Red-Letter Day for CAB

Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau touts merits of cable

In advance of what's expected to be a protracted upfront season, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau is reaching out directly to the procurement side of the business.

On May 11, the CAB will send letters to the chief procurement officers and purchasing directors at 50 top TV advertisers, in a targeting initiative designed to highlight the merits of investing in ad-supported cable.
In addition to underscoring cable's accelerated ratings growth, the CAB letter notes that cable inventory offers greater value than broadcast time. "In this environment, assurance is hard to come by," said CAB CEO & president Sean Cunningham. "This is our way of communicating cable's health metrics to the people who make the bottom-line purchasing decisions."

The letter, which is being delivered to media agencies as well as clients, asserts that "the basic value proposition of cable networks are better CPMs than broadcast networks, even as cable ascends and broadcast declines in ratings. Thus, the cable advertising inventory purchased in 2009 is bound to be worth more in 2010, just as the cable inventory purchased in 2010 is bound to be worth more in 2011."
Cunningham said that the mailing marks the first concerted effort on the part of the trade organization to get its message in front of people on the procurement side of the business. In addition to making the case for cable, the letter is a tacit acknowledgment that purchasing executives have greater authority over discretionary spending and media investments.

"The scrutiny with which all these decisions are made and rationalized continues to increase, and in this economic environment it ratchets up another degree," Cunningham said. "Procurement officers are an important set of eyes, and they bring an objectivity and financial responsibility to the party. ... We wanted to articulate to them our core message, which is that your cable buy will be inherently worth next year and the year after."

The letter, which was signed by Cunningham, characterizes an upfront investment in cable as a "lock."

"As you and your purchasing/marketing/brand counterparts strategize with your media agency team on the best investment opportunities during this "upfront" national TV buying season, you will be looking at branded Cable video assets that are at their latest peak profile," the letter concludes. "Over-delivery on your plan expectations is thus within reach, with real assurance."
According to the CAB, cable increased its upfront take by 9.3% during the 2008-09 bazaar, as the networks wrote $7.65 billion in business, up from $7 billion in the year-ago period.