Broadcast TV stations broke the billion-dollar mark for the first time in 2008 with interactive sales, growing revenues 36% to hit $1.05 billion, according to a report released today by the Television Bureau of Advertising
For the first time, revenue from online advertising on TV station Websites surpassed $1 billion in 2008, and a significant part of the growth came from stations that started niche Web sites devoted to specific topics.
The statistics come from Borrell Associates, which conducted its fourth annual study for the Television Bureau of Advertising.
Gordon Borrell, the CEO, presented highlights of the study Thursday in New York, along with a prediction that station Web sites will take in $1.3 billion in 2009, despite the sour economy. His total for 2008 was $1.05 billion.
The 36% gain in revenues, Borrell said, was helped by stations that added specialty sites, like Web sites devoted to classified ads, autos, or other demographic-specific sites, like a site for women in a station’s area.
“This obviously is one indication that stations ‘get it,'” Borrell said. Advertisers like the niche sites. “They want to be there. That’s exactly where they want to be” to attract consumers looking for what they’re selling.
Typically in the past stations would have a Web site only named after its stations call letters or dial position. Now, Borrell says, increasingly general managers are finding “That will just get [them] to be average.” To “go beyond call letter sites,” he said, stations need several URLs.
Jack Poor, TVB’s vice president of marketing,commenting afterward, said, “What impressed me is that in some markets, stations have started wacky Web sites that are really working.” One station, he pointed out, started a bridal Web site, and sold sponsorships to gown-makers, florists, caterers and bands. Business is flourishing, he said.
In 22 of the 80 markets studied, the Borrell study found, television Web sites have more visitors than the newspaper in that marketplace. The study says in the Top 10 markets, stations reported a 65% increase in 2008 Web revenues, and average per-station revenues surpassed $1 million for the first time. (Those 22 stations include WFAA Dallas; WBNS Columbus, Ohio; WHIO Dayton, Ohio; WNTH Hartford, Conn.; WRAL Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; KSL Salt Lake City; WOOD Grand Rapids, Mich.; and KOAT Albuquerque, N.M. Borrell studied 718 stations’ Web sites.)
Still overall newspapers gather in 27.7% of all local revenues, compared to just 8.3% for TV station Web sites.
The secret to success, Borrell claimed, was for stations to have a dedicated Web sales staff, and as a rule of thumb, he said one sales person should be hired for each $250,000 the broadcaster hopes to earn in revenue from the site.
He says that without that account executives can report they fell far behind their sales goals for the Web site, but surpassed their goals for broadcast sales. Without a dedicated sales staff that would likely appease management, but it won’t grow the site.