Your 18-49 Demo Guarantee: When Will You Sing A Different Tune?

The 18-49 demographic will still drive a lot of advertising business this upfront. But how long can this last?

Age and gender will really matter less in future years -- especially when we can measure consumers’ very different purchasing behaviors. And perhaps other data.

For years, executives have pointed to CBS’ older demographic as perhaps a detriment. But in reality, those people still buy stuff, right?

All broadcast networks and a number of cable networks increasingly attract  older TV viewers. Veteran TV research executive Steve Sternberg notes CBS’ median age is now 59; ABC and NBC  54; and Fox, 49. (CW is also older, now at 44).  Sternberg says roughly 45% of all ad-supported cable networks measured by Nielsen have median ages of 50 or higher.

Getting Millennials to watch your TV shows has been the shiny new object for years -- still giving TV executives headaches. But if those viewers in fact don’t have money -- or, better still, desire -- to buy your products, why bother?



As far as this season is concerned, CBS says it’ll win another season in overall TV viewers, while the still desired “younger” 18-49 demographic will see NBC as its champion once again.

We all know these faux TV demos increasingly means less and less these days. Which is why you’ll continue to see more TV networks trying to connect the return on media investment dots.

But let’s skip forward a bit: When will media buying and TV selling executives come to an agreement to pin more of their upfront  dollars on a new set of selling metrics?

Time’s a wasting; and I’ll be buying lots more stuff this weekend at Safeway and Best Buy.

6 comments about "Your 18-49 Demo Guarantee: When Will You Sing A Different Tune?".
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  1. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, May 11, 2015 at 4:35 p.m.

    Buying "audiences" aka behavioral targets is the new black. Unfortunately there are at least 50 shades of black and every platform, vehicle, partner, aggregator, medium has its own definition of black. We need a standardized approach to the data so that media and communications planners and buyers can holistically evaluate and measure delivery. Otherwise, age and gender will again the new black. 

  2. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc., May 11, 2015 at 5:22 p.m.

    Wayne, as I have said for years, there is so much wrong with this I can't even begin to tell the tale. And first off what exactly is an 18-49 year old? A working mother and her high school  senior daughter? They have the same needs, desires and pocketbooks? Hold the rationalizations for a minute. Jus think about lumping those two into the same bucket. Then, next year the mom will no longer be desirable and she just got promoted. This is before we even begin to think how stupid it is to assume that people who grew up with TV are no longer a "desirable" TV audience, even though the new "desried ones" don;t evne have bus fare for high school. Its mind-boggling in its stupidity. And yes, I have been in this business for decades and I have helped companies of all stripes and sizes run after their Holy Grail. Because I need to pay the bills. But it is so incomprehensibly dumb.

    And yes, people over 50 can make brand changes. I can list study after study after study bit no one really cares. And once you turn 50 they only think you need Depends, Viagra, retrirement funds and Insurance. Yep, that's me. I stopped buying houses and cars and food and clothes the minute I hit 50. And I always buy the same brqands over and over. That's why I just bought a new Plymouth this year and still use my 8-Track to listen to Lawrence Welk as I shop at Montgomery Wards.

  3. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc., May 11, 2015 at 5:24 p.m.

    Sorry for the typos. Can;t figure out how to edit once I post. I am old. I can't see or think or buy stuff.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 11, 2015 at 7:05 p.m.

    From a marketing viewpoint, the audience guarantee rating "currency", whether it be adults aged 18-49 or men aged 25-54 is irrelevant. Most upfront national TV buys are not made on a brand by brand basis, with the specific targeting, timing or program environment needs of each brand in mind. Instead, a typical upfront buy melds the requirements of all of a corporation's brands into a single, giant TV buy---organized on a GRP tonnage basis by network type, daypart, timing and, in certain cases, program genre basis. Under such circumstances, there is no way a buying group that handles broadcast network prime, while another handles daytime a third does fringe, etc. can focus on an individual brand's targeting. If you take, say 10 different brands in quite distinct product categories, you mught mash the whole mess together and conclude that your average prospect is a women, aged 35-54, with a household income of $40,000-$75,000. What do you do with that? Most likely only a third of the corporation's brands actually fit that profile and what about all of the other consumers---men, those aged 18-34 and 55+, etc.? Do you ignore them?

    The same problem arises for so-called marketing indicators. You've got 10 brands to buy for on a collective basis. One is a hand soap, another is a mouthwash, a third is a man's shaving lotion, a fourth is a frozen pizza, etc. Which of the product usage metrics do you use-----based on "big data" attribution methodologies--- for your corporate targeting? Or do you average the findings for all of them?

    The use of a conglomerate buying "demo" like adults 18-49 is simply an expedient for providing the buyers with a single audience guarantee mechanism. It is up the the client's media people to guide the buyers to take into account individual brand needs, where this is possible---but ,often, it isn't. The alternative is to buy for each brand individually and that would be a disaster as the sellers would have a field day on the pricing front.

    Most advertisers "allocate" the fruits of their corporate upfront TV buys to their various brands, using whatever methods seem fair. This is where marketing metrics might play a more important role, but not in the buying phase.

  5. John Harpur from Yellow Submarine, May 12, 2015 at 4:27 p.m.

    The whining in the press, trade and consumer, about advertisers only targeting younger, 18-49 or 25-54 year olds, is tiresome. Yes, the over 54's have disposable income; buy things, lots of things; and they do switch brands. (Some media planners throw in the life-time value of the younger customer.)

    What many uninformed fail to realize is that when buying TV, even for an individual brand, often planners and buyers target and negotiate to the 25-54 target as a planning and delivery discipline across the whole age spectrum. As most of us in the business know, with few exceptions, TV planned to 25-54 will always significantly over-deliver the over 54's. Striking a balance, especially relative to spend, is the challenge. Most TV buys reach the over '54's at higher weight levels than younger viewers. Just do. 

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 13, 2015 at 7:45 a.m.

    @John, you are quite correct, that almost all 18-49 or 25-54 "targeted" TV buys overdeliver the 55+ segment because of the latter's penchant for heavy TV consumption. So, when someone whines about ignoring the older consumer they are not understanding how television functions. However, I would point out that time buys that focus on a single audience currency---be it 18-49 or 25-54 ratings-----are buying tonnage and are ignoring the audience composition and mindsets of the audience. If more attention were given to the makeup of the audience---say those aged 18-24 versus those aged 25-34 and 35-49, for example, a better fit for the advertiser's real  demographic requirements might be attained---subject, of course,to cost efficiency constraints.

    The mindset issue is a more subtler point. Say an older skewed network, whose programs draw 75% of thier viewers from the 55+ segment, prices its 25-54s so attractively that it gets a fair share of the GRP tonnage in a 25-54 "targeted" buy. Indeed, the older skewed network may even garner more dollars than a rival, whose programs draw 75% of their viewers from the 25-54 group----based, totally on 25-54 CPM or cost per rating point differentials. I submit that the  younger audiences of the younger oriented network may be more engaged---hence valuable in terms of commercial exposure----to the advertiser, because they are more in sync, mentally, with the program content, than is the case with the relatively small numbers of younger viewers drawn by the "geriatric" network. In other words, all 25-54-year-old eyeballs may not be of equal value, regardless of the cost of "reaching" them.

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