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CBS Gears Up for Million-Dollar Ads at the Grammys

Target and IBM are among the advertisers tuning in to CBS’ Sunday-night broadcast of the Grammys.

The network has been seeking around $1 million in exchange for 30 seconds of air time during which marketers can sound off, according to a media buyer and another person familiar with the matter. CBS, says Linda Rene, executive vice president of primetime sales and innovation for the network, has offered to shake up some of the traditional commercial formats.

“You will see custom spots for some of the large sponsors,” she said. “There will be a good amount of contextually synergistic spots, using successful music artists.”

Much of Madison Avenue focuses on the Super Bowl around this time of year, but the Grammys have been known to lend a boost to advertisers, too. In recent years, viewers have live ads for Target featuring of-the-moment artists like Imagine Dragons and Gwen Stefani.

In 2015, Target used four minutes of ad time to show Imagine Dragons playing live from Las Vegas. One year later, Stefani performed a “music-video” concept in real time, a conceit that involved seven costume changes and a roller-skating sequence. The retailer indicated in a recent promo it would return as a sponsor.

IBM’s artificial-intelligence platform Watson will spend the pre-show red-carpet session curating and releasing videos and photos to fans following along via social media.

CBS’ Rene says the 2018 Grammys broadcast has attracted support from movie studios and music companies, but is also winning over sponsors who have not typically spent on the event. “There are other new categories we have added that have not had a big network presence, clients who don’t normally buy high-profile inventory,” she says.

The Grammys last year attracted an average of 27.6 million viewers on a live-plus-seven-day basis, according to Nielsen. In comparison, ABC’s Oscars broadcast last year snared 34.2 million.

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