NATPE 2014: What Marketers Need

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 27, 2014

January, the midpoint of the broadcast year, is the time when we begin the migration from focusing on this year’s schedule to our first look at new studio-distributed programming that will air in syndication in 2014-15. 

The 2014 NATPE conference, themed “No Barriers, New Business,” will discuss how to make programming more relevant to viewers, deliver higher ratings for marketers, and employ the latest technologies to gain new business. These topics are not mutually exclusive, with the proposed solutions benefitting both viewer and marketer.

The application of social media to programming and advertising is well underway. Viewers of studio distributed programming are participating in the on-air experience and the use of social media is building business by driving traffic to retailers or extending the conversation online via sponsored content. This level of engagement is especially valuable as research shows that syndication’s viewers are important opinion leaders across a broad array of product categories. And it doesn’t hurt to have commercial messages running in programming that viewers identify as more trusted and influential. 



Relevant programming needs to reflect changes in the population. Television’s viewership is ethnically diverse and the hosts of studio distributed programming certainly reflect this. The ratings for these programs are strong, growing and delivering viewers who are key customers in categories such as mobile, retail, restaurants and movies. 

While technology is often an asset to effective communication, sometimes it can be an impediment. Consider the challenge that 70% of people who plan to purchase a car in the next year have a DVR. Marketers need not be victimized by the DVR. By running in programming with high “Live” viewership such as sports and syndication they can negate the ability to electronically skip commercials. Even among people who own a DVR, research shows that airing in the first commercial minute can mitigate commercial skipping and, running in shorter pods provides higher recall as well.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to new business is old thinking. The media environment continues to evolve, and unlike sports, there is no opportunity to call, “time-out.” Today’s true targeting goes beyond demography to reflect category and brand dynamics, as well as brand users and purchasers. Targeting message timing is increasingly important, reflecting higher sales periods measured by time of year, day of week or time of day. And, at a time when the economy continues to be a primary concern, the impact of paydays should be considered to maximize the message relevancy. 

Some of the barriers to building business are self-imposed and reflective of past concerns. Old media maxims need to be reevaluated as well to see if they remain true. Today, broad reach can be generated more efficiently than network primetime, and “cheap” is not necessarily cost effective if it delivers lower impact. 

Fortunately, most barriers can be lowered or eliminated. Studio-distributed programming continues to incorporate new approaches, new media and technologies. As a result, this provides more opportunities for relevant, engaging programming and improved business for all.

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