Promax: Execs on a Changing Media World

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Vince Manze, president and creative director for the in-house company that creates NBC's promotional campaigns, says he's likely to restructure The NBC Agency to reflect the way media is changing. "The agency was established some 10 years ago in what I call the fat times," Manze said following a panel discussion at the Promax convention in New York. "I believe now we've got to take a look at how we're staffed and what we do in a changing time." (The agency employs 250.)

Manze is very familiar with the changes, ranging from new Nielsen measuring devices that monitor TiVo viewing and the increasing tie-in of on-air programs to Internet sites and mobile viewing devices. Additionally, ad agencies are increasingly asking for better verification that viewers are actually seeing their commercials, especially at a time when it's easier than ever than skip over them.

On the panel, moderated by MSNBC news host Chris Matthews, Manze said that, in the new television environment, Nielsen ratings aren't the be-all and end-all. Now, he said, "You've got to touch 'em [viewers.] You have to engage 'em." A lot of that, he and others on the panel said, is done through Websites tied into shows.

"This is the most demanding consumer in the history of the media," said panelist David A. Neuman, president of programming for Current, the Al Gore-backed cable network that features videos made by viewers. Newman endorsed the idea that advertisers demand some proof of involvement from viewers: "It's much smarter advertisers are demanding something more than two eyeballs in a room."

So did Mike Benson, ABC's senior VP of marketing, advertising and promotion. "The days of the big on-air and ad campaign are over," Benson declared. By driving viewers to Websites and other program tie-ins, he said promotions chiefs can build loyalty. "There is an audience out there who can become your disciples."

Afterwards, Manze also disclosed that, as a change of philosophy, NBC this summer is busy promoting its summer shows, not concentrating as much on a huge roster of new fall series. Manze said some summer series are showing some traction, and the network thinks if they can build summer hits, they can eventually start peppering those shows with fall promos.

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