|Quincy Smith, a former investment banker, is now CBS Digital's president.|
|Quincy Smith Audio:|
On his first day on the job, he took a few minutes to talk to Ad Age Digital about his plans.
Ad Age Digital: You're a mergers and acquisitions guy, so everyone's interested in what your strategy will be at CBS.
Quincy Smith: It's absolutely interactive and all-evolving, and so I'll be the last guy to tell you what that is at hour seven. However, the one thing I want to stress is I've been involved in companies a lot longer than I've been involved as an investment banker. So we really do mean it that we're not going to acquire YouTube but we might look at acquiring the next YouTube.
But I'd stress importance of commercial partnerships as well, just as much if not more. An example of a recent one CBS has done -- also under the very able leadership of Larry Kramer, who we'll have for a little while longer as an ongoing consultant and you can be sure I will be using him. The YouTube-CBS deal is a great example of what is a very forward-thinking deal, where we're not necessarily meeting with lawyers, although there's always a good time and place for lawyers, but we're thinking about how to be innovative and creative in the industry. ... I think it's three of the top five sports videos [on YouTube] are CBS content, five of the top five comedy videos [on YouTube] are CBS content. So it's done incredibly well already, and it's a great example of a commercial deal where the end result is, hopefully, we get a lot more distribution and traffic for our content but, more importantly, as I really push on this, we get to learn a lot more about our audience, which is something that in the other channels we're not as able to do.
Ad Age Digital: What excites you about CBS's other businesses -- outdoor, radio?
Mr. Smith: There are a lot of ways to play with outdoor. The most obviously would be we're already busy -- I think there are 2.2 million worldwide signs -- digitizing a lot of those, so maybe ultimately in five years you look at a sign and it looks very different to you than it does to me who's walking down the street at the same time. All that's reasonably obvious and "Minority Report"-ish, but something that could absolutely be done.
The next question is what if we just dropped a router on every single one of those things? For the most part we'd just need some electricity and then you can relay from there on. In some cases there'd obviously be access to DSL and cable modem of some kind but you know there are about -- I'm going to take a guess, don't quote me on that -- 40,000 signs in New York City alone. We can take care of WiFi-enabling them in a month, where a lot of municipalities are going to take years to mobilize in that.
Ad Age Digital: CBS has always been the 25-54 network. Do you see some of the moves online allowing you to go after a different demo?
Mr. Smith: The first thing I'd say is I'm delighted about those demographics for now, because it means we can probably be a little bit experimental in the content we're putting out there just given the demographics of online viewership to begin with. So we're going to be less cannibalistic as we think about that early on. But we're going to spend more time as we think about content being purposed for our audience. I'd actually say a lot of our properties do reasonably well on that but it's not well known.
Ad Age Digital: Most of CBS's revenue is advertising based. Are we going to see more diversifying of the revenue streams?
Mr. Smith: I'll let the industry pundits kick that around for a few ideas and play more of a role where we're happy to talk about it and keep an open mind. ... The one thing I'd observe early is it seems to be advertising is taking a lot more traction early on that subscription.
Ad Age Digital: You're close to Google, having advised some of its transactions and are a good friend of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Talk to me about CBS's relationship with Google.
Mr. Smith: CBS adopted Google Video very early and as Google looks to close the YouTube transaction, that's a good signal to the rest of the community that somebody in the content space [CBS] is going to embrace [Google/YouTube] and adopt them. ... We're going to be open to conversations with all partners. We wouldn't be doing our job if we weren't.
Ad Age Digital: You say you're not looking to acquire YouTube but the next YouTube. What kind of traits are you looking for in that potential acquisition?
Mr. Smith: I'll have a much better answer in nine months when the team all huddles to think about it. I think it's pretty well easy to say we've got a strong stable of professional content developers, so we're probably not going to be looking for too much in the smaller content area but certainly content delivery and distribution -- applications around that are going to be really important to supplement our ability. Community building, all kinds of things that a lot of people are thinking about.