Cable and Broadcast

TV Advertising Means More Than Buying Audiences

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TV networks are working to remind media buyers and advertisers that ads on TV are in environments that provide safe and engaging spaces for marketers.

At this year's upfronts, be prepared to hear a lot of talk about how advertisers who limit themselves just to audience buying run the risk of placing ads in front of people at a time when they aren't engaging or responding.


For example, Scripps executives pointed to the live nature of its programming and showed off some of its upcoming programming like the return of "Iron Chef" on Food Network and announced a new series from "Fixer Upper" couple Chip and Joanna Gaines. HGTV will air a half-hour companion series, "Fixer Upper: Behind the Design."

During A&E Networks' upfront presentation, Peter Olsen, who leads national ad sales for the company, promised there wouldn't be any talk about data or native advertising. The cabler, whose networks include Lifetime and History, will certainly discuss such things during individual meetings with clients and their agencies, but its presentation was focused on storytelling.

Instead of the usual suits running down a list of programming and opportunities for advertisers, the executives that took to the stage told stories about their relationship with TV. A&E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc told a story about watching TV with her grandmother after school, while Marcela Tabares, who leads A&E's audience insights team, spoke about immigrating to the Bronx in the late 1970s from Colombia.

To be clear, networks haven't abandoned audience targeting this upfront. Turner, Viacom and Fox Networks Group announced they would be working together to standardize audience targeting across networks. And earlier in the month NBC Universal said it would look to sell $1 billion of inventory against non-Nielsen guarantees. But the power of storytelling and engaging audiences through live events remains a strength TV is looking to leverage.

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