Survey: Local TV Station Execs Frustrated, Want Faster, Streamlined Ad Transactions

A new survey of local TV advertising buyers confirms what we already know when it comes to ongoing media-buying/selling issues: Everything is too slow and cumbersome — and in danger of haunting the business for years.

The three top concerns are: 1. Giving marketers the ability for an agency to launch campaigns in three days or less; 2. Getting rid of slow-moving make-goods and approval process; and 3. Speeding up final reconcile adjustments between pre-invoice activity and invoice delivery.

The survey comes from the TIP (Television Interface Practices) Initiative, an industry group promoting open interfaces to streamline advertising transactions for local TV broadcasters and their media agencies.

Every year, advertisers spend roughly $20 billion in media dollars on linear local TV station inventory.

Perry Sook, chairman, president-CEO of Nexstar Media Group, and founding member of the TIP Initiative, stated: “It takes time and effort to change the way an industry has operated for decades, but the tangible benefits to broadcasters and our trading partners are real and meaningful.”



We have heard this before, and we seem to be no closer, despite a number of independent local TV station-focused programmatic, automated ad platforms showing some growth.

The TIP survey -- done in January 2019 -- along with a white paper, keeps talking about “urgency” for media buyers and broadcasters.

Does that mean local TV buyers and sellers worry about losing more ground -- say next year -- to growing local digital media platforms impinging on TV’s ad revenues?

And, if little or nothing changes, will media agencies and their advertising clients look to siphon more money away from local TV -- at some point -- considering the high expense in managing and placing media referenced in those survey concerns?

Local TV is nowhere near real-time framework levels of digital media. Increasingly, when looking at publicly traded local TV station groups, many analysts focus on big political advertising revenue and seemingly ever-higher retranmission revenues.

The new ATSC 3.0 standard seemingly offers some hope for the future -- in terms of competing with digital platforms when it comes to new interactive content and possible automated, even addressable advertising.

But right now, we can’t expect much big change, even in the next five years. Urgency? Please define urgency.

4 comments about "Survey: Local TV Station Execs Frustrated, Want Faster, Streamlined Ad Transactions".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 9, 2019 at 10:19 a.m.

    Wayne, while everybody agrees that the TV time buying process is tedious and somewhat slow paced---especially at the local level--- it's hard to see how this, alone, will swing advertisers to other media. A typical fee for handling spot TV buys, including post buy evaluations, negotiating make goods, etc. is around 3.5-4% and that can include a modest priofit if an independent service, not the agency, is involved. As a rule, digital media buys are considerably more expensive, especially if they employ "big data" manipulations for targeting purposes and the use of programmatic buying. An advertiser who uses the full range of buying tools and platforms may pay 30-35% to get the job done----and this does not preclude issues about ad viewability, rampant fraud, etc. that plague digital media buys but are not a problem when using "TV".

  2. Gary milner from The Simpler Way, September 9, 2019 at 2:49 p.m.

    What will ultimately shift spend is audience shift to other viewing opportunities and the brand increasingly asking for faster views of ad performance integrated across channels.  Neither will happen before the 2020 elections, which will be huge for local.

    One thing should happen is more use of platforms like videa, to alleviate operational issues.

  3. Gabe Greenberg from Gabbcon replied, September 10, 2019 at 11:13 p.m.

    Hey Ed and all - I think this survey and report represent a systemic issue in the local TV market. The reality is that TV is under pressure and attack, local more than National.

    Station groups must work with companies that can help them advance their tools and automate more of their systems and buying. Simply put, the changing agency model will not be able to sustain the people and hours required to process local TV manually in the very near future. Speak to nearly any head TV buying and they will tell you they need to find efficiency and cut heads.

    The station groups must embrace reach extension and new ways to reach TV consumers on other devices as well as more automated systems if they want to continue to take a material amount of the media budget in the next 5-10 years. 

    The good news is that there are solutions available and many of the groups, including Tegna's Premion and E.W. Scripps are using them. I am encouraged by what I see but there is far more work to be done. 

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 11, 2019 at 1:11 a.m.

    Gabe, I agree that local TV stations have much to learn and do when it comes to developing new techniques for targeting and simply selling time. In fact, one of the things that is not written about much is the very act of seling their medium. Most station sales execs wait for the call---or email----from an agency or advertiser and rely on others---like the TVB---to sell the medium. By way of contrast, digital media gets tremendous promotional play in the trade press and other forums and, increasingly, it's the focus of attention. The stations must learn that they have to sell their medium, not just take orders or negotiate deals for themselves.

    Regarding the time consuming chore of making the time buys and monitoring delivery, obtaining make goods, etc. this is true but is not really the main issue as the costs of buying digital media are far higher---even if you save a few bucks on reduced person power. The agencies have been complaining about the "high" costs of making TV---local TV---time buys for decades. But this was always relative to other traditional media buys---national TV, radio, print media, etc.---- and, generally they were talking about a percentage point or two---national TV is usually bought at a 1% fee for broadcast network and 3-4% for cable. So local TV is a bit higher but that's not the real problem.

    Another issue is that local TV time sales---with  exceptions----are made in a  simplistic  and informal way, with rotating "trust us" schedules the rule rather than the exception and audience guarantees also offered in a highly generalized--"we'll take care of you" ---- manner. Worse,  in many markets buyers  and sellers still use sweep ratings---surveys conducted in May, October, etc.  rather than tracking the ratings of each spot on a weekly basis---as is the standard network practice----when such information is available in meter markets.

    Finally, the truth ---if I were a broadcast network affiliate for ABC, CBS and /or NBC---is that there is little targeting selectivity other than zip code or finer regional splits that I can offer as most of the programs I air from my network appeal mainly to older, not younger viewers and my own news programs usually have the same slant. Independent stations have a far better shot when it comes to age targeting, but this is only one dimension for many marketers---banks, car dealers, utilities, department stores, etc.. Other demos---ethnicity, income etc. are often far more important as well as mindsets and here most TV stations are just beginning to explore the possibilities of exploiting these "new"---to them-----ways of defining marketing prospects. Which is why "spot cable" has made such inroads, despite its limited supply of time and GRPs.

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