Ad Buyers Tell of Shift to New Media

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Advertisers are shifting as much as 20% of their media dollars away from traditional media—TV, magazines and newspapers—and moving them to emerging categories, such as the Internet or movie theater ads.

Looking to get more bang for their buck, the buyers said their clients are increasingly dabbling in other areas. Charlie Rutman, CEO, MPG North America, says his many clients are moving between 5% and 20% of ad dollars to non-traditional media.

Some companies now have ads in movie theaters, on pizza boxes and in malls, notes Bill Koenigsberg, president and CEO of Horizon Media. “The money is going there because viewers are saying it is important to them,” he said, adding about 10%-15% of his clients’ dollars are going to such new initiatives. He joined colleagues from four other big New York media buying firms at an International Radio & TV Society breakfast in New York Thursday morning.

“If consumers are there and viewing, we will be there,” says Donna Speciale, president of US Broadcast for MediaVest. Some brands, she says, such as young-skewing items, might invest as much as 50% of ad dollars in new areas.

Broadcasters are hastening the defections, the buyers said, because their pricing continues to push ahead, even if the audience is stagnant or declining.

Overall, the buyers said the TV-ad marketplace is flat, and they looked cautiously ahead to next year. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as increased interest rates, have consumers and Wall Street on edge. “There will be some fallout [for the ad market] in first quarter,” said Peggy Green, president, broadcast and entertainment, Zenith Media.

New technologies are also possible threats. Ad-skipping technologies, such as digital video recorders and video-on-demand, are on clients’ radars, buyers said, but are not urgent concerns. “Only about 8% of the viewers” own a DVR, Speciale noted.

“It is more of an issue of preparedness,” says Tim Spengler, executive VP/director, national broadcast, for Initiative.

To get ready, clients are spending more money on product placement and branded entertainment. Says Rutman, “This becomes more of a content issue than a media-buying issue.”

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