While many television networks, including NBC and CBS, are approaching the upfront marketplace with sales presentations that include hefty praise and pitches for their digital platforms, Fox is concentrating its efforts on selling television as the overwhelming choice for advertisers to get their best return on investment.
Fox sales and marketing executives say that while it is trendy to praise online and other emerging media for their effectiveness in targeting consumers, only a very small percentage of online opportunities offer the kind of sight-sound-motion video advertising that engages and motivates consumers on the same level as TV spots.
To prove the point, Fox hired custom research firm Marketing Evolution, which compiled the results of 40 previous "Return on Marketing Objectives" studies it did for individual advertisers across major product categories such as automotive, movies, financial services, consumer electronics and packaged goods.
Overall, Marketing Evolution's aggregate study found that, compared to online and print, TV advertising proved the most effective by a big margin in impacting consumers' product awareness, product familiarity and intent to purchase. Combining all those factors into one, Marketing Evolution found that TV accounts for nearly 70 percent of the impact on consumers to make purchase decisions, said David Gantman, executive vp of Marketing Evolution.
"Our individual custom studies measure the return on investment for a client's spending on a campaign across all media," Gantman said. "We look at the impact of each of the media platforms within the campaign and measure how aware and familiar consumers say they are from each medium and how that impacts their purchase intent. For Fox, we aggregated all of our data from our individual studies done over the past two years. Our methodology was media agnostic."
Audrey Steele, Fox senior vp, sales research and marketing, said Marketing Evolution was chosen because its methodology doesn't favor one medium over another and because the results would be based on actual studies already done independently for advertisers.
Jon Nesvig, president of Fox Broadcasting sales, explained the impact of the report on Fox's upfront positioning. "During the upfront, we will make all of our digital assets available to advertisers and include them in packages. But when you strip away all the veneer, television is still the most powerful way for advertisers to reach consumers," said Nesvig.
He continued to explain that despite TV's challenges--continued questioning of the proper negotiating currency used to determine pricing in the upfront and increased fragmentation that has led to an overall drop in prime-time ratings--he believes the medium is still the most important in influencing consumer spending decisions.
Andy Donchin, executive vp, director of national broadcast at media agency Carat, agreed.
"As a media-buying agency, we are so ingrained in moving some of our clients' dollars into the digital world," Donchin said. "But while I am embracing the new, I am protecting the old. I still believe in the power of television. Yes, advertisers need to reach targeted audiences, but mass reach is still important, as is the mass awareness TV builds. And for all the success of the Internet, television often is driving its viewers to Web sites."
Donchin said he is seeing a resurgence in advertisers' belief in television. They are realizing, he explained, that using TV as the main marketing vehicle helps to direct customers to online destinations where deeper marketing messages and offers are made.
Among some of the Marketing Evolution conclusions:
- TV delivers the strongest consumer awareness relative to dollars invested.
- TV influences about twice the volume of impact for purchase intent, although print is a very cost-efficient method to effect purchase intent.
- TV can even be used effectively as a targeted medium to produce more effectiveness toward consumer purchase intent.
- TV can be used successfully in either launching a brand or maintaining a brand.
The report concludes by stating, "It's clear that television should continue to be a core medium for both launching and sustaining marketing campaigns, with print, radio, out-of-home, online and cinema playing an important complimentary role in an advertiser's overall media plan."
The study, titled "Examining TV Advertising ROI: Six Truths You Should Know," does not analyze any specific network or programming, just all media generically. In other words, Fox is making its presentations using this data, but all TV networks could benefit from the findings.
While all the English-language TV networks use their Web sites as value-added options for clients advertising on television, the Marketing Evolution study is focused on outside Internet competitors looking to steal dollars away from television.
Fox's tactic is similar to one taken in the Hispanic marketplace by Univision, which has conducted studies that tout the Hispanic market rather than attacking competing Hispanic networks. Keeping dollars in the TV marketplace could benefit all the networks, but Fox, as the ratings leader among adults 18-48, has to believe it stands to benefit more.
"Television needs to continue to prove its worth to advertisers," Nesvig said. "And research like this proves our value to them."