ABC Upfront Presentation Pitches Advertisers On Disney, Digital, And Data

Not much change from last year in the basic business proposition that ABC offered to upfront advertisers today: Forget that it’s the No. 4 network in prime time for 18-to-49 year olds. Execs touted the “brand halo” (as entertainment chief Paul Lee put it) that Disney and its properties offer ABC. “When you bring them all together they are as unstoppable a force as The Force,” Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney said in a forced reference to the parent company’s acquisition of Star Wars creator Lucasfilm. Sales President Geri Wang and ESPN sales chief Ed Erhardt shared the stage to illustrate ways advertisers can mix and match appeals to women and men, for example via New Year’s programming on ABC and games on the sports network. Wang added that ABC offers more original programming than other networks which “creates great moments for your brands.”

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The network also talked up digital and data. Sweeney says the company will “continue to develop” its WATCH ABC app. It will offer opportunities to watch live broadcasts from multiple viewpoints, multitask on social media, and share clips with others. That can provide a “more integrated, immersive, personalized experience…..You get our passion for innovation and technology and the resources we put behind it, and the scope of our brand and the strength of our businesses.”

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In addition, Wang says that ABC will participate in a trial with FreeWheel to offer programmatic ads — sales that are made by computer based on pre-determined criteria. “The key is to create value for both sides,” she says. The network also will combine data from different sources so advertisers “can target your very best customers….Our goal is to drive your success.”

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Comic Jimmy Kimmel helped to puncture the self-important tone of the sales effort. “The ABC I work at is not No. 1,” he says. “Even Anne Sweeney [who has announced that she’ll leave] was, ‘The hell with this, I’m out of here’.” With all of its shows involving fairy tales and super heroes “we may be a terrible network but we’re a great birthday party for a 6 year old.” He also warned advertisers to watch out for programmatic advertising, saying it means “you will all be bartending at Applebees.”

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