Upfronts 2015: Shaw cozies up to advertisers

Advertisers' demand for ROI has the media co including clients at the early stages of show development.

At the network’s upfronts on Wednesday, Christine Shipton talked about the company’s efforts to draw advertisers in early on into the process of season schedule development.

With more clients demanding a connection between their media buys and ROI, the network changed up its upfronts strategy this year. In separate presentations to senior agency partners this year, network execs spent time explaining their choice of renewed and new shows. “The pace of the presentations was slower,” says Greg McLelland, VP, sales at Shaw. “We were much more detailed about our content strategies…why we picked up certain shows and what the strategy behind it was.”

Over the past year the company has been working with online panel company - Vision Critical - to strengthen its partnership with brands. One of the ways in which Vision Critical provides intelligence is through the developing of, what they call, Insight Communities, a collective of engaged customers, that provide constant feedback.

The feedback suggests that brands do better when they are integrated into content, and they’re reaching their specific audience. “We’re working harder because our clients see a real benefit to being branded into our shows,” says McLelland. “We can now have dialogue with clients and we quiz those online panelists along what we are doing with the brands that are integrated with the show.”

McLelland says that the result is clear: more people have brand recall when they see integrated content, and advertisers want the intelligence, too, so they are keen to work with Shaw to develop better strategies to reach clients. 

Addressable TV opportunities are not yet on the horizon at Shaw Media but the sales team is spending more time getting to know and understand how addressable could be incorporated into its offerings in the future.

Meanwhile, the network is focusing on brand integration opportunities. It renewed Big Brother Canada - one of its most brand-integrated shows - for a fourth season, and Shipton said the show’s audience grew by 40% when it moved over to Global. Shipton also mentioned that  Global News grew its audience by 30% and had a similar spike in unique visitors to its website, but the company has more specific ad ops on its specialty channels. 

Specialty audiences  are now starting to to rival conventional audiences,” Shipton said at the upfronts, noting that Vikings on History at 10 p.m. drew an average of 850,000 viewers for its third season.

The company is focusing on three of its specialty channels to provide brand integration and specific branded content opportunities to advertisers: Slice, HGTV and Food Network Canada.

The new show with the most ad ops is The House that HGTV Built on HGTV.  Unlike traditional advertising where one or two brands sponsor the show,  the channel’s new show will be marketed to advertisers as one with intense integration opportunities for multiple clients. “These kind of shows would be able to ingest a lot of clients that all get treated in the same way. We’ll be working very closely with the producers and the creative producers so that more clients can see the benefit of these spots.”

The best news for advertisers is their involvement at a very early stage of development so that they can build ad content around the show. “The best way [to do that] is to introduce the brands to everyone in the show very early on so they can help build the episodic arts with the brands.”