Speciale Sees Some Growth, More Shifts to Cable

MediaVest president looks at scatter, syndication, accessible ads in 2012
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In her current role as MediaVest
president, investment & activation, and agency operations, Donna Speciale
oversees buying and activation for clients across all media platforms for an
agency with ad billings in excess of $8 billion. Speciale shares her unique
perspective on ad spending in the coming year, TV Everywhere, the economy and
the continued growth and lure of online. An edited transcript follows.

With the economy still in a state of flux, how are
marketing clients viewing TV ad spending for 2012?

It was not surprising to me that
scatter buying in fourth quarter was not very robust because a lot of new ad
money was spent in the upfront instead of saving it for scatter. First quarter
cancellation options were reasonably low so first quarter should be okay, but
second quarter could be when clients start taking back ad dollars to put toward
their bottom line. But as always, all categories will be different. Movie
scatter spending will be based on movie release dates and pharmaceuticals will
spend tied into new drugs or when patents in brand name drugs expire. If scatter
buying is soft in second quarter, traditionally, that could have a negative
effect on upfront spending because the upfront is in second quarter. Also, look
for other platforms like online and mobile to take some dollars away from
traditional television-not huge amounts, but each advertiser will spend a
little more on those other platforms at the expense of television.

Who is in a better position to continue to get the
bulk of TV dollars, broadcast or cable?

We have seen a shifting of dollars
from broadcast to cable and this will continue, though not as drastically as it
has shifted in the past five years. But as marketers, our clients are more
focused today on audiences and fine tuning their spending to target better.
Cable has allowed us to do that better.

Many of the 2012 forecasts say ad spending in
syndication could be down. How do your clients view advertising on
syndication? 

Ad spending on syndication has been
somewhat flat, although so far, it hasn't declined as much as some have
predicted. But syndication today, with less original programming and more
off-network shows, is pretty much tied into broadcast television. When
broadcast primetime program ratings are soft and decline each year, syndication
gets hurt because those are the shows that eventually make their way to
syndication. And when Oprah Winfrey ended her show, a large amount of those ad
dollars moved elsewhere and some of it out of syndication. But there's a
glimmer of hope. Katie Couric's new show, scheduled for syndication in Sept.
2012, has a lot of buzz surrounding it. She is well liked by advertisers and
that could bring some dollars back into syndication.

What is more important to your clients -- TV Everywhere
or accessible advertising?

It's not really an either-or. We
want both. We used to buy broadcast television and look at the audience demos
we were not targeting and considered it bonus viewing. We no longer view it
that way. We only want to pay for the audiences we want to target and reach. We
need to fine tune our ad buys. Turner and AMC are doing a great job
experimenting with TV Everywhere and it's great for us to be able to buy every
platform through one contact. A lot of work still needs to be done to determine
the best commercial loads for each platform and how to charge for them.

With advertisers demanding better service today and
not wanting to pay huge fees, how do their agencies cope with doing more for
less?

Today, we are all about building
capabilities. Adding shopper marketing capabilities, adding more data and
analytics to the planning and buying process. We recently added a Human
Experience Strategist. Media agencies have to keep up with the media market
transformation. Clients don't necessarily want to pay for all those new
services, but to keep them, an agency has to have them. In the past, a lot of
these were services the advertisers did themselves or [they went] to third
parties. Today, the agencies do it. And we can do it cheaper than the
advertisers used to spend to do it themselves. So it makes us more valuable to
them. As far as not wanting to pay huge fees, clients do want to cut costs, but
they also want service. So they realize that they can't demand fees that are
too low, or they can't get all those services.

There seem to be more agency reviews being
undertaken by advertisers and more clients switching agencies. Why is that?

Actually to me, it doesn't seem like
there has been a big increase in the number of reviews. But today there are so
many marketers and so many brands and the media landscape is changing so
rapidly that clients want to make sure that their agency is keeping pace with
all the new technology and changes and capabilities the different platforms
have to offer.

Will television ever be replaced totally by online and
mobile viewing or will TV still be the dominant place that viewers watch and
advertisers advertise on?

Television isn't going anywhere.
People's viewing habits are changing, but the other platforms are more of a
convenience than a replacement of television. I see all media platforms as
complementing one another. Sometimes people will watch television, other times
watch programming online or on mobile. Traditional television will still always
be there. As far as how much advertising is bought on traditional television,
it will again depend on the category and who the marketer is trying to reach.

How do you view The CW and NBC with their respective
hefty ratings declines this season?

The CW's audience is very much
younger than the other broadcast networks and their audience watches
programming differently. That's why they began offering all their shows with
commercials online. So when you buy The CW, you just buy it differently. And
you're also buying a more targeted audience. NBC right now is not in the best
shape in primetime, but ratings for shows on a lot of the other networks are
also down. As ratings continue to erode, clients are going to want to pay less,
not more for advertising. Traditionally, cable was a good option because it was
much cheaper than broadcast, but that gap is closing and it is starting to
equal out on many cable networks. Cable is trying to raise its rates to get to
the level of broadcast, but cable should stay where it is and broadcast should
reduce its rates.

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