OnScreen Summit: Gotlieb: Transition to C7 Involves Many Issues

GroupM Worldwide Chairman Says Differing Client Needs Could Result in 'More Than One Currency'

New York -- Irwin Gotlieb, chairman of GroupM Worldwide, in a lively close to the fifth annual B&C/Multichannel News OnScreen Media Summit here on Dec. 6, discussed a wide range of advertising topics from the push toward C7 measurement, whether the 18-to-49 set should remain the demo of choice, the impact of the fiscal cliff on the market and the upfront.

Gotlieb addressed what could be a key shift in the currency of the market from one governed by C3 ratings to the longer viewing window afforded by C7.

Noting he wasn’t “here to negotiate,” Gotlieb instead framed some of the issues that would result in its adoption. Going back to implementation of C3, he said tradeoffs needed to happen, going from program ratings to an average commercial rating, which he said "we knew would grow over time."

A drive to C7 would add four extra days of DVR deliveries to the C3 currency that’s been in place since 2005 and became widely adopted with the start of the 2007-08 TV season. Nielsen defines C3 as live commercial viewing, plus three days of DVR playback.

Looking at C7, he said certain categories don’t have an acute need for the immediacy of messaging. Conversely, “for movies, retail, QSRs [quick serve restaurants] timing is of the essence. There is a huge difference between C3 and C7,” for those clients, according to Gotlieb.

He said there were more practical issues to be considered -- that there wasn't a major gain in viewership between C3 and C7. He said broadcast grew about 3% last year with the latter and will be closer to a 4% uptick this season. 

Gotlieb also noted that “TV” viewing is being underestimated because people are watching shows on alternative devices. “I would hypothesize in the next few years there will be more erosion in TV delivery to alternative mechanisms, starting with this guy,” as he picked up his tablet from the table in front of him and B&C business editor Jon Lafayette.

With C3 good for some clients and C7 for others, the implication, according to Gotlieb, is that “there will be more than one currency.” He reminded that the TV ad market at one point traded on households, before shifting to multiple demos. “We came down from diaries to people meters. Now, we incorporate multiple measurements. There are many issues.”

Gotlieb concluded his thoughts on the subject by saying he was certain that any transition “will be done with a degree of professionalism. I’m sure we will be able to deal with it.”

In responding to Lafayette’s query about whether adults 18-49 should remain Madison Avenue’s demo of choice, Gotlieb offered a lesson in behavioral math. He counted up by noting that the average 15-year-old boy looks to emulate an 18-year-old, who in turn looks to emulate a 24-year-old, who wants to emulate a 27-year-old, who aspires to be like a 35-year-old. Gotlieb believes that 35- and 45-year-olds are both comfortable “in their own skin, but a 60-year-old wants to emulate the 45-year-old. The epicenter is maybe 27 or 45, not 72. It’s a frame,” he said.

As to the fiscal cliff, Gotlieb said no one really knows what will happen per se, but that with their advertising forecasts for 2013, “everyone is taking their numbers down. I hope history proves that we haven’t been too conservative, but I don’t think we are.”

From a global perspective, he mentioned the U.S.’s national debt load and that “Western Europe’s was worse” and that both regions have aging populations. “All the growth is in the Far East and India. That’s a cyclical thing.” Gotlieb added “it will not be a robust economy next year.”

Asked if that will have an effect on the upfront for the 2013-14 season, he replied: “Sure, it will have an impact,” while articulating that such tenets as supply and demand and media allocation will naturally help shape the market. “It’s only December, it’s too early to talk about the upfront,” he quipped.

Lafayette concluded matters with a precept of his own: “It’s never too early to talk about the upfront.”