A bundle of ABC for ad buyers - Broadcasting & Cable

A bundle of ABC for ad buyers

The future is Unlimited, the name of its new cross-platform sales initiative
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ABC is the latest to embrace the cross-platform sales approach, and last week the network, which expects a banner year, restructured the staff to make way for the changes.

Mike Shaw, who has been the No. 2 at ABC Sales and heir apparent to Marvin Goldsmith at the top, has been named president, sales and marketing, ABC Television Network.

Goldsmith was named executive vice president, ABC Broadcast Group. Shaw reports to Alex Wallau, president of ABC Television Network. Goldsmith reports to Bob Callahan, president, ABC Broadcast Group. Shaw had been executive vice president and national sales manager.

Laura Nathanson, who had been executive vice president, prime time sales, has been promoted to Shaw's old job.

At the same, Wallau unveiled the cross-platform sales and marketing unit that he said the network believes will become the new "entry point" for advertisers looking to tap any or all of ABC-parent Disney's advertising media.

The name of the new unit is ABC Unlimited Integrated Sales and Marketing, or ABC Unlimited for short. Bill Bund, senior vice president, integrated sales, ABC-TV, will directly oversee ABC Unlimited. Previously, Bund was manager of Sports sales for the central and western divisions of ABC Sports.

"We want to make a bold statement to the advertising community that the full resources and top management of ABC Inc. are behind this," Wallau said. "And we're not just slapping a brand name on this unit: It's really a whole new approach to doing business.

"This is the beginning of trying to migrate from a purely buy-sell relationship with advertisers to a true partnership where we help plan different ways that advertisers can reach their customers more efficiently."

Integrated sales and marketing is something that all the networks have dabbled in recently. Three years ago, CBS launched CBS-Plus to sell integrated packages of advertising across its network, TV, cable, radio and outdoor units. On the cable side, Turner Broadcasting assembles similar advertiser deals.

What CBS has said consistently and what ABC reinforced last week was that, while the network hopes to get bigger shares of existing media budgets and tap into client promotion budgets as well, it won't discount ad rates to do so.

Wallau said the networks have to "demonstrate the value" of integrated sales-and-marketing packages to advertisers. "If they accept that there's value there, fine. If they don't, we won't have a sale."

But the network is making a big commitment to the new approach and will add 50 new employees to staff the department. Each of the traditional daypart sales units (day time, prime time, news, etc.) will have at least one staff person working for the integrated sales unit.

"This is a huge allocation of resources that we see as something at the core of what we do rather than as an adjunct of what we do," said Wallau.

In some respects, ABC Unlimited is an extension of what the network has already done in the sports area, where it has integrated efforts under a unit headed by Ed Erhardt called ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales.

The network has also integrated sales and marketing in children's programming: a unit called Disney Kids Network, headed by Dan Barnathan, that sells Disney-related kids products in the TV, cable, radio, Internet and print fields.

And the network has sold cross-platform sales-and-marketing packages to advertisers for special events in the past. For example, for its Millennium coverage last January, Toyota bought a package that included network TV, local stations and even a big Disney-owned neon sign in Times Square.

Of course, AT & T has the ultimate integrated marketing-and-sales package-it gets mentioned every time a contestant uses the "call a friend" lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

"Branding ABC Unlimited formalizes something we've been doing informally over the past several years," says Wallau. "Namely, selling not only network television time, but connecting clients to all ABC [and co-owned Disney] properties."

ABC Unlimited reps will discuss marketing needs with prospective clients, pitching any and all Disney advertising and marketing vehicles including TV, print, Internet and radio. The Unlimited reps then go back to the various Disney units on the client's wish list to work up a package, and then back to the client for final approval.

"We will approach the client on the ground floor and say 'Here's a blank slate. How can we work with you to accomplish your goals?'" Wallau says. "Then we'll see what properties are appropriate."

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