Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Archive for April 2008

Advertising Media – Part 3: Newspapers

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One of the oldest advertising media out there is newspapers. Since the beginning of distributed printed material, newspapers have shown an ability to reach a large audience.

When newspapers first started to appear on the scene, there was very little in the way of competition for advertising dollars. If you were a business owner and wanted to advertise, you had to use newspapers to reach a wide and varied audience (aside from painting your business name on the side of a building).

Today’s advertising landscape is substantially different. With audiences for any given medium becoming more fractured and the construction of the so-called 24 hour news cycle, newspapers have not only become simply one of many advertising options, the newspapers themselves have dimished value. Today’s readership for newspapers continues to age and dwindle. People in the 25-54 demographic have become accustomed to reaching for television as a source for news. With CNN, FOX News, CNBC, and other cable news outlets, current news is available when you want it. Now that the Internet has become nearly omnipresent from our desktop computers to our handheld devices, instanteous and customized news services push content to wherever we want it, whenever we want it.

That said, newspapers have been around for a long time and as such lend a certain degree of credibility to its content. If you are considering advertising in print, you should keep the following things in mind:

  • Readership is older – if you’re hoping to reach the key 18-49 demographic with your print ad, it’s not likely to happen. If you’re looking to be in front of the aging Boomer generation, then this is a viable option.
  • Advertising is persistant – your audience can stare at your ad for as long as they want. Unlike a tv spot or a radio spot, your print ad isn’t going anywhere. If they wanted to, they could cut out your ad and save it in a scrapbook.
  • Advertising is static – you know how people are sometimes so enamored with tv spot that they saw that they go to YouTube or a similar site and sent the web address to all their friends. Doesn’t happen with print ads. Sure, there are journals with dazzling print ads, but unless you’re in the business, it’s not likely you’ll ever see one.
  • Advertising is unobtrusive – you ad will just sit there on the page. Reader’s brains have been well trained over the years to simply pass over the ads and read just the stories. When you buy advertising in newspapers, you are paying a cost relative to the readship numbers. But who’s to say that the readers are reading your ad…or even the paper itself for that matter?

Written by Jeff York

April 23, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Advertising Media – Part 2: Radio

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My multi-part series in advertising mediums continues this week with radio.

An older medium than television, radio is more predominant in people’s lives than they might suspect. Television offers advertisers a single daily opportunity to reach maximum audience numbers during Prime Time. Radio offers two, but only Monday through Friday. These periods are called Drive Time and represent when people are typically using radio: driving to work in the morning and from work in the afternoon/evening. During these drive time periods, advertisers can reach a large audience across many demographics by focusing their buys and maximizing promotional and/or contesting opportunities.

Outside of drive times, the demographic that uses radio changes substantially. Some people are lucky enough to be able to listen to the radio while they are at work and we are sometimes exposed to radio while in public shopping areas. However, the bulk of radio users outside of drive times are either retirees or teens. If you get the chance to read audience trend information, you will find radio formats such as oldies, talk, and top 40 will hold an audience all day long while other formats have their strong spikes during their drive times and holes elsewhere.

While the demographic composition of a television station will vary by show, in radio the “show” is the format programmed by the station. Therefore 24 hours a day/7 days a week, you can predict what kind of demographic is listening to a radio station. Exceptions might include college radio where formats change every 3 hours or so depending on the student DJ or speciality programming such as “Breakfast with the Beatles” weekend mornings on a station not typically running classic rock/oldies or the odd Jazz programming block.

One of the biggest challenges to successfully buying mass media advertising is finding a way to cut through the clutter and finding the ear of an attentive audience. Radio faces the same clutter issues (including Clear Channel despite their ill-advised Less is More initative), but also must contend with a more transitory audience than television does. The length of a show on television is 30 minutes for sitcom, 60 minutes for drama. In radio, the length of a show is only the length of a song. People are more in tune with changing between stations sooner than they are with TV.

Additional issues with constructing an effect radio message include being bound to only having access to the aural senses. Unlike television where producers can create compelling visuals to go with the audio, radio spot producers must rely in the listeners creating visuals in their mind’s eye.

It’s been my experience that purchasing radio is best done in concert with a strong television campaign. Radio can do an excellent job of reinforcing a branding message that was otherwise started. Should an advertiser be restricted to radio only, they would be well advised to talk to their local radio sales rep about finding ways of integrating their advertising messaging with DJ content and making it part of song wrap-arounds as much as possible rather than letting a traffic manager drop their spot in the middle of an extended break.

I hope this short insight into radio buying proves to be helpful to you. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have about your personal experiences in buying radio and what’s worked for you. Of course, if you need help with radio or any other kind of media buy, please give my company a call.

Written by Jeff York

April 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Advertising Media – Part 1: Broadcast Television

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I have developed content for many different advertising media as well as purchased different types of mediums. When I work with a client to help them to develop a marketing strategy, part of the conversation has to focus on the medium(s) through which the message will be delivered. I thought it would be instructional and beneficial to talk about the different types of advertising mediums that are available today. This will be a relatively superficial guide for novices just started to wrap their heads around mass media advertising and I hope that you will contact me for a more in-depth conversation as to what is right for you.

I will start with the medium that I know the best and have spent the most time with: broadcast television.

The concept of television was first kicked around near the start of the 20th century with ideas and concepts turned into experiments in the 1920’s. To me, broadcast television as an advertising medium was born when the first two commercial television stations were granted licenses on July 1, 1941 and continues in the numerous television stations that cover the nation, some affiliated with broadcast networks and others running programming as independents.

Independent television stations air shows without the benefit of programming provided by a network. This makes their audience-building task more difficult and often they make the decision based on a desire not to pay the networks their reverse compensation fees any longer and instead hope that the brand they have already built will carry an audience.

In a strictly bang-for-buck, I think that television provides the best vehicle for advertisers…especially broadcast television. You have access to two of the viewer’s senses to get your point across. The audiences are still the largest of the mediums. Broadcast television still provides watercooler conversations around the office. Over the past several decades, television has taken a hit in audience size as people have turned to other activities during hours that would normally be considered prime time, but even still, the place where you can find the largest heterogeneous audiences.

Cable television entered the scene in the late 1940’s as a way to get broadcast signals to the rural farms in Pennsylvania, but quickly people realized its potential to narrowcast special interest programming to an interested audience. Today, there is an average of 102 cable networks offered to each American household (from Spots ‘N’ Dots, 9/26/03) fragmenting the audience. Purchasing a cable network means either a national buy (very expensive and unnessessary for most business owners) or purchasing spots through a local cable outlet. Typically these spots only reach a small geographic area unless you pay extra for mutliple “systems”. If you wish to have the same reach as a local broadcast station buy purchasing cable, you will have to invest with a large number of cable companies while dealing with a host of ad sales reps. This is a real nightmare to say the least.

Comparing audiences, the hotest shows on cable have audiences that would be considered complete failures in broadcast. I remember a time around 2002 or 2003 when cable was first able to say that they were on a par with brodcast. What this really meant was that with their over 100 channels, they were able to aggregate the same audience that broadcast had. But keep in mind, at the time, there were only 7 commercial broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, WB, UPN, PAX). Today, we have one fewer broadcast network with The WB and UPN merging to form The CW.

So that’s television in a very small nutshell. Obviously, there are tricks to buying TV and placement issues that you can talk over with your sales reps. There are tremendous metrics in place to help you with finding the right demographics and shows for your advertising. Or, of course, you can give me a call and take advantage of my years of experience in media buying.

Most of all, good luck with your media buying. Mass media remains the single strongest way of growing a business. Until someone finds a way to easily purchase word-of-mouth advertising, television will remain the best value for advertising dollars for at least the next few years.

Give me my stuff!

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As a producer and former project manager, I may find myself in the situation where a project is delayed not because of production issues or concerns over content, but simply because a client hasn’t delivered something vital which is needed to move the project closer to completion.  It may be a item needed for inclusion into a project or it might be a piece of information required to push the project forward.  But for whatever reason, it gets held up by the client.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?  What did you do to work toward resolution so that the project reaches a satisfactory end?  What might be done earlier in the process so that this situation might be avoided? 

Written by Jeff York

April 1, 2008 at 3:34 am