COMMENT: ALBINIAK ON PROGRAMMING

PROMAX: THE CARE AND FEEDING OF MILLENNIALS

At its upcoming conference, Promax will share new Magid research that should help broadcasters keep pace with the up-and-coming generation that goes for the content wherever they can find it.

“The old rule holds: content is king,” says Jim Chabin, CEO of Promax & BDA, who is busily preparing for the association’s marketing conference in New York City on June 20-22. “What happens now is that marketing is your military. How you wage your campaigns will determine victory.”

 

Chabin may be stretching that metaphor too far, but he’s got it right. Although it is rapidly becoming possible to consume content at any time or any place, it’s getting people to find the content in the first place that’s key. For TV stations, that means embracing strengths they already possess—expert knowledge in all things local, from news to weather, sports and local happenings, and more video than they know what to do with—and making it all readily available to content-hungry consumers.

 

That’s why the arrival of broadband en masse is actually a godsend for stations. It lets them extend their brands, showcase their most exciting asset, video, and take them wherever their consumers are.

 

BRAND CONNECTIONS

“The Internet broadband business is perfectly positioned to be defined by the broadcasters who already have been producing broadband content for more than 70 years,” says Jonathan Leess, president of the CBS Television Stations Interactive Media Group. “At the end of the day, people just want information. The only difference is that we now live in an on-demand world.”

 

That’s most true for the up-and-coming demographic known as Millennials, people between the ages of 9 and 28, who were born at the end of the 20th century. Promax & BDA and Frank N. Magid Associates has researched this group and will present some of its findings at the Manhattan conference. Here are some salient points:

  •  “Millennials have absolutely zero loyalty to any one technology,” says Chabin. That means marketers have to target precise marketing messages carefully and craftily. “We call it Xtreme Performance”—this year’s conference tagline.

  •  “Millennials aren’t sold as easily as other generations were,” says Bill Hague, vice president of Frank N. Magid Associates. “They are more likely to trust word of mouth and trusted sources, such as friends and family, and things that they think are authentically promoted.”
  • Millennials prefer funny: “Being funny is a huge thing that everybody wants and is a huge thing for that group to relate to,” Hague says. “There’s some sense of speaking to them on their own terms.”
  • New media has taught Millennials to be demanding, but not patient, says Hague. “Their media has to be searchable and addressable because they want it now. Local TV stations are used to delivering news at 5 p.m., but Millennials aren’t going to wait for it. They are going to go somewhere else.”
  • Millennials won’t be out in full force until 2014, when they will make up 64% of the 18-49 year-old demographic and the Baby Boomers exit it completely, says Hague. By then, they may have settled down some, but stations need to adapt sooner rather than later.

The CBS TV Stations Group already has put an action plan in place, revamping each of its 17 station Web sites and tagging them “CBS is Always On.” The CBS stations plan to make much of its local video available on cell-phone platforms in the near future. And the group also will offer MPEG-4 video downloads so people can watch their local affiliate on the go.

 

“In 2004, we put together a strategy to teach our stations how to leverage the assets they have, which is mainly video,” Leess says. “Now, we are working on getting all of our TV stations to focus on taking their newsrooms online. We want them to break news on the Internet, stream content live and turn every telecast they produce into a digital stream.”

 

Stations initially may be resistant to putting all their hard-earned content online as soon as it’s available. Aren’t news directors supposed to save their best stuff for the 5 o’clock news, using station breaks at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to drive viewers to the news?

 

That’s old-think, Leess says. “If we don’t provide this sort of content and distribution ourselves, viewers are going to find it elsewhere. Consumers no longer wait for the local news to find out what they need to know, they get that information all day long.”

 

While it’s important for stations to drive viewers to their Web sites, they can’t just tell viewers to go to them for more information, Leess says. “We really work our Web content into our local newscasts so people will trust our brand outside of television.” For example, CBS’s KPIX San Francisco does a quick segment that previews what the station has on its Web site, while tying together stories that appear both online and in the newscast.

 

As TV becomes less about primetime and more about all-the-time, it’s most important to continue producing the highest quality content possible. Then, stations have to make that content available anywhere a consumer might want it.

 

“The Web is going to take people anyway,” Leess says. “You won’t drive people away unless your product is not trusted and not high quality. If you concentrate on providing the highest quality content, you will always draw people to television. But now you can’t just program for television. You have to make it available to the consumer 24/7 in this new broadband medium.”

 

“This is an opportunity for local broadcasters to do what they’ve done from day one—stay focused on the local community and give people information they want in a form that’s convenient and accessible,” Chabin says. “That’s a great opportunity and a great challenge for all of us.”


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