pointing out an Interactive Advertising Bureau report from December that says ad blockers, bot traffic and copyright infringed content has led to $8.2 billion advertiser dollars "wasted" from trying to reach digital audiences. "We had one client who said, ‘I’m really glad you’re railing on digital; I’m tired of having to defend TV,’" he adds.
Teicher’s not alone in scoring that point. Billie Gold, VP director programming research for Amplifi US agrees: "When you’re doing a big digital buy across all platforms, that’s one of the things you have to worry about. We talk it about all the time."
"The TV industry has not done a very good job of telling the real story to buyers and sellers," adds Campanelli.
Those digital dollars are coming back to TV, notes Teicher, who says that advertisers are realizing that not only does TV still work, it makes digital work better; TV is an essential part of the media mix for optimal sales ROI. That said, he doesn’t rule out digital entirely. "We want our clients to succeed, so a well-rounded, balanced media plan is the best way to do that," he says. "Just choose your digital carefully."
Enter the programming part of the presentation. Here, Teicher points out that some of their shows (like Family Feud, which recently hit an all-time ratings record) pull ratings that top prime-time network averages, are "addictive" and have the "highest possible production values."
That means 20th TV is uniquely positioned to sell program-specific ad packages to buyers. "Once you’ve identified your target audience, we can go through our roster of programming and identify the exact programs we have that reach that target, and sell you only those specific shows," he says. "Network and cable ask you to buy a run of schedule across broad dayparts – what good is all the targeting you’re spending time and money on if you have to end up buying a package of programs and dayparts your target doesn’t watch?"
Campanelli is a fan of what syndication, and 20th TV in particular, has to offer. "There’s a lot of benefits to it," he says. "There’s an unfair brush painted across syndication – that it’s full of lower-tier programming. But 20th TV has a very different, quality audience with shows like Modern Family."
To Teicher, it’s about looking at the broad picture. To him, 20th TV’s competition is not just other syndicators, but all of television itself. "We’re all trying to get smarter and have better data and identify hyper-targeted audiences rather than just offering a segment based on age/sex," he says. "We believe we can work with advertisers in a way that’s effective across a number of platforms, and we shouldn’t be confined to a sandbox since our assets are strong enough to merit us playing on the entire beach!”
Copyright Cynopsis 2016
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