“We Feel Great About Where Viacom Is Today,” CFO Wade Davis Tells Gabelli Conference

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 08: Viacom CFO Wade Davis attends the 2014 UJA-Federation of New York’s Leadership Awards Dinner at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on April 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

“We feel great about where Viacom is today,” Viacom Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Wade Davis told an audience of investors at the recent Gabelli Movie & Entertainment Conference. “From a fundamental standpoint, we think a lot of the strategies that we’ve been focused on and putting in place are paying off. … the first half of 2018, our fiscal 2018 is really a transition into delivering growth in the second half of 2018 and beyond, and we feel really good about that, focus 100 percent on delivering that.”

Here are a few more highlights from Davis’ remarks at the event. You can listen to the full event here.

Advanced Marketing Solutions and strong linear pricing are driving ad sales growth

“Pricing is incredibly strong right now in the linear market … So the growth is coming from what we call our Advanced Marketing Solutions portfolio or AMS [advanced addressable inventory and brand solutions]. So between those two areas – advanced addressable inventory where we’re activating new pools generally of non-linear inventory that are addressable in nature, and brand solutions – we have a portfolio business that as we’ve said publicly is going to approach $300 million this year. It’s really — it’s growing 40-plus-or-minus percent quarter-over-quarter, and we think that rate of growth will carry into 2019, and actually in the first part of 2019 accelerate.”

Growth comes over the top  

“So when you think about where Viacom is, we’re extremely well represented in the traditional distributor-led virtual MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributor]. That’s Sling, that’s DIRECTV NOW, and those are really the virtual MVPDs that matter. … We’d love to be on [Hulu and YouTube], we’re in discussions with those guys all the time. … And as we’ve gone through and stabilized our relationships with the traditional distributors, we’ve had a lot of success in getting ourselves very well positioned with respect to any virtual or OTT product that any of those traditional distributors will launch.”

Mobile is a global growth engine

“Mobile is a place where we’re significantly benefited by our global business. We made a lot of investments in bringing mobile bundles to market internationally. I guess we’ve announced at the moment five different partnerships that we have with mobile distributors around the world in which we’re licensing some form of bundle of our content into the mobile distributors. … And we’re in very advanced discussions with the three biggest operators in the United States, feel very good about where we’re positioned with them.”

Cornerstone networks in major international markets and mobile are driving growth outside the U.S.

“The [international] business is growing double digits, both top line and bottom line. … We operate in 180 countries. We have cornerstones in the biggest, most important markets, India and Asia, UK, which is the most attractive largest media market outside of the United States, and we’re the number one broadcaster in Argentina … And then there are some underlying trends that we think are different than the domestic market. … You do have a much more progressive mobile infrastructure [internationally]. As we said, a lot of these international markets, their principal Internet access is mobile and consequently their mobile offerings are a lot more mature. … And there’s also some of the same trends and tailwinds that we’re seeing in the SVOD [subscription video on demand] marketplace, domestically are starting to play themselves out globally.”

A “world-class team of operators” is transforming Paramount Pictures

“Every member of [Paramount Pictures’] senior management team except for the CFO is new. … We’ve completely overhauled all of the processes, the green light process, development process, global marketing, et cetera. So the business is running much more efficiently. We have a world class team of operators who bring new energy to the studio. … [and Paramount Television] should do about $400 million of revenue this year, and should, for the first time, be a contributor to operating income. It’s important to keep in mind that this is really still a startup. … it’s still in a growth phase, and we expect very, very strong double-digit growth on the revenue base above and beyond the $400 million that we expect this year.”

A “forever effort” transformation will save Viacom hundreds of millions of dollars

“…  when you think about our focus on margin enhancement, it really relates to efficiencies outside of content investment. So we’ve announced that we’ve undertaken a cost transformation effort. And for us, that’s not just a onetime restructuring. I think a lot of media companies and even Viacom historically would, from time to time, announce a restructuring in which they would write off some content, let some people go. But this is an effort that we view as a forever effort and something that’s part of the new culture that we’re trying to build. We have a team that’s a full-time team staffed focused on this. We’ve been very public about the amount of savings that we’re going to be able to deliver out of the current efforts being more than $100 million in the current year and in excess of $300 million in 2019 and beyond.”

A comprehensive reimagining of the content pipeline is connecting Viacom networks with their natural audiences

“The big issue for us and the big opportunity for us is bringing the focus that we’ve cited around our flagship six networks, being able to concentrate the spend where it matters most and being very precise about what the programming strategy and the brand promises for each of those brands. … So a good example of that is MTV which had historically been dabbling in very expensive scripted programming. That scripted programming is not programming that worked particularly well on MTV for MTV’s audience, and it consumed a ton of dollars for a very small amount of hours. Not enough hours to actually have MTV be a destination for high-end scripted dramas. So what we’ve done is we’ve concentrated our efforts around high-end scripted on the Paramount Network. As it relates to MTV it’s allowed us for really in some cases less money dramatically increased the amount of original programming that we have on the network, but most importantly, it’s programming that’s aligned with a vision that’s important to MTV’s audience.”

Signing with Comcast, Viacom Continues to Enhance Advanced Advertising Capabilities

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom has spent years finding better ways to match advertisements with audience. Last March, the company was a founding member of the OpenAP advanced audience platform. Its 2017 renewals with Charter and Altice USA included advanced advertising components. And CEO Bob Bakish has consistently emphasized the importance of continuing to develop these capabilities.

“….on the advanced advertising space, Viacom is clearly the market leader,” Bakish said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in December. “…So I think that is a very exciting road ahead.”

Indeed. Especially since Viacom has now signed a multi-year agreement with Comcast that will further boost its advanced advertising and data capabilities.

The mutual advantages are clear. Viacom has a nationwide reach and deep advanced advertising expertise. Comcast, through anonymized data mined from set-top boxes in subscribers homes, knows who is watching which shows and can match that audience to ads using powerful tools developed through its FreeWheel unit. Together, they can better monetize ad inventory across premium video-on-demand and linear content.

“Today’s announcement reflects Viacom’s commitment to developing more expansive relationships with our distributors,” said Viacom Executive Vice President and Chief Data Officer Kern Schireson. “This new partnership with Comcast and FreeWheel builds on Viacom’s connections with valuable, diverse audiences and Comcast’s reach and data leadership, to create an advanced advertising platform with scale and sophistication. Marketers increasingly demand the ability to reach the right customers at the right time in a premium, trusted environment, and this transformative partnership furthers our ability to unlock greater value for our brand partners and accelerate the future of television advertising.”

“Viacom and FreeWheel have a shared goal of enhancing the value of the entire TV ecosystem,” said FreeWheel Executive Vice President and General Manager David Clark. “To do so, we believe in a shared vision of a TV and premium video unification roadmap that will accelerate the integration of TV’s broad reach and quality content with advanced cross-platform targeting, measurement and optimization capabilities.”

NBCU, which is a part of Comcast, also aligned with the OpenAP consortium last week.

An Open Letter to the Industry from Fox Networks Group, Turner and Viacom

Along with Fox Networks Group and Turner, we are pleased announce OpenAP, TV’s Advanced Audience Platform. Founded by a consortium of television publishers and operated by a leading, neutral third-party auditor, OpenAP is the television industry’s first open platform for cross-publisher audience targeting and independent measurement.

The letter can be viewed below.

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MTV Slays at the Cannes Lions Festival: Let’s Hear a Roar of Applause

Every year in June, hundreds of creative agencies, tech companies and media powerhouses converge in the South of France for The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It’s a celebration of the year’s boldest ad campaigns; a chance to attend seminars with industry experts and drink champagne on yachts along the French Riviera.

The most visionary companies leave with the coveted Cannes Lyon Award—essentially the Oscar trophy of the advertising world.

You might remember 2015’s trippy, GIF-inspired VMA green-screen. The creative encouraged fans to download photos of their favorite VMA artists, such as Miley Cyrus, and customize them with fan art, emojis, and flying tacos.

Now the psychedelic promo has won a Cannes Gold Lion.

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Breaking Down Viacom Velocity in Four Key Points

by Zac Coe

1. Higher creative standards are standard.

Viacom Velocity is a full-service marketing and creative content team within the Viacom Marketing and Video Partner Solutions group, built to super-serve our advertising partners.

2. With great marketing comes great responsibility.

We build strategic and creative custom content solutions across all platforms that connect our partners seamlessly into the fabric of our brands, driving value for our partners and loyalty with our fans.

3. Viacom Velocity is where innovation meets collaboration.

Our innovative, data-driven marketing products like Echo, Vantage, Viewprint, Social Talent Platform and the Velocity Content Network create even more ways for our partners to connect with our audiences wherever they are.

4. Its got that new website smell.

We’ve refreshed our website to reflect our newest work, products and capabilities, plus company news and a whole lot more.

Check us out at velocity.viacom.com.

Velocity Content Network Explained in 3.5 Lines (Plus a Funny Life Hack Video)

A few weeks ago, Viacom launched the Velocity Content Network (VCN)​, a new division of our Viacom Velocity integrated marketing and creative content team. But what the heck is it, exactly, and what does it do? Here’s a quick overview:

1. The Velocity Content Network creates social media branded content (such as funny, entertaining videos) that actually guarantee advertisers a certain number of views.

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Five Things You Need to Know about Viacom’s Global Snapchat Partnership

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Here’s what you need to know about Viacom’s global partnership with Snapchat.

​1) You will “Discover” more Viacom on Snapchat than ever before. Two Viacom channels join Snapchat’s outrageously popular Discover feature: International Comedy Central and U.S. MTV. This complements the domestic Comedy Central and international MTV channels that already live there. It also means more videos like this from Australian rockers 5 Seconds of Summer:

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Diversity in Advertising: Where ‘Multicultural’ Meets Madison Avenue

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

BHM pic right

As part of its celebration of Black History Month, The BEAT, Viacom’s Black employee affinity group, and the Office of Global Inclusion, hosted a powerhouse panel of industry insiders for “Multicultural vs. Cross-Cultural: A Discussion of Ad relevance.” The panel, featuring Daniel Cherry (Vice President, Consumer Planning & Research, Diageo North America), Phil Colon (Co-Founder, Project 2050), Bozoma Saint John (Director of Music and Entertainment Marketing, Pepsi-Cola North America) and Tiffany Warren (Senior VP, Chief Diversity Officer Omnicom Group) and Louis Carr (President of Media Sales, BET) as moderator, took a close look at how the advertising industry markets products and programming to diverse population. Read More