Bridging the Digital Disconnect

Apr 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

As convergent deals and online ad inventory become more of a norm for the cable upfront, one problem remains: streamlining the digital conversation.
This recently became apparent to Amy Baker, senior VP for ad sales at History, when she met with the brand, agency and production teams for a multiplatform branded-entertainment deal.
Ms. Baker arrived at the meeting to find 25 people at the table, including the chief marketing officer, the brand manager, the media manager, the digital team, the branded-entertainment group and the media buyers and planners.
There were so many different influencers, Ms. Baker said, “You don’t really necessarily know who the decision maker is.”
Her confusion likely is shared by the rest of the industry as the cable market seeks to conduct anywhere from 50% to 70% of its total business based on multiplatform deals.
Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative responded to this disconnect by creating a sales branch called Amphibian, a moniker alluding to deals that can live in multiple environments.
“There are silos on the sales side and just as many, quite frankly, on the client side,” said Drew Corry, manager of the new unit and a former TV buyer for Initiative. “This is an effort to break that as much as we possibly can, so we can in-house control communications so nothing’s lost and follow it from its germination to all these other TV platforms.”
“Conceptually, [converged deals] are extremely powerful; they’re what clients want,” said Ms. Baker. “But it’s challenging on the agency side to get all the departments lined up to be able to truly execute convergent packages.”
Even so, the agencies’ comfort level with bringing new media to the upfront table seems higher than it was even two years ago.
“We’re still going to see that linear TV is going to drive [upfront] deals,” said Chris Allen, VP-director of video innovation at Starcom. “But we’ll definitely see more clients come into the digital space that have been hesitant in the past. We’ve seen research to help make people comfortable to see there is value in putting money into more platforms outside of linear TV.”
As for online video taking a larger share of upfront dollars this year, well, don’t go making 10 more 15-second pre-rolls just yet.
“It’s still very small and takes a long time to deliver the reach traditional TV does,” Mr. Allen said. “I don’t think anybody is looking to online video as a way to replace TV reach.”
However, recent research shows online viewing can balance out audience demos across linear TV and Web video. “That’s a reach builder in and of itself,” he said.

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