Finding Better Bang for the Cable News Buck

Current-day case study offers alternatives for reaching viewers when hosts go off-script
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WHY THIS MATTERS: A brand buying into a cable news ad boycott can, with the right technology, get a better opportunity.

Simulmedia's Marc Goldstein

Simulmedia's Marc Goldstein

The year 2016 was the most-watched year in cable news history. And in contrast to the typical post-election year decline, the ratings only got better in 2017, with gross viewership increasing 15% overall and 7% in primetime.

Despite the increases, however, some advertisers are becoming wary of the risk of being associated with certain cable news content. Controversial statements made by on-air commentators have been happening with greater frequency, leaving advertisers to deal with the fallout of guilt by association, and agencies to answer questions from clients about why they were buying time on that show in the first place.

Read More: Big News Audiences Drawing More Advertising Spending

When things like this occur, media buyers may feel they lack better alternatives. The cable news audience is not only large, it’s valuable, and in the absence of knowing where else to reach them, media buyers often simply move their inventory to other places on those networks.

However, with today’s Advanced TV technology, brands can reach the exact same audience elsewhere on linear TV without the risk of becoming associated with controversial content.

For example, let’s say you’re one of the advertisers who decided to pull your ads from The Ingraham Angle on Fox News Channel after a controversial tweet from its host, Laura Ingraham. There’s no need to rehash the details of it here, but presumably, even though your brand may have chosen not to advertise on her program, you’d still like to reach her audience of Fox News viewers.

With the approximately $150,000 you would have spent on 10 spots over two weeks on The Ingraham Angle, you would have reached 8,981,442 people — a large number for such a relatively low expenditure. The only way to match, or exceed, the value of that media is to leverage technology designed to find your audience more efficiently across national television.

Simulmedia’s Advertising Operations team ran a test to see if our VAMOS platform could run a one-week campaign that reached more Fox News viewers for the same cost as two weeks’ worth of ads on The Ingraham Angle. The result? In a simulated media buy, VAMOS ran 266 spots across 62 networks and reached 9,814,748 people in that same target audience — an increase of 9%. All this in seven days, instead of two weeks.

What does this tell us? That with the right technology solution, it’s possible to find concentrations of any target audience across national TV and accumulate them in such a way that brands can reach more of their target audience more efficiently than they might be with their existing media plans.

It should also give hope to media buyers, because sooner or later, another cable news personality is going to go off-script in such a way. Rather than feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place the next time it happens, they should take comfort in knowing that they can use that opportunity to drive additional reach for their brand. It may also empower them to seek new solutions preemptively, and consider how to extract more value from their TV advertising dollars.

There are still lots of good reasons for brands to buy cable news, especially since ratings are up across the board and showing no signs of slowing down. But the brand safety concerns are real. It’s up to each advertiser to choose the course that’s best for them. And now, with the use of the right Advanced TV platform, if they choose to jump from a particular program, they can still reach the same exact audience on TV, without the brand risk.

Goldstein is the VP of partner relations at Simulmedia, which uses data, science and software to target audiences at national scale, and drive business outcomes for advertisers. He oversees the team responsible for managing relationships with the company’s inventory partners.

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