Monica Gadsby on taking the reins of SMG Multicultural and the Hispanic media market


Starcom MediaVest Group recently announced the formation of a new unit tasked with oversight of multicultural communication throughout the SMG network. SMG Multicultural is responsible for guiding innovation in SMG's product, driving total holistic integration across platforms and demographics.

With SMG Multicultural comes the simultaneous launch of Forty Two Degrees at MediaVest (MV42), the newest multicultural agency in the network. MV42 is based in New York to work in close alignment with MediaVest, focusing consumer programs on Hispanic, African American, Asian and emerging market

SMG has the longest legacy of anyone in our industry in addressing and valuing diverse populations, starting in 1987 with the formation of what eventually became arguable the most successful multicultural agency of its kind.
SMG Multicultural is led by Monica Gadsby, a 20-year veteran in multicultural media and trailblazer in the space. As CEO of SMG Multicultural, Gadsby is at the helm of the country's leading multicultural division, which will be comprised of three separate agencies, including a special division of GM Planworks, a newly named New York office, and multicultural agency Tapestry.

MV42 shares a majority of its client roster with MediaVest, including Kraft, Masterfoods, Ross Laboratories, Sunny Delight and P&G.

We recently spoke with Monica about her new role. How will SMG Multicultural better serve clients and what's the mission statement? "These two units will work harmoniously with general market counterparts Starcom and MediaVest, respectively, to tailor total market solutions across their distinct client rosters," said Gadsby.
Monica has seen Hispanic media's meteoric rise, along with its evolution into the digital space as of late. We asked about that phenomenon since she co-founded Tapestry. "Hispanic media has grown tremendously since Tapestry's inception in 2001," Gasdby explained. "Though it's still an uphill battle in terms of marketers immediately recognizing the value of Hispanic media, we are definitely seeing it grow at an increasing rate. The most recent, largest area of growth has been in the digital space. Many of our clients have sought our digital expertise to connect with Hispanic consumers who are engaging with social and interactive media more and more."

No more general market?

What are the top three trends that are important right now in the multicultural media marketplace vs. general market? What should advertisers be aware of? Gadsby was quick to point out, "First, I should clarify one thing: there is no longer a 'general' market. With minority-majority states and a rapidly increasing multicultural population, the face of new America is changing frequently and dramatically. Marketing today requires a solution-neutral approach to communications planning that's grounded in America's new consumer reality."
The thinking is advertisers need to stop thinking about the media space as two separate silos: general market and multicultural. She explains: "In terms of trends being led by multicultural consumers, the ones that immediately come to mind include: 1) The explosion of digital options and the leading role multicultural consumers are playing in adopting emerging technologies, 2) The immersion of more content that is geared to multicultural consumers or inspired by a multicultural perspective within traditional media venues – Ugly Betty on
ABC is a good example, 3) The continued "ascension" of Spanish-language options within the context of a total market – for example, Spanish-language networks are now measured in the same Nielsen study as the general networks and Univision is consistently the 5th ranked viewing option in the country as a whole (often they are #1 or #2 against young demos)."

The Hispanic media upfront

Any predictions for the Hispanic television broadcast, cable and syndication upfronts? "I think we will continue to see growth with returning advertisers and new advertisers. Expect demand will pace ahead of the market in general as it has in the last few years," notes Gadsby. "This not only is a reflection of continued growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S., but also of the fact that Hispanic dollars are still lagging vis-à-vis the market size and opportunity. On the supply side, I expect we will see continued diversification of assets with more
U.S.-based productions, more digital extensions and more opportunities for branded content."

How hot are program integration deals looking for Hispanic media this upfront? Many in the industry say Tapestry invented branded content with properties such as Sabado Gigante still going strong on Univision after more than 15 years. That said, Gadsby says it's fair to say that the Hispanic television market is going through a re-invention process when it comes to branded content, following in the hot trends set by the general networks. "Last year, the Spanish networks offered a record number of branded content opportunities ranging from organic plot lines within Telemundo novelas to Spanish-language versions of the Idol craze, cooking shows, and a primetime program fully focused on beauty (Nuestra Belleza Latina on Univision) to name a few. Advertisers are eagerly embracing these opportunities. I expect we will see more of them in this year's upfront. I also expect that these will become increasingly more multi-platform in nature and that digital extensions including internet and mobile components will continue to multiply."

Commercial minute ratings and Live Plus

Monica tells us she doesn't expect Nielsen's recently-unveiled plan for commercial minute ratings will have an impact on Hispanic upfronts. Why? "This year will mark the transition from Nielsen's dedicated Hispanic study (NHTI) to the total market unified sample study (NTI). The focus will be in understanding the gap in numbers between the two services if any as well as reassessing the opportunity from a total market perspective (now that general agencies and multicultural agencies will have access to the full picture in one survey)," she explains. "Commercial ratings could become next year's topic. Stay tuned, but for now we have enough of a hurdle with the transition to total market ratings and embracing of the unified study. That said, we will continue to pursue a better understanding of time-delayed viewing just as we will continue to strive for better insights regarding engagement (knowing all TRPs are not created equal) and the impact of interactive components such as digital extensions (via broadband, TiVo showcase or on-demand). This is an exciting time for our industry – a time of change, exploration and learning. We will like explore "test and learn" scenarios as part of the negotiations for the new year."

How will emerging media options like dynamic VOD ad insertion play a role in this upfront? As an industry, Gadsby contends they have not yet figured out how to optimize use of non-traditional formats.

That said, they still realize consumers are increasingly turning to these options: "As a consequence, we will continue to explore their viability, as I said, mostly via 'test and learn' scenarios.

For the multicultural market specifically, on-demand via broadband in particular is growing very rapidly. We will be including broadband in our negotiations. The biggest challenge at this time is understanding how to evaluate costs vis-à-vis traditional television. Broadband CPMs are relatively very high, though we know engagement is likely also higher."

The Hispanic Radio Upfront

While most think of the upfront being all about television this time of year, it turns out the Hispanic Radio Upfront has been taking place as well for a while now. For seven years Univision Radio, for example, on Monday night prior to the television upfronts, hosts a radio upfront concert event in NYC. About 2,000 of the general market and Hispanic buyers and clients that are in town show up. That's up from 500 when it was first organized. Yes, September and October is when the actual renewals are done, but the main upfront presentation takes place in May. The same holds true with SBS, tied in with ABC Radio Networks.

Univision Radio started it when there were no Hispanic radio networks per se. Radio Unica was the only one out there until Univision came along. The Univision Hispanic Radio upfront started as a way to pull some of the talent-the agencies and clients that were in house and in town for the television upfronts-which for Hispanic, most of the clients and the agencies are one in the same. Univision hosts them-and guests get upfront week started in a club atmosphere.

Most of the crowd goes back and forth to these two events. Univision arranges transportation-cars and trolleys-to get them there to see both events. Univision says they want to be fair about it with SBS.

How important is the Hispanic Radio upfront now and how much does Tapestry/SMG Multicultural participate? "I tend to think of radio primarily as a local medium and I don't necessarily think of buying radio in the context of an upfront season (though sometimes negotiating for an entire year upfront may lead to better inventory access as well as more advantageous pricing)," Gadsby tells us. "I don't know that we can say there is such thing as a radio upfront market to the degree that one exists on television. That said, in the multicultural space, network radio continues to grow and many sponsorship opportunities are evaluated on a yearly basis. Many, in fact, are synergistic with television offerings and can come into play in the context of multi-platform deals during the upfronts. Univision Radio [hosted] an upfront concert event in NYC as it has in the past three years. I believe they have found the timing to be opportunistic since so many agencies and clients congregate in NYC during that week. It is a fantastic way for them to allow buyers to experience first hand the power of their offering.