National television viewing is down. Or is it? If you take the arguments against television at face value without digging deeper, you might fall into the trap of repeating this fallacy as a mantra.
Yes, individual Network television ratings are down, but the universe of viewers is larger, the number of actual national networks (yes Cable TV networks should be considered “real” networks) is huge, and people are glued to a screen just like they’ve always been. The TV landscape is merely fragmented and viewers don’t give a hoot if a show comes to them as a broadcast via airwaves, through a cable or via satellite. Call them studios, networks or content providers – they’re all still laughing their way to the bank as CPPs are higher than they’ve ever been. And yes, media folks should consider programming viewed from DVRs, on mobile devices and PCs actual TV viewership.
The notion that numbers support a downward trend in TV viewership is what I call a Media Blind Spot. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen presentations from a multitude of media salespeople across many different platforms and in each case – with few exceptions – I saw Blind Spots that served to misuse the facts. My observations are not meant to pass judgment or point fingers at anyone, but merely to inform and plead with our clients and younger agency media folks to always kick the tires, look under the hood and raise your hand when you have a question or concern.
Media Blind Spots create an illusion through misrepresentation of actual facts that often can influence a marketer’s set of beliefs and ultimately could sway decision making in the wrong direction. I’ve always believed that as a Media guy much of my role was to counsel and protect my clients with regard to informing them about best practices as well as uncovering the unbiased truth. As pros we should all know how to use data properly to back up our recommendations and claims.
Misuse of factual numbers chaps this media guy’s hide. I appreciate a high or low index in syndicated research crosstabs as much as the next person, but unless Indices are qualified with a percentage large enough to be meaningful, they are useless numbers leading to a Media Blind Spot. Conversely, a large coverage percentage can be a Media Blind Spot. Large percentages can be coupled with low indices, thus prompting a deeper dive into the data to flush out more information that can prevent the blinding effect that a large coverage number alone can provide, thus distorting the facts.
As Media Planning/Buying professionals, we work closely with a wide variety of salespeople. Media salespeople are critical partners and an essential component of the media business landscape. They’re very often former media planners or buyers themselves. Salespeople are usually very adept at crafting excellent presentations that sing the praises of their product and or service. But it is important to remember that their goal in crafting such presentations is to support their particular offering, not necessarily to best serve the needs of the client. Therefore, salespeople also are the most common offenders of creating Media Blind Spots.
Unfortunately, many sales presentations purposefully employ the Blind Spot to cover up a perceived shortcoming that is exposed by the facts. It has been my experience that the best salespeople recognize that all media platforms have strengths as well as weaknesses, and choose to build a compelling case for their product based upon true strength, excellent value proposition and audience vigor.
Patrick Stasolla is Vice President/Integrated Media Director at Underscore Marketing, a boutique full-service Media Planning & Buying firm that creates and manages multi-platform marketing