Profile: McCauley brings local expertise to cable ad world

Jun 17, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Bob McCauley, recently named president of Adlink, is a 16-year veteran of the TV ad business. He is one of the few general sales managers in the country to have run the sales operations for two major market stations at once. He comes to Adlink from his position as VP and general sales manager at both KCOP-TV and KTTV-TV in Los Angeles. Recently, Electronic Media asked Mr. McCauley to talk about where he thinks the local ad business is headed in these turbulent times.
EM: What are the major challenges facing local cable ad sales right now?
Mr. McCauley: Getting the message out that cable has nearly 50 percent of the television viewing audience and, therefore, deserves a fair share of advertising budgets. A spot cable buy should be given stronger consideration and should not be the `afterthought’ that spot cable buy often is now.
EM: We saw some increases in this spring’s cable upfront, but has the local market stabilized? How does business compare with two years ago?
Mr. McCauley: There is still hesitation in the market-and the country as a whole-due to the recession and 9/11. The market is still somewhat volatile. However, I think the whole industry is feeling optimistic about the second half of this year and is looking for growth as the Los Angeles market and the country advance in economic recovery. Everyone is in somewhat of a holding pattern, waiting to see what the other guy is going to do, so business is coming in later than in past years.
Additionally, dot-com dollars have completely shriveled up. Taking their place we see health and government services and, although controversial, alcoholic beverages as emerging categories.
EM: How have all the mergers and acquisitions impacted local sales? How are they changing the way local cable does business?
Mr. McCauley: Companies like Disney, as an example, get dollars on a national level that are spread across entities (ESPN, ABC, ABC Family, etc.). What’s left in the budget is then applied toward spot market buys, which affect us directly. Of course, the targetability and localization spot buys offer is a benefit that should play into the equation.
EM: What’s the impact on local cable sales of more time being sold closer to the time of broadcast?
Mr. McCauley: We cannot plan as we once could and do not have as much lead time to work with clients on developing their packages. We need to be ready to meet all their needs, whatever they may be. Business is breaking fast and furious, and last-minute decisions are forcing our sales team to stay on top of our clients and their changing needs more than ever. More than anything we need to keep spot cable top of mind with clients, so they think of us first when decisions are being made.
EM: Talk about the shortcomings of measurement systems, in particular the diary vs. the people meter.
Mr. McCauley: There is no way for someone to fill out a diary accurately in our multichannel and multiset world. If you have 100 channels in your household … and four people … and five television sets … and everyone is watching TV in a different room and surfing around with their remote control, then how on earth can the diary be filled out accurately? Most people will make a guess, make something up or just leave it blank.
Zero cell is a major shortcoming to diaries that affects cable. It only occurs in a meter/diary market where household info is collected by the meter and demographic info is collected by the diary and then the two are married together. When the household meter shows that there is tuning to a particular network-Discovery, let’s say-but the corresponding diary info is blank, then that’s zero cell. What it does is greatly diminish demographic delivery for cable. Since most media buyers based their plans on demos, it really hurts our ability to remain competitive.
From the perspective of the cable industry, there really aren’t any shortcomings from the local people meter. The shortcomings are all with the diary. However, you are correct in stating that it is unfortunate that there are no local people meters in place yet in any market other than Boston. By the way, the Boston test is complete, and people meters are now used there as the only form of ratings measurement.
The only other drawbacks to local people meters is that they will be more expensive and there is still enormous resistance to them on the part of local broadcasters.
EM: Nationally, cross-platform deals are getting a lot of attention. Has that filtered down to the local level?
Mr. McCauley: At Adlink we are leading this industry effort at the local level by being one of the first to work with several network partners to put together cross-platform marketing programs. By tapping into the additional resources that networks can offer, we are able to extend the exposure and impact of a local package.