Newspaper Advertising vs. TV Advertising

Newspaper Advertising vs. TV Advertising


Television advertising is a prominent source to reach the masses for an advertiser. Local television stations reach out beyond the normal circulation area that most newspapers reach. The market penetration is not as large within the newspaper’s trading zone, but TV reaches people of all ages and expands the advertiser’s coverage area. Many advertisers view television as a viable advertising media that drives new customers to their front door.


A great example of the power of television advertising happens every couple of years around election time. Political advertising dominates the local TV stations. We get sick of seeing the politicians bashing one another on every TV station we turn to (especially those of us who sell newspaper advertising). Statewide and national election campaigns spend most of their budget on television advertising. Still, while politicians light up the airwaves with TV advertising, Newspaper advertising is still the most effective media for businesses in your community.


Comparing TV Advertising with Newspaper Advertising


Advertising on a television station generally reaches a broad audience, but does not provide strong penetration within any local demographic group from a single station. The viewing audience is spread between too many stations to have a widespread reach in to any segment. Newspaper advertising, on the other hand, penetrates the local market by reaching 50% and more of the primary local market.


The advertising message can be completely told (and understood) using the newspaper without the fear of changing the channel every time the advertisement appears.


Consumers are more likely to tell the advertiser they saw the ad on TV than they are to tell them they saw the ad in the newspaper. This is a strong factor in the power of selling television advertising. This is especially powerful when someone from “Timbuktu” comes in the front door of the advertiser and tells them they saw the ad on TV.


How Many TV Stations Are In Your Market?


Even in small markets, today’s television viewer has a broad choice of channels to watch. Rural cable television markets bring at least 30 different channels to customers. Larger market cable providers offer 70 channels.


Satellite Television is becoming a stronger force in both metro and rural markets. Offering 200 channels in their lineup the viewer spends more time changing channels to find a show to watch than they do watching any channel. The cost of satellite TV has dropped significantly to become competitive with cable TV providers. Those small satellite dishes are popping up everywhere.


Here’s an interesting tidbit. Most Satellite systems do not offer access to local television stations. They get a feed for NBC, CBS or whatever from national broadcast feeds. They often can’t watch the local TV station unless they change over to their antenna system.


How many TV stations are in your market? The answer is lots of them. The most effective way to present this to your advertiser is by creating a list of stations available on cable and satellite. Show this list to the advertiser and let him determine how many households in the local viewing area are watching his commercial when it airs. Even during prime time viewing on a top rated show, probably no more than 10% of the households will see his commercial.


How Many People Are Watching Cable or Satellite TV?


According to the Harris Poll, 65% of all US households subscribe to cable TV. Another 9.3% of households get their TV signal from Satellite, dish, microwave or source other than standard broadcast antenna reception. Nielson Media Research claims that the average U.S. household has the TV on 7 hours, 26 minutes a day. That is still rising despite increased Internet use. (Most other reports claim TV viewership is declining due to increased time on-line)


I don’t usually question research results, but this puzzles me somewhat. If we break our day up in thirds, we basically go to work, watch TV and go to bed. Most people I know don’t have that simple of a life. However, what this report does not indicate is how the viewership is broken down. Who is watching TV for 8 hours? How many of those hours are spent in front of the tube by Dad? How much by Mom? How much by teenagers watching MTV? How much by young children? The numbers may be correct, but the quality of the desired target viewer watching channels that have local advertising may be substantially less than 7 ˝ hours a day.


In Canada, the Statistics Canada and Bureau of Measurement determined that 76% of households subscribe to cable. The average Canadian household watches TV for 22.7 hours each week.


How Many People Are Watching Their VCR?


Video Rental stores are churning out more than 80 million videos or DVDs each week. That is an average of 1 video rental per household. These are just rentals and do not include the large market of videos and DVD that are purchased. The only commercials you see on a video rental is a commercial for all of the upcoming movies that will be in theatres soon or available on DVD or tape. The average time spent watching a video rental is slightly less than 2 hours.


Television Viewing Habits


An article in Newsweek magazine described television viewers as “switchers.” In a study published by Newsweek, they reported 43% of television viewers watch 2 or more channels at a time. Of those “switchers,” more than half watched 3 or more channels.


The key element is when the switchers hit the last channel recall button. When the commercial comes on, the switch is on. This doesn’t do a lot for TV viewer advertising retention. One of the key elements in remembering a commercial is watching it.


A television commercial is an interruption. People watch television for entertainment. They don’t watch TV to find sales on groceries, homes for sale or the best deal on a used car. They watch TV to be entertained. Commercials are annoying and interrupt the entertainment. That is the time to go to the bathroom, get a snack or switch the channel.


Commercial free television has grown over the past ten years proving the issue that people are willing to pay for premium television without commercials. HBO, Cinemax, Encore, Showtime, the Movie Channel and others have grown to have multiple versions, each charging a premium for their commercial free viewing. PBS has been commercial free and viewer supported for many years.


What Channel Do They Watch?


15 years ago we didn’t have much of a problem deciding which channel to watch. Typically, we had a choice of an NBC, CBS, ABC or PBS station to watch. Often, it depended upon the strength of the signal more than the quality of the program that determined which channel we watched.


Today, we have a choice of 30 to 70 cable channels or 200 channels on the Dish network. But the viewing choices don’t stop there. How many video rental stores dot the landscape in your city? The average household rents one video a week. Generally they watch this video during “prime time” instead of choosing a network TV reality show. Another “prime time” thief is the movie theatre. Record numbers of people are going to the show. Today’s cinema offers 6 to 10 theatres; each featuring hit movies showing at 7 PM and 9 PM.


Why Are They Watching TV?


Why do people watch TV? Certainly, they don't watch for the advertising. They watch for the news, the movies, the sports, the music or the talk shows. A commercial is an interruption to their entertainment. It is an aggravation. This is often the time they hit the last channel recall button on their remote to find more entertainment instead of watching (6) 30-second spots at a commercial break. This is the time when the button pushers come out. The toilets are flushing; the refrigerator doors open and the pop-tops make that refreshing sound.


Newspaper readers are reading your paper to find out what is going on around town. They expect to find not only the news reports of what has happened recently but also what is going to happen. They look for this information in both the news articles and the advertising. The advertising is not an interruption in the paper, but an important part of the everyday, or every week, readership.


Breakdown the Numbers


Let’s try and figure out how many qualified buyers from households in your primary market will see an advertiser’s commercial on the local TV station. We are going to make some assumptions but we will be generous on our guesses. It is always better to give than receive.


If your market has 100,000 households, you can assume that 1,900 households don’t have a television set in their home. 9,300 watch satellite or dish TV and don’t have access to local programming and commercials. That leaves us 88,800 households with possible local television exposure.


43% of those viewers are switchers and seldom watch local station’s commercials. We can’t just discount all of those viewers, even though they are not likely to watch very many commercials. Let’s assume they see 25% of the commercials. This math is going to get a little complicated but taking the switchers into account seeing 25% of the commercials that reduces our overall viewer total to 60,162.


When we deduct video rentals we are down to 56,352 TV viewers. We can probably deduct another 2,000 to 3,000 for theatregoers, but remember we are being generous. We won’t deduct anything for the theatre.


Let’s figure that 10% of those viewers are going to be watching non-commercial television. These would include PBS, HBO, Disney, Encore or one of the others. This is probably a very low estimate but we are being generous. That brings our total down to 50,717.


If you have 30 stations in your market, the average TV channel has 1,691 households viewing at any given time. Some stations will have more, and some will have fewer viewers. Can you imagine that in a market of 100,000 households that the “average” station has just 1,691 households viewing their station! Half of the stations will have less than that. Wow! If we did that poorly in the newspaper business wouldn’t you wonder why we would bother?


Let’s suppose that 60% of the viewers (30,430) left are watching the 4 major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX). If we split those viewers equally between the major stations, each station would average 7,607 households as their market share during peak time. Major television stations reaching 7.6% of the households in the market.


This leaves the remaining 20,287 households split between CNN, ESPN, TNT, TBS, Lifetime, MTV and 20 or so other stations. Some of these stations may have as few as 200 TV viewers in a market of 100,000 households.


Ask the customer where his primary trading zone is. How many households are in that zone? The top TV station likely is reaching less than 10% of those households. How many households does your paper reach within that trading zone? Compare the reach of the households with the advertiser. Your market penetration will look awesome compared with even the best TV station. Imagine how good it looks against a cable channel that is reaching less than 500 channels in a market of 100,000 households.


Here is a quote to remember:

“The whole problem with news on television comes down to this: all the words uttered in an hour of news coverage could be printed on page of a newspaper. And the world cannot be understood in one page.”

Neil Postman, Writer


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

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