Cynopsis Special Report: 2019 Broadcast Upfront 05/16/19

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Cynopsis Presents:
Cynopsis Special Report: 2019 Broadcast Upfront
 
Cathy Applefeld Olson
 

While the networks are pushing audience connections with their shows and talent like never before, the annual array of cancellations and pickups this year was overshadowed by mega-mergers that are shifting the media landscape, as broadcasters steel themselves amid a storm of competition.
 
Notably sandwiched between NBCU’s event Monday morning and ABC Disney’s Tuesday afternoon Upfront came news that Disney had acquired full ownership of Hulu after buying out Comcast’s share. At WarnerMedia’s Upfront, newly christened CEO John Stankey, former exec at parent AT&T, opened the show. NBCU chair of ad sales & client partnerships Linda Yaccarino touted the value in new family member Sky extending the company’s CFlight metric to international waters, and former Fox brands such as FX stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of ABC’s Freeform at ABC’s presentation.
 
Against the muscle-flexing of the new behemoths, newly start-up-mode Fox—now concentrated around the verticals of entertainment, sports and news—pushed agility at its presentation. “While our competition is getting more complicated, we’re laser-focused on you,” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier told advertisers.
 
And CBS this year hosts its first Upfront in many a springtime without former CEO Les Moonves at the helm.
 
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All In The Family

What do these towering media dynasties mean for brands? Rita Ferro, Disney president of ad sales and partnerships, tells Cynopsis the crossover between brands already advertising on the company’s newly acquired Fox networks and existing nets is 85 percent-90 percent—a scenario that enables a core message to be threaded through multiple touch points.  
 
“Each one of these brands owns an audience and adds incremental reach, incremental audience opportunity,” she says. “Especially when you think about broad brands that want to reach a multitude of audiences—think of CPG, think of telecom, think of tech companies—the ability to say, ‘Here are our key goals and metrics,’ and then that comes to life in an organic process within each brand. The same team is managing the experiences and understands what the deliverables are.”
 
Similarly, “You see the holistic view of the entirety of WarnerMedia in the presentation,” says Donna Speciale, WarnerMedia president of ad sales, of the company’s Upfront.
 
At NBCU, “From a network standpoint, where we typically talked in silos—entertainment, sports, Olympics—this year we’re talking about it all together as one and widening the aperture of what prime time is,” says Mark Marshall, president of ad sales & partnership. “We want to be able to offer a consumer or a marketer the ability to watch live or within their own schedule.”
 
Steve Mandala, Univision president of ad sales and marketing, notes the market is experiencing “continued, but heightened, dedication to find ways to create greater reach at efficient economics that yields real business results. Because our audience is inherently targeted and exclusive, we are a great choice in a media world that is increasingly fragmented.”
 
Adding to the fragmented market will be the upcoming Disney+, and WarnerMedia and NBCU direct-to-consumer services.
 
WarnerMedia’s service, due next year, is “right in our sweet spot of what we’ve been talking about,” Speciale says. “The industry has definitely added way too many commercials and the experience is just not ideal. With this, we now have a fresh start with a blank slate where we can say, ‘What does this new consumer—Gen X, Gen Z—what do they want? And it gives us a little leeway also on our linear outlets as well. As we try to reduce our commercials in the linear platform, we’ll be able to bring it all together.”
 
Although measurement is still playing catch-up, the science of targeting those and other demos continues to evolve with advances in precision targeting.
 
As part of the WarnerMedia fam, Turner left the OpenAP consortium it helped launch and is now using AT&T’s Xander platform. “The key is relevancy. Having now access to AT&T data, we now can really hone in on the targeting and the audience conversations we’ve had. The messaging now, in this new landscape, is clients are going to know who they are trying to target and have their messaging exactly to that audience. It’s going to be a much more one-to-one conversation, and advertising is going to be more acceptance because it wont look like an intrusion.”
 
For its part, OpenAP—which counts Fox, NBCU and Viacom as members—recently  expanded its advanced advertising efforts and launched a centralized premium video marketplace called OpenAP 2.0 through which advertisers can submit orders to activate ad segments across national linear and long-form digital video.
 
Univision, also a member of OpenAP, recently partnered with Amobee to provide an optimization platform for its linear content, enabling advertisers to plan and transact against custom strategic target audiences with a data-optimized television offering.

“Precision targeting is table stakes in today’s media environment,” Mandala says. “Through this partnership, we have the capability to utilize over 2 million enriched, first-party Univision consumer records to provide behaviorally targeted plans totally unique to Univision.”
 
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| Turner Sports | Bleacher Report | Warner Bros. | Crunchyroll | Rooster Teeth
 

The Holistic Is Greater Than Its Parts

Execs caution, however, the industry will never be a one size fits all. “Reach-based buying and planning is a necessity for clients; they still need to get their messaging out there in broad reach, which is what the big screen does,” says Speciale. “So they’re going to have to at some point figure out their marketing balance between what is best for niche targeting and its relevance, and what is a broad-reach campaign, so that they can do both.”
 
“With the increasing concentration and focus around nonlinear platforms and OTT platforms, It’s the same big screen with exactly the same content we used to call TV,” Suzanne Sullivan, Fox EVP, entertainment ad sales, tells Cynopsis. “We’ve shifted to talking about audience across all platforms. There’s some measurement that needs to be figured out, but it’s the same screen and the same content.”
 
“As the marketplace evolves, the cost structure is changing, with TV advertising costs generally increasing over time,” says Mike Menkes, SVP at Analytic Partners. “And while social, search, OTT and connected TV are seeing strong investments, it is difficult to achieve a significant reach anywhere without TV being a part of your plan.” Menkes says Analytic Partners’ ROI Genome research shows digital has a slight edge on TV with regards to short-term ROI but notes, “Digital is significantly more effective when run in combination with TV. As such, media plans and budget decisions need to be looked at holistically.”
 
“With buying across platforms, everyone has gotten on that bus,” Disney’s Ferro says. “From an advertiser perspective, they fundamentally understand they need to follow the audience. And yet at the same time we continue to see a tremendous demand for linear television. The scatter market is extremely hot and advertisers continue to want tor reach audiences there.”
 
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WARNERMEDIA. CONNECT TO WHAT MATTERS MOST.
TBS | TNT | truTV | Boomerang | Cartoon Network | Adult Swim | CNN | Great Big Story | HLN
| Turner Sports | Bleacher Report | Warner Bros. | Crunchyroll | Rooster Teeth
 

Pods Cast New Opportunities

The opportunities to reach audiences in the linear ecosystem are expanding with the evolution of shorter, premium-priced, pod-based real estate that thus far is delivering big bang for the buck.
 
“We continually had been asked by clients, ‘How do I find ways to make my creative stand out?,’ ” says Marshall of NBCU, which last year launched Prime Pods in select shows including This Is Us and Manifest and now is extending the offer. “They checked both boxes,” he says of the offering. “Viewers liked the shows 28 percent better that had Prime Pods, memorability went up between the low 20s and low 40 percent, and purchase intent for all different brands was up 11 percent” vs. the same ad running outside of a Prime Pod. “If you think about an auto brand, if they can move purchase intent 2 percent, that’s a huge win.”
 
The pods also drove surf results. A Prime Pod touring A Star is Born three days before the film opened drove 145,000 people to search for the trailer within five minutes of airing, “even though there was plenty of awareness for the movie at that point,” Marshall says.
 
Notably, NBCU also is rolling out shoppable ad experiences. Viewers of select broadcasts can purchase items featured in a show or commercial by scanning on-screen QR codes with their phones, and the programmer will take a cut of the sales that result from the integration.
 
On the heels of last year’s JAZ Pods, Fox now is pedaling three iterations: Fast Breaks, the first commercials in a select program broadcast that contain only 60 seconds of ads; Absolute As, which give brands exclusive ownership of a VOD preroll; and Prediction Pods, which use social media to keep viewers tuned in during breaks.
 
“Prediction Pods are an opportunity in a show like The Masked Singer where everyone watching is guessing who’s behind that mask. We’re going to create a way for that social conversation to be harnessed in real time and bring brands closer to that conversation,” Sullivan says.
 
 
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