Cable Show 2011: Advertising Dollars Flowing to Cable


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Chicago -- Madison Avenue is bullish on cable.
Top media agency execs speaking at Cable Show 2011 Wednesday morning noted that cable TV and digital video are among the winners in a changing media environment.
In an upfront market he described as aggressive and quick, Bill Tucker, CEO of MediaVest said money was moving to cable and digital from other forms of advertising.
"For the first time, the cable upfront take will be greater than the broadcast upfront," added Bill Koenigsberg, CEO of Horizon Media. "We're also seeing a major push into online video. Social [media] as well."
Tim Spengler, president of Initiative North America, said that demand for national cable advertising in the upfront was up 7% to 8%. Demand for broadcast was up, but not by as much. As a result, "you're seeing some increase in pricing."
But the increased spending in the upfront -- where advertisers reserve ad time for the 2011-12 television season -- doesn't mean marketers feel bullish about the state of the economy.
"The jury's still out on whether or not the money is going to continue to flow in," said Koenigsberg. He said some of the upfront's strengths was because advertisers feared higher prices in the scatter market, where spots are bought closer to when the air.
With disappointing job growth and still-high unemployment, "I don't think we're ready to throw any parades that we're out of the woods," Koenigsberg added.
But Spengler said that he ‘d seen now signs of a pullback yet, noting that advertisers increased their spending in the fourth quarter, when they don't have an option to cancel their reservation.
Ad media has become increasingly digital and multiplatform, some aspects of consumer behavior have become harder to measure, but there is more data available overall.
"Measurement is not keeping up with the technology and it needs to because the consumer is in a three screen minimum world," Tucker said. "Getting collective and comparative measurement across screens is the next frontier in a converged era."
Spengler said that his agency and his clients were more interested in data that tells not just how many people viewed a piece of content, but rather whether or not they were engaging with it caused the consumer to take action.
"That's the data we're after," Spengler said. "If you can help us unlock that, the money will flow to cable. Prove that if a consumer was watching cable, he too an action: initiated a search, visited a showroom, went to a store."
At the same time, agencies are trying to figure out how to measure the influence of social media
Koenigsberg said that several trade groups are currently working on an initiative to create a common social currency to use for trading.
With social media and other digital forms of communication and community building, the business of trying to influence consumers has gotten more complex than ever. Some at this point are hard to predict and control.
"There are more opportunities than ever before to lose a customer, but there are more opportunities to engage with a customer, said Tucker. "The holy grail is to engage in the right way on all the platforms that are out there."