Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Advertising Media – Part 1: Broadcast Television

with 8 comments

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.

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8 Responses

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  1. […] start to work for you, you also should be considering the base differences in the media.  With TV, you can use the senses of sight and sound to build your message, but by virtue of the medium, the […]

  2. […] appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from […]

  3. […] TV burst onto the screen and as a society and we still participated in that new medium as a family unit. With only a few choices to select from (and many shows ported over from radio), prime time meant prime family time. […]

  4. […] Just because you like the messaging doesn’t mean that it’s the correct message. Test it. Ask people about what you’re doing. Check the metrics. Make sure that what you’re doing is moving the needle in some way. You might not see an immediate increase in customers, but you might be moving the needle in other ways. For example, are you customers even more satisfied? If they are, you might not be seeing an immediate influx of new customers, but you might be seeing current customers buying more. That will eventually lead to exactly the type of advertising that you can’t buy directly: word-of-mouth. […]

  5. […] value, expertise, whatever) than your competition. And then we channel that message into all the right places for you to reach new customers. Finally, we repeat that message enough to cut through the clutter […]

  6. […] What good is a solid, well-crafted message if no one hears it? Putting it into the right channels (tv, radio, etc.) to reach the right demographic is crucial. But if you ever have the chance to talk […]

  7. […] ways in which you can get your name and brand out in the public eye. Between straight spot buys on TV, radio, placement within print and outdoor, you can carve out your own slice of the medium and […]

  8. […] on how you can increase awareness of your product. We’ve talked about on-air advertising (television and radio), print, outdoor, Internet, direct response, economic challenges, the power of social […]


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