Mr. Semsky is a self-described "appointment type of guy" who schedules time to watch specific TV shows such as "NYPD Blue." Citing other "appointment" shows-"The Simpsons" and "X-Files"-he stresses the importance of a media-buying operation not only using research but personal judgment of a show and its viewers' habits.
"We take that into account when we do buys," he says, adding his main media mission is to "take the right commercials and put them in front of the right audience, at the right time, in the right environment, at the right price."
This practice of zooming in on specific client needs has helped BBDO retain such high-profile clients as PepsiCo, Visa USA and General Electric.
It also was a key element last April when Mr. Semsky lead BBDO's battle for the $90 million-plus media assignment of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists. BBDO beat out Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide for the account.
Allen Rosenshine, chairman-CEO of BBDO, says Mr. Semsky's "innovative thinking, energy, client service and team-building" skills are just some of his best assets.
"Arnie's knowledge of media issues has been critical to how BBDO successfully responds to this wildly changing environment," Mr. Rosenshine says.
Mr. Semsky says that one challenge media units currently are facing is "the overall topic of media effectiveness."
"Clients are asking, 'How do we know our media [are] effective?' " says Mr. Semsky.
The emerging technique of optimization-a new-to-the-U.S. data-modeling system-can be "helpful, " but he cautions: "I don't think it's the end all/be all."
Mr. Semsky says media services need "a greater understanding of target audiences as they get more fragmented and need to become more targeted."
He emphasizes training in order to keep a global edge on the competition. To ensure that staffers on all levels-from an associate to a media director-are keeping up with media advancements, Mr. Semsky has set up a variety of training programs, with participation worldwide.
"It's really hard to keep up unless you train," he said, "because more and more, we have global clients. The more we can get that affinity going, the better off we are."