Dec 12, 2017
3:37 pm

TVWeek’s Media Buyer of the Year 2017




1977. 40 years ago. Jimmy Carter is president of the United States. Atari releases its first home video console in the U.S. Elvis Presley dies at 42. Egypt recognizes Israel. A gallon of gas is 65 cents. New York City is thrown in the dark for 25 hours in an electrical blackout. The Commodore PET computer is introduced at CES. The first “Star Wars” movie is released. The Clash puts out its first album. The Concord makes its first commercial flight between London and New York. Soccer great Pelé retires. “Three’s Company,” “Eight Is Enough” and “The Love Boat” debut on TV. Donald Trump turns 31 and marries his first wife, Ivana. “Rocky” wins best picture at the Oscars. “Oliver’s Story” and “The Thorn Birds” dominate the best-selling book lists. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series. The Raiders top the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Kanye West, Tom Brady and Psy are born.

And an 18-year-old college student, Lyle Schwartz, going to Hunter College in New York, loves playing baseball. It turns out that his sister works at Simmons Market Research, and they are looking for a few players to fill out their company baseball team. She recruits Lyle. A big selling point is that they can drink beer, both during the game and after the game. Lyle says he drank less than most of his teammates, and loved playing second base and then right field. He says he wasn’t a bad hitter either.

To be a part of the baseball team, there was one catch. You had to work for Simmons. So Lyle started working there a few nights a week. It turns out he liked it. So much so that he eventually joined BBDO and then Y&R. In research. He was on his way to a storied career.

A year ago this week Alexandra Bruell wrote in The Wall Street Journal about a major change at WPP’s GroupM ad-buying unit. Rino Scanzoni, a former TVWeek Media Buyer of the Year and “the GroupM ad-buying veteran who influences tens of billions in media spending each year, is moving out of his role as North America chief investment officer,” Bruell wrote, adding, “He will become executive chairman and CEO of GroupM’s addressable TV group, Modi Media, as well as its barter group, Midas Exchange.”

Bruell continued, “Lyle Schwartz, GroupM’s managing partner for research and marketplace analysis, is becoming president of investment in North America, taking on media buying and negotiation responsibilities across TV, digital, radio, print and local media. Mr. Schwartz has worked closely with Mr. Scanzoni, but he’s known more for his experience in research and analytics than TV network negotiations.”

Those on the selling side of the table give Schwartz, now 58,  high marks in his new position, and among those we polled confidentially to help us select our 17th annual Media Buyer of the Year, Schwartz was clearly the hands-down choice. “He’s smart and believes the better we become the better vehicle we are to help sell his clients’ products,” says one veteran network seller. Says another seller, “As we focus more and more on data, having someone like Lyle now as a buyer is a distinct plus.”

TWeek’s Chuck Ross began our interview with Schwartz by asking him to respond to a prediction Schwartz made a year ago:

TVWeek: You told Brian Steinberg a year ago in Variety: “Maybe 2017 will be the year we can buy programs across devices.” How disappointed are you that that really didn’t happen?

Lyle Schwartz: I think from a technological standpoint we are very close. There is a lot of testing going on on what can and cannot be done. So we’re moving in the right direction. I’d like it to be moving faster. I think there will be opportunities next year to buy what I call device-agnostic ratings. I think we’re going to get a lot of learning from that.

The issue today, all too often, is that most of our media is based on the device. So, for instance, even in print, we talk about the printed word on a paper, or in a magazine. But these brands live well beyond the printed renditions into other vehicles.

We need to understand that people want to interact with the content, not necessarily just the device. And I believe that what you don’t monitor, you can’t measure. And what you can’t measure, you can’t monetize. And unfortunately, in this world, if things don’t get monetized they cease to exist over a period of time.

So I still believe that current content, whether it be in video format or in a branded print vehicle, or audio, it’s still extremely powerful for our clients.

TVWeek: Let’s focus on video for a moment.

Schwartz: Sure. It’s really important for consumers to get what they want, where they want and how they want — what I call choice, control and convenience — at a particular cost. We need to look at how the consumer is interacting with this video and get permission to put our ads in there, in order to allow this content to continue to proliferate. Having it measured by one method allows me to look across these devices and either re-aggregate them or look at the components and figure out what the value is so that I can put a price against it on behalf of my clients. It’s all about putting the consumer in the middle.

TVWeek: And then I assume that you, as many media agencies do, add various other data to concoct your own secret sauce to benefit your clients.

Schwartz: For many years we’ve been using return path data, which gives us a tremendous sample, and we overlay sales data, or client-first and third-party data. Then, instead of showing my cards to the networks, or other video providers, or print providers, I use all the data I have at my disposal. So I understand what I want, when I want it, and how I want to get it on behalf of my clients. In this situation, my client is the one I want to keep happy by getting them more impressions against their most valued consumers, as they define them.

At the same time I have to maintain certain pricing because I still have to be able to benchmark, and look at different rates of change. So as the industry buys off of many of the demos, there is a lot of comparability there.

TVWeek: It seems to us that on the other side of the table the sellers are coming up with ever more services as they scramble, in a very competitive environment, for your clients’ money. For example, Turner and Viacom and Fox are working on Open A.P. And that’s just one example. Other networks are joining together to offer other products. Does it get confusing sometimes who is offering what?

Schwartz: It doesn’t get confusing because technically that’s what they pay me to know. And I have a tremendous team behind me, whether it be the video buyers or our crack research staff, who keep me on top of all this. Because yes, there is so much going on.

For example, you mention Open A.P. With that the participating networks are basically going to allow the industry to create these non-demographic targets. Let’s say people who own a car but lease it for a certain amount of time. They will be able to dimensionalize it within their inventory. But it’s only across the properties owned by those three companies. I am blessed, being with WPP, which has a plethora of data, of being able to work with my clients to define that. So I know the value, not the networks. But for a smaller agency or client who doesn’t have that expertise or the money to get that information, Open AP is an asset.

However, once you go to a behavioral-based target and away from a demographic, you change your base, so you lose your historical base. And in TV, losing that legacy is almost anti-religious.

On the positive side, we are now seeing networks under different ownership working together. This is something relatively new. I say it’s a good thing because it should bring in a lot of new thinking and innovation. My hope is that those in traditional TV and those in non-traditional TV will stop looking at each other and thinking what the other guy has that they don’t, and instead provide us with some commonality of measurement so we can decide, where is the most efficient place we can place that first dollar.

We need a consistent method and approach of putting these numbers together. And I might see some data that the next fella doesn’t. So it makes it hard to use it as a baseline currency.

TVWeek: I love the business mantra KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid. Does the data needed for the most efficient media buying today, in 2017, preclude using KISS as a mantra?

Schwartz: I think it’s important that to the industry, to our clients, we keep it as simple as possible so they understand why we do what we do and how we do what we do. In other words, what it means to them. But behind the scenes, the work can be complicated. Our data has to be reputable and projectable. Our analysis of whatever the data is should be consistent, and it is.

Besides KISS, the other acronym you hear in business is SWAG, which is Scientific Wild Ass Guess. Without good data you get more SWAG than KISS.

TVWeek: Thor is another project among multiple networks. Could you please tell us about it.

Schwartz: Sure. It’s an approach wherein some networks are working with a third party to show the effectiveness and efficiency in driving sales and other metrics for national TV. Again, I think it’s a positive move. My clients all have their own and do a lot of these things. Realistically, we should be doing it across all media simultaneously, making sure we are putting money in the best place at all times. Thor is a nice step, but I think we need a much more holistic approach. Though I commend the networks involved for doing it.

TVWeek: Tell us about this holistic approach that you see is needed.

Schwartz: Clients need to work internally, or with third parties, or with their agencies who have the capabilities, to really understand as many of the different dimensions of the communication as is possible. So network TV would be a component, digital video (even from the same company), in-store communications, promotions, discounts, geographic and other variables, all have to be looked at together. Because I don’t think one announcement makes the sale. I think it’s the long-term viability of building brands. You build a brand and then the brand can survive and grow and give you permission to do so much more.

TVWeek: When TV is everywhere, as it is today, what kind of challenge is that for an advertiser?

Schwartz: What we have to make sure is that we have the permission to put our messages in many places. For instance, if someone is watching a 30-second clip, we really don’t have permission to put five minutes of commercials in there. If someone wants to watch prime-time programming at 2 in the morning, they should be able to do so. The consumers have the right to see it, and the creators have the right to get paid for it. That’s the trade-off.

TVWeek: Isn’t one of the problems for advertisers right now that there isn’t a particularly easy way for them to be attached to content across all devices? For example, a client might have a spot right before or after James Corden does his “Carpool Karaoke” with Beyonce on his show, but when millions more watch it on YouTube your client isn’t connected with it.

Schwartz: Well, if I want to be part of the repackaging of the content, there are multiple ways of doing it. Perhaps I can somehow get an integration into it — that while James is in the car he’s also using my product. Or perhaps I could sponsor it on YouTube. Today I’d have to go separately to YouTube to do that, but there may come a time when I’m buying a package on the long form and I also get a certain amount of spins on the short form. I still need to get a certain amount of reach, and I have to consider that there are different people watching it on YouTube than on Corden’s show. And the price point has to be right. And the content on both has to mesh with what the client wants.

TVWeek: Is targeting really the Holy Grail? I’ve been having discussions with media people since the 1980s about how targeting seems just beyond the horizon.

Schwartz: You have to be careful about targeting. The danger is over-targeting. You want to target a group of people who are large enough that if you are able to get them to consider your product, the group is large enough to allow the product to be viable and grow. You also want to make sure you are targeting people who can use the product, because then you are cutting out waste, and it’s more efficient. But I think it’s only one component of the entire communication. So addressable can be part of the communication, but not the only part.

TVWeek: Historically you come from research, but now you are the top investment executive for GroupM. Tell me about that transition.

Schwartz: I started off in research, but I was most often tagged as a business researcher. So I always looked at the numbers not just for the numbers’ sake, but what they meant, and how the numbers impacted what my client was doing. I remember doing a presentation about 20 years ago at a media company and saying, “If you ask me what the top 10 rated programs are, I’ll tell you I don’t have a clue. If you tell me the top 10 programs that a certain client wants, I can talk for hours.” Because that’s what I was focused on. And as I evolved, I started working more and more with clients in answering their questions. So whether it was telling them who goes to a certain type of movie, or who buys certain types of products — these were things that excited me because I was able to impact our clients’ business.

And it changed the conversation. It was not about “what are you buying,” but it was about “how can you help me grow my business?” Many years later Rino [Scanzoni] and Irwin [Gotlieb], when they joined GroupM, opened up a vast knowledge to me. They are really closet researchers. They like numbers. They know numbers. We melded. It was a tremendous learning experience for me to see how they approached the marketplace.

The difference between myself as a researcher and Irwin and Rino was that they worked in relationships in terms of, “All right. It’s $100 million, plus or minus.” As a researcher I would say, “It’s $100 million, that’s it.” So there was a lot of learning involved, and they took a lot of time and effort to teach someone like myself how to do this.

And then I have to give credit to the Kelly Clarks of the world and the Brian Lessers, because they, along with Rino and Irwin, saw that data was becoming more and more important, and how to utilize that information to give clients an advantage was key. [Clark is GroupM’s global CEO and Lesser was, until recently, GroupM’s North American CEO.] It was almost like they were all creating an avenue for me. Did I ever think I would be in this position today? No. You grow up in this business and you might think, what will I be doing next year, and then the next thing you realize, you’ve been in this industry for 30 years. It’s been magnificent.

And now non-traditional media reports in to me. It’s like I’ve opened a candy store. There’s just so much opportunity. And being a researcher, I always go back to, “Let’s make sure the numbers are right. Let’s make sure we are approaching things from the right direction, and let’s make sure that what we are doing is in the best interest of our clients.” I’m always trying to make sure that everything we do makes a better environment for my clients and for the industry. Because the future has yet to be written, and the minute I understand everything about today, tomorrow it will all be different.

TVWeek: Are you concerned that so much viewing today is done at places such as Netflix and Amazon, which are both ad-free?

Schwartz: The concern there is with what we call the non-reachables. But we had that with the HBOs and Showtimes of the world in the past. Models evolve, and we have to evolve with it. At some point, there is a belief that some of these programmers that don’t take commercials will take sponsorships. Or we might have to go back to the future, and start producing programming and then be aligned with the programming. There are tremendous opportunities all over, and I don’t think you can close your mind to anything.

TVWeek: That’s interesting. Of course when TV first started the advertising agencies produced the programming for the networks. Could this evolve today to where the agencies might produce a certain number of pilots for some programmers?

Schwartz: The hard part is the economic model. We have to solve the measurement issues so we can monitor and monetize properly, and then maybe that economic model could come back. The economic model might not be on traditional linear TV, but on non-traditional. And they could be the same players, but it would be a slightly different approach.

TVWeek: Isn’t one of the reasons for the success of Netflix or HBO because, plain and simple, people don’t like commercials?

Schwartz: But if you look at the Super Bowl, how much time is spent on the game versus talking about all the commercials — and a lot of the commercials are shown on the Internet before the Super Bowl and get a tremendous following …

TVWeek: But isn’t that the exception?

Schwartz: But I think if you make an event out of a program, it might not be. Then people will want to watch. I think the other part of this is that the media planning community does a tremendous job in identifying the consumer — the behavioral aspects, the psychological aspects. And the media buying community does a great job finding the right environment, and they get the content fit.

And then what do we do? We send the same commercial to everybody. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it?

So the message needs to change as well. If there is more relevant creative, if the creative is of a certain level, I think that people won’t be upset as much with it. I also think that’s where you get to addressability. If it’s done right you can actually create environments where the message is really talking to a person with such relevancy that you can reduce the commercial load, which would make the TV show writers really happy. Give them an extra two minutes in a 30-minute program and they are ecstatic.

So if the ads are more relevant to the consumer, it’s less intrusive. And if it’s less intrusive the audience stays with it more. And there’s always a chance for the advertiser to be more efficient and effective, for the media company to make more revenue, and then they can produce quality programming.

I know we always talk about Netflix and HBO and the like, but we are also talking about a certain quality of programming. That’s the issue. It’s the quality of the programming. And it’s really hard to do with networks putting on so many hours in prime time every week.

TVWeek: So to get better commercials it sounds like you are saying we need media and creative to remarry on the agency level.

Schwartz: I don’t know if they need to marry, but they need to work closer together. It depends on the client and the approach. They need to communicate better.

Dec 12, 2017
3:27 pm

The Nine ‘Star Wars’ Movies — Including the New One — Ranked From Best to Worst
(USA Today)

With “The Last Jedi” due in theaters this week, fans of the “Star Wars” film franchise will have a chance to rank all nine chapters so far in the galactic saga. One critic who has already done it is Brian Truitt, who revealed his rankings of the nine movies today in USA Today.

Somewhat predictably, the original trilogy released from 1977-1983 generally ranks near the top while the much maligned prequel trilogy from 1999-2005 occupies the bottom positions on the list.

Truitt puts “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) at No. 1, followed by “Star Wars” (1977) at No. 2. “The Force Awakens” from 2015 cracks the top three at No. 3, followed by “Return of the Jedi” (1983) at No. 4 and the new one, “The Last Jedi,” at No. 5.

Rounding out the Top 9 are “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) at No. 6; “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” (2005) at No. 7; “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002) at No. 8; and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” (1999) at No. 9.

We encourage readers to click on the link above to USA Today to read Truitt’s reasons for his rankings.

Dec 12, 2017
2:51 pm

Football Analysts Suspended by ESPN, NFL Network Over Sexual Harassment Suit (CNN)

“The NFL Network and ESPN have suspended five former football players, including Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, due to allegations in a court filing Monday accusing them of repeated sexual harassment when they were at the NFL Network,” CNN reports. “Other ex-players named in the suit include Ike Taylor and Heath Evans, who along with Faulk were suspended by the NFL Network, as well as Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis, who now work for ESPN.”

“The NFL Network says it is investigating the allegations and that its three current employees have been suspended with pay,” the story reports. “ESPN says it is investigating these allegations, and that neither McNabb nor Davis will appear on air during the network’s probe.”

“Also named in the suit is Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who was fired by the NFL Network in 2015 after he was arrested in Phoenix for propositioning a prostitute after covering the Super Bowl,” the report adds.

CNN notes: “The suit was filed in California superior court in Los Angeles by Jami Cantor, a former wardrobe stylist at the NFL Network.”

Laura Horton, Cantor’s attorney, commented: “My client is a courageous woman to come forward with these claims. I’m proud of her and I am committed to continuing the important national conversation on sexual harassment. Shining a spotlight on these claims is another step forward in achieving a respectful workplace for women.”

Also named in the suit is Eric Weinberger, a former executive producer at NFL Network who is now president of Vox Media’s sports and popular culture site The Ringer. Weinberger has reportedly been suspended by the website.

Dec 12, 2017
2:44 pm

‘Today’ Show Ratings Continue Upward Swing in Wake of Matt Lauer’s Departure (Variety)

Viewers appear to be embracing the post-Matt Lauer version of NBC’s “Today” show. According to a report by Variety, ratings have been surging since Lauer got the boot.

“For the second consecutive week, the first two hours of the NBC morning program surged ahead of the show’s main rival, ‘Good Morning America’ — not only capturing its usual lead among people between 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers —  but among overall audiences as well,” Variety reports. “It’s the first time the venerable A.M show has done so since late 2016, when it beat ‘GMA’ among total viewers for the weeks of December 12, 2016, and December 19, 2016.”

For the week ended Dec. 8, “Today” averaged nearly 1.64 million viewers in the 25-54 demo, Variety reports, with almost 4.58 million overall viewers. The report cites Nielsen data. “GMA” averaged almost 1.38 million viewers 25-54 in the time period with almost 4.38 million overall viewers, and “CBS This Morning” averaged 916,000 viewers 25-54 with about 3.57 million total viewers, Variety notes.

Dec 12, 2017
1:41 pm

Mall Operator Sold for $15.7 Billion (Forbes)

In a deal that brings together two of the largest mall companies on the planet, the Australian company Westfield agreed to be purchased by European property company Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7 billion, Westfield said today.

“The deal brings together two of the planet’s biggest mall companies at a time when online shopping has put significant pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers,” Forbes reports. “Westfield owns 35 shopping centers in the United States and United Kingdom, including locations at the World Trade Center in New York City and Century City in Los Angeles. It has focused on wealthier enclaves, where flagship stores feature high-end stores and upscale amenities like restaurants, valet parking and gyms.”

Property that will be owned by the combined company, with locations in 27 cities around the world, is valued at about $72.2 billion, Forbes notes.

In a statement, Christophe Cuvillier, CEO of Unibail-Rodamco, said: “The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation. It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States.”

Dec 12, 2017
10:21 am

Popular TV Host Reveals He Has Cancer
(TVWeek, Twitter)

The host of a popular cable series revealed that he has been undergoing treatment for cancer. Jack Maxwell, host of the Travel Channel series “Booze Traveler,” made the announcement today on Twitter.

“I have cancer. 3 little words, one big sentence,” Maxwell tweeted. He noted that he is undergoing treatment in Arizona for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

You can see his tweet below.

Maxwell, a Boston native, travels the world on “Booze Traveler” to sample the alcohol-related customs of various cultures while also examining the culture in a broader context. The show premiered in 2014 and has aired three seasons.

Dec 12, 2017
10:19 am

Larry King Threatens to Sue Over Groping Allegations (People, Daily Mail)

TV icon Larry King “flatly and unequivocally denies” allegations that he groped the former wife of the late singer Eddie Fisher, People magazine reports, quoting a statement released Monday by King.

King is threatening to sue over the allegations from Terry Richard, which surfaced Monday on the website of the British tabloid The Daily Mail. Richard was married to Fisher in the mid-1970s.

“Richard says the groping incidents took place in 2005 and again in 2006, both at a baseball awards dinner at Universal Studios, in Los Angeles,” The Daily Mail reports. “The 63-year-old Richard said in the first incident, while posing together for a photo, King slid his hand down her backless dress and rested his fingers in between her butt cheeks.”

According to Richard, in the second incident, which again took place during a photo shoot, King, who is now 84, “squeezed her butt so hard that it left a large bruise,” The Daily Mail reports.

The publication quotes Richard saying: “Larry King is a groper. He groped me twice. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn’t do anything.”

People quotes a statement from King in which he says he “flatly and unequivocally denies these claims” and “intends to file suit and prove that they’re utterly false.”

Dec 12, 2017
7:44 am

The Poster for This Movie Became One of the Most Famous Posters Ever — Bruce Brown, Who Made ‘The Endless Summer,’ Dies at 80 (LA Times, TVWeek)

“Bruce Brown, a pioneering filmmaker who helped introduce America to surfing with a story of two friends chasing after the perfect wave in ‘The Endless Summer,’ has died,” The Los Angeles Times reports. “Brown, who long ago had retreated to a ranch near Santa Barbara to spend his days surfing, riding motorcycles and racing sprint cars, was 80. His death was reported on his company website, Bruce Brown Films.”

Brown reportedly died Sunday.

Following a limited release in 1964, “The Endless Summer” was released worldwide in 1966 and helped transform surfing into a cultural phenomenon.

“The premise of the film was simple, yet compelling: two surfers staying in the sunshine of summer by following the seasons around the world,” The Times reports. “The film was narrated by Brown and starred Mike Hynson and Robert August, two surfers and board shapers.”

Thirty years after making “The Endless Summer,” Brown and his son, filmmaker Dana Brown, made a sequel, “The Endless Summer II,” released in 1994.

Bruce Brown also directed the 1971 motorcycle racing movie “On Any Sunday,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Dec 12, 2017
7:41 am

‘Big Little Lies’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Made This Critic’s List of the Best TV Shows of 2017 — Here’s What Else Made the Top 10 (AP, Netflix)

In the age of so-called “Peak TV,” the year 2017 — with a total of some 500 shows on the air — produced another crop of terrific programs, according to critic Frazier Moore, who rounded up his top 10 in a report for the AP.

Moore’s list includes, in alphabetical order, the Starz series “American Gods,” FX’s “The Americans,” HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” the CW series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” HBO’s “The Deuce,” FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan,” Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Comedy Central show “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” Netflix’s “Ozark” and Ken Burns’ PBS docuseries “The Vietnam War.”

We encourage readers to click on the link above to the AP story for details on why each of the shows was singled out.

Dec 12, 2017
7:01 am

Showtime Sets ‘Homeland’ Season Premiere, Releases New Trailer (TVWeek)

Showtime announced plans today for the upcoming seventh season of “Homeland,” which will return Sunday, Feb. 11.

Stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin will be back, along with series regulars including Elizabeth Marvel, Linus Roache, Maury Sterling and Jake Weber. Joining the cast for this season is Morgan Spector.

Showtime also released the official season seven trailer today, which you can see, along with additional details about the show, by clicking here.

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