ABC Says 'Our Spots Sell Better Than Yours'

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Geri Wang, president of ad sales at ABC, told media buyers that its new research shows that her network’s shows attract more of marketers’ best customers.

While much of upfront week is about programming, media buyers and their clients are also eager for reassurance that the millions they’re spending on commercials will increase their own sales.

And at a time when “big data” is gaining currency in business, Wang says the new figures “prove that the premium demographics of the ABC audience truly translate into purchasing power.” She also contrasted shows on rival networks with ABC shows, saying that the data indicates ABC’s shows are more effective in reaching big retail spenders.

ABC has been working with Nielsen on a pilot program for Nielsen Buyer Insights. Nielsen Buyer Insights compares viewing data from Nielsen’s national people meters with consumer purchase data. The idea is to track the purchase behavior of viewers in the restaurant, travel, department store, wires and movie categories. ABC and Nielsen looked for the top 30% of consumers, who they say are responsible for 80% of sales.

Wang compared some top ABC programs to shows on rival networks with similar ratings. The ABC shows have higher ratings among the top retail spenders. Modern Family had a 12.8 rating with those big consumers compared to a 7.75 for CBS’ Two and a Half Men. ABC’s Castle did a 4.93 with top retail consumers vs. a 2.65 for NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. ABC’s Revenge registered a 5.3, a big improvement over a 3.2 for Fox’s Bones.

ABC delivers your top consumers,” said Wang, asserting that media investments are multiplied by ABC content. “Here’s why: we have the shows that matter.”

The new Nielsen data comes at the same time as giant automaker General Motors is reported to be cutting its $10 million in spending with Facebook because paid Facebook ads appeared to have “little impact on consumers’ car purchasers.”

“Marketers start and stop working with media owners all the time.  But they don’t normally talk to the press about it unless they have a good reason to do so, not least because they may wish to work with (and extract favorable terms from) those media owners again in the future,” noted analyst Brian Wieser from Pivotal Research Group. “While we can’t prove GM’s goal in discussing its walk-away from Facebook, we must consider the news in the context of GM’s cancellation of network TV buys earlier this year.  Put together, we think it’s highly probable that GM is attempting to assert its ‘credible ability to walk away’ to all media owners.”

At its upfront Wang also said ABC was prepared to sell both its TV and digital commercial inventory together.