Local Shows Pulling in Placements

Feb 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

By Marc Graser

Advertising Age

Local TV news operations hungry for free content have intersected with brand brokers looking for product placement opportunities in a way that is generating growing revenues for both.

With product placements and integrations proliferating on prime-time television, daytime talk shows, soap operas and national morning news shows-and the costs to appear in them rising-some marketers are finding it tough to secure available space to promote their brands.

However, morning shows produced by local television stations have proven to be one remaining outlet for marketers to consider. These midmorning magazine-style shows replace straight local news, talk programs or syndicated fare.

‘Undiscovered’ Outlets

“In the world of product integration, it’s all about prime time and it’s all about the big huge shows that have huge viewerships and ad value and cachet,” said Jane Rockwell, founder of See Jane Run, a TV marketing company in Los Angeles that has secured product integration segments on local and national morning shows for such clients as Lands’ End, Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s.

“Then there are the national morning news shows that again have big numbers and big audiences. The local morning show is an undiscovered place that we think marketers are going to visit more and more because these other platforms are being bought up.”

Appearances on such shows-in major markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston-typically come in the form of four-minute lifestyle segments that are dedicated to one brand and feature a brand’s spokesperson chatting with the show’s host and delivering the product’s message to viewers. Third-party endorsements may also appear, as well as follow-up information about a product on a station’s Web site. The marketer controls how its brand will be presented, who the spokesperson will be, signage, scripting and what the segments will look like.

New Faces in the Mix

Marketers in the food, beauty, travel and home-entertainment categories have flocked to morning news shows. But less traditional industries, such as automotive, financial services, electronics and technology, “are getting into the picture,” Ms. Rockwell said. “There aren’t too many categories that can’t be creatively fitted into a lifestyle segment.”

The main reason for the interest: Local morning shows provide the same Holy Grail marketers have been looking for elsewhere: a lucrative audience-in this case, women. “Marketers realize that women are the consumers in the home and that nearly 80 percent of the purchases are done by women,” Ms. Rockwell said. “They understand that women have a huge buying power. They’re at home watching and they’re the consumers.”

Another major draw is the cost, which in most cases is nothing. Local TV morning news shows still offer nonbought space for product integrations within shows in most markets.

However, that may soon change.

New Revenue Stream

With more marketers eyeing morning news shows, producers are starting to capitalize on a new revenue stream and adopting a pay-for-play model that could increase the time period’s revenue for a station from between 50 percent and 100 percent. Stations-especially those owned by Gannett in markets such as Atlanta; Denver; Cleveland; Phoenix; Sacramento, Calif.; and Minneapolis-are now charging for placements, which they didn’t do before. The price: $2,500 a pop.

Competition to secure available segments is becoming more intense. The results of an independent survey Ms. Rockwell’s company conducted recently indicate that 74 percent of morning news show producers, bookers and executive producers in the top 25 local TV markets reported an increase in the number of marketers who have contacted them to secure product integration segments. The average number of pitches local morning show producers receive is 124 a week, according to the survey.

“One of the producers with whom we work receives 800 pitches a week-and those are from e-mail only,” Ms. Rockwell said.

Marketer Demand Up

And space on those shows has become less available over time. Some stations in the top 25 markets are producing fewer of their own morning shows, reducing the availability of segments. Demand by marketers has grown by an estimated 26 percent, according to those surveyed in the study, but roughly 54 percent of those said that the availability of the segments has decreased over time.

As a result, competition for integration space within these platforms is increasing, thus driving up integration costs and mirroring what has occurred in the prime-time space.

“The competition for the existing space is there and growing,” Ms. Rockwell said. “More and more marketers are realizing that people have to look at all different platforms for integrations. And slowly, people are checking out these local morning magazine shows. They understand that there’s a value in these local markets.”

The specific monetary value of appearing on one of these shows has yet to be determined. There’s still no industry standard for measuring placements. Some marketers track a show’s ratings, while others have been able to track the number of visitors to a company’s Web site or sales figures in a local market after an appearance on a show.

Getting Into the News

Still, brokers like Ms. Rockwell say that carving out relationships with morning shows could put marketers well ahead of their rivals. But they need to know what they’re doing.

“There is a very specific methodology to securing segments on these shows,” Ms. Rockwell said. “Marketers must know not only how to make a pitch, who to pitch and what to pitch to get into these shows in the first place, but they must also know how to maintain an ongoing relationship with show producers, ensuring that they are asked back.”

Abbey Klaassen contributed to this report.