Even with Kevin Reilly out at the News Corp broadcaster and ratings declines from an aging American Idol, Fox has managed to score a serious deal: GroupM, arguably the biggest media agency network, is buying C7 guarantees.
GroupM didn't respond immediately to requests for comment, but one of the networks is said to be dangling a 3 percent pricing discount in front of agencies that will agree to C7 guarantees.
It hasn't even been that long since the networks started selling C3—the shift to C7 is something buyers have long resisted, given the length of time it takes to process the data and the need for immediate returns on ads such as movie trailers. With C7 guarantees, you may see that your ad was delivered, but if your ad was delivered on unskippable VOD on Tuesday and your movie opened on Friday, it's probably not a great feeling to shell out cash for that delivery.
And GroupM does represent Paramount Pictures among many other big-name clients including Unilever and AT&T. It's a gamble (and probably not a gamble the media agency is taking on all of its clients), but it's one head buyer Rino Scanzoni has said he's comfortable with as recently as three weeks ago. "It all comes down to economics," Scanzoni told the Wall Street Journal. "Clients are obviously getting that audience when people play back their programs post-three days; if they’re not fast-forwarding the commercials, that exposure exists. Ultimately I do see the business going onto a C7 metric because as we try to drive the business to a cross-platform metric, you probably need a longer time frame than the C3 window to optimize that. We will eventually be going there. It’s a matter of working out the economics initially to make the transition one that’s acceptable to both sides."
So let the message go forth: The economics are acceptable at the moment. That may mean that Fox is selling the C7 impressions for a low enough rate to interest the network, of course—but it also means that a major border has been crossed in the technical progress of the advertising negotiations. One reason the market has been slow to start, industry sources told Adweek earlier today, is the preponderance of proprietary tech among research teams at the networks selling the inventory.
Now, we know that some advertisers—or at least their media agencies—are willing to stretch.
Fox sales chief Toby Byrne indicated that the net would be seeking this kind of deal during the network's upfront. "Now, in order for us to continue to make massive investments into our quality entertainment programming, we need to recognize the evolution of the media landscape, and with so much of our audience choosing to watch on their own schedule, our business needs to evolve as well," he told buyers. "I think you can see where I'm going. … For our business today and for tomorrow, we need to have a meaningful discussion about C7."
Reaction within the advertising community was mixed.
C7? Did someone really agree to pay for C7 in a buyers' market? Really? Need a list of their clients!
— John Muszynski (@JohnMusz) June 2, 2014