Buyers Swing at SNTA's First Pitch

Syndicators felt that they got their money's worth

By most accounts, the first annual Syndicated Network Television Association conference in New York last week was a big hit with the agency/advertiser community and the syndicators that financed it. Year one attendance totaled more than 700, slightly better than organizers expected.

"First time out, I thought they did an excellent job," said Tom DeCabia, executive vice president, PHD, an Omnicom-owned media buyer. "I thought it was really well done." DeCabia echoed the comments of other buyers when he said that it was easier and more cost-efficient for the ad agencies to send more people to a New York event than to NATPE. "It was a great learning process for our staff," he said.

DeCabia also praised a presentation/party that non-SNTA member Sony Pictures Television had at the Sony Club the evening before the two-day gathering started. Sony presented talent from a number of its shows, including Kevin James (King of Queens), David Spade (Just Shoot Me), Ricki Lake and Judge Glenda Hatchett, among others.

There were a few complaints about downtime between meetings. But, as one agency executive noted, some 500 separate meetings were scheduled within the two days. "By and large, it went off without a hitch," said one buyer. "When you have all those meetings and you're trying to get everybody in, that's a thankless job. But they made it work."

Gary Carr, director of national broadcast buying, Media First International, also gave a thumbs-up review for SNTA's first conference. "The industry has been out-marketed by cable, but they really stepped up and put a good foot forward. It was basically NATPE except you didn't have to go New Orleans or Las Vegas."

Sellers said they got their money's worth and then some, just by gaining access to hundreds of influential planners and other agency officials that didn't have time in their schedules to go to NATPE in the past.

"It was a home run," said Howard Levy, executive vice president, advertiser sales, Buena Vista Television. "It was a great turnout, and it ran smoothly. There were more people from the agencies here than ever showed up at NATPE, even at its biggest."

Bob Cook, president of Twentieth Television Domestic, was "very pleased with it. We had an exceptional turnout." He said he asked just about all the agency people he met if the show was worthwhile and the answer was "pretty much a resounding yes."

He had two suggestions for next year: SNTA could invite out-of-town agencies and also could bring in talent to lend a bit more showbiz flavor to the event.