Tweaking the Balance: Optimizing a Nation


Do you remember a time when the most wonderful thing in our cars was a great stereo system – topped off by a graphic equalizer? We always had music in our cars, but until this magical device, you weren’t feeling its true power. It had 18 different controls to cut or boost individual frequencies until you’d get just the right mix. For anyone who knew – and relied upon – music, this was a revelation. Actually, it would be your secret weapon.

Before this, all music was generic; everything was basically flat, each part delivered without any nuance. It was fine, until you found out that it really wasn’t. Until you heard what an impact a few custom tweaks can have, you really had no idea what you’d been missing. It was like unlocking a hidden door to a sonic treasure. Maybe optimizing takes just a little more doing – but wow, what a difference it makes.

That’s why this same approach is so critical when looking at your television advertising plans. Instead of music, the nuances of the local markets are where an advertiser can unlock untapped power of television that would otherwise remain hidden – and wasted.

Instead of decibels and megahertz, the critical measures in this case are dollars and impressions. And now, there are 210 different ways to get the most powerful response possible.

There are five critical reasons to consider equalizing your national media by using spot television:

1. Market Presence

Take, for example, the popular restaurant chain with locations spread from coast-to-coast – only none in the NY DMA, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Cleveland, Washington, DC, Seattle, Portland, and the list keeps going. That’s an awful lot of empty impressions that are being purchased with a national buy. But by focusing dollars in those 35 states where they have locations, they will be able to create active impressions to those who might actually be (or become) customers.

2. Consumer Demand

Not all markets are as ripe for certain products as others. Clearly, snowmobiles and other winter gear have no place next to surf shops in San Diego and Honolulu. But what about those products that may not have an obvious geographic consumer footprint?

A recent analysis of sales for a certain model car showed that 23 of the highest-indexing markets for the model type was home to about 35% of the U.S. population – but nearly 50% of the new registrations for this particular vehicle. Redistributing a sizable portion of the budget slated for this nameplate would likely show a corresponding increase in ROI – both for the manufacturer and the local dealers.

Leveraging the high-value markets for your product is impossible to do with a national plan.

3. Targeted Messaging

Effectively reaching people with demographically appropriate messaging may require some message customization, since not everything will resonate the same way across markets. For example, what might be perceived as a “good value” might be based on vastly different qualities depending upon who happens to be watching your ad – and considering the purchase. Consider that 4-H is a club – and almost a way of life – in Manhattan, Kansas. But it’s an apartment in Manhattan, New York City.
Consider how different these people’s lives probably are. Should you talk to each of them in the same way?

4. Television is Consumed Differently in Different Markets

TV usage fluctuates from market to market. In some markets, the late and early local news deliver HUTs that rival national prime HUTs.

But where it gets really interesting is in program deliveries. Taking a look at A18-49 deliveries alone, the differences can be stark. The “It” show of the moment, “Modern Family”, has a 4.1 A18-49 rating nationally, but a 7.3 in Boston. “The Voice” has a 5.2 US rating, but a 6.7 in Pittsburgh and a 6.4 in Detroit. Even looking at shows that deliver smaller ratings on a national basis (like ”Glee” at 2.7) can pop in many local markets – such as Minnesota-St. Paul at 6.2 and St. Louis at 5.0.

5. Cost

TVB’s analysis of SQAD cost data bears out that Local Broadcast Television beats Network Scatter across every daypart. With ROI becoming such an important metric, what’s the financial argument against redistributing part of your media budget to the more cost-effective option of Local Broadcast TV?

These are just five overt optimizers that can be tweaked on a local level that would have a major impact on the effectiveness of an overall media plan.

There’s no time like the present to break out the secret weapon of Local Broadcast Television – where a few small adjustments can really bring out the potential power of your marketing message. And it can really make a big difference in the music you really want to hear – the ringing of the cash register.

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