• Stronger Evidence Supporting a Key TV Demo of 30-to-60 or Beyond

    September 30th, 2012

    I have been on this soapbox for several years now: TV advertisers and station executives are making a huge mistake by not demanding that the key demo move from 25-to-54 to 30-to-60.  The evidence continues to pile up that my fellow Baby Boomers are a whole different aging generation than we have ever seen before.  Maybe 30-to-60 may be shooting too low?

    The 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 key demos came about decades ago when the common theory was that anyone over the age of 50 was set in their ways – and no amount of marketing could change their minds.  The advertisers believed that if someone over the age of 50 used Crest toothpaste, for instance, they would never even think about changing brands.  We now know – through fresh research – that the Baby Boomers  born between 1946 and 1964 – are a generation that keeps an open mind and embraces new ideas and new thinking unlike any generation that went before them.

    Consider a new survey of Boomers from Nielsen and BoomAgers.  The stats are eye-opening:

    • While Baby Boomers comprise 40% of the U.S. population – they control 70% of the disposable income
    • This generation buys 49% of the total packaged goods in America
    • Despite the economic downturn – 63% of Boomers have at least one person in the household working full-time

    Baby Boomers have money to spend – and unlike previous aging generations – they are spending it on new technology.  Once again, consider these eye-popping findings:

    • Boomers make up 40% of the people paying for wireless services
    • 41% of all Apple computers are sold to Boomers
    • Boomers represent 30% of all social media and online users
    • More than 8 million Boomers are heavy users – spending 20 hours or more online every week
    • 53% of Baby Boomers are on Facebook

    In addition, as we all know, these older Americans – now aged 48-to-66 – are the heaviest users of local television news.  This combination – online and on air – should be a sweet target for advertisers on television stations.  Once again – when you combine all this info – with the Boomers having the most disposable income – it makes you scratch your head – why wouldn’t they be the key demo for television advertisers?

    And the facts get even more interesting when you slice this latest date a little further.  How about these data points:

    • People aged 50 and older spend nearly $7 billion online every year
    • “Older Boomers” (aged 56-to-66) spend the most online of all generations
    • “Older Boomer” spending is nearly double what those aged 18-to-22 spend online
    • The second biggest group of online spenders are – “Younger Boomers” – aged 46-to-55

    And consider one more piece of data: Between now and 2030 – the 18-to-49 segment of the population will grow by a mere 12%.  During the same time frame – the 50+ segment will grow by 34%.   By 2050 – there will be 161 million consumers in America aged 50-plus.  That will represent a 63% increase from 2010.

    Maybe that key demo should move to 40-to-70?



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  • From Zero To Hero In One CyberSecond

    July 17th, 2011

    My how times have changed.  My dad was a young guy in the Navy – stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941 – when the Japanese bombed the Naval Base.  After the strafing and bombing stopped he was instructed to send a postcard to his family to let them know he was alive.  So, Jack Willi wrote these five words on a small pink postcard – “Jane, I’m alright.  Love Jack” – and mailed it to his fiancee (later his wife and my mother) Jane Peters in DePere, Wisconsin.

    She told me it took three weeks for the postcard to arrive at her home from Hawaii.  I asked her how nerve-racking that was, and she said, “Well every day that passed without a visit from some uniformed Navy officers made me feel better that Jack had survived the bombing.”  Can you imagine – waiting three weeks to find out?  It seems so antiquated in this day of instant communication – and instant heroes.

    I thought about that postcard as I watched 23-year-old Christian Lopez go from zero (nobody knew who he was) – to hero in the the wink of an eye – all because he caught a baseball hit by Derek Jeter, and was gracious enough to give it to Jeter without holding it for ransom.  Suddenly Lopez was everywhere – local and national TV, national cable channels – and of course – on the Internet.  He went to the game a few hours earlier as just an anonymous face in the crowd of tens of thousands at Yankee Stadium, and left with a face that was beamed everywhere around the world.  Instant celebrity!  Welcome to the new world of instant communication!

    He’s not alone, of course.  When the national media decided to make a BIG STORY out of the Casey Anthony murder – she became an instant celebrity, albeit a villainous one.  When she was acquitted of killing her baby girl – the Internet went wild.  A Facebook page called “I hate Casey Anthony” has over 45,000 “likes.”  Even more disturbing, a Facebook page called “F… Casey Anthony” has 775,000 views.

    Social Media even replaced the venerable (and way out-dated) – “Man On The Street” interviews for WFLA in Tampa after the Anthony verdict.  A very clever package from Jen Leigh used You Tube videos – posted by average folks responding to the news.  The emotion was much more real than she would have obtained by doing an MOS.

    How about the instant fame for Ted Williams.  He was a homeless man with various addiction problems when a newspaper reporter from Columbus, Ohio stopped to talk to him as Williams begged for money on a street corner.  The reporter shot some video with Williams once he discovered he had an incredible “Golden Voice.”  The Dispatch reporter threw the tape into a desk drawer where it sat for a couple months until he pulled it out on a slow news day.  The video was re-posted on You Tube and quickly amassed 4,000,000 views!  In the next few days the formerly faceless homeless man was on the Today Show – and every other national news outlet, was given an announcing job by Kraft Foods, and became an instant celebrity!

    Back in Tampa, the local media was running stories about a mysterious monkey that was romping around through backyards.  One viewer caught some quick grainy video of the monkey which also ran in the local media.  Someone decided to start a Facebook page called “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” – and it zoomed to 25,000 followers by the second day – and now stands at over 83,000.

    And then there was the instant celebrity of the Colorado Balloon Boy.  The word was that the 6-year-old had jumped into a strange balloon being built by his father and floated away.  For over four hours, hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world were mesmerized as the silver balloon – that looked strangely like a bag of the old Jiffy Pop popcorn – floated over remote areas of Colorado.  Of course, when it landed the balloon was empty – and it all turned out to be an elaborate hoax by a guy wanting publicity for his invention.

    So – what does all of this mean?  I’m not sure – but it certainly is fascinating to me how thousands – and even millions of people – can become instantly mesmerized by some event.  There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to it.  But – these are the same people who find local TV news to be a bit boring, repetitious, and not connected to their world.   It makes me wonder – what can local TV news do to capture the imagination – once again – of the American public?

    I’m not advocating pulling a balloon stunt or anything similar – but it does make me challenge our current thinking of what we present on local news every day.  It certainly means every one – in every local TV news department – must work harder to use the many new communication/story telling tools at your disposal to be a thousand times more creative.  It certainly means that you must think beyond the little box to include the social media and Internet community in your story telling.

    Think of this – the average local TV story posted on your local TV website – may get viewed a few hundred – or on a great day – a few thousand times.  Well, consider the #5 all-time most viewed You Tube video titled “Charlie bit my finger again.”  This home-shot video of two babies has been viewed 335 MILLION TIMES!

    So – where are we missing this incredible connection with your audience?   How do we get there?  I don’t know as I write this today – but I know our company will be working to get our clients there in the years ahead.  I just hope you aren’t going to be defensive – and have a “stick your head in the sand” mentality as we tell you how to build the newscast of the future.  It is going to be a very different journey than you have ever been on.


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  • I am one “connected” old dude!

    September 14th, 2010

    I love technology!  Beginning my third decade of consulting I am instantly connected to my clients, my family and my friends all over the country.  What a blast – and something I would never had dreamed of when I started in this business in 1989.  Back then I relied on airport payphones to stay in touch with clients, and wrote notes down on the good ole’ yellow legal pad.

    Now – I am armed with a Blackberry Storm (soon to upgrade to a Droid X), iPad, Slingbox, wireless Internet for my Apple computer and I connect via email, text, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and, oh yeah – cellphone.  I can see my client newscasts whenever and wherever I am.  Last night I watched a reporter audition tape on You Tube for a client.

    A few years ago my client in Hawaii was debuting a morning newscast.  I had just landed at O’Hare airport and was in a car heading to South Bend with a colleague driving.  With the four hour time difference, the newscast was just beginning in Honolulu.  So, I used my wireless Internet card in my laptop, and my Slingbox to watch the debut while we were driving through Chicago.  I was on the phone talking to the news director too.  That’s pretty cool.

    Last week, I was in Columbus, Ohio at a horse track (Hey – it was Friday night!) – watching the newscast from my Phoenix client on my iPad, using the mobile Slingbox app – and exchanging tweets with one of the anchors during commercial breaks.  He was telling me about his brother being the grand marshal at the NASCAR race that night in Richmond.

    Recently I was about to board a flight at DFW airport when a client general manager called.  He wanted me to look at the latest rendition of their evolving website home page.  I turned on my iPad – he mailed it to me – and we instantly had a conversation about the new look.  It took less than five minutes from beginning to end.

    This technology also allows for instant feedback to clients when there is breaking news – or if they have a big story they want me to see.  They just drop me an email and let me know what’s happening, and I can usually get on the Slingbox and take a look.  A quick email or phone call then allows me to weigh in with thoughts and suggestions.

    Of course, my instant feedback isn’t always appreciated – as you can imagine.  I was watching new weather graphics on a noon newscast for a client in Nashville a few years ago – and sent the news director an email noting that the names of towns were missing.  That resulted in a email from the news director – “Geez Willi I’m at lunch and didn’t see it.  I’ll check it out when I get back to the station.”  Sometimes technology can be a pain in the ass I guess!

    I have had a Facebook page for quite awhile, but have been relatively slow to embrace Twitter.  But I am hooked on it now.  It seems like a really good way for TV stations and especially anchors to connect with followers throughout the day.  I use it to keep pace with what is happening in all my client markets – and there are also some good chuckles along the way too.  Since I’m new at Twitter – I need more followers – hop on board @ARDJim.

    So what’s my message in this blog?  It is a simple one – many more anchors need to embrace new ways to connect, listen and interact with their customers.  There are a few exceptions – but in many markets it seems that anchors feel they’re too busy to use this new technology.  That’s a mistake.  In these days of diminished loyalty to TV newscasts, anchors must create their own personal brand.  You do that by being very active on your TV station website, Facebook and Twitter.  If you don’t – you are missing a wonderful opportunity to insure your future growth where you need to be known – on multiple platforms.

    After all, if an ancient soul such as myself can embrace all this new fangled stuff what the heck is your excuse for standing on the sidelines?


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  • Time-Shifting – Enemy Of Primetime Topicals

    August 26th, 2010

    We all know that it is increasingly difficult to reach local TV news viewers during daytime because there are so many two-income families these days. Now, the DVR has become your enemy as you attempt to drive viewers from network primetime programming to your late newscasts.

    A Comcast survey shows that – for the first time – a majority of primetime television viewers – 61% in fact – say they use their DVR to record and time-shift their favorite programs. 40% of them say they now regularly record their favorite programs and watch them later – at their convenience. In effect, your viewers are now programming their own “network” of their favorite shows. That means your primetime topicals are no longer reaching these viewers the same day – or same time – within an hour or two of your late newscast.

    For instance, about a third of the people who watch NBC’s “Parenthood” time-shift the program. That program leads into affiliate’s late newscasts this fall. Fox’s hit program – “Fringe” – gains 39% more viewers through time-shifting. ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” is time-shifted buy a third of its audience. Those are big chunks of potential late news viewers who are not getting your late news topicals in a timely manner.

    So – what to do? I believe the first step is to make better use of the one constant platform you can rely on – your early evening and afternoon local newscasts. Typically – these are the higher rated programs during the broadcast day. Many stations try to sell ahead to the late news in these newscasts – but it is a haphazard effort with no special showcasing that makes it pop. It is time to take these “sells” out of the hands of your newscast producers – and have the marketing department create a special promo that will grab the viewer’s attention.

    Don’t forget the Internet too. Many people are online in the evening – and it is a great opportunity to use your website to drive them to the late newscast. Social media is also another strong marketing avenue for you. One of my clients produces a 7:30 p.m. local entertainment program – and the host is texting and tweeting and online an hour or so before the program – letting people know what’s coming up.

    The bottom line: It is time to be creative in new ways with your late news topicals – using better marketing tools and multiple platforms to battle the newest enemy – DVR time-shifting.


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  • Going after the Nielsen monopoly (again!).

    August 23rd, 2009

    So, did you see where a number of media companies and some top advertisers have committed millions of dollars to develop their own multi-media ratings measurement system?   They have even brought in a few advertising heavy hitters this time around – top-spender Procter & Gamble, as well as third-place spender AT&T, plus Unilever.  Others, of course, have announced plans before to try to topple the elitist Nielsen monolith  – and failed miserably.

    The new consortium, which includes Time Warner, CBS, Viacom, NBC Universal, Disney and Discovery put out the standard line that they are not “out to replace Nielsen.”  Yeah- I’m sure that’s the case.  Why would you want to come up with your own system instead of paying Nielsen millions and millions of dollars so they can ignore your concerns?

    There is a new driver this time though – the consortium says there is “no single source measurement for TV and digital video.”  Nielsen, of course, responds they are working on this with it fully operational by 2011.  Ah, huh! 

    The new consortium hopes to have their ratings measurement system up and running by the fourth quarter of 2009.  They plan on using set-top box data and cross-platform viewers who use both TV and digital video.

    As always, it will be an interesting battle to watch.  Can someone finally topple the monopoly that is NSI?   A monopoly, by the way, that uses a national sample of a whopping (he writes facetiously) 18,000 homes!

    But there is a hidden message that all local TV broadcasters should be picking up on.  The goal is to marry a way to measure BOTH television viewing, and to gain a more accurate measurement of all the portable devices that deliver video today – and the many more that will deliver it in the very near future.

    If you are not providing, or working on a plan, to put your local news on all these devices – than the big advertisers will only be measuring your station on its broadcast signal – and you will be missing out on not only thousands of viewers/users of your product – but all those precious advertising dollars as well.

    That big ole portable device train is roaring down the tracks – has it already passed you by?


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  • Add Texts Along With Your Tweets

    July 29th, 2009

    Local TV news is enamored with Twitter right now.  That’s good – but – are you missing an even bigger way to connect with your viewers?    Are you interacting with your viewers by texting?   My informal research shows few local TV news station are using this very popular social media tool in an aggressive manner.   Sure – your station may have people sign up for weather and news alert texts – but what about daily conversations?  What about an interactive relationship?

    Check out the numbers.   Pew research shows about 11% of American adults use Twitter.  That number is around 20% for those aged 18-to-34.  But only 10% of those aged 35-44 use Twitter, and the number falls to 5% for those 45-to-54-year-olds.

    An Online Harris Poll shows less than 5% of the American population has used Twitter.    A Harvard Business School study projected that most Twitter users send one Tweet in their lifetime!

    Compare those numbers to Text messaging.  Nielsen Mobile research shows that 18-to-24-year-olds text an average of 790 messages a month – compared to making 265 phone calls on their cell phone.   Nielsen says the numbers for everyone who owns a cell phone – covering young people to the older crowd – show that they send 357 text messages a month compared to making 204 cell phone calls.  Those are huge numbers.

    So my message is this – make a big push to begin a texting relationship with your viewers that goes beyond the occasional news or severe weather alert.  Your reporters and producers should be sending out short – very short – one or two sentences at the most – updates to viewers throughout the day.  You get them to opt in to this service – the same way that you got them to sign up for the news and weather alerts.

    This texting relationship will also turn into a two-way communication as your viewers begin to let you know about traffic delays, breaking news etc.   Yes, it may be a little more difficult to set-up than Twitter – but it is a “target rich” environment.   It is a segment of social media that you cannot afford to ignore. 


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