Upfront Notebook: ABC Says TV Ads Still Work

Making connections is theme of network pitch

ABC opened its upfront presentation with an old-fashioned song and dance number, and then offered new data to show the enduring value of traditional TV.

Ben Sherwood, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, reminded media buyers that “TV works, and great TV works greatly.”

After weeks of NewFronts, Sherwood told buyers that “TV delivers more value than anything else by far. And no matter what someone says, nothing else even comes close. TV drives the greatest engagement on every single platform around the world.”

ABC’s mantra was connection. “It’s not just a buzzword. It’s actually a mission statement,” he said. “We will deliver even more innovative ways for you to connect with the consumers you serve.”

ABC’s head of ad sales offered proof for her boss’s claims.

Geri Wang pointed to a survey that analyzed ad spending by 20 big brands over three years and the sales that resulted.

“Here’s the headline. TV drives your businesses,” Wang said.

The study had three key insights, she said.

“TV is a key driver of digital ROI,” she said. “TV makes digital work harder. TV lifts digital by more than 20%."

The second insight was that TV delivers long-term impact. “The analysis shows that a dollar spent on TV in year one continues to develop benefits in years two and three, driving a total of 2.3X over all,” she said.

The third insight: “Not all digital video is the same. The most effective digital environment is premium long-form video,” she said. Long form’s ROI is 1.5 times that of short form. “Long form brings all of the advantages of traditional TV to the digital marketplace. The high engagement, viewability and quality that you want.”

Last year, CBS advertisers who took dollars away from TV to fund digital media gave up exposure to their target audiences and ultimately sacrificed potential sales.

And there was an analysis performed by research company MarketShare on behalf of Turner Broadcasting and Horizon Media. That looked at the marketing done by major advertisers from 2009 to 2014 and found that television advertising effectiveness has not changed and outperforms multiple digital and offline channels at generating sales or creating new accounts.

Premium digital video created by TV programmers also out-performed short-form video from non-premium publishers, that study found.

In 2014, CBS reported a study looking at advertising’s long-term effects that found Kellogg’s Special K cereal showed a long-term advertising value multiplier of 2.5. An unspecified soft drink brand registered a 3.5 multiplier, another checked in at 2.6.

Some media buyers planning to spend billions with the networks said they didn’t need to be convinced of the medium effectiveness.

“We already know TV still works,” said Andy Donchin, chief investment officer, Dentsu Aegis Network.