In cable advertising, technology isn’t just about new ways to get commercial messages in front of audiences. Sales organizations also are employing electronic gadgets and tools to help close deals, using technologies such as:
- TV that sells TV: Rutter Communications, an Indiana-based rep firm, give AEs access to a bank of portable DVD players they can take on the road to help convey the vitality and appeal of cable TV programming. President Richard Crist says showing a promotional video for ESPN’s upcoming NFL season or offering glimpses of Rutter-produced commercials helps to spark conversation and build interest. “We’ll take it out and convey the excitement of (ESPN’s) Monday night football more effectively in two minutes than we could with all the printed material in the world,” Crist says.
- Computers that travel: Portable PCs are “probably the greatest technology tool for ad sales that’s come along in a long time,” says Griffin Media Research president Benny Griffin, who provides software that displays research findings on computer screens in graphical formats. Laptop PCs let AEs produce and alter often-complicated ad schedules on the spot during meetings with advertisers, and AEs frequently use laptops to show clients digital renditions of freshly produced commercials for their approval. “All our AEs have them,” says OnMedia group VP of sales Steve Litwer.
- Software that keeps watch: Sales-tracking software is helping MSOs keep tabs on account executive performance. Insight Media senior VP Kevin Dowell says software from Salesnet gives him an at-a-glance view of AE performance. “I can go online right now and see how many sales calls were made in Illinois, and how many were closed,” says Dowell.
- Devices that demonstrate: Cablevision Systems Corp. senior VP, advanced platform sales Barry Frey, based at the company’s Long Island, N.Y., headquarters, uses a Slingbox to help advertisers see first-hand the way Cablevision’s interactive advertising options work. Introduced in 2005 by California upstart Sling Media Inc., the brick-sized device connects to a TV set and a home IP network, enabling users to watch and control their home TV channels over a remote laptop computer. By setting up a Slingbox-connected laptop in the office of a buyer, Frey can demonstrate on-demand advertising just as if he was wielding his own remote control at home. He says it helps prospective buyers get a sense of the interactive experience – an essential part of the selling process.