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High Reach Still Key to Best Results

Jul 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

What’s the true value of high reach in a television campaign?
With all of the trendy focus on sub-segmenting audiences based on individual tastes, along with all the talk about “the eventuality of one-to-one marketing,” it begs the question: Is high reach in a television campaign still necessary?
We spoke with the presidents of two of the most dominant broadcast stations in the nation, Shawn Bartelt of Cox-owned ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando, Fla., and Bill Hoffman of Cox’s Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV, to get their opinions of high reach.
TelevisionWeek: What’s the audience value of a high-reach television station?
Bill Hoffman: It has always been of high value. Combine the most influential medium, television, with a large audience and you get a shotgun blast with your message offering. You also get the added benefit of making contact with not only your primary target audience but secondary ones as well. There is also a line of thinking that argues that if you are in the No. 1 [local] news (another big reach area) that it carries with it some cachet for the advertiser in that they are a high-quality company.
Shawn Bartelt: Priceless. Really, how many high-reach vehicles are there for advertisers to leverage brand and image, launch new products and services, or new pricing options? Television stations with high reach provide more consistent audiences, every day. You build a larger cume faster.
Posting a media buy is more consistent with high-reach programming. If you buy a 5 rating and it underperforms by half a point, you still deliver a 4.5 rating. When you buy a 1 rating five times and that program underdelivers by half a point, you lose 2.5 points. And high-reach stations can make good any underdelivery much more quickly.
High-reach television stations do more marketing of their own product. Those stations invest a great deal in their programming and news operations. High-reach television stations generally have the preferred programming that provides the qualitative profile advertisers like, such as “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “Oprah,” “Ellen,” top-ranked newscasts with exceptional production values, “Jeopardy!” or “Entertainment Tonight.” High-reach stations have more of the shows and brands that advertisers want to be associated with. Also, high-reach TV stations are generally producing more programming, especially news, in high definition.
TVWeek: Why does this reach help advertisers?
Mr. Bartelt: Providing high frequency without high reach means you are hitting the same 10 people many more times than you need to, instead of hitting 100 more people the right number of times. You want to expand the top of the funnel of potential viewers and customers to make sure you are reaching everyone who might be interested in your product. The TV best buy combines high reach with appropriate frequency, preferably over an extended period of time.
Mr. Hoffman: It is smart to throw the biggest net possible … to talk to as many potential customers as you can. Maybe they are the market now or maybe they will be in six months. Establish yourself right now on their shopping list to be top-of-mind with as many customers as you can.
TVWeek: Do you see the value of reach holding up to the continual onslaught of the splintering digital media outlets?
Mr. Hoffman: I think so. The only thing that will change is comparative values. What is considered big reach today is no doubt much smaller than it was five years ago. Concentration on fewer mediums will probably become a broader accepted strategy, so you can combine reach with a strong share of voice in whatever platform you believe works best for you.
Mr. Bartelt: A study [“When Advertising Works,” conducted by Yankelovich in association with Sequent Partners] released in June this year finds that advertisements appearing in traditional media like television are still “much more likely” to have made a positive impression with consumers than ads running in digital media. The study suggests that the best option is a combined approach. High-reach broadcast stations still provide high reach, even in a marketplace that includes digital media and 100-plus ad-supported cable networks. WFTV 6 p.m. news did a 10 household rating last night. The highest ad-supported cable net in the time period was Fox News with a 2.6. Plus the commercials that ran in the WFTV news show were not DVR’d, and they were video commercials, with audio … and they can be in high definition.
TVWeek: How is this reach advantage helping you advance your digital media tools?
Mr. Bartelt: Because WFTV is a high-reach station, we have the promotional platform to drive users to our top-ranked local Web site, WFTV.com. We have successfully grown the cume audience of our independent station, WRDQ, plus successfully launched two digital subchannels, RTN and Eyewitness News 9 Traffic and Weather. That means we can provide one-stop shopping for our advertisers: high reach, frequency with our independent narrowcasting and frequency with our digital subchannels and substantial local Web site unique visitors, page views and video views.
Mr. Hoffman: It all starts with having a strong brand, just like anywhere else. Our product, of course, is local news, weather and sports. We use our biggest-reach medium, broadcast television, to promote our Web and mobile products. The user wants to be able to access our content 24/7 wherever they are. We are leveraging our reach with TV to market these brand extensions and have them dominate in the space that they compete in … and it’s working.
Now consider a recessionary customer base. Say that in a given retail category there are already 25% fewer buyers, and those who are buying are seeking more value for their hard-earned dollar. Then add to this that they are also 25% more nervous about buying than in the past, thus lowering your business’s closing ratios. So when you factor these two elements together, you have a buyer who is 50% less likely to buy now … and the only thing you can do about it is reach more buyers. In a recessionary market, the need to reach 50% more buyers for the same CPM is not an option—it’s a necessity.
The bottom line: If an advertiser wants to make more money right now, then reach matters most.
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.

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