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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Research and Tactics Key to Navigating Media Landscape

1 Oct, 2013 By: Robert B. Yallen Response


Most national TV media is sold quarterly to branded advertisers via the upfront. After the upfront market is settled, many advertisers make “scatter buys,” comprised of inventory the networks usually set aside at higher rates than for the upfront. Normally, surplus inventory is allocated to the network’s DRTV department, where it is then sold on a weekly basis.

This year’s upfront market was weaker than most networks’ expectations. When isolated on the broadcast side, prime-time volume was down 5 percent, based on our projections. For the most part, cable sales executives concede that the market was weaker than expected, but insist that their network’s performance was stronger than average. A strong scatter marketplace is not anticipated either, as the preliminary price points seem high.

The market was weak due to the ongoing sluggish economy, continued media fragmentation, and a multitude of options within the media marketplace. As clients navigate toward digital, their media mix and allocations become more diversified. And without much upward pricing pressure in the upfront, many advertisers wanted more flexibility than the upfront provided.

Overall, cable sales volume was up around 3 percent in the recent upfront, though many networks projected an increase of 5 percent to 7 percent. Cable will probably realize some growth as we go to scatter; unlike broadcast networks (which sell close to 85 percent of their commercial inventory in the upfront), cable networks release only about 50 percent.

Enhanced Consumer Segmentation Tools

Understanding the media nuances of your prime prospects is paramount in this environment, especially in light of the trend towards increased acquisition and retention costs.

Fortunately, there are now more robust consumer segmentation studies available that enable an advertiser to shift its media planning and buying focus from generic audience segmentation to more-defined, multimedia profiles of these highly significant prospect groups.

Lifestyle segmentation resources such as Mosaic and Claritas can provide the insights to anticipate and capitalize on the behaviors, attitudes and preferences of your most profitable customers — and reach them via the most effective channels with the most-motivating messages.

DR Buying Tactics

A savvy DR media buyer knows where to find national high-profile cable media at efficient prices. Booking quarterly or annually is a smart way to lock in rates, but a strong media formula should also include a robust added-value component, including securing substantial bonus weight in lower-demand dayparts and days of week.

We anticipate a soft spot TV and radio market in fourth-quarter 2013 — flat early on, with perhaps a low single-digit percentage rate increase on some key networks later — so buyers should be mindful of “buy low” opportunities. Additionally, to take advantage of late-breaking buying opportunities, it is prudent to set aside a small portion of the budget for fire-sale inventory.

Unwired networks, such as the CPM Network, continue to be among the strongest media opportunities in the marketplace. By aggregating extensive inventory from local cable and broadcast stations and systems, they are able to deliver television and radio schedules of substantial weight and unsurpassed efficiency. And every DR advertiser should explore the possibility of adding a performance-based (PI) component to its campaign.

Opportunities and Alternatives

Second-screen viewing is the new normal — more than 80 percent of smartphone and tablet owners now use these devices while watching TV. But new data suggests that second-screen viewing actually complements or enhances the traditional TV-viewing experience. Consequently, it makes sense to integrate a second-screen aspect into your marketing program.

Advertisers should also be cognizant of streaming opportunities that allow them to re-purpose existing TV creative without incurring an unreasonable premium. Avenues such as Discovery Network’s Revision3 platform, which offer pre- or mid-roll placements, can be highly effective from a performance and awareness perspective. ■


About the Author: Robert B. Yallen


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