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We’ve Embraced The Fragmentation

Sean Moran, Head of Viacom Ad Solutions, Explains How Viacom’s Acquisition Strategy Is Setting the Company Apart

I sat down with Head of Viacom Ad Solutions, Sean Moran to talk about what’s going on in the wake of their recent acquisitions of Pluto, Awesomeness and WHOSAY, and to learn more about how Viacom is leveraging their position as the best way to reach the coveted 18-34 year old audience.

WOLK: Viacom’s made a lot of acquisitions recently—Awesomeness, WHOSAY and Pluto TV. What’s the theory behind those moves and how does it help set Viacom apart from its competitors?

MORAN: The idea behind Viacom’s evolution is to have the broadest TV-quality reach with young audiences. And that, to us, is a huge differentiator as an umbrella statement. We are now at a point where no matter where younger consumers are watching content, we have a presence. So, we can ensure that our clients are able to reach these demographics and that their message goes through in a measurable way. That’s something we’re very proud of because it’s a distinguishing factor for us right now. It gives us the ability to move the needle for marketers, and that resonates.

WOLK: Why is having such broad reach with viewers in the 18-34 year old demographic so important? Isn’t the trend today towards reaching more targeted audiences?

MORAN: Too often the default response to reaching that demo is to find them on social media. But we’ve found that advertisers care most about getting the broadest possible reach with their messaging. So let’s consider that: when you look at reach, and you look at our linear offerings plus our OTT offerings plus Pluto TV, we reach over 50% of all 18-to-34 year olds in the country. That is a huge statement, and it’s very, very powerful for marketers. And, when you factor in our social reach, that number goes up to 80% of the 18-to-34s in the country.

WOLK: What types of companies are looking to you to help them reach that youth audience?

MORAN: I like to break down the current marketing landscape into two groups: the disruptors and the defenders. The disruptors are the newer, primarily DTC brands. They’re first getting into the market, they need to establish themselves with a younger audience, they need to break through the clutter, and they want to resonate.

So they come into the marketplace, they get into the performance-based advertising with some of the platforms and they grow to a certain level, but then they have to cut through. And that’s where we help them with TV.

We become the on-ramp to greater reach, being able to get to the valuable customer at-scale. We can do an influencer campaign for them; We can do a branded programming series for them with Awesomeness, our short form digital network. We can place their ads on linear and OTT.   

Then there is the second group, the established brands that are finding that it’s tougher and tougher to connect with this younger audience. But they need to get their value proposition in front of these new consumers. They need to come through networks like MTV and comedy central and all our other video touch points, where we have that massive reach that can put them in front of this younger audience.

WOLK: What can Viacom offer them beyond massive reach?

MORAN: We have the largest in-house creative group in the industry with Velocity, WHOSAY, and Awesomeness. So we can help clients build out the right content, whether that’s a six-second ad, a 15- or 30-second spot, it could be a branded-series. We can provide effective creative for them, and we can provide it efficiently and cost-effectively.

WOLK: What are people looking at right now in terms of metrics?

MORAN: In terms of metrics, marketers had been very focused on where the purchase point was, the last click attribution. But now, they’re waking up and realizing that they forgot to focus on brand-building. That’s especially important with younger audiences, who may not have been exposed to certain brands.

I think marketers are realizing that they need a multi-touch point approach, which Viacom can deliver.

WOLK: Television—and all media—is getting more and more fragmented. How does a company like Viacom play in a market that’s so decentralized?

MORAN: What we’re trying to show buyers is that we have really invested in a strategy that ensures our content is available where the audiences they want to reach are. And what we’re building here at Viacom is this culture of content—you’ll hear Bob Bakish, our CEO, talking about that.  

That’s another point I think people underestimate; how much strong media brands really do matter and help cut through the clutter. So we bring the client along for the ride, we make sure that their spot is seen in a very premium, very brand safe environment with creative that ensures that audiences remember the message.

We’re embracing the fragmentation by reorganizing and reorienting our assets so that we’re solutions providers. That’s what sets Viacom apart.

Featured image via Andrew Burton Getty Images