Broadcasters Like Digital Amplification, But Demand More Credit For Their Content

SnapJeff Lucas, head of ad sales for Viacom Music and Entertainment, likes photo-messaging app Snapchat.

Because its user base is dominated by females under 25, the platform that popularized the “fleeting” SMS aligns closely with Viacom property MTV’s young millennial audience.

It’s one of the reasons why MTV is test driving Snapchat’s new Discover feature, part of the app that showcases content and video from a variety of media companies like Comedy Central, VICE, ESPN, National Geographic and CNN.

“I love Snapchat,” said Lucas during UJA’s Entertainment, Media Communications Division Conference on Wednesday in New York City. “Having third-party partnerships is great, since it gives us more exposure for our content.”

But there are two caveats when evaluating whether to place content on digital channels like Snapchat to begin with. First, Viacom wants to ensure the content doesn’t interfere with the native functionality of the platform.

“Whether it’s 15 seconds [of pre-roll advertising] on Instagram or six seconds on Vine, it can’t interfere with how that native platform works,” Lucas said. “We really want to do integrated marketing and mold it around our brands.”

Second, TV media companies want to be sufficiently compensated when their content is extended onto digital platforms. 

“Twitter’s a great platform, but they’re not creating the content,” added Lucas. “They’re amplifying content, which is a very different thing. We need to monetize it and measure it because people are consuming more content and someone has to pay for that content to be made.”

Dan Lovinger, EVP of entertainment ad sales for NBCUniversal, agreed, saying he puts more emphasis on where content originated than how it’s consumed.

“It’s up to us [as networks and publishers] to push for better measurement so we can monetize our content and not go the way of the music industry,” Lovinger said. “I see Instagram and Snapchat as amplification opportunities.”

On the march toward digital monetization, there will be greater diversity in revenue streams, predicted Marianne Gambelli, EVP and chief investment officer at Horizon Media.

Even though NBC, for instance, wants to drive up viewership for its own TV Everywhere apps, it recognizes such tentpole events as the Olympics offer unique amplification opportunities on Twitter.

From left: Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, moderates a UJA Federation Broadcast Ad Sales panel with Jeff Lucas, Viacom; Marianne Gambelli, Horizon Media; Arlene Manos, AMC Networks and Dan Lovinger, NBCUniversal.

Opening up network content to digital channels will create demand for deeper measurement and more attribution. For instance – if a consumer sees an ad in their WatchESPN app on their Roku device, who’s responsible for the impression?

“With Sling TV (DISH’s new over-the-top offering priced at $20 a month) the ratings will go back to the original server, so if (an ad is attributed back to) Viacom’s feed, Viacom will get the impression,” said Gambelli. “You’ll (start to see credit) go back to the source of the content, since they’re the ones forking over a majority of money.”

All the panelists agreed – Nielsen is the measurement apparatus the television community grew up with, but with a majority of content consumption rapidly moving to mobile, samples and proxies won’t cut it anymore.

As if on cue, Nielsen separately revealed Wednesday it is developing a metric that gauges “tweets per impression” to measure the social impact of TV ad impressions, Variety reported.

Although Nielsen’s developed Twitter TV ratings in the past, this represents further effort to quantify the benefits of “off-air” amplification.

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