August 7, 2013

I need a television buy now

Gone are the dartboards and the expensive lunches with reps. We don’t have time for that. We’re too busy analyzing data.

Gone are the dartboards and the expensive lunches with reps. We don’t have time for that. We’re too busy analyzing data.

Analyze analyze analyze, buy buy buy — that’s the credo of today’s media department. But it wasn’t always so. When I first started, my first boss told me that the way to “buy” was to look at the rate cards (yes, we had them then), determine which programs had the highest rates and put the plan together using those programs. With deep enough pockets, you could still make that work today. But now a lot of other factors — mainly research — enter into buying, making the job both easier and more challenging.

In the old days, television had two sources of local research, Arbitron and Nielsen; most other information was national. The demographics available were limited. We bought the top stations/programs if the budget allowed. Simple. Now we have only one research source — Nielsen — with a plethora of demographics. And Nielsen is owned by Arbitron. Hmmm.

We can also overlay research data with household income, education, ethnic skew, car ownership, clothing purchases, plus a variety of other categories, some of which are available locally and others only nationally. Everything you do from surfing the web to purchasing a toasted bagel with cream cheese these days is collected and analyzed.

So when the client says, “I want to buy television,” we have to answer many questions before we can develop that plan. What’s the client’s trying to do — raise awareness, introduce a new product or promote a sale item? What’s the geography — national, regional or local? Do we need to reach a certain demographic: age 18 to 25, household income greater than $30,000, undergraduate degree or better, buys only size 3 clothing? And then of course comes the budget. No, we can’t buy Survivor or NCIS or the late news for 13 weeks in New York for $100K in the 4th quarter during an election year. That money might be better spent on cable or radio or in digital.

Today’s media department relies on research to identify the most effective ways to reach the target audiences. We enjoy gathering information that helps us spend the client’s money as effectively as possible. Gone are the dartboards and the expensive lunches with reps. We don’t have time for that. We’re too busy analyzing data.

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