Beleaguered GM Wrestles With Ad Placements

Sure, cost-cutting played a role in General Motors pulling advertising from the Super Bowl and Academy Awards, but perhaps the automaker would have punted even if Detroit were not suffering. Mike Rosen, who heads the GM business for Starcom MediaVest (SMG), said Tuesday a strategy was at work aiming to cut down on "built-in waste."

There are more efficient venues to reach people who are in the market for a new car or expected to buy one in the coming year. "We just felt like there were different ways that we could reach those kind of audiences," he said.

That's not to say a post-bankruptcy GM has soured on TV in favor of social media or something more vogue -- sight, sound and motion remain uniquely compelling. But SMG is wrestling with: "How do we take that incredible platform and start to target it better?"

In that vein, Rosen rued the CW network's recent announcement that it would increase the commercial load in online streams of its shows to a level more in line with on-air. "Totally understandable and a little sad," he said at a Broadcasting & Cable upfront event.



Online video offers novel possibilities, he said, and trying to simply transfer a decades-old model over to boost revenues now might lead to a missed opportunity. "We're kind of losing the sense of what we can do in improving the new thing to make it worth more," he said.

Fellow panelist at the event, Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, president of Magna, agreed. "The full commercial load in both places is ... not very strategic," she said.

Commenting on how the curbed upfront market last year may affect what happens this spring, she said the residual impact may be less financial and more emotional. Spending and pricing will "absolutely not" return to the pre-recession levels, though it will be better than 2009.

But, she said the slower-moving buyers' market may have given agencies time to think more tactically about their clients' needs that could usher in a new trend. "We don't have to act like crazy idiots," she said.

Looking ahead post-Memorial Day, a third panelist, Gibbs Haljun, a managing director at Mediaedge:cia, said his agency isn't sure how it needs to proceed with negotiations. Though there is a broad outlook, he said, "We have no idea what budgets are going to be for any client." Easter just wrapped.

Strategically, he suggested if broadcasters are able to deal from a position of strength, perhaps the spot market still hampered by cuts in auto spending might present an alternative.

2 comments about "Beleaguered GM Wrestles With Ad Placements".
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  1. Carl LaFong, April 7, 2010 at 9:47 a.m.

    As a former shareholder of GM, it's interesting to hear someone from the company actually admit they were wasting our money all these years.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, April 7, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.

    To SMG's Mike Rosen:


    The problem begins the moment you try to legislate ad placement within a 250 million channel universe. As you're discovering, it can't be done.

    However, I will be happy to share with you a proven process by which GM can entice its target audience to come to them instead - in scale (how does 5 million visitors a day to GM websites sound?) - with no ad placement whatsoever! With no ads for that matter! And I can deliver that traffic at a fraction the cost of what GM is now spending for a bunch of empty impressions.

    Give me a call, Mike, at 219-878-1006, and let's discuss a media model that actually works for a change.

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