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Jack Myers On the Road

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In recent years, ABC Family adopted the “event approach” for contact with the ad community, including a panel with showrunners from its series and last year's “Pretty Little Liars” tweetathon simulcast at the Ziegfield Theater. This year, network president Tom Ascheim and colleagues took a more formal approach – while setting dramatic new goals for ABCF. Instead of singularly pursuing Millennials, the focus now is on "Becomers" -- mostly persons 12-34 who are engaged in "that magical and messy place between their first kiss and their first kid," as Ascheim noted. He estimated 69 million Americans fall somewhere in that arena, with their annual spending in the trillions. To meet their needs, the channel will double its year-round original content by 2019. Also, like Pop Network's pitch earlier this month, ABC Family will encourage advertisers to move dollars their way from other networks. "We get [that] it sucks out there," Ascheim said. "The networks you buy are down in viewers and ratings. We're up, and we have a plan to be up for a long time.”

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A “kickback” is certainly a negative word. A “rebate” not so much. There are rebates in almost every industry and it’s perfectly acceptable. The real issue is transparency. Because transparency leads to better accountability. Another concern is objectivity. If an agency gets paid more from a media entity without measuring the success of the task on behalf of the advertiser, and gets to keep it without divulging the incentive, how objective can you really be in using the medium?

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