I'm a huge fan of Upfront season. It reminds me of the NBA Playoffs. And for many media professionals this really is our run for a championship. There is an air of anticipation, excitement and showmanship. There are the clear frontrunners, the young upstarts that surprise and amaze, and sadly sometimes there are even the established pros that fall short on the biggest stage. It seems every year the presentations get more charismatic as media properties look to make an impact on agencies and clients. Yet, with the overwhelming fanfare around bold announcements and predictions we sometimes lose sight of one very simple truth: not all impressions are created equal.
Solid play will always keep you in the game. It's important for teams to strive for that. For media professionals, that usually comes in the form of chasing efficiency and acquiring the desired level of impressions and GRPs. But great teams, the teams that transcend, aren't rooted in antiquated methods. They are built on chemistry and being additive. That is the defining difference that propels the most enduring franchises.
The San Antonio Spurs have always been my favorite example of a team that focuses on these additive and explosive properties to create a winning formula. The Spurs have the same number of players on their roster as every other team. However, they have been masterful at evolving and adapting with the times, while still being true to their signature style. They don't focus on stats and data that "prove" a player is great. They follow their instincts and build a winner out of what they see happening on the court. For example, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard may be listed as forwards but they play bigger or smaller at times depending on their competition, or the lineup for that night. They are additive. They take advantage of opportunities and create impact at the right time.
With the myriad of choices out there to assemble a media roster, there seems to be pretty clear criteria to evaluate value:
The landscape is littered with media properties that hit one or two of these regularly enough. But the question for everyone this season is: Do you have any "players on the court" to get a win from this lineup, or do you need to find an MVP? Because again, not all impressions are created equal.
For me, the MVP is cinema. Cinema delivers meaningful scale (with over 1.2 billion attendees in 2015) but equally important, and like a true MVP, it delivers long term stability (vs. the broadcast ratings nosedive). And like a championship team, our fans are rabid! It's hard to find a more coveted audience than cinema. They are young (average age 29), elusive (light TV viewers) and influential spenders watching distraction free in a state-of-the-art theater. That qualifies as immersive by any standard. Not to mention, cinema is the king of premium content.
Successful media properties, like successful professional athletes, need to continuously evolve their game while being responsive to their team's needs. Both need to decide how best to lean in and harness the available opportunities. Within cinema, where the on-screen impact is unrivaled, the sector has been responsive to ensure that creative, content, tech and data capabilities further elevate and extend a brand's story.
So as you navigate this Upfront season, keep in mind that not all impressions are created equal. To build a winning program, you need to look for impact players. Don't keep cinema on the bench. It's time to earn a championship.
The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated bloggers.