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Outdoors Demo

Mar 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Selling TV advertising should be a breeze in a major metropolitan area with a high annual household income and a young-skewing demographic. But when the designated market area has low television viewing habits, account executives need to be on top of their game with demographic data if they’re going to move that inventory.
In Minneapolis-St. Paul, 63 percent of the roughly 3 million residents are between the ages of 18 and 49, and 53 percent of households bring home more than $50,000 annually. Fifteen percent rakes in more than $100,000 a year. But numbers from BIA Financial Network indicate that the 57-county DMA ranks near the bottom of the Top 25 markets in terms of households using television. Its HUT level of 38 falls below almost all other top markets, which average in the mid-40s.
Apparently Minneapolis-St. Paul residents are too busy with outdoor leisure activities, even during the frigid winter months, to sit in front of the tube. Numbers supplied by New York-based Scarborough Research indicate that people there are 46 percent more likely to join a health club than is the average person living in one of the other 74 markets the firm monitors. They also are 148 percent more likely to go in-line skating-the area is the birthplace of in-line skates.
“We are an outdoorsy market, and consumers may not spend a lot of time watching television,” said Anne McKean, manager of spot broadcast at the Martin Williams ad agency in Minneapolis. But that hasn’t deterred area-based clients such as Gold’n Plump Poultry and snowmobile manufacturer Polaris Industries from buying television. Nor has the low 55.3 percent cable penetration as of February 2004, down from 60 percent three years earlier, kept them away from cable.
Ms. McKean said her agency usually buys cable time for its clients through the Interconnect of the Twin Cities, a partnership formed by the area’s four major cable companies-Charter Communications, Comcast, Mediacom and Time Warner. The Interconnect, with majority owner Comcast holding 46 percent ownership, reaches 90 percent of cable homes in the DMA, making it an effective ad buy for area businesses.
Network and show demographics, with other resources such as the consumer data Scarborough provides, are powerful potential tools for salespeople, said Desiree Rongitsch, a Charter Communications advertising sales senior account executive.
Minneapolis media rake in about $300 million in television advertising revenue each year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Cable ad sales are not measured, but analysts estimate cable’s share of the market at 5 percent to 15 percent of the total.
“Cable has lost penetration due to satellite [which had a 19 percent share as of 2003], but Minneapolis has always been a lower-penetrated market than the national average,” said Deborah McPartland, executive VP and director of media at Minneapolis’ Cash Plus Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of ad agency Campbell Mithun. “Right now there have been more people purchasing local cable because they can get 5,000 spots on cable for the same price as 100 on standard broadcast.”
Cable advertisers, especially those in sports-oriented businesses, are getting a great deal, said Terri Brant, director of sales for OnMedia, the ad sales arm of Mediacom, which reaches 55,000 homes in the DMA.
“As the 12th-largest DMA, you have a bigger variety of different types of businesses, from ski resorts to sporting goods stores, because Minneapolis is highly athletic,” Ms. Brant said. So Mediacom offers many cross-promotional opportunities.
“We have the X Games every year on ESPN and ESPN2, and that is a big success locally [because] it drives young male viewership,” Ms. Brant said.
The cable multiple system operators have found success catering to fans of local professional sports teams the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild, along with the University of Minnesota Gophers. Comcast even created its own local show, which airs on ESPN2, to capitalize on interest in the Wild hockey team.
The Twin Cities also have a highly competitive real estate market that drives realty companies to cable, Ms. Brant said.
“A lot of our promotions revolve around community service,” said Charter Ad Sales Manager Tom Kreutzian. “Partnership for a Drug-Free America, breast cancer awareness, and other 20- to 30-second public awareness spots produced with a local tagline allow [advertisers] to be more active in the community.”
Community service, a mainstay of local broadcasters, may help cable companies lure some dollars away from spot TV, but cable’s primary competition is newspaper, the Interconnect of the Twin Cities’ General Manager Dave Baker said. “Here, there is more money spent on newspapers. The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune receives probably close to what is spent on all the broadcast stations combined,” he said. “That’s the money I’m missing and am going after.”