Agency Strikes New Kind Of Unwired Deal, A Step Toward Local Broadcast Programmatic

In a precursor to a more programmatic solution, independent media services agency U.S. International Media has struck a new kind of unwired network television deal, combining the coverage of two of the nation’s largest broadcast TV station owners -- the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Broadcasting Co. -- into a one-stop, single invoice television buy guaranteed and posted on Rentrak’s TV ratings, not Nielsen.

The deal, which will deliver near national reach at spot TV advertising costs, will roll up local audience delivery calculated on the basis of Rentrak’s market-by-market ratings derived from digital set-top usage. While unwired deals are not unprecedented in the broadcast TV ad marketplace, using Rentrak to measure the aggregate reach and delivery of audiences is a new twist. And according to USIM East Coast President Russell Zingale, it is an interim step toward more targeted, automated and programmatic ad buys with the local TV broadcasters.



While the first iteration of the deal utilizes a conventional unwired network structure -- basically rolling local coverage of stations into a national ratings estimate tied to a single invoice and a single negotiated guarantee -- Zingale said USIM is working with Sinclair and other broadcasters to develop more programmatic methods that could lead to more precise and more efficient audience targeting.

“Instead of going to ABC and NBC and negotiating a network buy, this enables us to get nearly as much reach, but with the efficiency of local broadcast,” he said, estimating that the combination of Sinclair and Tribune’s reach would garner about 80% coverage of U.S. TV households.

Zingale would not disclose what accounts USIM is utilizing the strategy for, but he said the deals were being done in conjunction with creative agency PlowShare, a Washington, D.C.-based agency that specializes in public service campaigns and big government accounts.

It’s not the first time USIM has leveraged innovative ways of buying local broadcast television in order to give its clients a direct competitive advantage. In 2009, MediaPost picked USIM as its independent media agency of the year for busting the local broadcast TV rep community’s oligopoly and began negotiating national spot ad deals directly with stations that wanted to do business that way with USIM. The strategy ruffled feathers and led to a suit by the rep community against USIM, which the agency won. USIM founder Dennis Holt said the reason for doing it has nothing to do with bypassing the rep’s commissions, but was a means of getting more direct access to local station inventory and talent, which was necessary to servicing his clients.

It’s the same approach that USIM has utilized in its approach to programmatic -- and the unwired deal with Sinclair, Tribune and Rentrak is a part of that progression, explained ZIngale, noting that it is just a means of getting closer to the local market inventory in order to get closer to the audiences that USIM’s clients want to reach.

“We are proceeding cautiously, but we think there is an opportunity to try doing things differently,” said Steven Pruett, vice president and co-COO of the Sinclair Television Group, who negotiated the deal and then reached out to Tribune to help build the coverage necessary to make it work.

“I think that’s important because over the years, broadcasters have seen money migrate to networks, in particular cable networks,” he continued, adding: “A lot of what we hear is, it’s the ease of acquisition of buying the time.”

While the initial deal will improve the operating efficiencies of buying national reach across local broadcast stations, Pruett said, “we are talking about programmatic.

“Fundamentally, programmatic has to come from companies that are willing to tie their footprints together. Before you can do it with automation maybe you want to see if you can do it period, while we wait for the technology to get there.”

2 comments about "Agency Strikes New Kind Of Unwired Deal, A Step Toward Local Broadcast Programmatic".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 5, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.

    Joe, it's really a no-brainer to use the "cost efficiencies" of spot TV to generate more "targeted" impressions than a network buy. You don't need the magic of "programmatic" to accomplish this. Instead of buying premium priced primetime on the broadcast networks, buy cheaper priced early and late fringe via spot, and you automatically get a 25-35% lower CPM---sometimes more. However, if you level the playing field and buy exactly the same dayparts for network and spot---early AM news/talk, day, early news, late night on ABC,CBS and NBC affiliates, the CPM edge of spot vanishes or is very greatly reduced and your main selling point is local market geographical GRP tailoring via spot---for those who desire it.

    I realize that it sounds very impressive to bandy about terms like "programmatic" and "big data" ratings but programmatic buying was supposed to evaluate all possible buys, not just what one seller has to offer and what metrics are being used to evaluate reach and targeting efficiencies---set usage ratings?Does anyone actually believe that such metrics---dropped 50 years ago by savvy TV agencies and advertisers-----are giving us meaningful answers?

  2. James Siciliano from Channels:360, February 5, 2016 at 9:04 a.m.

    Well stated Ed!  If I may, I'd like to add that the promise of Programmatic and Big Data is to enable marketers to target in a much more granular way.  The unwired network referenced in this article is no where near that.  Television, whether viewed on the "Big Screen" or mobile devices is NOT being viewed as it was five years ago, let alone back in the 1980s.  Today consumers watch specific TV content accross multiple devices.  This is especially true with younger consumers.  The concept of buying accross broad dayparts has become ineffective and with it comes a lot of waste.  Today, we need to focus on effectiveness and a high ROI as the measure of success for our clients vs. the lowest CPP/CPM on the block. 

Next story loading loading..