Marketers Are Looking for More Than a Few Good Men
Beyond sports, reaching elusive male viewers through cable, online
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/4/2012 1:39:50 PM
"Live sports is still the best way to reach the most men at one time," admits an executive from one cable network that has a predominantly male audience. "The NFL has exploded in popularity and viewership across five broadcast and cable networks, but it can be expensive.
"For the price of three ad units on one of the broadcast network NFL telecasts or on ESPN, an advertiser looking to reach men can get a 10-week run of multiple ad spots each week on a male-oriented cable network."
Still, finding a touchdown-worthy ad buy without football has its challenges. Primetime broadcast television has long been predominantly female, with a ratio of as much as 60% and even 70% female viewership for most entertainment series, including reality shows. Fox is even trying to increase those numbers this season by adding female-skewing sitcoms such as Ben & Kate and The Mindy Project, along with dramas such as The Mob Doctor.
But media buyers also see some of the broadcast networks trying to draw more males to primetime this season.
"It seems like the broadcast networks are trying to broaden their audiences somewhat by making some of their new dramas more appealing to men," says Jackie Kulesza, senior VP, broadcast activation director, Starcom. New series such as Vegas, Last Resort, Chicago Fire, Revolution and Elementary stand out among the slates. Kulesza says marketers trying to reach men in broadcast primetime entertainment programming want to be in series that skews at least 40% male.
But the male-oriented cable networks are clearly still the best buy beyond sports, and the leading choice for marketers who want to target specific male demos. Younger men can be found watching MTV and MTV2, along with Spike and Comedy Central, and on Telemundo's cable network mun2; older men can be reached via History, Nat Geo and some of the Discovery networks, among others.
Media agencies are also looking to place more of their clients' marketing dollars to support online content targeting men. Online sports sites may be the first place advertisers look on the quest, but they are also looking for more digital content outside of those sites.
"There are fewer ways to reach men on TV other than sports. That's why digital content targeting men has a big opportunity to get more ad dollars," says Carol Fletcher, senior VP, group client director at Starcom. "There is a big opportunity for online video. Short video content on topics of interest to men, especially comedy programming and music and how-to content. There are advertisers who are looking to hyper target men online."
Some of the male-skewing entertainment networks are offering online gaming tied into their series. History channel has an online game for Pawn Stars called You Got Pawned, and also has other games for shows such as Top Shot.
"We are developing online games for our shows for our own website and then moving them onto social sites like Facebook," says Maura O'Donovan, director of ad sales partnerships for History. "Online extensions used to be considered value added for advertises, but now they are part of the packages we sell and clients are paying for it."
Peter Olsen, senior VP of ad sales for History, says, "Casual gaming used to be considered mostly for females, but those lines are being blurred. We've driven more men to online gaming through our Pawn Stars series. We're still new to this area, but are working on creating more games to bring advertisers into."
Let Them Hear Music
Both MTV and MTV2 have median age audiences of 22, with MTV having an audience that is about 40% male and MTV2 with an audience that is more like 60% male. Advertisers seeking to reach men can use MTV for mass in series such as Jersey Shore and through its late-night block, and use MTV2 to hone in on a smaller but more targeted group of young men.
Kate Keough, senior VP of consumer and integrated marketing for MTV360, says MTV2 has created a little space for itself among marketers seeking to reach young men because it has "a little more leeway to be creative when working with advertisers and partnerships and integration opportunities tied into shows."
One recent example came with the "Susan Glenn" ad campaign by Axe, the men's grooming brand. The name Susan Glenn was created by Axe to represent a special girl in a guy's life whom he hasn't had the confidence to approach. Axe ran a six-episode Web series titled "Finding Susan Glenn," but also worked with MTV2 to integrate the Susan Glenn campaign into its Guy Code series. In addition to airing traditional commercials for Axe in each episode of Guy Code, the series stars each created their own personal vignettes about their own personal Susan Glenn, which were shot as show content. The vignettes were also formatted as standalone pieces that delivered the Susan Glenn hashtag and led into or out of segments of the show; they were also reformatted into shorter 30-second spots that ran on MTV with a tune-in message for the next Guy Code, which also ran on MTV. Susan Glenn tune-in spots were followed by an Axe commercial.
MTV2 has also done partnerships with movie studios and footwear companies such as Adidas, Converse and Footaction USA.
Another younger skewing network, Telemundo's cable network mun2-which targets both male and female Hispanic millennials age 18-34, but which boasts a median age much younger than its overall target-recently televised the Bellator Fighting Championships mixed martial arts bouts. The fights are also televised on MTV2, and skew heavily male.
Discovery Networks has a bunch of channels with which marketers can partner to target men, including Discovery Channel, which skews nearly 70% male. There are also smaller Discovery options, such as Velocity, which skews about 90% male; Military Channel, which has an audience of up to 80% men; and Science Channel, which also reaches a predominantly male audience.
Even Discovery's Animal Planet has more programs geared toward men, such as River Monsters and Finding Big Foot, according to Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales at Discovery Communications.
Discovery Channel has some of the most watched series on cable, including Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs and American Chopper, and Abruzzese says marketer integrations are worked in where they fit. "Coors sponsored Deadliest Catch and After the Catch and Coors beer was integrated into the After the Catch show this season," Abruzzese says.
While Discovery is still working on ways to create online content tied into its TV programming, Cadillac recently sponsored voting for an American Chopper poll on the network.
And Abruzzese says Velocity, which has a small base audience and focuses primarily on automotive, leisure and adventure programming, has doubled its revenue over the past year, which has been helped by marketer integrations. "Mothers Car Care products has integration in the â€˜High Performance Block' on Velocity and Black Magic is the sponsor of Mecum Auctions," he says.
Auto is one of the major categories reaching out to men on the Discovery Channel, in addition to gas companies, beer makers, soft drinks, insurance, QSRs, retail and gaming.
Abruzzese says Discovery Channel's partnership with Volkswagen, which exclusively sponsored the recent annual Shark Week programming, was a success, and the German automaker has indicated its desire to return as its sponsor next year. This year, Volkswagen and its media agencies partnered with a marine biologist to build a Volkswagen Beetle Shark Observation Cage, which gave viewers a look at underwater sea life. VW parts were used to create the cage, which bore a large Volkswagen logo. There were also social elements tied into the campaign.
History has some of the largest mass-reach series on cable, such as Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Ice Road Truckers, Swamp People, Ax Men, Top Shot and Top Gear, and the network overall skews about 65% male.
History also has some of its signature miniseries or "big event programming," as the network describes it, coming up that will also skew more male than female, like The Men Who Built America, which premieres later this month; Mankind The Story of All of Us, scheduled for mid-November; and its first scripted series, Vikings, which has a spring 2013 target date.
"We reach men with our regular series like Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Ax Men, but we are also starting to reach more men with our big events and we are hoping to do that with The Men Who Built America, Mankind and Vikings," says History's Olsen.
Certainly the biggest event programming the network has ever run came this past May when its miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys, averaged more than 14 million viewers over its three-night run. "Hatfields & McCoys opened our eyes to just how big an audience this network can draw," Olsen says. "The success of Hatfields helped draw more interest to the network. It took the network up another notch in the eyes of both viewers and the ad community."
Olsen says automotive is still the top category targeting men on History, but other sizable ad spending categories include insurance, pharmaceuticals, financial, QSRs and telcos.
"Investment banking is still soft and is one of the last categories that seems to be coming back," Olsen says, "but insurance and QSRs have shown the most growth in the past 18 months."
While the median age of the History Channel audience is around 48, the network has two younger male-skewing series -- Top Gear and Top Shot -- and each has different audiences that appeal to separate ad categories. Top Gear brings in a sizable amount of auto aftermarket advertising, Olsen says, while Top Shot, the network's only reality competition series, brings in hunting and gun retailers.
While many advertisers on History are targeting males, David DeSocio, senior VP of ad sales partnerships for A+E Networks, the parent company of History, says more retail and packaged goods advertisers have been coming on board as well. That trend is similarly happening on the female side, where women-targeted networks have been getting more advertising that was traditionally male oriented, such as insurance, banking and beer and wine.
Olsen sees another opportunity for possibly picking up additional ad revenue in fourth-quarter from would-be National Hockey League advertisers. With the NHL lockout having already canceled the entire preseason and with the season itself in jeopardy, marketers looking to reach men via the NHL telecasts on the various sports networks both nationally and regionally are going to be looking to place their Q4 ad dollars elsewhere.
"We will be out there making our pitch that there are other places to reach men besides sports telecasts," Olsen says. "I think those hockey dollars are one of the things we are going to go after."
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