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How TV Stations in Smaller Markets Are Using Digital to Win Customers

September 20th, 2018   ||    by Alan Wolk

One of the more interesting things I learned at the NABSMTE event, in Nashville last week, was that in many smaller TV markets, the local broadcast TV ad teams serve as a combination of marketing manager and ad agency for their clients, writing and producing the ads and then designing and building the websites the ads drive to. 

That latter piece was the most surprising, but these days, a good marketing manager knows that clients don’t just need TV commercials, they need a digital presence too. That’s why stations in smaller markets have become adept at both planning and executing digital strategy for their clients, everything from designing banner campaigns to building out websites. As several speakers noted, the new formula is that TV spots drive viewers to the website and the website drives conversion.

That’s a marked change and it’s encouraging to see TV stations picking up on it. Change is sweeping the industry on many fronts these days however, from the way TV is viewed (time shifted and via streaming devices) to the way TV advertising is being bought and sold. (Automated systems are slowly but surely replacing manual ones.)

The degree of change that’s needed and the growing acceptance of that change was the focus of a recent Change Management Report from Videa. While the report looked at the ad buying process at local broadcast TV stations, the findings are applicable industry-wide.

 For instance, in her NABSMTE talk about how she turned digital into a profit center for the local broadcast TV stations she worked with, Digital Tulip’s Kristy Lowery spoke of the initial resistance to change, followed by a growing acceptance that adding digital capabilities were only going to enhance a TV station’s existing business, not take away from it.

That’s one of the key findings in the Videa report too—that respondents are feeling positive about the possibilities of change—91% said they are personally excited about change, while 84% felt their organizations were enthusiastic about it.

But education is key—getting organizations to understand the value of change and how it can help them to be more profitable in the long run. That includes individuals within organizations—the Videa study also revealed that 75% of TV reps saw tech-driven changes a threat to their jobs.

That’s why the lesson of how digital helped small market station reps is such a valuable one—embracing change and owning it is almost always the best path.

Change can be scary, and it needs to be handled wisely—but in the long run, it almost always pays off.

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