Tapping the Resources of Local TV

Jan 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Local TV stations are one of the finest sources of marketing concepts and execution among media choices.
When the overall market is slower, the opportunities they offer only multiply.
Broadcast television stations can help media planners and clients generate measurable results in short order—just the thing needed in this difficult economy.
There are several reasons to tap local stations:
Local reach and a low cost per thousand. Local TV stations never gave up on the local consumer. Live news programming is never out of fashion, and local stations deliver these programs at a cost per thousand that is 30% of radio ads’ and 10% of a direct-mail drop’s. In a slower economy, one of the wisest things you can do is to examine the cost per thousand of an overall media plan. Profits are made when expenses are contained. If your company profits are off, then it’s time to break down the cost of bringing a customer in your door.
A strong track record of local success. When the pundits spin their tales of woe about the masses leaving television as a primary source of news and information, they are dead wrong. The average American still watches more than four hours of TV per day. How can this fact be lost on marketers? Perhaps it’s because there are new and sexy media arriving every year. Perhaps local broadcast television is being looked at as “old” media.
TV stations present an amazing track record of success with business and they will share these plans with you. As media planners, we need to embrace many perspectives and use the experiences of others to build on our knowledge pyramid.
Local station managers see dozens of clients a week and can give you more local economic data than an economist. Their information is in real time and it covers all major product and service sectors. Where else can you get so much information on a target market so quickly for no cost? Their work with large-ticket retailers, home builders, financial services, medical clients and more can give you a sense of what to do and, maybe more important, what not to do when planning for their market.
High-quality local television production. We recently reviewed the creative production of Allbritton Communications-owned WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., and were stunned at the very high production standards. The WJLA creative team achieves this because of its investment in talent and equipment in addition to its freelance contacts in the best production facilities.
It seems that WJLA can turn out network-quality creative for local clients because it can eliminate major markups in costs, delivering a phenomenal value to the client. And it could do it for more clients if only they and their media planners would ask for this help.
Why work in a vacuum when this caliber of talent and tools are at your disposal? Smart people surround themselves with even smarter people.
Local Web tools. Would you rather have a customer in a distant city or a local customer looking at your Web site? You want a local buyer, of course. Then why not take advantage of the massive traffic on local broadcast Web sites? These sites are teeming with local consumers who are also interested in buying from local business. The fact that these Web sites are promoted on local TV stations means that many of these consumers also may have seen your local television messages. This builds frequency against your target demographic. This additional frequency of your message is far more important than click-through rates. The simple fact that your logo and image are on these local TV station Web sites builds additional media value for a very low cost per thousand.
Weaker national spot buys create opportunity: If a national competitor to your brand has left local spot media in favor of national network television, there may be an opportunity opening up. Heavy buying of local news programs amps up market share and sales results against a national competitor in your local market. In effect, the competitor has done you a favor by reducing local impact, which it has diluted by spending “thinner” across many markets. Market share opportunity grows when a competitor pulls back.
Here are some recommended ways to begin a dialogue with local TV station managers:
Share your goals. You don’t have to reveal any confidential data, but telling your station manager your overall goal can help that manager to think through the concepts, programs and even creative ideas the station presents to you.
Ask what has worked. Ask the management team what client had great success in your market and ask what they could see working for you.
Ask what they know about impending changes in television viewership, both on their station and in the market as a whole. These managers can tell you what programs are about to balloon in viewership, thereby helping you secure a good buy before the rest of the media planning community.
Review the results. Ask your station contacts to keep their eyes open to changes in the market as your campaign unfolds.
Mix it up. Look at other retail sectors and see what works. We find that people tend to shop in similar patterns regardless of product. What can you learn from other industries that you can apply to your campaign?
When local markets soften, everyone has a choice. And the choice is to control your own destiny, or suffer along with everyone else.
We find that controlling your destiny involves out-thinking your competition rather than outspending them.
Broaden your understanding of specific markets and make intelligent adjustments to your television plan while the competition is still wondering what to do. Let local stations bring you a list of 10 ideas that have worked in other similar market conditions.
Smart industry people are all around us. Let’s use their talents and ensure success in any kind of market.
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.


  1. We’ve all known for years the constant and growing track record of local TV stations, but it’s nice to see TV week and a notable consulting firm present all of this info so concisely. Local broadcasters have seen an ever growing importance to local business marketing needs and to local end users. You have a variety of cable/satellite channels to help shed light on the world news scene (with plenty of repetition) but to find out what is going on in your own back yard is increasingly difficult. Local TV allows easy access to info from the local news to the local advertisements and P.S.A.’s, and the ease of access and regular use of TV station web sites is a n frequently overlooked phenomena unto itself that all ads to overall value of local broadcast TV stations that is very hard to compete with. If you want to find real value for advertising investment and a rapid ROI for your business or advertising clients, you need look no further than local TV in the markets you need to affect with your advertising message. This impact is only going to grow with the switch to pure digital delivery in 2009 that will allow broadcasters to have the advantage of an even greater hand to play in competition against ADS (cable/satellite) ad buys in all of the most important markets across the U.S.

  2. Good info indeed…but…you neglect to talk about the many advantages of local CABLE in the client’s marketing mix.
    You do say that TV viewing is better than some think – that’s because the audience has shifted to ad-supported cable.
    And I hope you’ve been able to see the facts on the steady migration on TV AWAY from local news to cable.
    And your cable rep has that list of 10 ideas that work in the category of your choice!
    Jim Heneghan

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