Ad Buyers, Sellers Eye Niches


Chicago -- Three cable programmers and two ad-agency
executives discussed the pros and cons of niche networks and cross-media ad sales during a
panel at the National Show here last week.

Comedy Central president Larry Divney moderated the panel.

Turner Network Television president Brad Siegel said
TNT's target has been "very broad," but it will now be narrowed down to
primarily 35- to 45-year-old upscale adults living with their families in
"A-County" suburbia.

Fox Family Networks president Rich Cronin said Fox Family
Channel's target is also "a really broad niche," since it aims at children
and their families. "It's not like some Aardvark Channel," he quipped.

The median age of MTV: Music Television's viewers has
stayed at 20, president Judy McGrath said.

In the past, the mass-oriented broadcast-television
networks were "easier to sell to the clients," but now, they're open to
adding some niche networks to the mix, said Betty Pat McCoy, vice president of national
broadcast at ad agency GSD&M, which counts MasterCard International among its

"Niche is fine," she said, while cautioning that
for most of her clients, a niche should not be too small.

But "it's not always just [about ratings]
numbers," Cronin said. Advertisers belonging to the Association of National
Advertisers began putting a greater emphasis on the pursuit of family-friendly programming
on TV and cable last year, he pointed out.

While more advertisers do look at the programming
environment in which their commercials will run, McCoy said, only some would be willing to
go so far as to pay a premium for that.

For most, it's more important to secure the best
position in a multispot commercial pod, she said, adding that this typically means the
first or last spot within such groupings.

Cronin also talked up the benefits of offering cross-media
or integrated ad-sales packages that, in Fox Family's case, encompass cable,
broadcast TV, Web, magazine and radio components.

Barry Schoenfeld, director of strategic planning at ad
agency asher & partners, agreed that some off-channel components of multimedia sales
packages can enable advertisers to reach consumers when they're not watching cable

Still, McCoy felt that some aspects of such bundling might
not be appealing for all of her clients.