SNTA Pitches Ad Format as Clutter Cutter

May 1, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Mitch Burg, president of the Syndicated Network Television Association, is pitching syndicated television as the clutter buster heading into upfronts.

Commercial breaks in syndication have higher recall scores than do traditional pods of spots, which should lead to a stronger return on investment.

The issue of clutter has come up this year at both the American Association of Advertising Agencies Media Conference and the Association of National Advertisers Television Summit. Syndication’s ability to cut through clutter is part of the presentation the SNTA has been making to advertisers and ad agencies this year. This year the organization opted not to hold a syndication day as it has in the past, figuring that one-on-one meetings were more effective.

Mr. Burg cites research that finds commercials in the first two positions of syndication’s shorter breaks generate a 34 percent higher recall compared with commercials in traditional pods of four to six commercials. And compared with cable TV pods, which contain seven commercials or more, the shorter pods score twice the recall.

“Because of the way syndicated shows are formatted, 80 percent of national spots in strip shows run in the first two positions of a pod,” Mr. Burg said.

“If you’re in a high clutter category, automotive or a restaurant, it’s probably the only place in television where you can run your commercial and not have a competitor right behind you,” he said. “For every dollar you invest, if you’re getting 30 percent higher recall for your commercials, why wouldn’t you invest your dollars in syndication?”

Syndication ad revenues in 2005 were up 7.4 percent from 2004 to $4.2 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

“Some of [the increase] obviously comes from network,” Mr. Burg said.

It’s too early this year for ad buyers to tip their hands about spending plans in general, let alone whether money will shift toward any daypart, including syndication.

“I’m still trying to figure out what the money is, but I think middle- to high-rated stuff on syndication is still very attractive to us,” said Andy Donchin, director of national broadcast for Carat. “It’s something that’s going to be around and we know it’s going to be around and it can do network prime-time-type ratings, if not better.”

More Live Viewing

Mr. Donchin said that syndication’s pod position stance was valuable, as were claims that its shows are recorded on digital video recorders less often than broadcast shows.

Mr. Burg said that, according to Nielsen Media Research’s TiVo panel, about 80 percent of syndication television is viewed live.

In those TiVo homes, less than half of the viewing of network prime-time shows was live.

One of the upcoming battles in the upfront will be between networks that want to use Nielsen’s live-plus-seven-days of DVR viewing as the standard for ad buying and buyers that want their buys based on only live ratings.

Mr. Burg said individual syndicators will set their own policies, “but as advertisers and their agencies are looking at the impact of this viewership, the impact will be the least when you look at syndicated programming.”