Viacom Creates Group of Ad 'Experts' Within Sales Department

Velocity Product Group Will Lead Cable Network's Next-Gen Ad Products

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Viacom is making another move in its mission to drive ad sales beyond traditional commercials with the creation of a new group solely responsible for its data and social products.

As a result of "intense demand" for its ad products during the upfront season, Viacom's Ad Sales Chief Jeff Lucas said there was a need to create the Velocity Product Group dedicated to evolving and developing the company's offerings.

"Ratings are going to go up and down, but we always want to have a product that offers more in any case," Mr. Lucas said. The dedicated team is necessary due to the number of advertisers already utilizing Viacom's suite of Velocity products, which has doubled since last year to more than 100 blue-chip clients.

The group will handle Viacom's data-targeting ad product Vantage; social tool Echo; real-time marketing functionality; Integration+, which provides marketers with flexibility when customizing their branded content; and its social-talent platform. The group will also drive partnerships with social-media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr.

The group of about two dozen "experts" will be led by Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, who expands her role to exec VP-ad sales strategy and products. She reports to Mr. Lucas.

Viacom is heavily relying on these ad products as an answer to the issues plaguing TV measurement. Since many of Viacom's TV networks appeal to a younger demographic that's increasingly watching content, such as MTV's "Awkward," on a delayed basis and on varying platforms, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has argued that Nielsen measurement does not account for much of Viacom's viewing.

Mr. Dauman said during the company's recent earnings call that Velocity was an important part of upfront discussions and Vantage is already generating significant incremental ad revenue.

Viacom reported a 9% decline in domestic ad revenue for the second quarter and expects a similar drop for the remainder of the year, but Mr. Dauman predicts ad revenue will rebound next fiscal year, boosted by these next-generation advertising capabilities.

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