Local Market Nuances


By: Cindy Seebeck

Seasoned local market buyers, cultivate sales relationships in the markets they cover so that they can, by extension, have on-the-ground intelligence about the market – almost if they were living there.  This knowledge, bestowed upon them by their sales reps, is invaluable as they navigate the nuances of their markets.   Over the years of carefully watching market dynamics and paying close attention to market-specific trends and traditions, spot buyers become well-versed in the nuances of their covered markets.  These buyers can be a great resource for information on:


As most spot buyers meet with in-market sales management at least once or twice each year, they can generally tell you the big events that happen in their top markets each year.  For instance, Philadelphia buyers know that on New Year’s Day there is a local folk festival, The Mummers Parade, that is a huge local media event. And, San Francisco experts are well aware of the Bay to Breakers race that happens each Spring.  In turn, New York buyers are more than familiar with the Westminster Dog Show held here in February.  Buyers can not only bring local event tie-in opportunities to the table, but they can also tell you how these events will affect the people in the market before, during and after it.

Market Trends

It almost goes without saying that one of the spot buyer’s biggest assets is her knowledge of media consumption in the markets she covers.  A buyer can provide information on which formats or stations are trending up or down in listenership, or whether the market’s population has increased or decreased. But the spot buyer’s true strength is knowledge of the local media currency: Will the cost to purchase media remain constant, go up, or go down? Has the market moved its Nielsen rank position? Did station XYZ lose or gain share in a particular daypart that alters the market Cost Per Point for that daypart?

“On the Ground” Info

Spot buyers know about everything going on in a market that can affect ratings.  For instance, during Hurricane Sandy that hit the Northeast in the fall of 2012 cable news viewing spiked with Fox News bringing in the most viewers and CNN winning the 25-54 adult demographic.  This obviously had a negative effect on the local market affiliate news ratings.  On the positive side of things, when the Golden State Warriors clinched their regular season with 73 wins they also solidified a year- over-year increase in rating delivery.  The savvy buyer would either avoid purchasing spots that are up against The Golden State Warriors or would estimate the rating delivery for alternate programming accordingly.

The above are all valuable insights that can help to steer your media strategy and execution, and could perhaps be the difference between winning and losing to your competition in a market.

In addition to the knowledge the local sales reps help impart, buyers have a wealth of data at their fingertips to help guide their negotiations, including:

Market Populations-estimates for general market as well as ethnic estimates (African-American & Hispanic)

Counties– individual counties that comprise the larger MSA or Metropolitan Statistical Area.  Nielsen defines the MSA as “a city or cities whose population is specified as that of the central city together with the county in which it is located.  The Metro also includes contiguous or additional counties when the economic and social relationships between the central and additional counties meet specific criteria.”

Demographics-Standard demographic breaks like 18-24, 25-54 or 35-64 are available in addition to each of the subsets of each of these demographics.  For example, within a broad demo like 18-54 a buyer can tell you how many listen to a radio station who are ages 18-24, 25-34 and 35-54

Psychographics– With the help of Nielsen’s Scarborough research, buyers can access data on shopping patterns, media behaviors and lifestyle within 210 local markets across the U.S.  These can help illuminate local attitudes toward a brand or a category.  What better way to marry online and offline than having market-specific data to guide your integrated campaigns?

So, the next time you talk to a local broadcast buyer, test their local market knowledge.  I think you’ll be surprised by how much they know!