04/13/16: Cable Upfront Special



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CYNOPSISMEDIA PRESENTS: Cable Upfront Report

By Cathy Applefeld Olson

Hallmarks of this year’s Cable Upfront include continued digital media acceleration, shifting buying trends, and networks’ drive to maximize audience reach  and the advertising dollars that come along with it.

Of Platforms, Programmatic & Shifting Buying Trends
While the television remains the epicenter of the national ad spend, digital continues to ramp up. “For us, they’re coming for our linear platform, but the conversation becomes about the content and we’re focused on allowing our content to be shared across platforms,” says Allison Clarke, SVP of advertising sales for IFC and WE tv.

During the 2014-15 broadcast season, $1.1 billion of US television ad dollars went to digital media, according to a report from Standard Media Index. While cable didn’t feel the pain nearly as deeply as the broadcast realm, the conversation is clearly shifting. “It’s forcing us to be more agile as a partner, to work better and harder for our advertisers. They have so many places to place their money, so we are working to create unique marketing opportunities,” Clarke tells Cynopsis, noting the activation delivered more than 100 million additional impressions.

For one, WE tv is expanding the We Suite exclusive ad partner program it launched last year around David Tutera’s CELEbrations, “offering the opportunity for a brand to come onboard and be wherever that show goes, whether it’s consumer and promotional campaigns supporting the show, social media events, or signage at premiere parties,” Clarke says. This year the same opportunity exists for L.A. Hair, featuring stylist to the stars Kim Kimble.

“The buzz now is native content, but a lot of that is second-hand to us,” says Jon Steinlauf, Scripps Networks Interactive’s president of national ad sales and marketing. “We have a big team here that’s creating content with advertisers with our talent, and providing integrations into shows.”


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Some nets are seizing other opportunities in shifting buying patterns, including the swell of brands leaving more money on the table. “Given the strength of the scatter market, this is the best opportunity to churn disadvantageous business,” notes Rahsan Lindsay, TV One’s newly promoted EVP of ad sales & marketing. “It is also a great time to have VOD and FEP as part of the mix.” Additionally, “Advances in technology like programmatic are an additional revenue stream,” Lindsay tells Cynopsis. “It allows us to diversify our account portfolio to ensure better inventory utilization. This gives us the confidence to earmark a greater percentage to premium programs and marketing opportunities.”

Viacom Kids & Family is touting the ability of brands to customize campaigns across platforms using very specific metrics. “Last year we introduced Vantage, our data tool that enables clients to custom target their media campaigns across the Viacom portfolio. This year, we’ve enhanced the portfolio by utilizing our dedicated consumer insights and data science team to focus our creative development,” says Amy Hyland, EVP of ad sales. “You’ll now see data influence our content creation; we’ll develop and produce original, culturally relevant content that puts our advertising partners first, extending campaigns across the social landscape.”

Apps are a hot platform this year in brand and agency discussions around Turner’s Cartoon Network and Boomerang. “A lot of advertisers want to work with us across our apps,” says Joe Hogan, EVP of Turner emerging consumer ad sales. “First it was traditional linear, then linear plus desktop, then VOD and this year the additional reach of our real estate is apps.” Hogan says the additional digital reach is bringing in new categories in the areas of apparel and tech.

Programmatic buying is also opening doors. “Technology advancements and programmatic buying has allowed us to expand our business to many new advertisers across more categories,” Michael DuPont, EVP of ad sales for Pop, tells Cynopsis. “Pop is in business with a handful of programmatic agencies, and we are exploring additional partnerships and offerings in order to enhance our capabilities in this area.”

Pop is also expanding tune-in after its recent rebrand. “Pop is entering this Upfront season with an opportunity to capitalize on recent successes, including 100 new blue chip advertisers in 2015,” DuPont says, noting the network’s growing audience share positions it well “to persuade advertisers to shift their spending away from under-performing networks.”


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Extending Audience Reach
Extending audience reach is top of mind for many networks this year. It’s no coincidence that networks targeting the youngest viewers – including Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Sprout  are all talking up their ability to reach millennials, in the form of young moms and in some case superfans who’ve never outgrown the brand. On the other side of the coin, families with young children provide an opportunity to expand viewership for adult-skewing nets.

“We’ve got some strategies that are really working to pull in younger audiences,” says Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content & brand officer at Scripps. That includes an 8pm strategy on Food Network with shows like Chopped Junior and Kids Baking Championship. “What works really well is we stack like-minded programing behind it so the kids go to bed, but the young mom and dads stay,” explains Finch. “So we’re driving a co-viewing strategy. We’re very focused on bringing more millennials into the fold.”

Reelz now has an established brand, Real lives. Real stories. Real celebrities, and our programming is delivering a new audience that continues to grow quarter to quarter,” says Bill Rosolie, SVP of ad sales for the network, noting primetime ratings are up 60 percent among W25-54. “We call that audience the ‘celebrity enthusiast.’ We are delivering more females, our audience is younger and they spend money in all the right categories.”

Still other programmers are expanding their gender parameters. Growth in the general adult category, not just among the female demos the network used to almost solely target, propelled WE tv to its best-ever ratings year. Its rebrand last year explicitly dropped the “Women’s Entertainment” tagline in favor of the communal power of WE, a move that’s been particularly effective for its Thursday night lineup. “We have a unique African-American audience on Thursday nights and we’ve seen significant growth in that night and that audience among adults, and have been able to tap into those advertisers not specifically targeting women,” Clarke says. Ad categories that have embraced the change include auto, beverage, insurance and QSR, she adds.

Ultimately, as much as the environment is changing, some things remain the same. “It all comes down to programming,” says Clarke. “We all know how important content is.”

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales: Trish Pihonak | Director of Operations | 203-899-8459

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