As time-shifting eats into linear-television audiences, syndication remains strong, making it the sneaky, secret weapon of media buyers. There are two kinds of syndicated TV programming: First-run syndication programs (created to be sold directly to local stations) and off-net syndicated programs (reruns that were originally shown on network TV). Total ad revenue from U.S. national TV syndication was expected to reach approximately $1.88 billion in 2015, according to Statista.
Assess the Arsenal
Syndicated shows are valuable to advertisers for three reasons:
- They’ve maintained viewership while other linear television programming has suffered a decline in audience, according to MediaPost. Because of this, Campaign’s Mark Berman says syndicated shows don’t compete with over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
- Syndicated shows are the least likely to be time-shifted, says MarketingCharts. This is important for advertisers who rely on specific parts of the day to increase the resonance of their commercials.
- Finally, these shows tend to bring in younger viewers than do their prime-time parents. Michael Teicher, EVP of media sales for Twentieth Television, told MediaPost, “When shows segue into syndication, they tend to bring a younger audience than their concurrent prime-time broadcast run.” For example, the median age of viewers of “Modern Family” on ABC is 46; on syndication, it’s 44. Because of this, Twentieth is getting interest from advertisers of games and mobile devices who are after younger audiences.
Leverage the Intel
This kind of television inventory is a vital media channel, The Balance argues. It can be a boon to marketers trying to reach specific audiences. Each local station that subscribes to syndicated content chooses its time slot, so advertisers have more flexibility in their media buys.
Say you know that “Friends” is popular with your target audience. Because the show may run at different times and on different days throughout the country, you can pick and choose among the different air times to achieve the reach and frequency you want for your campaign.
It can also be easier to use primary and third-party data to plan campaigns around syndicated television. For example, you may have additional demographic and/or behavioral data that shows a target is most receptive to ads on weekday mornings. Thanks to syndication, the advertiser can buy ads in markets where the syndicated show runs in the morning.
Make the Handoff
Ads on these shows can be purchased directly from local TV station groups, or an advertising or media agency can handle the buying process. There are more than 200 different local stations, according to Station Index. Because each local affiliate or station group sells at least a portion of the ad space on these shows, the buying process can be labor-intensive.
Programmatic ad buying platforms, however, bring the ability to automate this process, freeing up advertisers to access forward reserve inventory and buy desirable local time slots. The partnership between Videa, WideOrbit, and Empower will allow clients to use data to purchase full-schedule inventory from local TV stations weeks and quarters in advance.
It’s no wonder syndicated shows are raking in billions of ad dollars—given all the advantages, those ad dollars are likely to deliver great return on investment (ROI).