ViacomCBS, on the hunt for advertising dollars in a difficult economic moment, plans to take two shots at its target.
The recently-merged company later today will offer a look at its various cable properties to media buyers and advertisers, and on Tuesday will debut the fall schedule for its CBS broadcast network. The two video presentations will be sent via email to clients and are designed to whet appetites on Madison Avenue, says Jo Ann Ross, the company’s president and chief U.S. advertising revenue officer, in an interview. The pitch holds that with the company’s reach, which extends from Trevor Noah to “NCIS,” ViacomCBS offerings can’t be ignored.
The media conglomerate, which owns CBS, Showtime and Nickelodeon, among other media outlets, is testing a different tactic than others approaching advertisers during a fraught season for the industry’s annual “upfront” market. NBCUniversal and Univision asked clients last week to gather at a particular time to watch a streamed presentation. ViacomCBS is making its information available on demand.
“We will have different portals available, so you can go whenever – look at research, programming – at your leisure and as you please,” says Ross, who was named to lead U.S. ad sales for the combined company in the fall of last year. “We want it to be snackable, so you can say, ‘I have 20 to 25 minutes, let me check it out.’ We will have deeper dives available that go into our innovations and capabilities and advanced advertising options.”
Like its rivals, ViacomCBS faces an uncertain advertising market, with several major classes of sponsors pulling back commercial spend due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ross says she is seeing signs that buying activity is starting to improve. “Clients who may have had supply-chain issues, or distribution issues – more than a handful of those clients are reactivating, so to speak – if they took money back, they are coming back into the marketplace,” she says. “As the country reopens, I am optimistic looking forward we will be seeing some of the first stirrings from some of those major categories that were being more cautious.”
ViacomCBS’ backers have long hoped the combination of the two predecessor companies’ properties would lure new ad deals and spending, and Ross says the two presentations this week will aim to show advertisers what is available to them. “We have something in every content category, whether it is news, or sports or general entertainment,” she says. And based on individual client’s interest or marketing goals, she says ViacomCBS will work on “threading the needle,” or helping advertisers find their most likely customers across the company.
To further emphasize the broader company, the videos shown on both days will rely on talent from across the portfolio. “You will see talent from CBS partnered with talent from our cable channels in fun ways,” says Ross. “It’s going to be different.”