Vantage Point: Pragmatic Optimism with a Side of Protein 

This is the latest in BIA/Kelsey’s Vantage Points series. On a periodic basis, it will tap the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA/Kelsey. Please contact mbolandATbiakelsey if you have insights to share. 

Pragmatic Optimism with a Side of Protein Fueled the TVB Forward Conference

By Maribeth Papuga

Papuga

Pragmatic optimism prevailed at TVB Forward, despite transitional headwinds.  Held last week, the event gathered c-suite broadcast leaders from across the country to collectively affirm their position in the advertising ecosystem. The day-long agenda included advertising and revenue forecasts, auto and political updates, a measurement roundtable, digital innovation and automated TV discussions, as well as inspiring case studies and local media awards.

BIA Kelsey was an active sponsor again and CEO Tom Buono led an advertising forecast panel after sharing the firm’s five year projection for local media. The participants offered similar perspective regarding the modest 2017 non-political growth for local broadcast TV; while concurring that digital and mobile channels offer the most significant advertising growth potential. These comments in combination with Wells Fargo Securities Marci Ryvicker’s keynote presentation that highlighted projections for retransmission agreements, spectrum and merger opportunities provided proof the business models are on solid footing.

One of the highlights, and instructional talks of the morning session included Rob Lynch, Brand President & CMO, and Arby’s Restaurant Group. He shared the genesis behind the brand’s successful reframe and single-minded attention on its core assets in lieu of trying to adapt to every trend put forward by competition. Lynch validated the company’s willingness to look at the brand through different eyes and take some risks. The value proposition behind “The Meats” campaign has been significant for Arby’s by enabling them to maintain a clear, focused market position in a highly competitive business category.

Local broadcast TV demonstrated its own strength in tapping localism by awarding the B&C magazine’s Broadcaster of the Year title to Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned Television, for her relentless support of the principles that define local TV’s partnership with their communities. Through strategic investment, Staab enabled the NBC owned stations to individually reframe themselves within their markets after years of single NBC brand positioning. Her success reconfirms that local audiences continue to identify with relevant local content and respond more favorably when stations put the interests of the community first. This sentiment was later echoed by Debra OConnell, President ABC National Television Sales, who reiterated the halo effect stations provide advertisers through community outreach and market partnerships.

A more sobering tone took over the afternoon session through various updates on local TV measurement, automated TV and digital innovation. All three panels were informative but tempered with caution due to the varied approaches and diverse needs across the linear and digital marketplaces. While significant developments are in progress, it was evident by the emerging technology panelists that there is a clear need to work together. This ran counter to the position taken during the TV measurement panel where competitive boundaries were favored. A final wrap-up with agency buying leads brought home the point that the transition toward modern measurement and technology advancements is contributing to disruptive practices that may be hurting local broadcast TV within the broader media landscape.

TVB Forward 2016 concluded with optimism that the local TV broadcast business is on solid ground but there are also significant headwinds tied to advertising growth. An important takeaway to consider are the current challenges surrounding local broadcast TV and its transition from legacy measurement and workflow toward one that aligns better with data and technology advancements that concentrate on local market audiences.

Local broadcast TV stations intimately understand their local market audiences and the stories that define them as well as the set of challenges facing these communities. This key proposition should propel the next generation of measurement and advertiser conversations, as well as the development of new framework (additional perspective here) to insure local audiences are at the center of all development.

Pragmatic leadership still wins the day and with concentrated focus over the next year, this group has an opportunity to focus on their strengths to move this message forward and improve perceptions that encourage renewed advertising interest in local markets.

PapugaMaribeth Papuga is a 25+ year advertising veteran with specialization in local market media planning and buying. The majority was spent leading the local practice at MediaVest and predecessor DMB&B.

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