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In Small TV Markets, Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

September 24th, 2018   ||    by Alan Wolk   ||    No Comments

Local broadcast stations in small markets may seem like a throwback to the early days of television, but recently, they’ve found themselves on the front lines in the war for ad dollars between TV and digital.

These markets are unique in that many of their ad clients are small businesses—hair salons, car dealers, insurance agents, attorneys—who don’t have a full-time marketing department, let alone an ad agency. They feel the results of every ad campaign immediately and viscerally—either more people walk in the door, or they don’t. It’s that simple.

That’s why it was something of a revelation while attending the NAB Small Market Television Exchange conference in Nashville to learn how much these sales teams are on the cutting edge: when they say they’re also selling digital, they don’t mean they’ll throw in a few banners on the station’s website. They mean they’ll actually build out a website for the client, giving them a place where potential customers can learn more about the business, and then find an easy way to get in touch with them.

This equation: television drives to the web and then the web drives conversions, isn’t new. What is new however, is that local television stations are stepping up to the plate and taking on roles traditionally played by ad agencies.

That’s critical because more and more, even stations in smaller markets are hearing from their customers that “television is dying,” that no one watches broadcast TV anymore, and that digital is the way to go. They can counter those tales of doom with facts and figures, but it’s far more effective to counter them with something proactive that drives results.

Dismissing the importance of having a web presence would only make local broadcasters look dishonest. What they needed to do was acknowledge the power of the web, and then put it to work for them, showing clients how the one-two punch of television, with its broad reach and impactful ad units, can drive traffic to a broadcaster-designed website, where it can then be converted into potential customers. One does not work without the other.

It’s an apt illustration of how the television industry is adapting to the massive changes of the past few years—where more and more viewers are watching TV on a time-shifted basis or via streaming OTT platforms like Netflix, platforms that don’t have any advertising to begin with.

The thing is though, that TV has such a massive audience—Nielsen’s latest findings show that 95.9% of U.S. households are TV households—that even if 25% of all households are watching TV on a time-shifted basis, 70% are not. And no other medium offers a way to reach over 70% of the population period, let alone in a brand-safe, fraud-free environment.

That’s the power of television and local broadcasters are figuring out how to harness it.

By adapting to change and looking ahead of opportunity, rather than back at the past, local broadcasters in smaller markets are successfully staying ahead of the curve. They realize that change is inevitable and that the way to succeed in a changing market is to change right along with it.

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