Jon Mandel has been coming to NATPE for the last 20 years.
As the co-managing director and chief negotiating officer for Madison Avenue's MediaCom, Mandel brought 17 clients and 20 staff members to NATPE in Las Vegas last week. He and his staff weren't the only media buyers on the conference floor however. NATPE actually set an attendance record this year with more than 1,000 local and national ad buyers on hand.
The importance of the advertising community to the annual TV conference was highlighted with the naming of Mandel to be NATPE's chairman.
"I think this is recognition of the importance of advertising to the syndication marketplace," he says. "Two billion dollars is spent every year in syndication by national advertisers and it's probably anywhere from 40%-60% of the revenues for syndicated shows. When you look at how NATPE has grown, it's a lot more than just a syndication conference. It's truly a content marketplace and that content isn't going to get produced without advertisers paying for it."
Mandel says NATPE has become a pre-upfront market to media buyers like himself, in terms of syndicated programming-with major national and local clients kicking the tires on new first-run and off-net shows. Mandel contrasts the cable and broadcast network upfronts-a series of parties and presentations in major markets-with NATPE, which essentially performs that function for syndication.
"You come to NATPE to find out why Warner Bros. is here, why Twentieth Television is here and what they've got for the fall," Mandel says. "Maybe I'll be able to understand the concept of their shows better, or maybe I'll be able to better find a show that perhaps my client's product fits into better than the one I had just heard about and not really seen up close. It's not just about Costs Per Thousand or GRPs. It's really about how our advertiser is going to look in here."
Mandel says he plans to work with NATPE CEO Bruce Johansen on making the organization relevant on a 365-day-a-year basis rather than just an annual three-day convention. He says there are Internet and other plans currently in development that will make NATPE "an important everyday part of the industry."
He also wants to follow up on past Chairman Steve Mosko's diversity initiatives.
"We sell products to people of all walks of life, all cultures and if we don't have an industry that reflects those backgrounds, we are not going to be able to program to them," he says. "Remember, at the end of the day, people buy shows and then sell me the audience. So I have to make sure that audience closely matches my consumers."