Ad Council works to secure up-front PSA commitments

NEW YORK: The Ad Council is negotiating with more than 20 media companies to secure up-front, annual commitments for PSA placements, marking a shift in its operating model.

NEW YORK: The Ad Council is negotiating with more than 20 media companies to secure up-front, annual commitments for PSA placements, marking a shift in its operating model.

The council secured commitments from Clear Channel and Time Warner, and is nearing agreements with companies like ABC/Disney, Fox/NewsCorp, Viacom, and large cable systems. Traditionally, the council supplied PSAs, then tracked how often they were used, said its president/CEO Peggy Conlon.

Last year, consultants McKinsey & Co. surveyed the Ad Council's stakeholders while helping the organization develop a strategic plan. "One thing they found is that as a result of the incredible consolidation over the past few years, media companies had gotten to a point where they began to recognize the amount of inventory they had over all of their platforms that was being dedicated to public service advertising," Conlon explained. "They were interested in adding more structure to what their public service efforts look like."

Conlon described as "labor intensive" the process of meeting with divisions in each company to work out details, but the effort has paid off. Clear Channel agreed late last year to double its 2004 PSA commitment to $120 million in ad value across all its divisions, and Time Warner later pledged $40 million in PSA placements. Conlon said more deals will be announced soon.

Media companies usually select subsets of the council's 50 or so PSA campaigns to emphasize, but Clear Channel corporate communications SVP Lisa Dollinger stressed that local managers make final decisions.

Conlon doesn't think the council's agreements will hinder local nonprofits from placing their own PSAs. "I don't believe that even with this initiative that these media companies will be giving the Ad Council 100% of their public service inventory," she said. "Our goal is to get 25% of the inventory."

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