Advertising and Marketing

Making Older Viewers Count

The demand for boomers is reflected in advertising prices 12/17/2012 01:01:00 AM Eastern

At a time when TV networks are
working increasingly hard to monetize
viewers watching on alternative
platforms, there are signs that marketers are
paying for eyeballs belonging to viewers age
55 and older.

With five months to go before the upfront,
networks are already lobbying to change the
currency used for media buying from C3
commercial ratings to C7 commercial ratings,
which would increase the number of viewers
counted by including delayed viewing on
DVRs for seven days after airing, up from the
current three days.

It remains to be seen how successful the
networks will be in convincing their clients
to embrace C7 ratings. But marketers increasingly
appear to be paying for viewers outside
the demographics long favored by buyers.

1217 Currency chart

In a presentation at an investors' conference
earlier this month, David Poltrack,
chief research officer at CBS, the network
with the largest number of older viewers,
said those viewers are being reflected in the
prices paid for advertising.

CBS has long railed against the advertising
industry's fascination with targeting younger
viewers. At the B&C/Multichannel News OnScreen Summit
on Dec. 6, CBS CEO Les Moonves said the 18-49
demo was "bulls--t," and quipped that the only affluent
18-34 year-olds are his children. NBC has also been
highlighting the consumption pattern of the aging baby
boomers, which it labels "Alpha Boomers."

Now, instead of relying on the traditional age-based
18-49 and 25-54 demographics for targeting consumers,
"new research initiatives have introduced advanced
metrics that provide far more precise segmentation
of television audiences to marketers," Poltrack
said. In addition, new single-source measurement
services now allow advertisers to measure the actual
purchase activity of television audiences in their product

"The challenge now is to reconcile these new, sophisticated
media planning measures with the less precise
age-based currency measures used in the media
buying process," Poltrack added.

Those new measurements can make older-skewing
shows appear more attractive to marketers. For example,
the CBS series Blue Bloods has a relatively low concentration
of the 18-49 year-olds soft
drink marketers usually target. But
using advanced metrics, Poltrack
said, it turns out that Blue Bloods
has a higher concentration of heavy
soft drink consumers. And given a
relatively low CPM, suddenly the
show appears to be an efficient buy
if you're a soft drink maker.

More and more marketers are looking at these advanced
metrics, and that's starting to affect the programs
they choose to buy. The added demand for shows with
older viewers is raising advertising unit prices.

Poltrack said proof that the typical media planning
and buying practice in television advertising "is moving
away from age and gender alone to these more
sophisticated and more accountable metrics" is shown
by a decreasing correlation between ad prices and 18-
49 delivery and an increasing correlation between
prices and 35-64 delivery.

"The correlation, though still very strong, is beginning
to come down," Poltrack said. Using price data
from Nielsen, Poltrack said the correlation
with 18-49 delivery has fallen from 91% in
the 2009-10 season to 85% in 2011-12."

"More telling is a longer-term relationship
between unit prices and adults 35-64,"
Poltrack said. "This is where the key baby
boomer segment of the population has
moved, and it is clear that marketers are
continuing to keep this key purchase group
in their target." That correlation was 52% in
2005-06 and rose to 59% in 2011-12.

Buyers aren't basing their transactions on
adults 35-64, but the figures confirm "they
are making changes in their media selection
process that place a higher value on programs
that deliver this key segment," Poltrack said.

"One of the factors causing this rise in the
correlation of adults 35-64 ratings
with price is the fact that in the
most recent years, CBS, the dominant
network with viewers in this
older age group, has become the
leading network in adults 18-49
as well," he added.

Media buyers have been reluctant
to change the way they do
business, and it is unclear whether
they would ever target an older
demographic group.

At the B&C/MCN OnScreen
Summit, Irwin Gotlieb, the
media buying oracle who runs
GroupM, which is among the
larger media investment fi rms,
said targeting 18-49 year-olds
still has merit because while
other consumers aspire to be older or younger, 18-
49 year-olds are the most comfortable in their own
skins. But the game will change when TV becomes a
more addressable medium.

"Addressable ads will be far more effective because
of targeting, more relevant, more engaging," Gotlieb
said. He sees addressable ads starting small, then scaling
up over the next two to three years.

"There are really astounding possibilities for TV ad
growth," he added.

E-mail comments to
and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette


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