Steven Mandala, whose ties to TV ad sales go back to time he would spend as a boy making rounds with his father as he worked to sell commercials for ABC, is getting some hefty new responsibilities. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications on Thursday named Mandala president of advertising sales and marketing, effective immediately.
Mandala, who has been with Univision as executive vice president of ad sales since 2012 – marking his second stint with the company – will oversee advertising sales and marketing for Univision’s sundry media outlets, including the Univision Network, UniMás, and various cable networks including Galavisión and Univision Deportes Network, along with local media and digital properties. He will succeed Keith Turner, the TV-industry veteran who has announced plans to retire at the end of 2017, and will report to Tonia O’Connor, who was recently named Univision’s chief revenue officer.
Mandala is the latest in a parade of new executives taking over the advertising-sales function at a major media outlet at a time of great flux in the industry. In recent months, veteran ad sales executives have stepped down or pulled back at Discovery Communications, AMC Networks, NBC Sports, Fox Networks Group and ABC. The role is “so much more complex today,” said Mandala, who served previously as executive vice president of NBCUniversal’s entertainment-focused cable networks “Advertisers have more options.”
He said he expected to press forward on working with so-called “programmatic” ad sales, which rely on software and algorithms to automate a portion of sales of commercial inventory; to find ne ways to develop “bigger and bolder” consumer insights with clients; and to work to integrate digital ad sales more closely with video. “Advertisers know they need to be innovative, and they are going to ask” how media outlets can be of help.
Mandala is taking on a new role, but he has been working with some of the same senior executive for years. Like Keith Turner, Mandala had a long tenure at NBCUniversal. Both men have worked with Univision CEO Randy Falco since their NBC days as well, when Falco served as Bob Wright’s second-in-command and supervised much of the finances of the company’s various media properties.
Univision saw volume of advance ad commitments rise in the mid-single-digit percentage range across its various holdings in TV’s recent upfront market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory for the coming season. Volume slipped somewhat at the company’s flagship network, a trend Mandala attributed to some pullback by retailers and consumer-packaged goods companies.
Univision for years has worked to get advertisers to earmark some of the money they reserve for English-language media and put it into the company’s Spanish-language properties. “There is huge ground to be gained,” Mandala said. “We’ve got about 650 brands on our networks right now, and there’s an opportunity to get to double that – another 650.”
“Steve is an exceptional media industry leader whose reputation for being effectual and original precedes him,” said O’Connor, in a prepared statement. “His unique sales and marketing acumen and strong leadership has been instrumental in delivering UCI’s engaged audiences to our advertising partners across the portfolio. We are delighted to have Steve at the helm of our sales team to continue to foster existing relationships as well as introduce new ones to UCI.”
Mandala, a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Business Administration, got his start at a Telemundo station in Los Angeles, and would move on to work for Univision as its vice president of West Coast network sales. His rise to the company’s top ad-sales job in some ways marks the closing of a circle.