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Media Buying

Mike McAvoy, President of The Onion, on His Most Successful Campaign So Far


The, known for its deadpan humor and mock-news network, has been expanding beyond its namesake site. Onion Inc. now boasts The A.V. Club, its entertainment-based sister site and Onion Labs, its advertising/marketing layer.

Onion Labs has created campaigns for everyone from Microsoft to Ford to Home Depot. Mike McAvoy, president of The Onion, recently talked with Mediabistro about this new branch of the company. McAvoy says: “It became our pitch really as a business [to] evolve with the whole native-advertising movement, as well as advertisers’ decision to change how they tried to reach millennials.” McAvoy talks about the most successful campaign they’d had so far:

I think we’ve had quite a few that have been good and have gotten good plays. We haven’t had the Old Spice viral campaign just yet, you know, where we’ve gotten 100 million [hits]. But we’ll let you know when we do. I think our most successful piece, our most viewed piece was [an] April Fool’s joke for YouTube [last year about the social-media site selecting the best video on YouTube], which has been seen by [over 11 million people]. We do a lot of work that is behind the scenes, white label or work for hire, where we’re creating content for a brand and the audience, or the world, doesn’t know it.

To hear more from McAvoy, including how he deals with native ads on his own site, read: So What Do You Do, Mike McAvoy, President of The Onion?

Mediabistro Course

Storytelling for Media Professionals

Storytelling for Media ProfessionalsStarting April 22, this in-person workshop will teach you the specific ways to incorporate storytelling into your personal and professional life. Students will examine the role of storytelling in business and put their newfound skills into practice with a series of improvisation, writing, and presentation exercises designed to help them uncover personal stories. Register now! 

Op-Ed: To Drone or Not to Drone, That is the Question


The increasing use of drones by media companies is one of the topics we’ll be discussing at the TVNewser Show April 29. This post’s author, attorney C. Andrew Keisner, will be among the guests discussing the issue.

From advertising of real estate and car dealerships to filming Hollywood blockbusters to media coverage of sporting events, examples of advertising & media companies using light-weight UAVs, or Drones, is all around. However, when it comes to using such light-weight UAVs in the United States, the legal risks are frequently misunderstood. And although a recent judge’s decision rejecting a $10,000 fine imposed by the FAA is a welcome outcome for UAV operators and the advertising & media companies that engage them, there are still several risks that advertising & media companies should address before engaging a UAV operator to capture aerial footage.

Read more

Philips Continues with Carat, Adds MPG to Media Roster

Guess it’s one of those days when the media side shines. After a review, Carat and MPG, which both competed down to the wire, will be splitting the Philips media pie as the brand has announced that the former will continue on as strategic media agency partner while the latter joins the fold to focus on Philips’ Consumer Lifestyle sector in the Americas, France and southern Europe.

Philips Consumer Lifestyle chief marketing, innovation and strategy officer Antonio Hidalgo explains in a statement, “Continuing our relationship with Carat is testimony to the strength of their strategic offering and the trusted partnership we have built in the recent years. The addition of MPG for specific geographies reflects Philips’ focus on identifying strong local partners to deliver business results.

Starcom Racks Up Another Big Win

Another Starcom media win? Another Starcom media win. The VivaKi unit has now been tapped by Anheuser-Busch InBev to work alongside and aid the beer giant’s in-house media buying/planning unit, Busch Media Group, with research and planning duties here in the States for all of its brands (you know, Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Stella) across national, local and digital media.

In a statement, A-B VP of U.S. marketing Paul Chibe says, “Starcom impressed us with their planning and research capabilities, investment in media planning tools and strong team of people. They will enable Busch Media Group to maintain and expand upon our category-leading capabilities, and we look forward to their contributions.” Well, at least it’s nice to see that A-B InBev can make a decision about something.


B-Reel Partner/EP Unveils ‘No Media Spend’

It’s amazing what Twitter buzz can do in a matter of minutes. While he’s busy judging One Show Interactive entries, it looks like Max Ahlborn, currently executive producer/partner at digital production shop B-Reel, has taken the time to launch a simple site called “No Media Spend.” The site’s name speaks for itself while the interface just consists of a page view counter, followed by the words, “With no media spend.” Last we checked, the total tally is nearing 700 well over 800 and a whole slew of industry folks are tweeting about it, some saying it’s their “fave site right now.” Talk about a quickfire way to get major exposure.

Update: A generous tipster sent us a slideshow presentation on the idea behind NMS and how it came together. Here’s one of 30 slides below. Enjoy the full show here.

Zenith Nabs Media AOR Duties for Sonic

Fast-food chain Sonic, perhaps best known for those series of chatty drive-in ads, has appointed Zenith Media as its media agency of record. The media review was launched Oct. 11 and Zenith beat out fellow finalists Maxus, Chicago and Universal McCann, Detroit in the pitch.

In a statement, Sonic’s CMO Danielle Vona sounds happy with the efforts of the aforementioned shops, saying, “The finalist agencies did an outstanding job of demonstrating their unique capabilities and applying their team’s talents and expertise to Sonic’s media needs. Zenith was selected based on their superior planning and buying expertise with great insights into our brand and target, as well as the quality of their team.”

Zenith counts other clients including Verizon, Chase, Toyota/Lexus, Nestle and 20th Century Fox. Meanwhile, Sonic’s creative review finals will occur late January/early Feb, with the winner expected to be announced some time in the latter month. As for its other accounts, the Oklahoma-born brand selected Euro RSCG Discovery for menus, POS and packaging, Lopez Negrete for Hispanic, Barkley for public relations and cause marketing, and C3 for the comapny’s children’s program.

Sonic’s media AOR duties were previously handled by Barkley.

Slate V’s Google Ad Experiment Results in Multiple Fox News Airings

Slate V’s ad critic Seth Stevenson recaps a little experiment he ran using Google TV Ads. Stevenson shows how you can infiltrate shows like Glenn Beck‘s by building a specifically targeted media campaign from the comforts of home for as little as $100. Whether it’s an informal testimonial for Google TV Ads or not, Slate V’s self-produced spot–which drove people to a website–aired 7 times during overnight reruns of Beck’s show and a total of 54 times on four networks, netting 1.3 million total views in a week’s span. Total outlay? $1,300.

More: “Glenn Beck Just Lost Fox 11 More Potential Advertisers (That’s 57 Total)

Chipotle Lands at Minneapolis’ Compass Point Media


Following the news that San Francisco based Butler Shine Stern & Partners lost the creative and media duties for Chipotle, Compass Point Media informs AgencySpy today that they’ve landed the media business. Creative will, for the time being, be handled solely by Chipotle’s in-house advertising department.

Word of the BSSP/Chipotle split came late Friday, at which time the brand stated they were soon to announce a new media partner. Compass Point Media is a Minneapolis based company. The 100-strategist/negotiator/analyst strong agency is a recent acquisition by Campbell Mithun. CPM has been in operation since 1976.

Recent reports put Chipotle’s media buying figures at $7 million for 2007 and $9 million for 2008.

More:State of Your State: Minnesota’s Ad Scene

To YouTube: Learn From Bernie Madoff & Don’t Turn Down Ad Deals


YouTube has long been fighting for ad dollars. Recently, things are looking just a tad rosier. They’ve got the new Universal Music deal. The site also says it currently sells ads against about 9% of its video views in the U.S up from just 6% a year ago. Nice, but whatever. Credit Suisse is guessing that the site’s total losses will hit $470 million. YouTube is still not doing its part for Google’s revenue structure despite its massive popularity.

So, how is it that the video site can turn down ad deals? That’s right. YouTube has been turning down deals from media buyers that use CPA – cost per action. When publishers sell media on a CPM basis, it’s a finite game. They know precisely how many page views are required to fulfill their end of the deal. With CPA, they don’t have a clue how long it could take to hit their goal. If your site is fighting off advertisers with a stick, then perhaps, CPA might not be the best thing for you. However, YouTube is not beating off anyone. The site has some trouble when it comes to selling ads for many reasons. One being that 70% of traffic comes from outside the U.S.

However, media firms are being told that YouTube “wants” to take such deals, but “can’t.” Now, why would that be? Is it that they are just determined to only make content deals like the one recently inked with Disney? Consider that YouTube recently lost such a possible deal with the Discovery Channel to Microsoft. They can’t and won’t win them all – and there’s only so many deals like that to go around.

If Bernie Madoff taught us anything, it’s that diversification is key. It’s hard to believe that Google, a company that is considered to be a champion of invention, evolution and revenue, is also a company that is stuck in the mud.

More: FTC May Soon Hold Brands Responsible for False Product Claims Made in Social Media Realm

TV Time: Who Is In And Who Is Out

It’s that time of year when show’s get canceled and renewed, banished to DirectTV or given a reprieve. So, who got the boot and who is still in the game?

Chopping Block which one part Hell’s Kitchen, one part Top Chef and one part just plain sad, has been canceled after only three episodes. Marco Pierre White is a fantastic chef, but he doesn’t have the melodramatic viscousness of Gordon Ramsey nor the hots of Padma Lakshmi.

The regurgitative network, DirectTV, has picked up three short-lived series – Smith, The Nine and Eyes – all of which were cancelled before all the episodes had aired. Hey, it got Friday Night Lights back on its feet.

Speaking of… Everyone can let out a deep sigh of relief. Friday Night Lights has bested the odds to be renewed for two more seasons.

Life On Mars wasn’t so lucky. The sci-fi crime show has been kicked to the curb by ABC. However, they will let the show finish off it’s episodes.

Poor ABC. Eli Stone, Dirty Sexy Money, Pushing Daises and now, Life On Mars have all been canceled just this season. They are racking up quite a few slots to fill next year. Ohhh… Lucy? You got a lotta work to do.

More: What’s the Big Deal with SyFy?