Success Stories: Merchant co-ops working in scattered DMA

Jan 13, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Hiring an Internet-only sales director in April was the key to increasing revenue for KWWL-TV, a Raycom Media-owned NBC affiliate in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, Iowa area.
“We have had a 400 percent revenue increase on our Web site, and traffic has had a healthy increase since she came on board,” VP and General Manager Rick Lipps said of the work Internet Sales Director Connie Grauerholz has done.
“We really push our Web site and try to make it content-oriented. It’s not just ads. It’s weather, scores, health, and we have `Ask The Expert,”’ Mr. Lipps said. “People can e-mail questions to sponsors in industries from home furnishings, investment management, automotive and health. We also do a whole section called `Your Health’ that is sponsored by a local hospital.”
Ms. Grauerholz said her pitch to advertisers is simply to tell them that advertising on the Internet is similar to the newspaper but better than the Yellow Pages. “What you’re getting with an Internet site is like a full-page, full-color newspaper ad 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And when you break it out to look at the cost of color in newspaper or an ad in the Yellow Pages, the Internet is easily affordable.”
The 88th-ranked designated market area is made up of so many small communities that KWKB-TV, a WB affiliate owned by KM Television of Iowa, has found that merchant co-ops are the best way to go about generating revenue.
“We’ll grab 10 of the downtown merchants in a place like Mount Vernon (population 3,657) and get them on a shared advertising `Shop Mount Vernon’ package,” said General Manager Mark Culbertson. He added that he gives credit for the idea to his competitors, who were using this method before he arrived in the market.
CBS affiliate KGAN-TV, owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, has been putting on a bridal fashion show and exhibit every Super Bowl Sunday for the past six years. “We’ll have 2,400 people pass through the convention center,” said Local Sales Manager Jim Stoos. Hope’s Bridal has been the major sponsor since the program’s inception, but 50 to 60 additional sponsors, such as Dillard’s Department Stores, Prince Albert Tuxedo and Target, turn out to showcase their wares. “We like to say that a bride can show up and crank out everything for her wedding in one day except the priest and the church.”
TV revenues for the area are expected to be $39.9 million for 2002, up from $38.3 million in 2001, according to BIA Financial Network.