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How to Get the Most out of Your TV Buy - Advice from Three Top Network Execs

Mary Grace Scully
Mary Grace Scully
Published: Feb. 18, 2020

Since Simulmedia Live’s debut this summer, we’ve featured guests from nearly every perspective in the modern day media and advertising ecosystem. Three of these guests share a similar POV on the growing performance value of national television inventory given their backgrounds as senior executives from three top networks: Crown Media Family Networks, Discovery and A+E Networks.

As more advertisers demand TV to act as a performance channel, these three leading networks have differentiated themselves by owning their own original content and defining their inventory value in terms of the business metrics they can produce. In order to entice advertisers today amidst audience fragmentation and streaming competition, linear inventory needs to do more than just offer impressions. It needs to drive business outcomes. Here’s how each network has uniquely mastered the medium:

1. Treat the environment outside content as content.

Bill Abbott, former President and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of Hallmark Channel, discussed the critical decisions he’s made in his 30 years of cable leadership experience that led Hallmark to what it is today: the king of original content. Bill swears by the belief that the entire program hour should entertain the viewer. This requires work on the network's and advertiser’s ends to provide relative, on-brand creative using in-depth audience insights. The result is the wholesome Hallmark family viewing experience that viewers and advertisers flock to during the holiday season, then stay tuned-in year-round. To learn more about How Crown Media Wins With Viewers, Advertisers And The Christmas Season, check out the full discussion.

2. Know Thy Audience.

Jon Steinlauf, Discovery’s Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer, has finessed the power of live audiences to make Discovery the top cable network group in terms of revenue. That's in part a function of the network's success attracting viewers in droves to its original content. Discovery does this by honing in on audiences entertained by specific genres and producing enough new content that it keeps these viewers tuning in each night regardless of which show airs. The result: reliable viewership and pleased advertisers. To learn more about Jon’s strategies and How Discovery Inc. Fuels Revenue Growth, check out the full conversation.

3. Measure Impressions, Attribute Impact.

Ethan Heftman, Senior Vice President of Precision & Performance Advertising Sales for A+E Networks, says CPMs are being deprecated by web conversion and foot traffic metrics as more advertisers demand business outcomes from their campaigns. Ethan says performance advertisers come to A+E because they know its inventory drives top-of-funnel attribution, something most legacy advertisers leave out of the equation when locking in a base level of impressions at the upfronts. “What objections do you have to making a percentage of your buy more efficient?” CPMs aren’t going anywhere, but he encourages marketers to consider carving out some of their budget to be held accountable for attribution. No need to be skeptical, A+E guarantees it. To learn more about how Ethan is Accelerating TV’s Evolution Toward Performance with A+E, check out the full discussion.

These three networks are setting the stage for linear TV to continue to flourish this decade by holding their inventory accountable for more than just driving impressions. National TV has the potential to become a vehicle for tangible business outcomes and a channel for customer acquisition. As more networks like these three work hard to keep viewers entertained and coming back for more, the better the results will be for advertisers and networks alike.