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Q&A: National Ad Buyer Andy Donchin Talks HD

Andy Donchin is senior vice president and director of broadcast media at Carat USA, a New York-based ad agency. He also chairs the National TV/Radio Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. He spoke recently with HD Notebook:

HD Notebook: How would you characterize the rapidly growing awareness and subsequent use of HD among American viewers?

Donchin: Well, I should tell you I have three Samsung HD sets at home of varying sizes, and yes, I do get the service, too, so I’m actually watching HD. I told the decorator, ‘You do the house and leave the new TV sets up to me!’ In the old days viewers used to go to NBC, CBS or ABC first, and then maybe look somewhere else. I would think now a growing number of viewers go to HD first and then see what’s available there, and then maybe go elsewhere. I wish there was more in high-def today because it certainly furthers the television experience for everyone.

HD Notebook: Between less than a quarter to about a third of all TV households are said to be basically equipped to view HD channels, depending on whose numbers you use. As these numbers grow, at what point might advertisers begin to produce all their TV spots in an HD?

Donchin: Hard to say, but I usually encourage my clients to cut their spots in high-def now, whenever possible. I’m a national buyer and always trying to reach a ton of [consumers], and normally we’d shy away from these numbers that are still a bit small, but I think there’s a lot of great growth potential, especially as the sets get that much cheaper. But we do have to educate people at home that you need more than the new HD set. You need the HD service to go with it.

The bottom line is we’re always looking for new ways to rise above the clutter on all the networks, since there continues to be so many commercial spots on-air. And there’s so much fragmentation these days, too. I think for now, HD is a great opportunity that’s only going to get better. HD-produced commercial spots are so much more vibrant, especially when viewed on a true HD channel.