The New York Times Magazine had an issue devoted to middle age, and one of the article was called TV's Silver Age
. Part way in there is the following paragraph:
Every Wednesday morning, newspapers across the country run a chart of the previous week’s highest-rated television shows. Most television executives basically ignore that list. They have eyes only for subsets of those overall figures, particularly one they call “the demo.” That’s televisionspeak for viewers ranging in age from 18 to 49. The demo may seem nonsensical — after all, what does a high-school graduate have in common with someone becoming a grandmother for the first time? — but it drives the television business.
If your company does or even contemplates television advertising, read that paragraph and the three that follow. They lay out the following history of ad buying:
- Nielsen audience ratings were once broadly based.
- ABC, being last in the rankings, decided - strictly as a marketing tactic for itself - to emphasize the 18-to-49 demographic because the network was attracting younger audiences and it looked good.
- Further, ABC argued that the baby boom generation was vital, because it was used to televion and was huge.
- Advertisers bought into this and the special reports that Nielsen generated for ABC became the important numbers.
- As demographics shifted, advertisers never got it through their heads that the old arguments for skewing young had less and less credibility.
As a result, the advertiers still look for young audiences without ever considering where the most consumer dollars are available to be had. If you've read through this far, here's the conclusion: folks, you have just been taken for, oh, about 20 to 30 years and have largely been wasting the money your companies entrust you to wisely spend
How do I, a non-advertising expert, figure I can say this? Because I'm willing to look at the numbers. Now some good news: just because you've done everything one particular way for so long doesn't mean that you can't switch strategies. Here are some steps to at least start moving in the right direction:
- Redefine your market segments. Make advertising segmentation match your customer segmentation as much as possible. If advertisers refuse, mutter "online ads" and the names of competitors, and that should make their spines bend over backwards.
- Do some research to show how much per capita spending in your category happens in each of the segments.
- Create a segment weighting factor. If, for example, 30-to-40 year olds buy represent 40% of your sales, the factor would be 0.40.
- Compare average spending by your customers to the appropriate segment spending as a ratio. The higher the ratio, the more invested in your company the cusotmers are and the more important they should be to you and where you might be looking for more.
- For any program, multiply the number of audience members in a given segment by the average category spend. Now you have a first approximation of how much money there is for your type of product watching that program.
Sure, "real" analytics would get far more complex, but you don't need to have a Ph.D. in mathematics to start understanding what is going on. Don't get snowed; get smart.
Labels: advertising, analysis, efficiency, marketing, television