Marketers: Don't Stop Innovating Because of Budget Cuts

At ANA TV Forum: Stay Ahead of the Learning Curve

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NEW YORK ( -- With most marketers planning on reducing how much they spend on media, one marketer wants to be sure that experiments in emerging media don't go by the wayside.

Mark Kaline
Mark Kaline
Speaking during a panel at the Association of National Advertisers' annual TV Forum in New York on Feb. 12, Mark Kaline, global media director for Kimberly-Clark, said, "The challenge for marketers in going back to the basics is: What's in the old mix that's still working?" he said. "Media costs are higher, budgets are shrinking, but the bigger issue is: How do we keep respect for those innovation budgets? Advertisers are looking closely at their data, asking, 'What are the levers I can pull in a very tough market?' There are things we need to look at closely. And you don't want to stop testing and innovating. You want to stay ahead of that learning curve."

A fellow panelist, JoAnn Ross, CBS president-network sales, cited a recent test with shopper-marketing measurement company TRA as a promising indicator of tying purchase behavior to media consumption. "It behooves us as suppliers to be in front of the curve and be able to measure it better," she said. "We're not there yet, but with companies like TRA, we have to be eyes-wide-open and realize it's not going to be the same old same old."

Although addressable TV has been mentioned for years as the biggest solution to marrying consumer behavior with ad engagement, the technology to execute such campaigns on a widescale level is still years away, the panel agreed.

JoAnn Ross
JoAnn Ross Credit: J. Filo
The panel, moderated by Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom, agreed the digital transition won't have any immediate affect on the TV ad market, but it will open the door to a ream of data about how consumers watch TV. Once those data are available from set-top boxes at cable and satellite companies, it won't be incumbent upon the networks to decipher it for marketers.

"It's the agency's job to come up with the software to interpret this data," said Tim Spengler, president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative. "The advertisers in this room have to commit to doing a lot of work to reap that data. It's a matter of when are the networks comfortable when these companies come in and look at it."

With addressable advertising still far from a reality, the broadcast upfront is looking somewhat more plausible by comparison. Although cancellations are coming in as high as 12% and second-quarter scatter budgets are just starting to be registered, the upfront will still likely proceed as business as usual for most marketers.

"We're still determining: How much do you put in?" Mr. Kaline said. "It will vary greatly by brand. Flat's the new up. If you're looking at share of video now, brands will spend on a case-by-case basis."

Greg D'Alba
Greg D'Alba
Greg D'Alba, exec VP-chief operating officer of CNN ad sales and marketing, said the calendar upfront has already blurred with the scatter marketplace as clients register budgets on a weekly basis. "We hope the scorecard changes and people are planning to purchase content in advance. We're seeing a more capable audience out there, so the old benchmark should change."

Also changing is the share of marketing dollars advertisers spend on broadcast vs. cable. Michael Nathanson, a media analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein, presented a report earlier at the forum showing spending patterns among the ANA's top 25 advertisers on broadcast and cable from 2000 to 2007. During that time frame, five of the top 25 marketers increased their spending on broadcast by double digits, including Apple, AT&T and Verizon. Twelve marketers boosted their spending by single digits. Eight, however, actually decreased their spending, moving it to cable and other media.

"Advertisers are going to have a harder time justifying the pricing for the bottom rung of broadcast TV," Mr. Nathanson said.

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