Great Content Continues to Fuel the Upfronts

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom


The Ad Age Digital Conference in New York brought together dynamic leaders in advertising and marketing to talk candidly about doing business in this “post-digital” age.  Viacom’s own Sarah Iooss, SVP for Partnerships and Client Strategy joined a panel titled “What’s Coming Next: Upfronts, New Fronts, Cannes and Beyond” with Kris Magel (Chief Investment Officer, Initiative), Laura Molen (EVP, Lifestyle Advertising Sales Group, NBCUniversal) and Peter Naylor (SVP, Sales, Hulu). They reflected on the evolution of the Upfronts and a variety of topics trending from the growth of big data to the impact of on-demand viewing and steaming to the influence of social media measurement.

Sarah Iooss underscored that the Upfront is a stage for the best brands to breakthrough and that TV is one of the most important social platforms because it powers social conversation. Social is a must have for any campaign and it has to be real-time, relevant and measurable. Iooss spoke about the importance of great content fueling the surge of consumption on all platforms and how Viacom brings best-in class, social capabilities to market to track engagement.

“Social is a discipline that we’re putting a lot of effort in, specifically accountability and actually making products that have a workflow and measurement we can really count on,” said Iooss. “In the social sphere, we have a product that we call Echo, which is how advertisers can take advantage of our massive social footprint. We are looking to make sure the fans are activating and engaging with our partners’ brands. Echo is social by design and we find that shared voice with a partner and program it across all of our screens including social.”

With so many platforms to get the word out, advertisers embrace innovative tools that enable them to measure campaign effectiveness and see what’s really resonating with audiences. Iooss explained how Viacom Velocity, the integrated marketing and creative content division, now has over 40 Echo campaign executions completed that deliver real value for partners.  “The accountability layer for us comes with the Echo Social Graph, a proprietary analytics tool that actually measures your campaign effectiveness looking at reach, engagement, viral lift and top”  said Iooss. “We are so thrilled with the results, which give us insights not only into what worked but how to actually program social in the future and get predictive.”

From creativity driven by technology, greater accountability and the ability to be more predictive using data and analytics these are just some of the forces shaping the upfronts and the industry overall – this is just a bit of what the panel asked the audience to keep on their radar this year.

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