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Program Promotion Planning: A Data-Driven Solution

Oct 14, 2015

Read the full article from The Broadcast Bridge here. 

Thomas Siegman, EVP, RSG Media

By Thomas Siegman, EVP, RSG Media 

As competition for viewers’ attention increases, MPVs and networks must compete against new digital offerings. This means that marketing and promotion is more essential than ever to a show’s success. Fortunately, new tools make planning easier.

Competition for viewers’ attention continues to heat up. Networks must noncompete against new digital offerings, OTT, vines, games and a host of other entertainment options. Effective Marketing & Promotion is more essential than ever to a show’s success. The good news is that there is a revolution in the tools that TV networks use to plan promos. It is changing the way networks promote their shows, helping them meet the challenge head on.

By using these new tools, the networks’ Marketing & Promotions groups are winning massive boosts in their conversion rates, growing audience size, and building viewer engagement. What makes this all the more incredible is that they are achieving these gains with fewer promo spots—those on-screen reminders to watch a show that is coming up next, coming soon, or airing next week.

Hyper Targeting to Find the Right Viewer
The secret is a new science of hyper-targeted campaign management that matches the right message with the right viewer on the right platform to get the right response.

Traditionally, marketers tried to reach viewers using the advertising stand-by of {reach x frequency} for a target demo. If conversion rates were low, they would add more gross rating points (GRPs) to the campaign. Where this approach falls short is that just because a viewer falls into the right demo does not necessarily make her or him a likely prospect. And, not every likely convert is necessarily in the sanctioned demo.

Now, advances in linear and digital television measurement mean that one can use second-by-second behavioural data to discern specific viewing patterns. One can track which viewers saw the promo, and what they did next.

Armed with these new data sources and data analytics techniques, the new promo management tools take a behavioural approach, looking beyond just demography and instead examining viewing habits. They place potential viewers along a continuum of how likely a viewer is to be interested in a particular show, into one of five groups:

Data-Driven solutions to program and promotion planning mean tools of yesterday are no longer sufficient.

Self Learning Systems
These new systems also look at the campaign holistically and revisit the plan as the campaign progresses, making necessary corrections. This is in contrast to the older systems where a manager would set up a plan once at the beginning and hope for the desired outcome. Because the new tools track actual performance, and adjust promo placement, if a campaign is achieving all its goals ahead of schedule, it gives planners the option of freeing up promo spots for other uses. If a campaign is under performing, managers can see why and adjust accordingly. The result is that managers have far more control. It’s the difference between trying to hit a target with a slingshot or with a laser-guided cruise missile digital platform. With a full set of options, the marketers can treat their shows much as a traditional advertiser might, looking at the costs and effectiveness of each option.

Unexpected Insights
Because analytics tools, famously, do not carry human biases, they sometimes offer unusual insights that, in retrospect, make perfect sense. One of these insights is in discerning the best “host” shows for a promo when the correlation is not obvious. For example, we may find that parents who see a children’s show promoted during a high-end drama are more likely to consider that show educational, and encourage their children to watch it, but only if the promo’s message is tailored accordingly.

Other insights include the idea that there is such a thing as over-promotion.  Seeing a promotion too many times can actually be a turn-off for the viewer.

Similarly, seeing a promo for the wrong show can also disaffect viewers by creating a negative halo effect.

Promos can also be used to reinforce a committed viewer’s decision. In the advertising world, car manufacturers famously advertise their cars to people who already purchased them, building brand loyalty and driving repeat purchase.  Promos, used properly, have that same capability.

Empirical insights such as these allow Marketing & Promotions managers to tune their campaigns, making them more effective. Data-models in hand, the groups are able to build viewer engagement, for the promoted program and, yes, even for the host program. And, by tailoring messages to each viewer group, the marketers can increase loyalty and word of mouth.

An Unexpected Bonus: Freeing Up Inventory
While the purpose of the new optimised promotion tools is to build efficacy, it has an ancillary effect. As conversion rates jump, marketing groups are meeting their goals with less inventory. The newly freed up inventory is then available to meet the networks’ strategic goals. A very real win and very good news in a time of greater and greater pressures.

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