The Risks and Rewards of Advertising

by Jeff Left

Using multiple media is the best choice for the merchant.  Agree?  Isn’t there exclusive audience for each media?  Can’t radio get to listeners TV will never reach, outdoor get to viewers readers may never get to?  In this media basket, we ask ourselves where the RISK is in advertising.  Let’s take a look at the strengths and the weaknesses.

1.  TV - Massive Audience!  But there are too many options!  If a viewer can surf quality programming so quickly, will they really stay for the commercials?  With the dish and so many cable channels offered, a client’s commercials can become “PARTS PER BILLION.” Secondly, did you ever wonder where your spot gets placed in that 1/2-hour?  Yea!  Near the end.  National and regional get placed first; you’re last.  The RISK with TV is the medium doesn’t create forced viewing, and thus the surfing effect reduces the viewership of your commercials.  Answer?  Make sure you buy the big shows and pay the bigger money.  The audience is probably there.  Also, be willing to pay the higher rate for a better placement toward the top or middle of the hour.

2.  The Newspaper - Most papers sell you a fantastic reach, and locally the penetration is good.  If your customer base is local, what good is state wide coverage.  Where does state wide make you money?  You compete here in town.  The paper also has a major with frequency.  TV, radio, and outdoor have built in audience with schedules run over a “period of time.”  The paper does not!  It’s a one time, one day’s morning or evening edition, in and amongst many other ads.  Add up a 30-day schedule in the paper.  The RISK with newspaper is both reach and frequency.  Answer?  Make sure your ad goes in the part of the paper where your audience usually is.  Sports merchant, get into the sports page!

3.  The Web Page - The net is the newest place to go to find store traffic from the home or office.  The Web Page is the antithesis of “Parts per billion.”  It can take hours for someone to find your ad on the Web.  I feel like a “vidiot” scrolling endlessly for that ad.  It’s one thing if I know your Web address, but if I want info on shoes, I may have 3,000 pages to go through.  Currently the Web does not relate to local store traffic.  A buyer could be two blocks away from your store but into the 56th Web page and not even in the United States yet!  If time is money, I don’t need the Web if I don’t know the address.  Answer?  Use a media mix to reinforce your personal Web page address locally in your market.  Make known your Web page locally to create local sales.

4.  Outdoor - Lots of traffic and numbers that come from the D.O.T..  These numbers are terrific with cost per thousand and although outdoor says they don’t sell via location, the bottom line is location is where it’s at.  The price for viewership is based on traffic counts on the major arteries.  These massive numbers can really grow because passengers are not factored in.  When you get off onto the side streets, should there be a reduction in price with a reduction in traffic?  The RISK with outdoor is paying a market standard based on all metro locations when in reality some locations are a lot less.  Answer?  Negotiate an added on value for anything bought off the major arteries.

5.  Radio - The mobile medium!  Massive audience!  But radio is taking a major hit.  The sample size is under attack.  If Arbitron doesn’t get enough “In Tabs” (usable diaries) back, they simply render the figures out using the small sample, and they say the same results are attained.  Advertisers are not buying that.  Ask the local Burger King if they would be comfortable if 200 people were asked what their favorite fast food place was, and they came in 4th.  Then, it was put in the paper and they had to live with it for 6 months or a year.  There response would be, I could have won the next week.  But that’s what’s happening with stations that have one or two rating books per year.  Advertisers are asking if the numbers and audience are still there after the ratings come out.  They hear the contests and promotions come to an end and wonder if the audience did too.  P1 markets aren’t affected because the ratings are on all the time.  I know poorly rated stations that sell against a station that beats them by telling the advertiser those numbers are not true.  They try to downsize the Arbitron. But it works against them when they look good in the numbers and then try to sell the same merchant on the strength of the ratings.  The RISK in radio is it’s numbers focused and not performance focused.  Performance = Production.  Answer?  Your production department.  Merge the Promotions Director and the Production Director.  When radio starts creating a good promotion with creative production, numbers won’t matter.  Not a station promotion but a client promotion.  Imagine your radio stations production being so creative that someone moving into the market hearing your station thinks they have just moved into the greatest buyers market in the country.  Production is the greatest weapon radio has.  The ratings system is so weak, it will always be production that rules.  How long will we continue to excuse the poor book and over sell the good one?  Let’s create store traffic with radio with results!  Tell your GM and GSM the way to stop people from buying around them is by getting their budgets around the promotions and production departments.

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