Cynopsis Special Edition: 2018 Broadcast Upfront Report




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CynopsisPresents: 2018 Broadcast Upfront Report
By Cathy Applefeld Olson
They come in a variety of clever monikers, in environments both Open and podded. The names may be different, but the message is consistent: In the face of eroding audiences, broadcasters are unleashing an assortment of new models aimed at bettering engagement for advertisers, and the viewing experience for consumers.
Behind this week’s giddy parade of content – the stalwarts, the newcomers, the last-minute saves – the 2018 Upfronts are about stemming any migration of the estimated $19 billion in business on the line this week, and even growing the pot on the heels of last year’s strong market. It’s a time where agility is paramount in negotiating with a new breed of advertisers.
“TV is as strong as it’s ever been, you don’t get content like that everywhere, but TV is different than what we knew it as,” says Michael Law, EVP, managing director, US media investment, at Dentsu Aegis Network, whose 10 global network brands include Carat, Isobar and Merkle.
“Television plays a role and nonlinear video plays a role, so it’s really thinking about what the client is trying to do and what’s the business outcome, and finding the right mix,” Law adds. “We think television is a really strong platform still, but you need to think about the fact that viewers are curating their own experience, and they’ll find content when and where they can.”
New or on the horizon are industry machinations designed to retain both eyeballs and ad dollars.
“The time is now. We listened to marketers and developed environments and capabilities that deliver valuable ROI and powerful fan experiences,” says Donna Speciale, president of Turner Broadcasting ad sales. “We now need them to deliver on their promise and start to evolve the way they buy media.”
NBCU this fall will unleash its Prime Pods across 50 shows, 19 of them in broadcast. “We understand we live in a time of CPMs but at the same time we want to drive business results for our clients and if we can truly move purchase intent, that should be our goal,” says Mark Marshall, NBCU EVP of entertainment advertising sales.
The model will see only a single one-minute ad, say, during the first 20 minutes of This Is Us, he says. “We’re pulling out all the other ads, removing them.” If viewers “seek out a program out of all other options, it’s about, How do we capture that engagement and that passion, and put them in this isolated pod environment to really make the commercial messaging stand out for our advertising partners?”
Fox Networks Group’s streamlined Jazz Pods are similarly designed “to bring our brands closer to content so that in both the A and C positions, every commercial in the show will touch content directly with no promos in between,” says Bruce LefkowitzFox EVP of ad sales. He points out the added intuitive benefit for consumer recall: “One out of two [ads] is clearly better than one out of eight.”
With a 40 percent reduction in commercial content, beginning with the Sunday night schedule, Fox also will free up time for deeper integrations. “What we hope to do is offer a primetime national platform for advertisers. Whether that’s longform movie trailers or custom content, it’s about tying in an advertiser’s content with our characters and storylines,” Lefkowitz says. “It gives them the opportunity to create on a larger canvas.”
Disney-ABC last year integrated all cross-portfolio sales under ad sales president Rita Ferro, and the result has enabled “more live opportunities, and more brand integrations across different formats,” Ferro says. “We can now think about storytelling in different ways.” Freeform this year came to the party alongside the Disney-ABC broadcast offerings.
Hitting The Target
Precision targeting continues to gain ground, as does industry support for a standard. Under the Upfronts wire, NBCU and Univision joined Fox, Turner and Viacom in the OpenAP consortium that’s seeking to standardize data-driven targets, easing advertisers’ ability to buy audiences.
Remaining open, literally, is key, says Steve Mandala, president of ad sales and marketing for Univision Communications Inc. “There is no single standard in the industry today for precision targeting. So our philosophy is, we want to be able to use the first-party data we have that is exclusive to us, but we also want to be able to welcome everybody to Univision and make it easy for people to work with us, so we’ll be working with multiple partners,” he says.
“We support anything that’s going to move the industry forward to try to make client buys as effective as possible,” Marshall says. “From a client perspective, they continue to want to look at a one-solution offering.”  
“We are thrilled to have NBC and Univision on board with OpenAP,” says Speciale. “When we first announced OpenAP a year ago, we promised that we’d have new partners on board, and now we can provide clients with more than 50 percent of the premium video marketplace. And, I promise there is more to come.”
NBCU also launched new cross-platform metric CFlight, through which it tallies, and ideally monetizes, viewers of ads in its programming whether they air on broadcast or stream in digital platforms.
“There is no linear television vs. digital vs. social,” Speciale says. “Our ecosystem engages fans in a multitude of environments and platforms. That is the new TV. And that is how we plan to upgrade the way we monetize our content-one guarantee that captures all of those impressions.”
Disney recently rolled out Luminate as a means to generate data-driven ad products for its broadcast properties, ESPN, Freeform and other nets. “We know the bigger the screen, the more time they spend watching, so there is a need to drive great storytelling in the living room” she says. “But we will continue to drive consumption across devices, and we sell it that way.”
“We should all be held to the same standard, and I think to some degree digital and nonlinear have gotten a free pass over the years,” says Lefkowitz of lingering measurement disparity. He notes, “We’ve adapted our capabilities and we’re getting closer to that holy grail of the right environment, the right message and the right consumer. It won’t happen overnight, but we’re on our way.”

CBS just announced a collaboration with Nielsen to bring dynamic ad insertion to live, linear broadcast TV. “CBS has been at the forefront of using Nielsen data and measurement to prove the value of television, and now we are working on taking the next step with Nielsen to go beyond age and gender by bringing targeted dynamic ad insertion to national live TV inventory,” said Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, CBS Corp. “This will create a more relevant ad experience for our viewers and better outcomes for our clients.”

Fluidity is key, says Steve Mandala, president of ad sales and marketing for Univision Communications Inc. “There is no single standard in the industry today for precision targeting. Our philosophy is, we want to be able to use the first-party data we have that is exclusive to us, but we also want to be able to welcome everybody to Univision and make it easy for people to work with us, so we’ll be working with multiple partners,” he says.

Live From The Living Room
Live programming has been fireproof content for broadcasters, and this year they’re elevating live more than ever as an area where advertisers can make a big impact.
Disney-ABC is working more closely with its news division to create opportunities for integrations. “Our news organization has done a great job of partnering with us on what is a timely current event that really matter to brands that want to be part of a cultural moment,” Ferro says. “And some of these tent poles are live in the daily experience, not just the Oscars or the Country Music Awards.”
The company saw success with integrations around live coverage of the solar eclipse, and will program five hours of live coverage of the May 19 royal wedding with two key sponsors: Tiffany & Co., which is launching its first-ever TV campaign, and Clairol’s Herbal Essences shampoo.
At sports-heavy Fox, the addition of the Thursday Night Football franchise for the next five years cements an even stronger live audience.
And live viewing on the Hispanic networks continues to outpace the competition—a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed in the executive ranks. “They love to watch live, and so many of our shows are five nights a week,” says Laura Molen, EVP, NBCU lifestyle and Hispanic ad sales. Molen says live viewing is just one card in Telemundo’s hand as it works to help marketers really access and powerfully utilize the US Hispanic audience both in Spanish-language television and English-language television.
At Univision, 90 percent of the audience watches live on linear, and they over-index on watching the network’s content on other platforms – which for advertisers means “we can be a bigger, more meaningful partner to them. In a world where there is a sense of managing declines in viewership, we are a safe harbor,” Mandala says.
Brand Safety
As concern continues to arise around brand safety in some digital platforms, broadcasters are sitting pretty in a business where a safe brand environment is baked in.
“We start with the content and then go to platform,” says NBC’s Marshall. “Jimmy Fallon has a huge following on YouTube, and clients like YouTube but they’re nervous to be part of the platform. The nice part is you can come to us to buy Jimmy Fallon, and you’ll only appear in Fallon on YouTube.”
Brand safety concerns are at “an all-time high,” says Lefkowitz, noting TV offers a “known, proven content environment that’s safe, where we know two eyes are watching as opposed to a bot. Things don’t change overnight, but that’s one stop sign the advertisers are asking more questions about this year, and I think the result is it will somewhat slow the rate of growth of monies in the digital world.”

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Mike Farina | 203-218-6480
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