20th’s Teicher Takes Aim At Digital Competition

Syndicator pitches advertisers a steady, safe haven
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While technology has made the advertising business a complicated mess, according to Michael Teicher, executive VP for ad sales of 20th Television, good old syndication hasn’t been affected by time-shifting, commercial skipping, mobile viewing and other forms of viewer behavior that drive media buyers to drink.

“In an era where the consumer has more control than ever to watch what they want and when they want, an advertiser can take incredible comfort by advertising with 20th because our stuff isn’t DVR’d. It’s all viewed live,” Teicher says.

With buyers seemingly infatuated by all things digital, syndication doesn’t seem sexy. And with it being about a year since the announced disbanding of SNTA, the industry trade group, someone’s got to sing its virtues.

Teicher says that in addition to having spots seen when they’re scheduled, advertisers benefit from syndication’s short national pods, which boost consumer recall of the ad messages.

The off-net sitcoms sold by 20th go one better with a standalone 60-second national spot that Teicher labels “the gold standard of media-buying opportunities” at a time when cable networks seem to be trying to squeeze more ads into their shows.

That’s not to say 20th is still selling the same way it did when Family Feud was new. Teicher says that 20th shows, including Steve Harvey’s version of Feud, and Wendy Williams, reach a heavy dose of multicultural millennials, including young African-Americans and young English-dominant Hispanics as part of a general market buy.

Advertisers can make a context play in a show such as Modern Family. “If they give us a brand brief, we will identify by going through our library for relevant scenes that have the right tone or attitude that the advertiser is trying to convey and marry that up,” he says. And first-run shows such as Wendy Williams do integrations that both advertisers and viewers like.

Also, 20th now subscribes to Nielsen Catalina data that matches viewing with purchase behavior. “Now we can dig a lot deeper under the hood to make our programs more relevant to the advertiser,” he says.

And if an advertiser is interested in social media, 20th has taken over from CBS the administration rights to How I Met Your Mother’s Facebook page and its 29 million fans. “We are now providing the content, so there are opportunities for advertisers to engage on the social level,” he says.

Teicher and others in the TV business are fighting a digital tide.

“Digital was supposed to bring the science of measurement and better metrics. Needless to say, all we read about is all the challenges associated with this from a viewability standpoint— I don’t know what you can sell in 2 seconds or 5 seconds—let alone the fact that now a heavy percentage of your ads are actually seen by bots, not even human beings,” he says.

Teicher concedes, however, that there’s a role for digital in a balanced media plan. “That’s more the one-to-one communication and transactional. It is not in my opinion for brand-building and creating broad awareness, which we still do best in television,’ he says.

“I guess at the end of the day, one of the things that we’re saying is, stop chasing the shiny new object,” Teicher says. “The shiny new object has actually been here forever, and it is 20th.”

PENNEY SAYS YES TO TLC’S PROM DRESS

Discovery Communications and J.C. Penney are trying on their Say Yes to the Prom Dress Initiative in a bigger size this year.

The effort, which helps needy girls celebrate success in high school by providing attire for the big evening, this year spreads to events in five cities beginning March 16 in New York, up from three a year ago and one in 2013.

Penney, long a big advertiser on TLC, this year is the official sponsor of Say Yes to the Prom and will provide hair care services and accessories at the events.Penney’s participation will be featured in video wraps that will air in primetime on March 27 within Bride by Design and Say Yes to the Dress.

Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta host Monte Durham will also be hosting the prom events and will be featured in the wraps. In addition, TLC is producing a video of highlights from the prom events that will appear on TLC.com and on Penney’s website. Penney will also be distributing the video via social media.

“There is a great feel-good nature to this,” says Josh Trager, VP ad sales for TLC. “J.C. Penney was over-the-top about this last year and came back. We hope it expands for 2016.”

Discovery will be holding Say Yes to the Prom Dress events in New York, Silver Spring, Md., Denver, Miami and Los Angeles. About 2,400 dresses have been donated.

An affiliate will be a partner in each city, with employees contributing dresses and participating in the event.

In New York City, the partner is Verizon FiOS; in Denver, it’s Charter Communications; in Miami, it’s AT&T Uverse; and in Silver Spring and Los Angeles, it’s DirecTV.

AT&T U-Verse Buzz Channel is also planning on producing a show around the event in Miami, where many of the girls involved are homeless.

In Denver, The Cable Center will host a prom for Abraham Lincoln High School, where 98% of the students are on free and reduced lunch programs.

First Lady Michelle Obama has recorded a video that will be played at each event in which she tells a story of her own prom dress.

New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, an advocate for the empowerment of young women, will attend the New York event.

Adria Alpert Romm, Discovery’s chief human resources & global diversity officer, recalls that the program began in 2012 as an event to connect with schools near the company’s headquarters in Silver Spring.

“The show Say Yes to the Dress at the time was fairly new and successful. What a great partnership with a brand-defining show,” she recalls. After the first event was a success, she says, the program expanded because, “we wanted to connect in other cities.”

 Last year, there were three events, one in Silver Spring, one in Des Moines and one in Chicago at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.

“It’s our employees giving back and this year we went further and connected with Teen Vogue,” she says. The magazine is owned by the Newhouse family, which owns a stake in Discovery and is acting as a media partner in the initiative.

“When those girls walk in and see the dresses, it’s tremendously rewarding,” Romm says. “Many of our employees have kept up with the girls they mentored. As a result the girls continue to have a professional woman as a mentor. And that’s been great from an employee relations perspective.”

While technology has made the advertising business a complicated mess, according to Michael Teicher, executive VP for ad sales of 20th Television, good old syndication hasn’t been affected by time-shifting, commercial skipping, mobile viewing and other forms of viewer behavior that drive media buyers to drink.

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