Cable execs speaking at the UBS media and entertainment conference this week offered plenty of insights on advertising, from digital wishlists, to C7 ratings to ad revenue predictions.
Their ad sales expectations varied, but execs shared one New Year’s wish: better measurement of digital assets. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said that a lack of measurement for digital content means nets like Nick and MTV aren’t getting enough credit from advertisers. Predicting that 2014 will see new technologies emerge to measure viewership on second screens, he said Viacom nets will particularly benefit thanks to its younger target demo. Disney is counting on second screen measurement as well, with CFO Jay Rasulo calling mobile “the single largest” technology opportunity. In addition to viewing on second screens, limitations in Nielsen’s current measurement system have resulted in the exclusion of Netflix viewing, CBS’ chief research officer David Poltrack said.
However, Nielsen is doing its part to measure smaller screens: In October it announced an SDK to track second screen engagement. And the best part about the approach is the patent-pending Nielsen technology behind the SDK that will know where to credit the viewing as it analyzes the watermarks, metadata or tags associated with the content and related advertising. The program is slated to begin with the fall 2014 TV season.
C7 VS C3
On C7 versus C3 measurement, there might be some hesitation on the advertiser side to embrace C7, Rasulo said, even though the industry might sell more ads in 2014 for viewing over 7 days versus this year. CBS’ CEO Leslie Moonves, who predicted earlier this year that C7 ratings could be the industry standard in a year, told the audience at the UBS conference that in next year’s upfront there will be a lot more C7, though it may not be the industry standard. It will probably take longer for the change to occur, Rasulo said.
Ad Revenue Growth
Heading into 2014, lower-than-expected ratings at Discovery and TLC could mean ad revenue growth for Discovery Communications will be affected, CEO David Zaslav said. “We have seen some soft ratings on Discovery and TLC,” he noted. However, Investigation Discovery and OWN are performing well, he said. It might be a similar story at Time Warner: Though CEO Jeff Bewkes said for the most part cable nets are “on track” to score higher earnings, weak ratings could mean lower-than-expected 4Q ad sales. Specifically, Cartoon Network has been a concern, though Bewkes said it’s a short-term issue. Viacom’s Dauman reiterated that ad revenue growth in the current quarter is expected to be in the mid-single digits.