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VOD to Get More Bucks, but Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Why Optimedia's Larry Novenstern Foresees a Modest Upfront

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marketers are losing faith in TV advertising, according to an Association of National Advertisers poll this week. So what's a TV buyer to do? Larry Novenstern joined Publicis Groupe's Optimedia early this year as exec VP-director of national electronic media, representing marketers such as Whirlpool, T-Mobile, Denny's, Subway and Maybelline. The former Deutsch media executive's bailiwick covers traditional broadcast as well as emerging platforms and branded entertainment. Here he talks to MediaWorks about emerging technologies and how he sees this year's upfront playing out. Optimedia has in the past committed 80% of its budgets in the upfront, reserving 20% for scatter.
Larry Novenstern

MEDIAWORKS: What are your upfront predictions. Up? Down? Flat?

LARRY NOVENSTERN: My crystal ball's cloudy enough as it is. Without going network by network, I think it'll be a modest upfront. You'll see small increases and you'll see a few negatives in there too. And anyone will have a pretty good idea where those will be.

MEDIAWORKS: Which emerging media platforms have the most potential this year?

NOVENSTERN: Broadband has the most growth potential this year. Video on demand has potential as well, but the question is what are you getting involved with from a content standpoint and how is your brand coming through? VOD will get more money, but there's still a question about how content gets from, say, Comcast to individual cable networks and how it gets translated. Everyone's concerned about how it looks to the consumer in Des Moines as well as Detroit. It's different in every market right now. There needs to be more consistency in the look of VOD as the consumer sees it. There are so many different MSOs [multiple system operators] and providers out there and they all have a different architecture.

MEDIAWORKS: What's so friendly about broadband?

NOVENSTERN: From year-to-year DSL penetration has gotten better and that's obviously the most important part of streaming video. Content providers are looking at that as another main source this year, as with the NCAA [basketball] tournament.

MEDIAWORKS: How much more complex are TV deals this year as they also encompass the emerging platforms we've been talking about?

NOVENSTERN: You could call it complicated, you could say there are more moving parts. It's the old adage of every snowflake is different. Every deal is going to be slightly different to accomplish the goals the advertiser has. A quick service restaurant that needs to be on TV may step away from that. An advertiser in the technology or telecom space may need to be very intricate in trying to reach the consumer and build their brand. Deals have gotten more intricate and they will get a lot more intricate in 2006 and 2007.

MEDIAWORKS: Is your job title meant to reflect that you're pulling all those things together?

NOVENSTERN: Absolutely. I work closely with my planning counterparts in all our offices. My title is meant to communicate to our clients to understand we don't silo media. Siloing in this day and age is bad.

MEDIAWORKS: How have your media consumption habits changed?

NOVENSTERN: I spend more time on the Internet. I do have an iPod and I've downloaded "Lost" and "The Office." I have a focus group of two -- a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old -- that keep me current. Things are changing so much faster than ever before. You have to touch these things in any way you can. Sometimes I have a new cable network on as background noise. I have CurrentTV on now and that's something that could be big for a young-skewing advertising.

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