SNTA Exec: Marketers Should Take Advantage of "Christmas in July"
By Jordan Harris, director of marketing, Syndicated Network Television Association -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/13/2012 2:41:30 PM
In a recent Gallup survey, Americans reported more average daily spending in July than any month not beginning with the letter "D." Back-to-school spending begins in July and represents the second largest sales period after Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation. But back-to-school is only partly responsible for this lift in sales.
Census data confirms that overall consumer spending in July was above average in 2011 with increased numbers in categories such as new car sales, food and beverage and restaurants, as well as home and garden stores.
July also holds the monthly record for domestic gross movie ticket sales for the past ten years. It's no wonder that the expression "summer blockbuster" is a part of the lexicon. The movie industry is naturally one of the top television advertisers during July, but they're not alone, with automotive, restaurants, wireless and financial services among the top five categories in terms of spending.
Persistent myths aside, people are still watching television in July. Nielsen's "Households Using Television" data (which calculates the percentage of all TV households in a survey area with one or more sets in use during a specific period) shows that the July 2011 viewership index dropped only about 7% compared to the entire year. Upon closer inspection, however, network primetime adult 18-49 ratings for July dropped 40% vs. May. So while TV is still being watched in July, it's just being watched differently.
In July 2011, syndicated television delivered an incredible 60% of the top 10 highest rated shows, along with the top 25 and top 50. Further, last year's July ratings for syndicated shows like Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother and The Office all significantly outperformed their network counterparts for key adult and young adult targets. This year, with the addition of The Big Bang Theory in syndication, we've already witnessed the same effect in June 2012.
While network primetime offers a few first-run shows each summer, there just aren't enough of them. Last July, over 70% of the network primetime schedule was "repeats" with ratings averaging 0.9 for adults 18-49. Looking at the published schedules for this summer, one shouldn't expect much of a change.
Everyone knows that cable networks recognize the advantage of summer releases. The success of this year's Hatfields & McCoys on History (which aired just after May sweeps) and the NBA playoffs demonstrate that viewers still want to watch TV when the weather gets warmer and the days last longer.
Unfortunately for marketers, these shows won't be there to support July efforts. Further, what may be lost on some is that many of the heavily hyped shows don't necessarily attract the scale that's expected to drive people into dealerships, announce promotions, launch products or fill theater seats. Put into perspective, among the top telecasts in all of national television, last July's highest-rated cable premiere ranked 140th among adults 18-49.
So what's a marketer to do?
Some marketers adjust their selections based upon media consumption specific to the summer months. Marketers still need immediate reach; it just doesn't happen as quickly on network when the network prime schedule includes mostly "encore presentations."
Many marketers employ multiplatform integrations as an important element of delivering their communications message. For those looking toward first-run network, the choices are limited. Syndication's entertainment news programs remain first-run all summer long, providing advertisers with fresh content and the ability to partner on multiplatform integrations with a very short lead time.
This July, successful marketers can achieve high ratings, extended reach and build in efficiencies with impactful television efforts. For some, it may require an adjustment in vehicle selection, but for many, it simply means reallocation within the properties they're already buying. Think of it as a gift that can last the whole year.
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