Randa Minkarah, Fisher Communications’ SVP of revenue and business development, explains how her company’s TV stations are working to sell multiple platforms to local advertisers. Fisher has created programs that deliver valuable content to an increasingly on-the-go consumer and provide new, cost-effective ad solutions that enable local businesses to better reach their target audiences. “We strongly believe in the future of hyperlocal and are confident that our approach can serve as a model for broadcasters looking to deepen their community ties, as well as better reach the online audiences and advertisers who are following them.”
The traditional broadcast model has been forever altered by technological advancements and the ability for consumers to choose how and when they receive their content.
It is wonderful to work for a leader in local media innovation — one that sees the challenges in our industry as opportunities. As one of the first regional broadcast companies to recognize the industry’s changing landscape, we at Fisher Communications ask ourselves before diving into a project if it will better serve our viewers, our communities and our advertisers. We live “seize the day” every day as we embrace change and aim to compete and win in this new media environment.
Television has the power to make a brand, drive desire and create great successes. However, the proliferation of technology is revolutionizing the broadcast industry. It is critical that we leverage our inherent strengths as broadcasters and turn these challenges into opportunities.
We are finally beginning to see the acknowledgement of the power of multiplatform advertising. Google TV’s Michael Steib — in referring to long tail TV — recently told Broadcasting & Cable that the recall on advertising is greatest when the two media work in tandem. “If anyone tells you to do one or the other,” he said, “you’re being misled.” Television is the medium that fills the sales funnel in the quickest manner possible. The internet is the key in a multiplatform play for the consumer to quickly find additional information. The Internet itself does not drive desire; however, the information on the Internet narrows the sales funnel by eliminating those customers who after getting more information, eliminate themselves. This makes for a much more efficient sales process.
Broadcasters have developed a range of solutions to answer the multiplatform sales issue. While we have not entirely solved the problem, we are getting closer. For Fisher, our focus has been on targeting the entire media spend in our marketplaces, not just what has been traditionally available for television and radio. We’ve created several programs that deliver valuable content to an increasingly on-the-go consumer and provide new, cost-effective advertising solutions that enable local businesses to better reach their target audiences.
The first program was the rollout of our hyperlocal community sites in August 2009. Our target advertiser was small businesses that did not necessarily have the budget or desire to advertise on television.
Now with 121 websites in five markets, we are averaging over 2,000 advertisers per month, most of whom are new to us. We also have seen strong growth in page views and unique visitors.
These hyperlocal sites provide the communities we serve with the best source of information about news and events in their areas, as well as enable discussion and promote neighborhood involvement. We strongly believe in the future of hyperlocal and are confident that our approach can serve as a model for broadcasters looking to deepen their community ties, as well as better reach the online audiences and advertisers who are following them.
With this in mind, we are taking this concept to new markets with the help of DataSphere, a Seattle-based technology company. Through this relationship, we have been able to distribute this solution to other broadcast groups around the country looking to build their own hyperlocal programs. However, this is only a solution for stations with a local news presence.
Our next move was to develop an Internet solution for stations that did not have a robust news presence in their markets. In April 2010, we took the first step in this process by signing an agreement with Acme Television to run its nationally syndicated morning news show, The Daily Buzz. For the most part, The Daily Buzz is carried on CW stations. Outside of the top markets, many stations do not have the resources to populate the corresponding station websites with daily, fresh content and are not able to share in their market’s online revenues to any great degree. This partnership gives us the ability to license program assets to produce unique, multiplatform, digital content that can be distributed on both broadcast and digital platforms.
With our ability to develop content in hand, Buzz Brands was launched. This is an integrated, multiplatform content and advertising solution for broadcasters seeking to expand their digital portfolios. Buzz Brands features lifestyle verticals, localized for each market. It leverages existing partnerships with The Daily Buzz to produce a tailored content and sales solution for stations seeking to build their online brand. GalTime, a lifestyle vertical that focuses on topics of importance to women, was launched in October. We have additional verticals launching in the first half of 2011.
Often, small to medium-size businesses want to advertise in targeted content. This is difficult to do with traditional news websites. With separate content that is not news in nature, Buzz Brands provides an environment which is context-driven content. Sales departments are able to sell banners and advertorials on each page. GalTime has proven to be especially successful with spas, plastic surgeons, beauty salons and dating services. For the most part, these are new clients, and as we roll out more targeted sites, the list will grow.
We are now able to tap into all levels of the local ad market — from the inexpensive listing on the hyperlocal sites to the Super Bowl price point — allowing us to truly grow our market shares in a multiplatform world.
The bottom line is this: in this age of increased media fragmentation, broadcasters must be able to capitalize on the opportunities being created by technology. Consumers want to be able to access personalized news and information whether they are watching TV in their living rooms or on their laptops or smart phones. And there are opportunities to provide new, cost-effective advertising solutions that enable local businesses to better reach their target audiences.
Randa Minkarah is SVP of revenue and business development at Fisher Communications Inc. All about sales and advertising, Sales Office appears once a month in TVNewsCheck through the cooperation of the TVB, which solicits the columns from its staff and members. To see all the columns in the series, click here.