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Cable Advertising. New Ways to New Business






Jones K. Cable Advertising. New Ways to New Business – New Jersey : Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1986. – 148 p.










Geographically Defined Audience

Demographically or Interest-Defined Audience

Open Message Format

Price and Positioning

Advertiser Leadership

Advertising Agency Attitudes

A New Ballgame



Network and Spot Local Origination Sponsorship Automated Channels

Shopping Services Classified Cable Radio The Challenge



Data Channels

The Cableshop

The Cable Saver Club

Direct Response

The Catalog

Cable Program Guides





Lessons from the Past

Sponsorship Returns on Cable

Breaking Commercial Stereotypes

The Agency's Role

Dramatic Results

The Future of Sponsorship and Integrated


Controlled Communication




What Cable Can Sell Who Buys Local Cable Rate Cards Placement Costs

Qualitative Factors

Cable Audiences

Media Strategies

Complement to Other Media





Some Advertising Basics and Advertising Agencies

Cable and Creative Departments

Seminars for Agencies

Agency Leadership

Trade Associations

Generic Ads and National Services

Co-op Funds

The Cable System



The Infomercial

Identification of Advertising and Program

Political Advertising




National Audience Data

The Problem of Local Data

Getting by Without Numbers

Using National Ratings

Estimating Local Cable Audience

Monitoring Viewing

Cable System/Advertiser Research


Appendix A. Computer-Generated Graphics

Appendix В. How The Local Advertiser Gets The Commercial Message On Cable

Appendix С. A Simple Audience Research Project


Some Basics of Cable Technology




A powerful new advertising force for national, regional, and local marketers is just beginning to come into its own. This new medium, cable television, evolved from something called "community antenna television" back in the 1950s. Originally intended to improve reception in fringe areas, CATV came to mean new sources of programming for viewers throughout the country. Today, in many places, subscribers have 35 channels or more to choose from and an amazing variety of programs directed to dozens of special interests.

For the advertiser, this means a new type of segmented audience, a greater chance than ever to expose qualified prospects to products and services through sight, sound, color, and action.

Advertising agencies and advertisers have the opportunity to develop media plans that zero in on those most likely to be interested in the item or service being sold. Creative people are finding new forms to use, freedom from the traditional constraint of just 30 seconds for a TV message.

Cable system operators are rapidly discovering what advertising can do for company revenues. Beyond that, some are finding that by working with local advertisers, they can initiate new and appreciated local programming…




Cable has the unique ability to deliver audiences of opportunity.



Cable can usually offer the precise geographic territory the advertiser wants. Suburban cable systems serve a single community, or several communities that are contiguous. These cable system territories generally conform to the trading areas of retail advertisers. Several different cable systems may serve a large urban area, with each system again defined in terms of areas that look very much like the retail trading areas. For example, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are each served by four or more cable systems. In these and other cities, the advertiser can pick, from among available cable systems, those that best suit a particular marketing strategy.

Consider, for instance, the possibility of segmenting markets, through cable, in the Detroit metropolitan area. About ten different cable– companies serve a total of nearly 70 communities. The marketer interested in the upscale demographics of people in the western suburbs of Birmingham, Franklin, Beverly Hills, and Bingham Farms can make a single buy through Booth Communications and find the target. The store with brand merchandise at discount prices might go after the primarily blue-collar enclaves of Hazel Park and Madison Heights through Continental Cable. A fashion house might sell high style to the ladies of Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Farms, and Grosse Pointe Park through Group W Cable.

This kind of geographic selectivity is not possible when an advertiser buys a traditional broadcast TV station like WXYZ in Detroit. Its powerful transmitter sends signals to all of southeastern Michigan and a substantial portion of Ontario, Canada. Radio is the same. Some of the radio stations in Detroit cover most of the central United States.

Aside from zoned editions of metropolitan newspapers and weekly shoppers specifically designed for designated areas, no other medium can be as selective geographically as cable TV. For the first time, the elements of sight, sound, color, and action are, or should be> available to local advertisers on a cost-efficient basis.



In the same way, cable advertisers can pick their desired audiences in terms of viewer interests. Many cable system territories are fairly homogeneous in income and purchasing behavior. More important, each cable system offers so many different programs that the audience for any one will represent a very narrowly defined group, either demographically or in terms of interests. The advertiser of investment services in the high-income neighborhood of Naples, Florida, may buy "Business Morning" on CNN. The golfing shop in Palo Alto, California, knows it will get serious golfers if it buys time on the first two rounds of a golfing tournament on the same network. The record store next door to the pro shop will not waste any of the audience if it advertises rock records on MTV, the rock music channel.

Advertisers interested in the people who are attracted to cultural affairs and the performing arts have discovered the Arts and Entertainment network. National advertisers have included the Greek National Tourist Organization, Piper-Heidsieck champagne, Prudential Bache, the University of Texas Press, and Yves St. Laurent. It is easy to think of local counterparts with an interest in the same audience for culture: a travel agency, wine merchant, stockbroker, bookstore, and high-fashion retailer.

To accomplish this kind of pinpoint selection, geographically and demographically, advertisers must be very precise about whom they want to reach. Media buyers have to expend more time and energy in matching cable systems and particular shows to targets of opportunity. Cable system advertising salespeople have to carry to prospects the message of what's available and how it's working. Then, as these media matchups are made, the creative advantages peculiar to cable can be fully realized.



Still another opportunity for advertisers in cable is to present messages of a character not possible in the conventional 30-second commercial formats of most broadcast television. When programming originates with the cable system, advertisements of any length are possible. This might be useful to a car dealer who seeks to introduce a whole line of new cars in the fall, or a department store that intends to present a television "Christmas Catalog" in November, or the bank introducing a bank-at-home, electronic funds transfer system that is much too complex to present in a few seconds.

Eventually it should be possible to use cable for direct television selling. The consumer can order merchandise seen on television by phone or, in some cases, through the two-way capability of cable. The purchase may be charged against a bank account or credit card. Commercials might be inserted in conventional cable networks, in the cable company's own programming, or in an electronic text catalog accessed through a videotex system.



With cable advertising still relatively new, a particular advertiser can establish an advantage by being there first. Advertising rates are now comparatively low. In many cases, for pioneering advertisers, the price, the number of spots–including substantial bonuses–and positioning are all negotiable. It may be possible to obtain exclusive rights (o particular programs and even entire channels. Advertisers can now learn to use cable at a low cost and under favorable conditions for experimentation.



In many places, cable operators are aggressively promoting the development of cable as an advertising medium. In other places, cable is not even available to advertisers. There are several reasons. If the system is small, staffing, administrative, and equipment costs are high relative to the revenue potential. Some cable operators are preoccupied with other areas, such as the development of multipay services and data communications. The advertiser, with years of experience in using television and other advertising media, may be more aware of the advertising potential of cable than the operator is!

It may therefore be necessary for the advertiser to take the lead and request advertising time from the operator. This may be relatively easy to do, even if the operator is not formally in the advertising sales business. Time for local advertisers is available on almost all of cable's satellite networks. The operator may also appreciate some advertising support for local programming efforts. If the advertising schedule is not too complex, manual insertion of the advertising is practical. If the operator is able to get into the advertising business in this way, without a sales staff and a major administration effort, the rates should be very favorable to the initial advertisers.



Advertising agencies, the specialists, should play a major role in the development of cable as an advertising medium. The agencies have taken different approaches. In a controversial move in 1981, the Ted Bates agency announced what it called the "5 percent solution". Bates was recommending that clients put 5 percent of their television budgets into cable to offset losses in the broadcast audiences. The recommended percentage has increased as broadcast television audiences have decreased.

For the most part, major agencies have stayed with the cable networks, where one buy represents the kind of audience numbers that are meaningful to big national advertisers. Buying spot time in local cable systems is too cumbersome for the sizes of audiences involved, although interconnection of cable systems may help resolve this problem.

Smaller, regional advertising agencies have had a somewhat different attitude toward cable. Dick Burkholder, of Burkholder Flint Associates in Columbus, Ohio, looks to cable as part of the media mix. He recommends it when cable is the most efficient means to get a particular message to a particular set of prospects. Burkholder says cable puts some fun back into media buying.

The enthusiasm expressed by Burkholder is in contrast to the frustration of Harold Bennett, media vice-president of the William R. Biggs/Gilmore Agency in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where no cable system sells advertising availabilities. Bennett explains that "in some of the most important Michigan markets, there was no way we could insert a local commercial into satellite network programming. Cable subscribers are only a portion of the total market to be reached, although they do represent the affluent, the better-educated, the higher-income people. The only way we can reach the rest of the market, on TV, is through the regular network outlets, or an independent".

But William Wiener of BBDO sees the end of big audiences on network TV. There are now too many slices of the pie.



As suggested, television advertising will never be the same again. As cable fast becomes available to more and more Americans, and as most systems are upgraded to 35 or more channels, audiences will be segmented to the point where it will no longer be possible to make one or two television media buys to cover a market. For advertisers who do not have a truly "mass" market, cable programming will need to be studied to determine the best vehicles for cost-efficient advertising. For national advertisers, this means an administrative cost that is far higher than in the past, since there are so many cable systems and so many programming options. Media buying will require extensive knowledge of availabilities on cable networks and locally originated shows. The regional advertising agency with a firsthand, intimate knowledge of local availabilities and programming will become more important. The advertiser's own knowledge of market and product will be critical in perceptive media buying.

Advertisers, advertising agencies, and cable operators will have to work together to improve the efficiency of the system. At least for the moment, the administrative cost of buying and using television time will go up in relation to the cost of the time itself. This fact makes the media buying decisions all the more critical…"


The full text of the book can be found at bookstores, e-bookstores and libraries.


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See also:

Broadcast Advertising and Promotion

Effective Frequency

Cases in Advertising

Books on Advertising

Books on PR

Books on Mass Media