Finding the right mix for new show promotions
Most promos appear on the channels' own airwaves
September 13, 2012
There’s no arguing that airing promotions on their own network is an effective way for channels to hype their new fall shows. They’re more likely to reach people who already tune into their offerings, and the promotions are inexpensive. But by leaning so heavily toward these so-called on-channel promotions, cable and broadcast networks may be missing out on some effective ways of promoting their fall schedules, according to a new study by Nielsen. The study finds that 88.2 percent of fall promotions are on-channel, at a value of $4 billion. By comparison, very little money goes to digital platforms or other forms of cross-promotion, such as ads on rival cable networks with similar demographic profiles. Though it’s difficult to say how much value these promotions really have, research finds that it does help drive ratings for a show’s debut. Justin Rosen, director of media analytics at Nielsen, talks to Media Life about the optimal mix for new show promotion, why digital is being overlooked, and why networks aren’t interested in experimenting more with their promotions.
What's the most interesting or most surprising thing you learned from this report?
We knew that the majority of national promo activity is on-channel, but it was somewhat surprising to see such an overwhelming majority, nearly 90 percent.
It really seems like there is an opportunity to critically evaluate if that much on-channel activity is efficient or effective, especially in finding potential new viewers.
What's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from it?
Similar to CPG marketers, media companies and buyers have the opportunity to evaluate the ROI of promo campaigns, including of individual marketing channels.
These effectiveness calculations can inform future media plans to more effectively target the right audience, allocate inventory as efficiently as possible, and have marketing channels work together in a coherent way.
Why are broadcast networks so unlikely to utilize sister networks or online destinations for promotion compared to utilizing their own networks?
Broadcast networks have an opportunity to build reach quickly, and inexpensively, since they are using their own inventory. Every show, both new and returning, will insist that the word get out about their new season, and running many spots on-channel is the path of least resistance to do so.
But this strategy may not always reach the right people, especially those that may not have a proclivity to the network to begin with.
When networks stick with their own programming to advertise new shows, aren't they potentially missing out on a wider audience that might like a certain program?
Depending on the size of the network, it is possible. It is not necessarily a "wider" audience rather the "right" or "highest-potential" audience for the program.
What sort of mix of new show promotion would be most effective in reaching viewers?
There is no single answer to this question. Different programs will have different needs, and different networks will have different needs.
Two examples: A large broadcast network can build reach quickly, but may risk oversaturation of its regular viewers without much incremental return if the promo airs too often.
A small cable network may not be able to effectively build reach on-channel, and will need to think very hard about how to allocate its limited budget in paid media, and especially how to take advantage of any cross-channel opportunities.
Do you think we'll ever see a point where broadcasters would air ads for competing networks' shows? Why or why not?
Tough to say. I don’t know that we’re there yet. There are still a number of avenues off-channel that broadcast networks can use.
Do cable networks tend to take the same approach as broadcast in advertising new shows? Why or why not?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on the network. Again, consider the case of a large cable network within a corporate vertical, versus a small one with limited cross-channel opportunities. Two very different cases.
How closely is effective promotion tied to strong debut ratings?
This will also very much depend on the program. The genre and quality of the program will be a factor here, and that can be hard to quantify. But we demonstrated that promotion is effective and drives incremental viewership.
We are continuing to develop insights in this space, with a goal of working toward a model that can be predictive between promotion and debut ratings.
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