Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Q: With MJ Rose’s new book —The Reincarnationist -- coming out this week, has she cooked up any special, cool marketing initiatives?
A: You can bet your life (uh, lives) on it.
On Labor Day, set your TiVo for the season-premiere of History Channel’s “Digging For The Truth” (9-10pm)… and you will see MJ Rose’s first Network TV commercial.
That’s right. In one shot, over 2 million television viewers across the country will see this 15-second advertisement for “The Reincarnationist.”
[This ad was created by created by MJ and award-winning author Chris Grabenstein, who like MJ, was the creative director of a top NYC ad agency before becoming an author. It was produced by Expanded Books for less than 50% of what most publishers would pay NYC ad agencies. Contact Skye at Expanded Books if you want to talk about us all doing a campaign for you.]
Aside from “Digging For The Truth,” MJ’s ad will also run in A&E’s “Cold Case Files,” “American Justice” and “Crossing Jordan” -- as well as History Channel’s “History’s Mysteries.” A total of 9 spots over 5 days.
MJ had approached her publisher, MIRA, with the idea of doing this commercial instead of running one small ad in a national newspaper. MIRA approved the buy after her media planner (yours truly) was able to show how we could reach the more people on cable TV buy vs. newspaper – and the cable audience would be predisposed to like the novel’s subject matter.
How the cable programming was selected is a lesson in targeting (and why it’s good to have both a media planner and buyer in your rolodex).
The budget for this media buy was larger than the price of a Honda ATV, less than a KIA Spectra. MJ’s thought was to do a targeted, niche cable buy in a couple key DMAs, utilizing programming that dovetailed with her book’s themes of archeology, reincarnation, and spiritualism.
For any media planner, the first job is to clearly identify the target audience. There are tons of cable networks out there, with lots of programming that could work. And with a small budget – compared to a fast food or automobile account – every one of MJ’s commercials would have to work hard and minimize waste.
So we started by creating a custom demographic target. MJ felt her “sweet spot” for potential readers of this book was adults aged 35-60 with a household income of $75,000+, who also have attended some college or have a higher education degree. Her readership also skewed female, but MJ didn’t want to walk away from her male readers.
Certain cable networks index particularly well against that demographic:
Home & Garden Channel 164 Index
Fine Living 163 Index
CNN 138 Index
Bravo 131 Index
Food Network 130 Index
A&E 129 Index
History Channel 129 Index
Travel Channel 128 Index
FOX News 124 Index
Discovery Channel 118 Index
National Geographic 116 Index
Oxygen 110 Index
An index of 100 is equal to the statistical norm of the US Population.
So the way to read the above numbers: If you happen to be between the ages of 35-60, have an income over $75K, and have attended some college, you are 29% MORE LIKELY than the average American to have watched The History Channel in the past week.
Comparing cable networks against the base target demographic was a good start… but now we had to drill down further. You could throw out channels like FOX News or Home & Garden network, since they didn’t have programming that’d be a good fit for the archaeological/historical elements of MJ’s novel. But how to pick between the other options?
Should we target women by purchasing the Oxygen network? Should we go after epicurean lovers with Fine Living? Who is more inclined to buy books – someone who’s a regular viewer of Discovery, History, A&E, Bravo, or National Geographic?
To help answer those questions, the Ad Man turned to MRI, a research company that surveys thousands of Americans each year about their media usage, purchase habits, and life attitudes. We overlaid additional filters on top of the base demographic:
• Males/Females to show gender skew
• Nielsen DMA market size
– Shows how cable networks perform in cities vs. smaller towns
– Potentially affected decision to purchase network or local cable depending on costs and publishing distribution
• Lifestyle choice: Active Readers
– People who read books more than once a month
– People who have been active in book club in past year
• Life attitude of intellectual curiosity (self-identified)
– I am often interested in theories
– I like learning about art, culture, & history
– I like to understand how the universe works
• TV Habits
– Have watched crime drama (CSI, Law & Order, Crossing Jordan, Without A Trace, etc.) in the past week
Unless you work for an advertising agency, you probably don’t have instant access to a fancy computer program that measures consumer behavior like MRI or Scarborough.
But that’s OK. The people who SELL media – billboards, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations – generally have a pipeline to this information (which they use to justify the value of their product). So before you shell out money for media space, be sure to ask your sales rep if they can provide custom research to help guide your purchase decisions.
How can this information help? Let’s look at some results.
Base Demo: 129 Index
Male Gender: 129 Index
Female Gender: 129 Index
Live Top #5 DMA: 136 Index
Live #6-#10 DMA: 138 Index
Live #11-#25 DMA: 119 Index
Live #26-#50 DMA: 130 Index
Live #51-#100 DMA: 117 Index
Read 1x book/month: 135 Index
Active book club past yr: 140 Index
Interested in theories: 137 Index
Like learning art, culture, history: 138 Index
Like understanding universe works: 132 Index
Watched crime drama past wk: 146 Index
Base Demo: 110 Index
Male Gender: 73 Index
Female Gender: 146 Index
Live Top #5 DMA: 111 Index
Live #6-#10 DMA: 109 Index
Live #11-#25 DMA: 89 Index
Live #26-#50 DMA: 104 Index
Live #51-#100 DMA: 145 Index
Read 1x book/month: 115 Index
Active book club past yr: 113 Index
Interested in theories: 111 Index
Like learning art, culture, history: 115 Index
Like understanding universe works: 107 Index
Watched crime drama past wk: 121 Index
Again, the way to read these numbers: If Oxygen has in index of 146 against females, that means IF you happen to be between the age of 35-60 with a household income over $75K with some college education AND are female, you are 46% more likely to have watched Oxygen Network in the past week than the general US population.
So comparing the two networks, you can see that people within MJ’s target demographic who like reading books, are intellectually curious, and watch crime dramas on TV are MORE LIKELY to watch A&E than the Oxygen network. Additionally, if you’re a regular viewer of Oxygen, you’re probably not a dude (73 Index) and you’re more likely live in a smaller town vs. urban area (145 Index for DMA size #51-#100).
Whew! Lots of numbers! But this exercise is particularly necessary when dealing with tight budgets – so you’re only paying for your message to be placed where you have the best chance to reach someone predisposed to pay attention.
Next time, we’ll discuss the media buy itself… why 15-second commercials instead of 30’s, why National TV instead of local, how MJ got to be in the “Digging For The Truth” season premiere, and how you can do a similar TV buy!
The Ad Man has already pre-ordered “The Reincarnationist” on Amazon.com. He suggests you do the same, if you want to live (again).