By Adam Armbruster, Special to TelevisionWeek
Back in 1965, grocery stores were just about the only place you could buy milk and bread. Flash forward to 2007, and you can buy milk and bread in any convenience store on just about every block.
The television business evolved in the same accelerated fashion.
First the original “Big Three” networks added “sister” cable networks, then they created their own network and local TV station Web sites and later added local weather networks; so now it seems that every local television operation owns multiple media outlets.
Why would they create all of these extra TV channels and Web sites in a single city? What’s the payoff for the advertiser?
Lynda King, general sales manager of Raycom Media’s Cleveland television properties, knows what it means to manage ad sales across multiple video and information “pipelines.” We spoke with Ms. King about how she maximizes their use for media planners and advertisers.
TelevisionWeek: Why do television companies want to own so many properties in a single market?
Lynda King: I think conventional wisdom used to be that multiple properties in a single market just provided real economies of scale. As our business redefines itself, we’re learning-very quickly-that multiple platforms also provide us with more diverse opportunities to reach consumers, serve the local community and deliver results for the advertiser.
TVWeek: Do you think that multiple-platform media is the future of the local-market media business?
Ms. King: Without question. We have television channels that not only target the different traditional demographics, but since our new-media channels are now comprised of thousands of little niche channels, we can also target just about any psychographic you want to reach. And ultimately we have two channels that we can use to reach whoever we choose to reach: Free, over-the-air broadcast television, which is still the highest-reach medium available, and now we use our new-media tools to build solutions for advertisers that include everything from high reach and frequency to interactivity and specificity. This process is better now than it has ever been.
TVWeek: How many properties do you own and sell in Cleveland?
Ms. King: WOIO is a CBS affiliate delivering both an analog [channel 19] and digital [WOIO-DT 10.1] signal. WOIO-DT 10.2 is WeatherNow, a hyper-local 24/7 weather channel. Plus we have www.19actionnews.com and www.my43.net. Then there is WUAB, our MyNetworkTV affiliate, delivering both an analog [channel 43] and digital [WUAB 28.1] signal. And finally WUAB-DT 28.2 “The Tube,” a 24-hour music video channel.
TVWeek: I counted six unique and different types of media. What are the differences that you have encountered in managing one TV station sales operation versus six?
Ms. King: Our business today doesn’t even resemble what it was even five years ago. While there are still “avail requests” and “negotiations,” we now find ourselves spending vast amounts of our time working closely with clients and agencies on achieving final results. We have realigned our staff from top to bottom to make sure that we have enough mobility to create a different kind of modern selling. Plus we’ve added different managerial responsibilities, more clerical support, teams of salespeople focused on different types of business-it’s not just “account list management” anymore. We want to invest in a lasting relationship with our clients because ultimately, their success breeds ours.
TVWeek: What is the value to advertisers in having six types of electronic media offered to them all at once?
Ms. King: You could say that it’s “one-stop shopping,” but it’s really much more than that.
TVWeek: What advice do you offer clients and media planners when they consider a multiplatform television campaign with you?
Ms. King: Talk to us, get us involved. It’s one thing to have a buyer demand “added value” and an entirely different thing to have their key account people sit down with us and walk us through their needs. We have so many more options available to us now other than “just spots,” so much, in fact, that the “added value” of a multiplatform campaign really is the integration.
TVWeek: We have found that measurement metrics also need to change when you shift to a multiplatform television plan from a linear [one-station] campaign. Do you agree?
Ms. King: Without question. New measurement tools are already being developed. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported [recently] that Nielsen//NetRatings will be dropping “page views” as a measurement metric. Page-view statistics mean very little today. Clients really care about engagement and results; and today people are very engaged with the Internet-it is now the least passive medium available today. The success of social networking sites is just one example of how the Internet is evolving. We need to consider how people consume the content.
We also have to accept that breakthrough multimedia-platform campaigns require the appropriate investment levels; we can’t be cheap about it. For example, if you were to walk into a car dealership looking for a truck to haul a lot of wood, and then proceed to buy the smallest, cheapest cost-per-pound truck on the lot, don’t be angry that you can’t fit all your wood in the truck. You should have bought the most effective wood-carrying truck available. In terms of television, we can cross-sell you our affiliates, which are free, over-the-air broadcast television, then add our digital tier and finally layer over all of this our Web sites to help drive consumers to your business. By doing this we have just created three new measurement tools for you. I ask clients to measure us on that, and not to measure us on cost per point alone. With us, it really is all about results.
We agree with Ms. King that media cost efficiencies are always important and that focusing on low price alone is a mistake. Today’s media planners innovate and create value for the client not by fighting about media prices but through the creative use of breakthrough cross-platform media concepts.
Ms. King knows the future of the media game has already arrived.
So fasten your seatbelts everyone, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
Adam Armbruster is a partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-928-7192.