By Wayne Karrfalt
Special to TelevisionWeek
Louisville, Ky., the host city of the famed Kentucky Derby, is on pace to distinguish itself on the ad sales side.
Insight Communications, the nation’s ninth-largest multiple system operator, is gaining traction in the market-Insight’s largest-with a new layered marketing strategy that offers local retailers the chance to promote their businesses on four platforms with a single media buy. After the system is perfected, Insight Media will shop it to regional and national advertisers in Louisville and other systems throughout the Midwest.
The ad bundle consists of a 30-second spot and a long-form infomercial spot that airs 45 times a week on “Shopping Kentuckiana” on Insight Cable’s Channels 8 and 11. It is also streamed on the Internet site shoppingkentuckiana.com and is available on video-on-demand in Insight’s 290,000 homes, representing 92 percent of the DMA. The “always on” package is designed for maximum exposure on as many platforms as possible in an effort to allay fears that consumers are spending less time watching traditional ads.
“No matter which media the customer is touching, they’re going to catch the ad,” said Mark Spilman, regional VP for Insight Media, Kentucky region.
The response from local advertisers has been tremendous, Mr. Spilman said, with more than 120 advertisers coming on board since the launch of the VOD component 90 days ago. Because of its low cost-$600 to $800 a week, not including the traditional spot-local retailers such as Moore’s Sewing Center, Mom’s Music and JR’s Spa & Salon are re-allocating their print ad budgets to cable, he said.
The 50th-ranked Louisville market seems the perfect place to test such an approach because of its size, falling somewhere between the larger DMAs, which are able to attract more national buys, and the smaller cities that get hardly any. Since interconnecting with Comcast in late 2001, Insight Media has seen steady growth in national and regional ad revenue, accounting for 28 percent of overall sales last year, 8 percent higher than Insight’s overall average.
However, there is a limit to the national dollars a midsize market can attract. This year the segment is expected to be flat. Regional advertisers such as grocery store chains that have a strong presence in the Midwest could provide the biggest upside in the coming years.
“We’re seeing that with interconnects, growth has been noticeably bigger in larger markets than in smaller markets, which might not get movie release money or TV-sweeps-type money,” said Kevin Dowell, senior VP of Insight Media. “The big nationals buy the top 25 markets, not the top 125, and the reality is they can get the whole country a lot easier by calling ESPN.”
In the meantime, Louisville will join other markets such as Philadelphia (Comcast) and San Diego (Cox) in trying to set standards and practices to best price, track and report VOD advertising, which is very different from the traditional spot TV model.
“When you’re selling VOD you’re not just selling a subscriber count. It becomes a one-on-one experience with the customer,” Mr. Spilman said. “When a customer clicks on a spot, you know someone reached out and watched it, and the value of that has yet to be set.”