Commentary

Don't Think Brand Media Safety. Think Brand Media Surprise

News flash:  Fox Corp. Lachlan Murdoch says advertising boycotts have had no financial impact on Fox News Channel.

Murdoch didn’t go into details concerning revenue results, due to any controversial remarks made by Fox on-air talent.

So you might ask: What does have a financial impact for a network?  Fewer viewers or way less viewers? That really gets advertisers attention. Until then, what we mostly have is a supply-and-demand market at work.

TV advertising executives can be a dispassionate lot when it comes to media schedules. Still, in a world of ever-shrinking TV network ratings, marketers are desperate to find TV stuff that still works.

For the last several years, Fox has had the most viewers of all U.S. cable TV networks, averaging 2.5 million viewers in prime time and around 1.4 million total time viewers in the first quarter of this year.

That picture may not be skewed, as marketers are concerned with content. But what they get angry about is content that radically changes after a media buy. They don’t want any surprises.

With Fox News Channel, media analysts say they know what they are getting. Few are surprised by its news content, especially steered by conservative pundits, opinion-makers, and on-air hosts.

Maybe that’s why Murdoch said: “The [ad] boycotts themselves are not having a financial impact of any significance.”

And confirming what we TV Watch and media buyers have always believed, Murdoch said this at the recent MoffettNathanson Research conference: “We’ve generally been able to move those clients around where we can, so it hasn’t had an impact on the financial health of the company.” Exactly.

Yes, TV advertisers recently shied away from controversial and racist/misogynist comments by Tucker Carlson and Judge Jeanine Pirro’s about whether Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-MN) Muslim beliefs are in opposition to the U.S. Constitution. (Fox News condemned Pirro’s comments.)

Marketers just moved to other Fox shows. What does that mean? They are now in less objectionable content. That said, don’t be surprised if they go back, over time, however quietly.

Many traditional linear TV media-buying executives continue to talk up “brand safety” when it comes to overall TV network content versus digital video platforms -- Google and Facebook -- which, in particular, has had serious issues.

In truth, marketers are more concerned about another brand “S” word: surprise.

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