Advertisers flock to SNTA conference

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Advertisers flocked to the first annual conference of the Syndicated Network Television Association, raising serious questions about the future of the National Association of Television Production Executives as the leading forum for syndicated TV ad sales.

The SNTA, whose membership includes eight major syndication companies, showcased their programming to advertisers, ad agencies and media agencies in New York. NATPE-which presents programming to both advertisers and network affiliates-was held in New Orleans once again this year, but came up short on advertising attendees. About 750 advertisers attended SNTA, according to organizers. NATPE, which at its height had 1,112 advertising executives in 2001, this year had an estimated attendance of 250 advertisers.

"I was at NATPE this year and I didn't have many meetings," said Howard Levy, exec VP-ad sales, Buena Vista Television, which gave presentations to packed rooms at SNTA. "I'm not committing [to NATPE] again until I see what my clients want. If my clients are there, I'll be there, but it's not in the same vein of presenting our programs."

At SNTA, members 20th Television, Buena Vista, Universal Television, Paramount Television Group, Heritage Network, Tribune Entertainment, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, King World Productions and even one non-member, MGM-NBC Media Sales, focused their attention on advertising clients, making spirited presentations in small rooms to gatherings of around 20 clients.

SNTA "is a viable way to work," said Donna Wolfe, exec VP-director of broadcast, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann. "For NATPE, you put people on a plane and it takes up four days of your life. Here, I brought five different groups with me. We were able to get in and out."

"This is much better than NATPE, from my perspective," said Michelle Fedurek, VP-media services, Wendy's International. "Because it's all about business, and what works here for us, rather than syndicators selling shows to stations."

left out

One top media executive in attendance, who requested anonymity, was asked if SNTA would supplant NATPE. "I would ask: What do you do for the rest of the country?" he said. "This was all about New York. There are other markets out there. You got Dallas, Los Angeles, Detroit, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Indiana. This leaves them out. "

"There's no reason why we can't have both events," said Peggy Kelly, senior VP-global client services director at Universal McCann, and incoming chairperson of the NATPE. "SNTA is focused solely on ad sales business. NATPE is a lot broader than that. At NATPE there are integrated marketing and program development opportunities, and international programming. You'll have clients and more senior level people go to NATPE and you'll have 50 assistant buyers go to SNTA."

Among the new shows at SNTA, the big hits were 20th Century Fox's "Extreme Dating," a reality program attempting to capitalize on other successful dating shows such as "The Fifth Wheel"; "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," which will appear on NBC; and the "Sharon Osbourne Show" and "Starting Over," both Paramount productions.

Mark Hirsch, chairman of SNTA and president of Paramount advertisers, said the group will canvass vendors and attendees to see what changes will be made for next year.

"At NATPE, it's all about Bourbon Street, and here it's all about advertisers seeing new programs for next year," Mr. Hirsch said. "I would be surprised if NATPE were ever important again for advertisers or their agencies."

contributing: wayne friedman

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