Relics

The media world is changing more rapidly than the tools and metrics we use to plan, buy and evaluate our efforts. I’m now teaching a media course at NYU for graduate students and as I’m preparing materials for the class I realize how out of date some concepts are that are still widely used in the industry.

First up, the Designated Market Area. This is a Nielsen definition to divide the country into mutually exclusive territories based on where the preponderance of over-the-air viewing comes from. Ad supported cable has a higher share of viewing than broadcast, upwards of 70% of the ratings generated are from cable programs. If cable is the dominant medium from time spent and ratings why isn’t the default geography based on cable geographies?

With the technology we have today and the software we use to analyze data, what is wrong with breaking down a brand’s performance on a county-by-county basis? Micro-planning can be done and programs can be executed locally this way.

Think of the changes this would create for franchise or dealership businesses. Currently they organize based on DMA’s for coordinated promotions and media efforts. They can still operate along these lines, but does it mean they have to ALWAYS buy media across the entire DMA? Or in areas like NY where urban and suburban business characteristics are so different why can’t there be a NY five-borough group and a NY suburban area group?

Next, planning TV by daypart. Why do you need to have a certain number of GRP’s in each daypart you want to buy? If there’s one or two programs in a time period that your target watches why should an artificial parameter force you to buy more or less? I know TV buyers would have a fit if they were told to buy only one program in daytime or late night. This is most problematic in network buying departments where certain buyers specialize in only one daypart.

As more and more TV viewing is time-shifted we’re fooling ourselves if we think there’s a minimum threshold of ratings to buy in a given daypart. People watch TV programs, not dayparts and they watch when they want. Taking the shackles off daypart based planning and buying will enable clients to get more value out of their TV investments.

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