Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' Everything TV & Video Forum on Thursday, Ponturo said it is no longer enough to buy ad space during broadcasts of big events and live pro and college sports, pillars of A-B's ad strategy. He said the ad buy must be integrated with the Web and within the game itself.
"Everything we do today is about how to extend our traditional media buys with new technology." he said, noting that the company garnered an additional 32 million views of its Super Bowl ads online the week after the game.
Ponturo said the Web provides a destination for more irreverent creative. One of the company's Super Bowl ads starred Will Ferrell improvising as Jackie Moon from the movie "Semi Pro." A-B shot much more improvisational--and risqué--versions for the Web.
"The incentive to do the traditional Super Bowl spot was the 20 million views we got on the Internet," he said. "Two years ago, those ads wouldn't have had a home. Now, all of us use video in a much different way: You go on a shoot and do a spot for traditional media and then one for the Internet side."
Ponturo said that in the '80s and '90s, A-B was concerned solely with reach; "we were hunters." He added that while 90% of A-B's media plan is still focused on traditional media, "we think the most important thing is how to evolve to the digital online space with traditional media. It's going to be how do we do sponsorship deals, how do we talk to owners of Web assets and integrate the old (media) with the new."
Per Ponturo, A-B has shifted its dollars--incrementally--to the Web and also from the four networks to cable entertainment buys. "Ten years ago, 81% of our buy was against broadcasters," he said. Now, the mix is around 70% network, with over 30% on cable.
Still, live sports is over 70% of what A-B does in media strategy. "We like it because it's live; we like it because it's TiVo-proof; there's a lot of promotional connection, an emotional connection and product placement--through stadium signage, for instance," he said.
He added that big-event buys give an advertiser the "look of the leader" and mass reach frequently with double-digit ratings. Besides the Super Bowl, A-B has media buys and integration with the Final Four, the World Series and the forthcoming Olympics.
"In this day and age, if we get 17 days of 14-15 share, those are big consistent numbers," he said.