Art & Commerce

See Spot Run National spot TV advertising is a volatile business. The market’s tone can change drastically from one month to the next, more so than network television or other main national media. Buyers can jump in at the last minute and, just as easily, jump out. This transactional flexibility is one of spot TV’s great attractions, and ought to make it a worthwhile indicator of national advertising sales generally. But the analysis can be daunting. The national spot TV market is actually 200-plus localities, each with at least a couple of competing stations, each its own microeconomy. Moreover, sponsors can spread their ads across more than eight principal dayparts. That generates a lot of grist for the analytic data mill, and it’s not so easy to get or digest. There is, however, an outfit that tracks this business, watching price trends in all those cities and across all those time periods. Spot Quotations and Data (SQAD) constructs a monthly indicator based on price changes compared to the prior month. Its reading? National spot TV advertising started to tighten early in 1996 and, through this year’s first quarter, has shown no signs of slackening. –Alan Gottesman (westendal is principal of West End Consulting.


SQAD’s market indicator aggregates spot TV price changes in 200 cities across eight dayparts. An index number greater than 1.00 point shows a strengthening of prices. March offered continued gains, though more sedate than January or February.

…..Jan. ’98…..Feb. ’98…..Mar. ’98
…..Early fringe…..1.35…..1.32…..1.06
…..Early news…..1.22…..1.27…..1.04
…..Prime time…..1.60…..1.54…..1.08
…..Late news…..1.26…..1.36…..1.08

Source: Spot Quotations and Data