Using Web to Drive TV Tune-In

May 18, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When Animal Planet launched reality show “Groomer Has It” last month, the cable network concentrated most of its marketing efforts online. That made sense for the reality show, a sort of “Project Runway” for dog groomers, because the animal-centric network is aiming to reach a younger, more urban audience with the show.
Broadcast and cable networks increasingly are turning to the Web to help drive tune-in to their on-air programs. And, like Animal Planet, they’re using the Internet to reach specific segments of an audience or new demographics entirely.
For instance, Animal Planet ran tune-in ads and short video promos for the show on selected online sites such as Perez Hilton.com, Gawker.com and Defamer.com to reach a “gossip-centric” audience that would likely be drawn to the show, said Victoria Lowell, senior VP of marketing for Animal Planet.
“Online is so great with sampling. People can really get a sense of the show from the video,” she said.
Ms. Lowell said the completion rate for watching the video was 90%, meaning most Internet viewers watched all the way through.
Animal Planet also seeded the promo clips virally on Yahoo TV, AOL and MSN with a goal to generate at least 3.2 million video views before the April 12 premiere. The network finished with 3.4 million views. “That exceeded anything we have seen for an online tune-in campaign,” she said.
Lifetime also has turned to the Internet to drive on-air viewership for its programs, including original movie “The Capture of the Green River Killer” on Lifetime Movie Network. Lifetime Movie Network offered a sneak peek of the first 10 minutes of “Capture” on iTunes. When part two of the miniseries premiered March 31, it became Lifetime Movie Network’s most-watched and highest-rated program ever, averaging 2.4 million total viewers and a 2.8 household rating.
The sneak peek likely played a role in the ratings record, said Dan Suratt, executive VP of digital media and business development at Lifetime. “You can only fit so much into a 30-second spot, but on the Internet you can create content around a movie or behind the scenes. And where there is awareness, there are a certain amount of people who will watch it on-air,” he said.
Lifetime has used the Web in other ways to drive tune-in, like including promos for on-air shows in some of its original Web series, such as the Web show “Mommy Madness” that runs on Mylifetime.com.
A&E also leans on the Web to drive tune-in and expects to increase its digital marketing budget this year, said Guy Slattery, senior VP of marketing at A&E.
One of the advantages of online buying is targeting. “We don’t have to buy big broad demos like we do on TV,” Mr. Slattery said.
When A&E launched “Paranormal State” late last year, it targeted tune-in ads on Web sites devoted to paranormal enthusiasts, such as Scifi.com, he said. The network will employ a similar strategy with its upcoming miniseries “The Andromeda Strain” and also target sci-fi fans online.
Online marketing also lets a network fine-tune its message and speak more personally to viewers, as A&E did last summer with a viral campaign for “Criss Angel Mindfreak” that was passed along to 1 million people in three weeks, Mr. Slattery said.
Measuring success of any marketing campaign can be tough, but Mr. Slattery said traffic to the network’s Web site hit 1.8 million total visits in March, up 45% from a year ago. Video views rose to 3.2 million in March, more than three times the views from a year ago.

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