Kelly Enright, regional VP of advertising services for Bresnan Communications, has worked in the cable advertising arena for 11 years. He started my career with Comcast in Panama City, Fla., as an account executive in 1997 and was promoted to sales manager in Dothan, Ala., a year later. In 1999, he moved to Georgia to manage Comcast’s Northwest Georgia ad sales division. In 2001, that division became part of CAMA, the Atlanta Interconnect. He joined Bresnan in 2004 heading the advertising services division. At 38, he is one of the youngest heads of advertising in the cable industry today. Enright talked with Local Ad Sales about the state of Bresnan’s local ad sales in Wyoming and Montana. An edited transcript follows:
Q: How has the economy affected your sales efforts?
A: On the national front without counting political dollars, the soft economy has had a big impact, especially in the auto and furnishings category. Auto dealers and manufacturers are switching more and more dollars to the Internet and while we are selling web ads, it’s still a new business for us. The weak real estate market has negatively affected furnishings because the people are more likely to buy furniture are those who are buying new homes.
Q: Which sectors are the most vulnerable?
A: Obviously auto and furnishings are vulnerable right now. But everyone is pulling back in some form or another right now. All media is struggling in a battle for ad dollars. We are trying to make sure we are not the ones that get cut and it does provide an opportunity to lure advertisers that may have looked past cable in the past.
Q: Are you mining new sectors?
A: We’re not mining sectors per se. But we are telling our local sales teams to go into the field and do a full sweep of businesses in their territories. We’re telling them not to disqualify a possible client just because they haven’t bought ads before. Sometimes AEs will get complacent on who they will call on. But today’s economy is forcing everyone to put more potential clients through the funnel. And we have to develop campaigns that fit our smaller clients needs, too, so they can take up the slack from the larger clients may be having to pull back right now.
Q: Are you selling VOD or addressable ads?
A: Yes. We’re selling the triple play to clients, meaning we well TV, online and on demand. The challenge has been to educate the AEs about the possibilities that the triple play presents to advertisers. Now that we have that down, they are going out and selling those products. We have spent much of 2008 educating our sales teams about what the triple play means. People understand what an online ad is, but we have been spending a lot of time explaining on demand. It’s a concept that is new to so many people, both as consumers and advertisers. The on demand business is growing. It’s not where we want it to be just yet, but we have high hopes.
Q: How are you pitching on demand ads?
A: We have priced the product very aggressively and it is growing. We have branded our on demand opportunities “The Spot.” We have focused a lot on real estate (Home Spot) and jobs (Job Spot) so far, but we’re are adding categories all the time. Some of our on demand advertising channels are falling into the top 10 for viewers. That’s a great story to tell our advertisers. The more content clients create; the more views we get, too.
Q: What are the biggest opportunities going forward?
A: Mining our traditional business will certainly bring new clients and we believe the triple play will have a big impact going forward. Political ads have been alright for us. We usually don’t forecast political spending but this year we did. We’re holding our own on the local political front so far. We’re expecting more this fall as state congressional, Senate and gubernatorial races heat up.
This year the Olympics are doing very well for us. We’ve worked very closely with NBC and we’re very positive about how things are going. The Olympics is such an iconic brand to touch people with. We’re lucky to have it this year especially. The NBA playoffs on TBS and TNT were huge for us as well in Montana. They didn’t do much for us in Wyoming this year for some reason, but they were very strong in Montana.