Execs Offer Tips to Offset Media Mayhem

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Boston-Panelists at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing's CTAM Summit here last week plugged interactive and personalized advertising as solutions to "media mayhem."

Kraft Foods Inc. believes in targeted marketing, said executive vice president Paula Sneed, who is also president of its electronic-commerce division. "Mass-marketing isn't enough [today]," she added.

The packaged-goods giant's "quest for next-generation marketing" began three years ago with its interactive/addressable advertising agreement with Tele-Communications Inc. (now AT & T Broadband), Sneed said. "We recently renewed our relationship" with the MSO, she added.

"We're looking forward to the day" when Kraft can address different commercials to different television sets and viewers within each household, she noted. But she did not discuss how close Kraft and AT & T Broadband have moved toward that addressable-advertising goal.

At the recent Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau Local Cable Sales Management Conference, AT & T Broadband executives said tests involving Kraft and other advertising partners are planned, reaching six markets by year's end.

Sneed pointed out that Kraft will have 73 brands that generate $100 million-plus per year in retail sales, factoring in its recently announced acquisition of Nabisco Inc.

Comparing media plans with multicolored tiles on a bathroom floor, Carat North America CEO David Verklin said, "Media plans more and more must be a mosaic.of lots of different elements."

Reiterating a forecast he made at other media conferences earlier this year, Verklin also declared, "The 30-second TV commercial as we know it today is an endangered species." Sneed concurred, saying that Kraft is looking into 10-second spots, among other formats.

Verklin predicted that the average cost of buying a TV spot would drop from today's $300,000 per 30-second unit to $30,000 at some unspecified point in the future, so accounts could create 30 such spots per month. But he did not explain how that cost reduction might come about.

Robert Friedman, co-chairman of worldwide theatrical marketing and president of Time Warner Inc.'s New Line Television operation, cited the importance of vertical integration and said, "It's very difficult" for media companies to promote movies and programming without that in today's marketplace.

Verklin urged cable-network and MSO marketing people in the CTAM audience not to rely on internal promotion. "You've got to go beyond your own air," he warned, although he acknowledged that this is "anathema to some people in this room."

He also stressed that it is important to manage on-air promo inventory as well as they do for commercial time that's up for sale.

"We have to totally forget all of the rules [and] not be afraid to take some chances," Friedman said.

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