Viacom CBS adds scope to its range of ad deals

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Looking to further leverage the ad sales might of its entertainment properties, Viacom's CBS Plus multimedia sales division is now expanding to include all its properties under the new name Viacom Plus.

The new division is the result of the merger of Viacom and CBS Inc. earlier this year. Now, properties such as Blockbuster, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Showtime and UPN can be sold together in special cross-media packages along with CBS Television Network, Infinity Outdoor, Infinity Radio, King World Productions and its myriad other divisions.

MORE AD OPPORTUNITIES

"This has been the promise that they were going to deliver in bringing all these resources together," said Allen Banks, exec VP-North American media director for Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. "There were going to be more viable media opportunities for advertisers. This was their argument to the federal regulators."

The cross-media ad sales unit will continue to be headed by Pam Haering and Lisa McCarthy, who are co-senior VPs. And the goal will be the same, Ms. McCarthy said: to grab "incremental advertising revenue."

The earlier CBS Plus multimedia deals targeted older-skewing audiences, which is in line with the viewers of CBS properties. With the addition of Blockbuster Video, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures and other, potentially younger-skewing properties, there is now room for additional growth.

"This is allowing us to talk to advertisers that we really haven't talked to before," Ms. Haering said.

FAMILY TRAVEL PROMO

Launched in 1998, CBS Plus has put together 14 media and marketing deals. Late last month, it struck an agreement with DaimlerChrysler, a media and promotion pact focusing on family travel. One component features special quarterly, weeklong travel segments on "The Early Show" to promote Chrysler's Town & Country and Voyager minivans. That relationship might now be expanded to include Nickelodeon. Other CBS Plus deals have included Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity Investments, Datek Online and Taylor Made Golf.

Media buyers have long cast a skeptical eye on cross-media deals. Early on, cross-media groups attempted to grind out premium pricing under a "one-stop shopping" approach, according to media ad agency executives.

"What happens, more often than not, the whole costs more than the individual parts, so there is no cost-efficiency," said Saatchi's Mr. Banks. In addition, he said, "the pieces themselves don't fit together as easily for the advertiser as . . . for the company that owns them."

Concerning CBS Plus' pricing strategy, Ms. Haering said, "We don't charge up, nor do we discount. What actually ends up happening for our clients is that the value they get often surpasses the media cost. If they spend $20 million, they are going to feel like it's $25 million or $30 million."

WHAT MAKES SENSE

From the start, CBS Plus said its strategy has been about customizing, never pushing fringe media elements into advertisers' cross-marketing packages. "Particularly now, with an even broader arsenal of things we represent, we will only be using the media vehicles that make sense given the overall program," Ms. McCarthy said.

Still, she said advertisers that are already committed to a CBS Plus deal are more inclined to add components to the media plan. For instance, Taylor Made Golf had before never used radio, she said, adding, "but they said, `If you come up with right idea, we are open to radio.' "

INTO EARLY MORNING

Similarly, DaimlerChrysler, while a big player in prime-time TV and TV sports, wasn't a big buyer of early morning TV. Now its deal includes "The Early Show," as well as local travel segments on 11 CBS stations, 60-second vignettes on Westwood One radio network and a special Web site created by the CBS Internet Group. Six Meredith Corp. magazines were also included in the marketing plan.

For new deals, Viacom Plus will also draw from divisions such as CBS Internet Group, CBS Television Stations Division, MTVi Group, Nickelodeon Online, Paramount Parks, Paramount Television Group, Simon & Schuster, TDI Worldwide and Westwood One.

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