How to Make TV Ads Work? Speak Directly to the Viewer

Ad Club Panel: Tailor Messages to a Niche Channel's Audience

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NEW YORK ( -- Here's a new "A" word to replace "accountability" as the catch-all phrase for next year's upfront: addressability. During "What Really Happened in This Year's Upfront," a panel discussion hosted by the Ad Club this morning, Group M Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni said the key to ad effectiveness on TV is making viewers feel like they're being spoken to directly.
Rino Scanzoni
Rino Scanzoni

"If someone sees the same spot nine times, they could say, 'I get it,' and move on. ... But if you're sending them a message they're likely interested in, they're less likely to skip. The numbers may be smaller, but the only way to make these emerging models work is to make those smaller numbers worth more," he said.

Changing the basics
The growth of audiences on cable TV and specialized media has emerged in direct relation to the gradual decline in the past year of broadcast prime time as the go-to reach medium. The broadcast networks are down 11% in ratings compared to this time in 2006, with overall live viewing down 2% and household carriage of digital-recording devices quickly approaching 30% nationwide. The shifting model of relevance in creative messaging has prompted Mr. Scanzoni and others to change the way they approach their media strategies from the most basic level.

"It used to be that there were two or three major networks you were trying to reach, and each client would make two to three pieces of copy," Mr. Scanzoni said. "Now there's more than 100 networks, most of them very targeted, and there's still two to three pieces of copy from each client. We're starting to see a heavy investment in certain networks where the profile of the audience meets the client's needs."

Later, moderator Chuck Fruit, senior advisor for Coca-Cola Co., asked the panel what the upfront in 2012 would look like. Starcom USA CEO John Muszynski, who has long been vocal in his thoughts about the eventual abolishment of the upfront selling period, said that "we're going to look back and say we were using inadequate data. [The future data] will be more precise, and we'll be able to give [marketers] more accountability."

Upfront a holiday
Andy Jung, senior director-advertising and media for Kellogg Co., said the increased ability to find relevant metrics online will also play a large role. "We have no idea where the Microsofts, Yahoos and Googles of the world will be by then. The upfront is almost like a holiday -- by the time the day comes, you've got most of your stuff already done."

In the short-term, however, spending overall is going to see some shifting as the marketplace closes in on a tight fourth-quarter scatter market and the crunched budgets of the consumers who represent 95% of the TV economy, Mr. Scanzoni said.

"We're going to see a showdown as we get into the holiday period. Spending will start contracting as companies have to make their earnings targets, and consumers will spend less overall, which might normalize things a bit," he said.
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