Social Media: A New Upfront Opportunity? - Michael Kassan - MediaBizBloggers

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The mainstream Internet media -- yes, I think we have come that far or, depending on your perspective, sunk that low, to say there is such a thing now -- had a field day last week with the release of a study that showed 10 percent of people under 25 years old think it's okay to text while having sex.

Even Gawker called the finding "appalling," which is kind of like the pot excoriating the kettle for its choice of color. But as usual, the media missed the point and no, that is not meant to be a pun.

Sure, the study's findings are funny, in a stupid sort of way. (There were also questions about texting while eating and going to the bathroom.) But there's something quite serious underlying this nonsense, and believe it or not, there's a message in here for all the media warriors girding for Upfront battle this month.

We ignore the interconnectedness of consumers' lives at our peril. And that's why I think if there is a Big Theme to this year's Upfront, like metrics, digital media and the recession were in recent years, it ought to be integrating social media into your Upfront deals.

Now I know what you're going to say. Haven't we already concluded that social networks are not advertising vehicles, but CRM and public relations opportunities? Well, yes and no.

Buzz spreads on social networks as fast as news about demonstrations in Iran or tragedy in Haiti. And who would argue that there isn't a correlation between buzz and ratings?

Plus, we now have the means, through social graph optimization provided by innovative companies like our client Meebo, to utilize social media as ad platforms.

Now I know what you're thinking. Broadcast networks and social media are apples and oranges. How does this possibly work logistically? Well, probably pretty easily.

We're all about integration now, aren't we? Last blog, I wrote about finding frenemies anywhere you can and turning them into partners in win-win initiatives. Here's a perfect example of just such an opportunity.

Besides, I've seen media agencies drag in some pretty interesting partners in the service of their clients' objectives. I believe it was MediaVest that built a Zen garden in an airport in one campaign a couple of years ago. And if you can successfully add a gardener to the mix, you can integrate social media into your Upfront deals.

But the kicker is that any agency that does this effectively -- I imagine there is already some thinking going on in this area -- is going to have very satisfied clients. Blue-chip advertisers rarely miss an opportunity these days to add a "we know how important social media is" line into every quote they give ad beat reporters. They're consumed by the challenge of getting this right.

So if you make them great TV deals, they'll be happy with you. If you integrate effective digital extensions into your buys, they may even be content with you.

But using the Upfront to help them understand and deploy something so powerful that one in ten young people won't even stop doing it while they're "doing it?"

That's got to be priceless.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at

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