“Watching cable news because you want to become better informed is like going to Olive Garden because you want to live in Italy.”
- Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
|November 5, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Quotable|
“Watching cable news because you want to become better informed is like going to Olive Garden because you want to live in Italy.”
- Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
|November 1, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
This season, NBC’s The Voice has averaged nearly 11 million viewers per episode. Each episode of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars brings in over 12 million viewers. They’re among the highest-rated programs on Primetime TV for the season, a pattern that’s held for over a decade, since the first episode of American Idol took hold of American television and never let go.
Reality Television, right?
Nope – Election Television.
So when we see that 59.2 million people watched the third Presidential debate, this is really an extension of a well-established dynamic. It may have taken over 200 years, but television has done its part to get people interested in the democratic process. Finally, it’s hip to vote.
Sure, Presidential debates have had their share of impact upon the country. Nixon/Kennedy, Reagan/Carter, Lincoln/Douglas – each debate was a very public example of the direct influence a debate at the highest level of our electoral process has on our government. But as an agent of social change, Aiken/Studdard had an impact in its own way.
The fact is that the casting of a ballot is one of the most sacrosanct responsibilities each citizen holds within a free democracy. Each and every one of us should consider it duty, honor, and privilege to vote in every election held. Could it be that it took a television show to get many people comfortable with participating in the democratic process? That is, since many avoided voting under the mistaken belief that it would lead to them being called for jury duty.
Who didn’t watch American Idol? Who wouldn’t want to make sure that their favorite stayed out of the “bottom three” each week? TV made voting popular again (said with absolutely no hyperbole, of course)!
We still watch “voting shows” such as The Voice, X-Factor, Dancing With The Stars, Survivor,American Idol, et al. Along with NFL Football, they’re always among the highest rated programs on television – necessitating the term “scripted television” for what used to be just “television,” for the most part.
But over 59 million people tuned in to watch two men debate foreign policy. The same night that “America’s Pastime” delivered 8.1 million viewers for a MLB Game 7, do-or-die, win or go home National League Championship. The NFL, all but crowned America’s new pastime by now, brought in 10.7 million viewers for a Monday Night Football game opposite them both.
In all, the three Presidential Debates brought in 67 million viewers for the first debate and 65.6 million for the second. 59 million was the smallest audience of the three.
American politics have become American sport. And Americans love their sports. But even more so, Americans love their country.
We’ve invested our time as the audience. Now it’s our duty, our honor, and our privilege to participate by voting on November 6th. There’s no debating how important each of us is to this process.
That night, those same broadcasters who made it possible for you to vote during those shows that you love will be there to tell you who won the election to lead the country that you love.
|October 10, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Quick Thoughts|
TVB President Steve Lanzano gives a quick video preview of the TVB’s presentation to the NADA, coming in February 2013.
|September 20, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
The digital footprint just got a little…smaller.
Borrell Associates, the digital media advertising research company, recently announced that they have developed 513 “DMRs” (Digital Marketing Regions) across the country to help to measure spending in digital advertising on a local level.
To this news, we say “welcome aboard.”
Without a measurement of local impact, it’s impossible to get a full picture of a medium’s presence in a consumer’s life. You may be able to get a vague picture of demographics – albeit one that can be directly tied into usage behavior at an individual level through click-throughs and a person’s digital trail. However, without understanding their offline, real-life environment, it’s an incomplete view of their online to offline conversion.
This initiative was undertaken in part due to the increase in local digital spending, mostly coming at the expense of local newspapers. Borrell has defined these DMRs based upon county-level expenditures, a geographic “central core” of spending which ends where the spending tapers off, often ending in some sort of natural physical barrier (mountains, rivers, etc.) that would impede a customer from driving beyond.
Coincidentally, we have been using that same sort of approach at the TVB for many of the analyses that we have done in terms of business development. This is the reasoning that went into our analysis of IMAX influence at the local level. It’s also behind the market analysis of QSR and Casual Dining – at what point does redirecting money to reach local consumers make more sense than a heavy national plan?
But our focus is on all of the local media habits of consumers – not just their online lives. Media is not consumed in a vacuum.
The digital assets of the local broadcast television stations bring extended brand value to the online lives of their viewers. According to the 2012 Media Comparisons Study conducted by Knowledge Networks, people from every demographic consider their local broadcast station their top source for local news and information, besting newspapers, radio, and other local sites sizably. And nearly half of adults visit local broadcast stations websites each month. In fact, according to the study, 51% of all adults report that a TV ad has driven them to go online to learn more about what they had seen advertised.
So these “brand extensions” are really powerful media relationship tools that belong in a conversation that transcends merely a digital one.
Borrell is correct when they say that 20 years is way too long for a major medium that has local impact not to have any sort of geographically defining local borders. People consume media locally, just as they consume any of the goods and services that they purchase. Without any credible way to measure the total local messaging impact, we’re only seeing part of the local consumer picture.
With this system, they’ve taken 513 good first steps to help to address that.
|August 30, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
Now that we’re quickly approaching the new primetime television season, we thought it might be interesting to turn our typical “what shows are people watching in the local markets” analysis on its ear. Instead, how about we take a look at which markets shows are watching, so to speak.
So here’s a quick look at the primetime fall season from the perspective of where the shows fictionally take place. It’s not where they are actually shot, necessarily. But if primetime were real, here’s where the stories that are being told would be happening.
Not surprisingly a large majority of the programs that will be airing in the fall season take place where the writers, network executives, and cast and crew tend to be – in New York City and Los Angeles. 43% of all located programs are set in these two cities alone. Of the 70 shows that have identifiable locations, 19 shows are set in NYC (27% of the total) and another 11 are set in LA (16%). Chicago is the setting for six shows, while Washington, DC and Colorado each have 3. Las Vegas is the fictional home for two.
So in reality, outside of the Top Three US TV markets, stories on Primetime television can take place anywhere. For some shows, such as Indiana’s “The Middle” and “Parks and Recreation”, Alabama’s “Hart of Dixie” and especially Tenneessee’s “Nashville” and Nevada’s “Vegas”, the geography plays an important role in anchoring a show to its time, place, or culture. For others, the location may as well have come from throwing darts at a dartboard. “The Neighbors” takes place in a fictional gated community in NJ, “The Mentalist” takes place in Sacramento, “Arrow” is set in somewhere called “Starling City” – which we’ve tracked down to being in California, according to one source.
In a sense, unless you’re tied to a particular geography for the narrative, it just doesn’t matter if the gated community is in Jersey or Starling City is in California. You may not even know where they are, even if you never miss an episode.
(“Community”, set in Greendale, CO, takes it a step further as they make it nearly blatant that they’re in LA rather than Colorado – there are often palm trees visible yet never any snow. In Colorado.)
So for this season, some of the geographic themes have been consolidated into a few cities. New York and Chicago will cover the gritty urban crime scene, DC and Virginia will represent the government, spooky sci-fi will generally be in dark wet places like Portland, Oregon, and fictionalized Storybrooke, Maine and Mystic Falls, Virginia. Quirky and hip? That’s still going to be in NYC and LA.
But don’t worry – no matter where you go, your doctors will always be young and good looking. This is television, after all.
Viewers in Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Phoenix, Miami, or Minneapolis? Well, it’s football season. So you will have plenty to cheer about for your hometowns on broadcast television until the writers of new scripted series takes a new look at the map and say to themselves “Where are the stories we can tell?”
Click here for the Fall 2012 Primetime Across America map.
|August 17, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
Here it is, seventeen days after the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, and we’ve learned a few things. We learned that badminton is at least as intense off the court as it is on court, we’ve learned who Jessie J is, and we may just have learned that viewers are always going to be hungry for Olympic coverage. It’s possible that future Olympic Games may just follow the Super Bowl pattern – an impossibly massive television event that will have an even bigger audience next time.
But when you look closer, this national blanket of Olympic viewing had more interesting patterns at the local level.
Average Primetime Household ratings for the Olympic competition broadcasts were higher in many Central and Mountain markets, peaking with a 25.0 rating in Salt Lake City (a former Olympic host city, albeit for the Winter Games). The top five markets each had a household rating above 21.0, versus a national average of 16.5.
There may have been many factors influencing individual market deliveries, from market demographics to local weather to participating hometown athletes to any counterprogramming available (particularly from local sports teams). For example, Los Angeles sent 62 athletes to the Games, well more than any other market producing the most medals overall (38, 24 of them gold) — Primetime ratings averaged an 18.4. In fact, Los Angeles had more athletes than the top 10 markets combined (54). LA also topped the medal count of the top ten markets combined, which had 25 total medals, 16 of them gold.
But what seems to have some measurable impact upon viewing patterns is in the coverage start time. Those markets that ran Olympic coverage earlier (6PM-11:15PM), when HUTs where higher, vs later (7PM-12:15AM), tended to deliver stronger ratings. Four of the top five markets were earlier start time markets.
Overall, it was the most-watched event in US TV history, as 219.4 million Americans watched some part of these Olympic Games. Add one more World Record to these Olympics.
Moreover, this wasn’t just household viewing. The Olympics played in every restaurant, bar, barbershop, bodega or waiting room that had a TV. NBC literally cast a wide net for viewers, and we all happily jumped in.
In all, there were over 5,500 hours of Olympic coverage made available by NBC via their slate of traditional, online, and even 3D platforms. There were over 159 million digital video streams played of these Olympics – a 110% increase over those for the Beijing Games. Add 1.9 page views for NBCOlympics.com, and this was certainly the most well-covered Olympic Games in history.
Yet despite what some predicted might be saturation, these broadcasts are able to elicit sincere emotional connections from viewers that would seem to be virtually unquenchable.
It was easily the most talked about topic on social media during the past two weeks, reinforcing the evidence that TV content is the most social topic. Bluefin Labs estimated that NBC’s Olympic coverage was mentioned in 36 million social media comments, more than the Super Bowl, Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes, and seven World Series games – combined.
This is proof positive that people not only voraciously watch these Games on television, but they also inundate social media with what they’re watching on TV. People crave a shared experience, and television is the biggest one that there is, especially when it’s something we all rally around, like the Olympics.
And if you wonder why Americans care so much about the Summer Olympics, the proof might be in the medals. In Summer Olympic history, no other country has won more medals than the United States’ 2,409. In fact, the US has won nearly as many Gold medals — 976 — as the 1,122 total medals of the next most successful Summer Games nation, the Soviet Union. The US Olympic Team has certainly given us a lot to cheer for over the years, and American audiences just can’t get enough.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled summer.
|Top 10 Olympic Games Markets|
|Market||Start Time||HH Rating||Athletes||Medals|
|1 Salt Lake City||6:00||25.0||4||1|
|2 Kansas City||6:00||22.5||4||2|
|5 Columbus, OH||7:00||21.8||3||1|
|6 Norfolk–Portsmth–Newpt Nws||7:00||21.0||5||4|
|8 San Diego||7:00||20.4||14||3|
|9 Albuquerque–Santa Fe||6:00||20.3||0||0|
Source: Nielsen Arianna, Olympic.org, TVB
|July 16, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
50 Shades of Red, White and Blue
The Fourth of July is one of those automatic holidays – there are some hard-wired traditions that Americans cherish, therefore supplying some semblance of uniformity no matter where you are. We have parades, picnics, fireworks (usually in that order). There’s live music – in big cities, often you’ll get the Philharmonic to accompany the rockets’ red glare over the river fireworks extravaganza. Often there will be dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence by actors in period clothes.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, over 14,000 public fireworks displays will light up our nation’s skies on the night of the Fourth. And no matter where they take place, we’ll all say the same thing – “OOOH!” and “AHHHH!” It’s the American way.
It is truly our most national of holidays, as we celebrate our independence – together. We wrap our towns in red, white and blue bunting and sing all of those songs we learned in grade school together and well up with national pride for what it means to be an American. There is comfort in our shared tradition.
Yet, for as United as our States are, we can’t help but put in a little local color into that bunting.
Injecting localism into our celebrations often is a function of some particular characteristic endemic to that market alone. Reenacting the Boston Tea Party, gazing upon the actual Liberty Bell, visiting the Washington Monument and its brethren in Washington, DC, or taking in the majesty of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota – these are all things that only can happen in one place alone.
But it isn’t just those iconic places that create local connections with Americana. Sometimes, all it takes is some local flavor. There will be beach parties in Miami and San Diego, clambakes in Boston and Baltimore, and barbeques nearly everywhere, but especially in Texas, Memphis, and St. Louis. Now and then, you’ll probably also find a hot dog eating contest or two – especially if you happen to be in Coney Island.
The amazing thing is that your local television station is there to capture it all, and every second of it screams “America”. A viewer in apartment 4-H in Manhattan, New York may not experience the deep-fried breakfast cereal from a 4-H fair in Manhattan, Kansas, but they’ll certainly accept it as something uniquely American. Our parade might look like any other parade, but it’s still “our” local parade. And if you hurry, you might just see your fireworks a second time, on your late local news.
On the Fourth of July, local pride lives in peaceful coexistence with national pride. We all have our local identity with a shared a national heritage. Ultimately, we are united, these States. But one thing’s for sure – there’s nothing more American than local Americana.
|July 16, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
Quick – sing with me the most popular commercial jingle right now. Bet you can’t. Not an original song for a commercial, anyway.
They’ve gone the way of whole milk and landlines – one of those things that seems a bit out of place in today’s world of limited attention spans and even more limited available time to give. But if you really think about it, the jingle was probably the most impactful – and long-lasting – component to nearly any commercial you remember.
Why? Because they take you to a place that is of your own making. Those songs would get inside your head (that’s what they’re designed to do), and you’d carry them with you mentally, in theory, at least until you reached the Point of Purchase. But most linger on well past that. Often for decades. Because jingles reach your emotional center, not just your intellectual one. In fact, they’re a very powerful branding tool that most advertisers have given up in lieu of “story space” in a commercial. The message is the medium, as it were.
The only thing is that information doesn’t lock in a message like an earworm.
If you hear a song in a commercial these days, it’s much more likely to be a licensed song from a particular target demographic’s touchpoint playlist that will pre-evoke emotion in the hopes that it will have a crossover effect to brand association.
The reality of television today is that advertisers do have to be cognizant of maximizing their ability to get a consumer’s attention while still doing their level best to tell “their story” creatively. The myriad of consumer distractions (fast-forwarding, second-screening, etc.) demand that ads sparkle a little brighter and ring just a little more familiarly. Using potent visuals to catch a consumer’s eye during fast forwarding can grab their attention and make them go back to watch. A catchy jingle would have the same impact for those people who don’t fast forward, but who “device shift” during a commercial pod.
While the majority of viewers watch TV live, there are a few who use commercials as a timing device while they’re doing other things. They’ll listen to the audio, monitoring the broadcast until the commercials are over, then go back to watching the program. For people who might not give the commercial their full attention, the jingle is the most likely message that they’ll pick up on. And it’s going to be the stickiest.
Let’s test it by mentioning a few brands.
And there are some that don’t even need the brand to be recognized: “You deserve a break today…” and “I’d like to teach the world to sing…”.
Now, where did you go? Did you picture packaging, visuals, or value proposition? Give me a break!
You know you want those baby back ribs now.
|June 7, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
Let’s paint a scenario for you. Imagine you wake up on January 21st of next year, and it’s snowing outside. (For this particular exercise, you do happen to live where this is not out of the question, so stay with me. By the way, you also have kids.) One of the first orders of business for your morning would be to get a sense of what your particular day will bring. Is your first stop:
More and more, it might also be #4., checking the local TV station’s news website or mobile app to get some hyperlocal information about such “personal daily news” needs.
Most likely, you’ll be choosing the medium that can bring you the most timely, most relevant information that will be able to solve your most immediate concern.
As a marketer, you need to understand that these avenues are open to consumers and that they’re being used, often, and more importantly, on multiple platforms. Local stations are also using their digital assets to extend branding opportunities to their on-air advertisers.
In its simplest form, what’s particularly unique about this sort of digital bundling is in the content that advertisers can be associated with – destination media touchstones of people’s everyday lives such as weather, traffic, lottery, local news and sports. An advertiser has an option to “roadblock” the content as it appears on-air, on-line, and on mobile.
One of the more interesting is a “find the cheapest gas” local sponsorship with content that appears on all three devices – truly a community service that can only exist in local media, with participation from both advertisers and the community that they serve.
But there are opportunities beyond simple segment banner advertising on these extended properties. Local stations can leverage their social media sites as promotional drivers, often extending local contests and sweepstakes from on-air announcements to on-line participation. Stations use their social sites such as Facebook as a place to sign up for entry to special events, such as charity golf outings with the station’s “sports guy” — with a participating notable athlete— or to hype local festivals with content delivered straight to an end-user’s mobile device.
The “Enter & Win” on-air promos drive people to Facebook, naturally accompanied by the related display ads, where customers sign up for the contests. While there, consumers have an opportunity to establish that most enduring of all virtual corporate relationships – the “like”.
Essentially, these digital properties are tools for an advertiser to extend their relationship with their local customers. Throwing a “like” to an auto manufacturer might not move the needle much in terms of a relationship with the eventual driver of the car. But at the dealer level – where relationship marketing is really their bread and butter, a “like” for the dealership might potentially have real benefits for the customer in the form of deals or other local promotions run by the dealer.
When you come right down to it, consumers are willing to forge a bond with those things that mean something to them and that they, well… like. But oftentimes in the social media space, clicks aren’t pursued independently; they’re more likely to be activated when it’s made easy and somewhat seamless. Since TV is a strong driver to the web, the local broadcast television stations make that easy connection between advertiser and end-user – once there, advertisers can deliver the goods, customers deliver the “likes”.
It goes beyond TV’s adage of the customer inviting you into their living room. These digital properties create a sort of return-path input stream from the consumer, which feeds a deeper perceived connection to an advertiser. By offering selective, personal touchpoints of media, your customers invite you into their lives – and that’s where the friendship can begin.
|May 22, 2012||Posted by Don Seaman under Commentary|
There’s some institutional lunacy that defines the national television buying marketplace. What other buyer/seller dynamic exists where if sellers set their demands too high for a buyer’s liking, the buyers walk away, only to come back to the same sellers later in the year— and usually will be paying more?
When you think about it, it’s really a very troubled relationship.
The networks risk the possibility that their shiny new shows aren’t so shiny after all and that they’re not delivering to their initial upfront expectations. Advertisers are risking their need for GRPs and a lack of inventory that might be sewn up by others by the time their Scatter needs arise.
What if advertisers had another choice other than this deeply flawed relationship? How impactful would a credible alternative be, having a real walk-away point that would pay off in more than just an empty negotiating threat?
They do – and it’s been here all along. It’s local television.
Local delivers a customizable, targeted national footprint at lower cost. And it delivers the content — and corresponding GRPs — that aren’t available nationally. How much more credible of an alternative could there be?
The most justifiable reasoning is cost. An ongoing analysis of SQAD data by the TVB proves that Spot Television costs are lower than Scatter in most dayparts, and has been for several years. This includes Prime, where TSA-level costs are lower than Scatter by up to an average of about 25%. TSA includes the homes reached by an affiliate’s entire signal, not just what falls within the DMA. Essentially, it’s with spill. Incidentally, this is also what you’d get by buying Network Scatter as well – it’s not tidy geographically, either.
Other Spot dayparts, such as Early AM, Early News, and Late Night, are widely accepted as more cost effective than network. But it’s clear now that you can have your prime and save money, too.
Another fundamental advantage that Local Spot Television holds over Network Scatter is in exclusive content, therefore increased inventory. A basic part of the broadcast day for many, if not most, TV viewers, is the local news. On an average day, 78% of Americans get news from their local broadcast stations. This content simply isn’t available on a national basis. No network content finds people where they live, work, and shop as effectively and routinely as Local Spot Television.
Lastly, Spot Television allows “near national” advertisers the opportunity to be national in scale but regional in execution. For example, for a large chain that has nearly 200 locations in Texas but only 2 in New York – neither in New York City – a nationally distributed buy includes a vast amount of potential waste. By reallocating dollars where they will do the most good effectively weight-averages a national buy. It also mitigates the impact of advertising your product to viewers who can’t geographically be your customers – but can certainly be driven to your competitors, influenced by your misdirected ad.
So it is possible to escape the “definition of insanity” of expecting a different outcome while taking the same action. Local Spot Television not only offers network content, but additional content that you can’t get there. It offers targeting. It offers surplus. You get more, you pay less. It’s called value.
Once you walk out of that network showroom, head down the block to Local Broadcast, where the prices are good, the customers are hungry, and there’s always something in stock that you’re looking for.