On the heels of the upfronts, TV programmers
are gearing up for the 2012 fall season. With TV ad
spending on the rise and more content choices available
to consumers, garnering viewers — and corresponding ad
dollars — is more important than ever. According to new
research from Nielsen, promotion does drive viewership
— and Nielsen is helping TV program marketers to understand
just how much.
Media companies need to precisely maximize
the use of all of their available marketing
channels. Every marketing channel has
real costs associated with it, whether it’s out-ofpocket
dollars spent on advertising on TV and
online, or the opportunity costs of on-channel
and cross-channel promotion.
Networks have the opportunity to be more precise in
measuring the impact of promotions on actual ratings,
overall, by marketing channel.
These insights not only help to measure the ROI of specific campaigns, but also inform future campaign planning
by answering questions about optimal frequency, recency
Our analysis of TV promotional campaigns discovered
six takeaways for marketers:
1) Promotion works! We precisely measured the impact
of promotion on tune-in for over 60 different programs, and
found only one instance where promotion didn’t work. In
that one outlier, the issue was scheduling against the NBA
2) To maximize the number of potential new viewers,
promote off your own air. Some networks may over-rely
on their on-channel inventory, which only effectively
reaches loyal, regular viewers. An analysis of promotional
campaigns for a series of fall 2011 network premieres found
that the average campaign reached 47% of adults 18-49. The
incremental reach from off -channel promotion averaged
4.4 reach points, including both cross-channel (free on sister
networks) and paid ads on other networks. Importantly,
among lighter network viewers, off-channel accounts for
seven incremental reach points of the 27% average reach.
3) For new shows, off-channel promos are key. In our
analysis, viewers to a new show that were only exposed to
on-channel promotion make up less than 40%
of the premiere’s audience.
4) For returning shows, sticking with promos
on your own air may be enough. The
largest share of viewers tuning in to the premiere
is likely those who only saw on-channel
ads, making up more than 75% of the premiere’s
5) Promotions on premiere day are critical. Typically,
around one-third of the total audience of a premiere was
only exposed to a promo that day.
6) Combine early and same-day promotions to pack
the biggest punch. Those exposed to a premiere both long
before and day-of typically account for nearly half of the
In today’s hyper-competitive media environment, TV
marketers need to utilize a more scientific and tactical approach
to promote programming. For the sake of the networks
and the CMOs alike, it’s time to use measurement
tools that can help networks optimize their program promotions
— and then measure the direct impact on ratings.
Only then can marketers determine if their on-channel vs.
cross-channel/paid promotions mix is effective.
Howard Shimmel is executive vice president, client insight,
and Justin Rosen is senior manager, media, at Nielsen.