Sony Pictures Television is giving its head
of advertising sales, Amy Carney, responsibility for its worldwide research
Carney becomes president, advertiser sales, strategy and
research, and will have influence over additional aspects of the company.
Advertising sales and research have always worked together
closely, Carney says. "I feel like that marriage between research and ad
sales has just gotten deeper and deeper and deeper," she adds. "And
now with this new job, the opportunity to dive into programming and
distribution in that way is very exciting to me."
Carney, who joined Sony Pictures Television in 2003, started
her career in research as a junior analyst at Telerep. "So when people ask
me if I have a background in research, I can honestly say I do," she says.
But the research she did then isn't the same as the research
she will oversee now. "When I was in research, research was more about
spin to help people sell things," she says, referring to that type of work
as "faux research."
Now, "research and ad sales have evolved so much over
the years, and it has become real research," she says. "We do real,
true brand studies, really trying to figure out the ROI for our customers; real
measures of engagement, really past just what the rating is, and trying to
bring real results to advertisers."
For example, Sony's research team is working on the upcoming
syndicated Queen Latifah show, and research will play a role in
constructing how the show is going to look and how tightly advertisers will be
woven into the program.
"Right now we're doing a lot of primary research and
focus groups, and looking at the daytime landscape and what the audience
wants," Carney says. "We can also use some of the brand effectiveness
studies that we did with The Dr. Oz Show on the impact that integrations
had to inform how we want brands to be involved."
The TV business has also changed, with a rising tide of
online and on-demand viewing. But unless research can catch up, ad dollars
"You can bring programming onto different platforms and
find different audiences that way, but research, the measurement of that,
hasn't always been able to keep up, and it challenges the business model,"
Carney says. "We've always had this great three-legged stool: You've got
programming, you've got consumers, you've got advertisers, and that balance
works great. But as you're seeking out brave new worlds without figuring out
the right type of measurement hand-in-hand with that, you kick out one of the
legs of that stool. It becomes an uncomfortable seat."
Among the executives Carney will be relying on in her
expanded role are James Petretti, senior VP, U.S. sales and marketing research,
and Robin Lake, VP, international programming research. "We've got a cast
of very talented people," Carney says.
"The beauty of this department is, it's one of the few
global research departments," Carney says. "I started my day at 6:30
a.m. on a conference call where we had all the research people from the
channels around the world talking about the different studies that they were
doing. This one was studying the brand messaging, another channel was doing a
consumer study about what people are looking to watch and what programs are
resonating in that area of the world. And they all came together on the call to
share those learnings and see if there was an opportunity to leverage what the
other ones were doing. It was fascinating. It was very collaborative. I don't
know anywhere else where that is being done."
Carney says she wants the research group to step up to the
next level. "We're very good about taking the rating, looking at what
happened and trying to make decisions about tomorrow," she says.
"What I'd like to do is bring the group into a new level of strategy, to
be able to look at yesterday and look at tomorrow at the same time."
While much of the TV world is looking at the DVR as a key
technology, Carney sees the DVR as a short-term issue. "I think you've got
the older generation that has now been able to adopt the DVR and use that to
time-shift their viewing," she says. "But the younger audience, they
want more video on demand. When the technology allows for dynamic ad insertion
and the measurement of the audience of that VOD at the time of viewing, I think
that could make the DVR, one day, obsolete."
But the DVR is likely to be a factor in upcoming upfronts.
"When you've got a significant amount of viewing that may happen in the
live-plus-seven [time period], I think you're going to have a lot of people
pushing to be able to monetize their entire audience," she says.
Top media company executives have been talking up C7, which
would count commercial exposures delayed by seven days, up from the current
three days, and Carney says some advertisers might buy in.
"If you've got a specific need to have your ads seen on
a specific day -- you're opening a movie, for instance, or you're a retailer,
and it's a time-sensitive ad -- then C7 isn't going to work for you," she
says. "If you're selling paper towels or laundry detergent, then C7 will
probably work for you. And I think it will be reflected in
On the ad market, Carney says the fourth quarter was kind of
quiet. "We didn't have a lot of scatter activity then," she adds.
"But our first-quarter options were very low-much, much lower than last
year -- and we're already starting to see some for [the] first quarter, which
As for the upfront, she says, "I'm always optimistic
about the upfront."