2007 Television Upfront Cliche’s: Engagement & Emerging Media

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There are several key buzz words (or cliché’s) surrounding the 2006-07 television upfront. Every year has a theme – last year was ROI (Return on Investment and Product Integration) – basically the cable and broadcast networks pull up a presentation slide with hokey data claiming that their content is most likely to drive customers to a sale. This year the two main strategies and/or clichés will be: “Engagementâ€? and “New Media.â€? Here’s what I think about that:

Television “engagementâ€? is a load of crap for advertisers. It is true that one wants his or her expensive commercials to be well positioned and not overlooked. Surely the viewers of Fox’s show 24 are truly engaged when they watch the program (among many other shows as well). As of now, pricing and negotiation during the upfront is based solely on average ratings per 15 minutes of the show. By this methodology, there is no reliable way to judge whether or not viewers are watching commercials (Nielsen does offer minute by minute ratings but networks would never use this information). With DVR Recording, Video iPod viewing and broadband video, fewer and fewer people will be engaged during the commercials. If you really want to preach engagement and not sound hypocritical, show us the minute-by-minute ratings during the commercial breaks and then we’ll talk.

“New Mediaâ€? has finally been given proper attention. Advertising Age deserves some credit here because they have been relentless with their cover stories about the death of the: 30 spot. The ANA conference most likely whipped some of the networks out of denial too. Major broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS have embraced iTunes as a means of distributing content and thus far, it has been extremely successful. Popular shows can be downloaded for $1.99 each. In one instance, NBC’s hit comedy “The Officeâ€? surprised the network with its popularity online (despite its somewhat weaker Nielsen ratings). It’s comforting to see that the content providers are finally on board and willing to offer multi-platform sponsorship opportunities via Internet portals, Video On Demand, Mobile Video, among others. The real question is: what will work?

Here are some examples of New Media offerings thus far:

As reported by Eric from Marketing.FM Discovery Communications announced its plan to be a forerunner of new media and sponsorship opportunities. That’s great but are you offering? One big push offered by Discovery is content ingeneration with Google Earth. I think that’s a great idea and I love both Google Earth and the Discovery Channel but I’ll be really bummed if there will be advertisements all over the map.

TBS/TNT will partner with AOL in its effort to offer digital branding. One will be able to send brief clips to his/or her friends of Seinfeld, Sex and the City, Friends, and possibly others free of charge. After the short: 30 clip, there will be a: 30 commercial. This is a nice idea and it could be a good complement or added value to any television investment. Perhaps it will catch on.

This television upfront, only one month away, will prove to be a very interesting and exciting time for media. There will be many great ideas offered and some will certainly catch on with viewers however, so much is up for grabs and that’s what will make it exciting. Stay tuned to Marketing.FM for complete coverage of the status of “New Mediaâ€? during the television upfront.

[tags] upfront, television upfront, TV upfront, new media, ROI, advertising, ANA, Google Earth, TBS, TNT, Discovery, Discovery Channel, Marketing.fm, advertisers, ratings, Nielsen ratings, Advertising Age, [/tags]

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