Ahead of the TV Upfronts, Azteca America gave a sneak preview of “La Hora Ganadora,” an hour of family-oriented programming that will rotate shows in short seasons of a few weeks.
Says Manuel Abud, president and CEO of Azteca America , “For advertisers, it means I am committing to a genre that will bring a similar type of viewership.”
“La Hora Ganadora” offerings include dance competition “Baila si Puedes” and game show “El Rival Ms Dbil.” Each show will run for around eight weeks. Abud says of the new approach, “It’s getting more difficult to get an audience engaged for a longer period of time, so we don’t ask for such a big commitment as in the past.”
His statement is central to the conundrum of the Upfronts, as networks try to get advertisers and agencies excited enough about shows to put big bucks upfront as viewing habits and media consumption change.
TV: Still Relevant
Make no mistake, though. TV as we know it is not going away, and neither are the Upfronts. Certainly, TV consumption overall is changing, with people especially younger people watching less broadcast and more over-the-top and direct-to-digital video. Nevertheless, media buyers say television is important for reach.
“We are dealing with a consumer that over-consumes media, so we are still able to find them through linear TV as well as online video,” says Karina Dobarro, vice president and managing director of multicultural brand strategy for Horizon Media.
Media buyers agree that television remains the fastest and best way to generate reach, even as it evolves. It’s important even when reaching Hispanic millennials, according to Isabella Sanchez, vice president of media integration for Zubi Advertising and so is Spanish-language programming. “People think millennial equals English, and that’s not necessarily the case. Millennials just happen to be younger. If you look at Univision’s numbers on any given day, they have a huge foothold on the 18-to-34-year-old populations,” she says.
A case in point is the gigante gap in Sunday-night television that will be left with the demise of the elderly and beloved Sabado Gigante. Univision may reveal a replacement during its upfront. Says Sanchez, “It looks like a dated program, but millions of people watch it. I have no doubt Univision will come up with something tremendous as a replacement.”
Meanwhile, says Dobarro, the end of the show “represents an opportunity to continue to attract their current TV audience while trying to grow that younger audience.”
Broadcasters Expand Digital
Of course, digital placements on network dotcoms have been available for years. As TV consumption continues to move fluidly across screens, media buyers are interested in seeing how networks will showcase and handle digital.
At last years Upfront, Azteca America announced a partnership with YouToo Technologies, a “social TV platform.” This year, Azteca and YouToo will offer online and mobile trivia games for new programming including La Hora Ganadora and Viernes Futbolero.
Abud says, “Digital will be a bigger part of the upfronts in general. As the technology keeps moving, we will.” Because consumers have become device-agnostic when viewing TV, he says, “My focus is on developing content-centric franchises.”
Eric Bader, CMO of RadiumOne, a provider of programmatic advertising solutions, points out that television and digital aren’t so much at odds with each other when it comes to marketing goals. He says, “Television is essentially designed to meet brand and exposure metrics at the top of the funnel. Digital has effectively grown to service the bottom of the funnel and more direct marketing expectations.” Instead of buyers trying to decide which content is superior, or how much budget should go to TV versus digital, he advises, “The first thing that has to happen is that the advertiser has a full picture of both the brand goals and the direct engagement goals. It has to start with the measurement goals being defined, and then going into the market and seeing where you will find the audience that meets these goals.”
Says James Zayti, group director of Hyundai Media at Innocean USA , “We have to think about all the touchpoints where someone buying a car would be viewing content. For younger consumers, that would be more digital touchpoints,but we definitely need a marriage of both.”
Horizon Media’s Dobarro has seen a shift in how Spanish-language networks position their digital offerings. While they used to compare their online video to established, digital-native content companies like Yahoo, now they are going up against other broadcaster dotcoms. “It’s more of an even playing field for them,” she says. “They have realized they are not going to be able to gain the audience and reach of Google, for example.”
Still, much more needs to be done, according to Sue De Lopez, group account director for Bromley. The new marketing model, she says, is “dynamic, always-on and iterative. There is a tremendous void in multi-platform and multicultural content right now.”
She is seeing advertiser budgets shift from television to digital and to multiscreen. In fact, Bromley has shifted its own rhetoric, now talking about “video” instead of TV/digital; and it now sees its teams as working in content instead of advertising.
Meanwhile, De Lopez says, “Broadcasters are offering digital, but the units they offer are basic, the same old units: banners, static, B-roll videos. It’s all very cookie cutter. Brands and agencies are looking beyond the expected digital offerings. We want to know how we can tap into culturally relevant digital content that is customizable, so brands can fit in in a very organic way.”
The question of rates
In earlier days, broadcasters may have thrown in some digital advertising on their dotcoms as a value-add. With today’s shift to digital, that would be crazy.
Says Bader of RadiumOne, “Now they are bundling it in a different financial package, because there is more viewership on those platforms.”
Abud says that Azteca will be flexible but not give freebies. “There are some clients that want to deal with digital separately, some want to see it as a combined effort,” he says. So, some advertiser budget that formerly went to Azteca broadcast may now be split. He adds, “Digital is still a complement for broadcast. Someday it will have a life of its own, but I’m not there yet.”
Zubi’s Sanchez acknowledges, “Everyone always wants to increase their rates; it’s the game we’ve all been playing for years. They ask for a lot and then buyers fight them on it.” She thinks that more cross-platform opportunities can help networks increase revenue without raising television rates. She notes, “Univision typically has led the pack in setting CPM increases. They have one strong property next year – soccer – and will probably try to bring in a lot of revenue for that. But all predictions say it will be a soft upfront when talking about base programming.”
Greater accountability from networks
Measurement continues to be a concern of TV buyers. Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia , says, “There is no question we will see a greater use of data. There is a lot of rhetoric with buyside and sellside positioning, both saying they are bringing their best data to the table.” Simulmedia uses data to aggregate audiences for agencies and advertisers, mostly in the scatter market. “Brands and marketers themselves are clear that they want true ROI, but that isn’t how most TV media has historically been bought.”
Joseph Abruzzo, chief exploration officer for Havas Media, concurs. “One thing that’s changing is networks are very interested in protecting their revenue base. They will be selling greater accountability [by] starting to offer data-infused targeting options,” he says.
For example, Azteca is working with Furious Corp, the Nielsen-funded startup that works with television programmers to use real-time data from smart TVs and other connected devices to plan and optimize revenue across platforms. Meanwhile, Turner Broadcasting System, CBS and NBCUniversal have announced initiatives to add performance-based metrics to TV buying.
Abruzzo says that merging third-party data sets gives broadcasters the ability to create richer profiles of those who are actually watching a program, so an advertiser could target, for example, people who are most likely to buy a Lexus. “These are still linear buys,” he says, “but you are buying a program that has an audience composition mostly made up of [your target audience].”
Better targeting is especially important to buyers on multicultural desks, according to Greg Knipp, CEO of Dieste. “In our space in past, it’s been Univision and Telemundo, and then you fill in around those two. As we get more sophisticated in segmenting our audience, and the more targeting we can get in traditional media, the better off we’ll be.”
Knipp expects even greater shifts in the media landscape in years to come. He notes that a lot of the most talked-about content among young Hispanics and bi-culturals is stuff you can’t buy: programs like “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the New Black.” Acknowledging that broadcasters must be more conservative than OTT providers, the question he sees is, “How will we reach this audience that is watching things that don’t have advertising?” The answer, in his opinion, is using data from set-top boxes and smart TVs, combined with third-party data, to get better addressability.
Morgan of Simulmedia thinks it’s possible that measurement could actually show that some TV spots are undervalued. His question for agencies is, “Now that you have sellers willing to sell on ROI, are buyers willing to buy on ROI?”
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