AdNation News Reports On the Growing Influence of Local TV and How It Will Affect Advertising

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The fourth annual TVB Forward Conference in New York showcased how local TV is gaining in popularity and changing the advertising landscape.

Local television is a big supplier of cultural currency. When viewers watch television together, they are 80% more likely to recall ads.

This year, the conference featured celebrity speakers ABC News Anchor George Stephanopoulos, Maria Bartiromo, host of "On the Money with Maria Bartiromo," as well as other industry leaders. The discussions and lectures covered the importance of local TV related to the speakers' related fields.

George Stephanopoulos acted as moderator for the afternoon discussion of "The Future of Political Campaigns: Where, How, How Much?" with political agency leaders John Brabender, Lorena Chambers, Jim Innocenzi, and Jim Margolis, all of whom worked on presidential campaigns in the last election. Each featured panelist brought a campaign ad from the last election, and spoke about the ad's importance to their campaign strategy, and discussed possible important factors related to the upcoming midterm and presidential races. The entire panel agreed that presidential race results rely heavily on the result of the primaries, which is to be expected, but this coming election will be interesting with both Republicans and Democrats having many candidates who are sure to run. When asked about how they and other agencies will design campaigns in the future, each panelist agreed that future campaigns cannot be modeled after past ones, that the climate of the times and the choices made in the primaries are important factors that are difficult to predict early on. When asked about the importance of local television, Chambers said networks should create "good stories and good programming" because campaigns will want to reach engaged and interested audiences who watch popular, quality programming.

Stacy Lynn Schulman, SVP and Chief Research Officer of TVB presented and led a discussion: "Local Broadcast TV News: Sparking Consumer Conversation." Schulman presented statistics making a strong case for the importance of local television. Of the many statistics presented, Schulman highlighted that 77% of conversations still happen face-to-face, and 25% of conversations all around are impacted by local news, and finally television is three times more likely to spark a conversation than news originating online. These facts all point to the fact that local television is a big supplier of cultural currency. Furthermore, when viewers watch television together, they are 80% more likely to recall ads. Whether community is enforced within living rooms or by shared knowledge of weather, traffic, and events, local television brings people together more than might be expected. Schulman emphasizes that local TV is often overlooked in bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. "People in big markets forget about the power of local and community," she says.

The message of community and creativity were emphasized throughout the day. Other presenters included Ian Beavis, EVP of Nielsen Auto Group, Charles Kennedy, EVP of Research and Insights at NBC Universal, and JP Maheu, Managing Director of Global Brand & Agency Strategy at Twitter, who were all optimistic about the role of local television in relation to reaching consumers and boosting program ratings.

Beavis emphasized a growing need for automotive companies to "focus on branding and be more creative," in order to sustain the upward trends in the auto industry. Most ads for cars boil down to "a silver car driving on a street in the rain or a silver car driving through a desert," Beavis said. Apart from being more creative, he believes local dealerships will become more responsible for marketing to their communities in order to sell new models.

Following Beavis, Charles Kennedy's presentation, "'Shift' Happens: Time Shifting, Screen Shifting, 'Smart' Media Consumption" also emphasized the need for advertisers to get creative. By 2014 all the separate generations (boomers, Gen X, and millennials) will all be within the same age group, and with that monetary, technology, and life-fulfillment gaps will be redefined, and will continue to change more and more by 2020. With all these "gears shifting," Kennedy says, it is important to "use integral storytelling, which speaks to us at a rational and emotional level."

JP Maheu said that Twitter plans to take greater advantage of the relationship it already has with 40% of tablet and smartphone uses who "live-Tweet," meaning they Tweet about live television programs, like the VMAs or the Super Bowl, or popular scripted shows that are premiering for the first time. Maheu explained that brands will be able to connect with Twitter users that they know are watching these programs, and therefore their ads, live. For example, if a Twitter user is watching Glee's season premiere, a sponsor like Volkswagen could Tweet content to the appropriate audience. Maheu ensures that these would not feel like pop up ads, but would be Tweets with links to fun pictures and videos that would further solidify the brand. He also noted that Twitter is good for ratings, which rise by nearly 29% because of live-Tweets. "When you bring synergies between different media, CMOs are very excited," Maheu says, and in the future he plans to get "more involved with local businesses."

TVB is the not-for-profit trade association of America’s commercial broadcast television industry. Its members include television broadcast groups, advertising sales reps, syndicators, international broadcasters, associate members and over 500 individual television stations.

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Nicole Ferguson
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