How the U.S. Watches Cable

 In this week’s Ad Age we looked at which network TV shows have the most skewed audiences in the segments we’ve been tracking through the American Consumer Project. For those who haven’t been following (which you can do here), we’ve partnered with the Patchwork Nation to layer a ton of data through what is a demographic-segmentation tool with geo-targeting built in. These segments are the result of a cluster of analysis and tend to have similar socio-economic and demographic characteristics, despite not being in the contiguous “regions” we’re used to dealing with.

The following is the cable counterpart to that map. It’s based on a sizable household survey from Experian Simmons, which did a custom cut of the data for us. As we said in the network map, these are the shows that each segment is most biased toward watching. For example, the college student- and professor-heavy areas called “Campus and Careers” are far more likely to watch “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” These shows, therefore, can represent a cost-conscious way to target certain demographics. The more advertisers know about the particular qualities of an audience, the better choices they can make about which programs to support and the creative to target them with.

Top Cable TV Shows by County
To check out the actual interactive map in Ad Age, please click here:

Related Stories

Ad Age Looks at Who’s Watching What Where
Research Offers Peek at Which Shows Get the Most Love Around the Country

As Viewing Habits Change, Political Ads Switch Screens

New York Times, April 1, 2012

MILWAUKEE — Just because you own a D.V.R. or watch television online does not mean political commercials are not coming soon to a screen near you.

Mitt Romney’s campaign thinks it has found a way to get its ads in front of the increasing number of voters who are not watching traditional television: Find these people online, and show them the ads there.

Here in Wisconsin, where the Republican primary is Tuesday, carefully targeted potential voters will see two Romney commercials on their Web browsers. One is a positive message hailing the candidate’s economic and business credentials. The other is an attack criticizing Rick Santorum as a Washington insider who compromises his core beliefs.

Both commercials, which have been running on local television stations across the state, have gone unseen by many voters — up to one-third of them, by some estimates.

The Romney campaign and a team of online behavior analysts have spent 18 months trying to fight television advertising’s law of diminishing returns, sifting through data on the browsing habits of tens of millions of computer users as the campaign builds a richly detailed cache of potential supporters.

In doing so, Mr. Romney’s strategists are hoping to turn the Web into a political persuasion tool, signaling a shift in the way modern campaigns view digital advertising. It is no longer merely a supplement for traditional media like television. In some cases, it is a substitute entirely.

A survey conducted last May on voters’ television viewing habits, which is often cited by Romney advisers, found that 31 percent of likely voters had not watched television “live” — that is, at the time it was being broadcast, as opposed to online or on a recording device — in the previous week. And of the 17 percent who said they mostly watched programs recorded on devices like a D.V.R., a large majority skipped through ads most of the time.  The nationwide telephone survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and SEA Polling and Strategic Design, a Democratic polling firm.

“This will likely become the first truly digital election because so many people are not paying attention to live TV,” said Darrell M. West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Saying that many campaigns were beginning to integrate the study of online behavior into their digital strategies, Mr. West said, “In many respects, it’s analogous to the emergence of TV advertising in the 1960s.”

Television will still account for a vast majority of the money spent on political advertising — billions this year, and 9 out of every 10 advertising dollars, strategists estimate. But with the return on that investment becoming less of a sure bet, campaigns are taking advantage of technologies to track and model browsing behavior as never before.

The Obama digital team, for example, knows when supporters have opened an e-mail from the campaign and whether they have clicked on tabs in the e-mail that direct people to It uses that data to determine whether to send more or fewer solicitations.

The campaign has also hired a “chief scientist” who worked in the private sector finding ways to discern consumers’ interests from data online, and used that data to target messages to entice people to buy certain products.

Republican efforts in this type of digital strategy get less attention but are just as sophisticated.

Rather than buying ads on specific Web sites, the Romney campaign sees greater value in buying audiences — which remain anonymous, identifiable only by a numeric code — that are built through careful analysis and predictive behavior modeling.

“We are site agnostic and audience specific,” said Zac Moffatt, the Romney campaign’s digital director. “It doesn’t bother me what site they’re on. I’m just looking for an audience.”

Using outside digital strategists, the campaign analyzed surveys from Democratic and Republican pollsters that determined, among other things, how often people were watching live television. Then strategists took that data, paired it with browsing histories and built a model to identify voters who are not likely to be watching live television.

Reaching those people is only one element of the campaign’s effort to reach individual voters online. Though the Internet has always been useful in preaching to the converted — soliciting donations, rounding up volunteers, rallying voters on Election Day — it has been far less effective at coaxing undecided voters.

So the campaign set out to identify potential voters who are most likely politically conservative and might vote for Mr. Romney but need more persuasion. Here in Wisconsin, these people will see Web ads with the positive message about Mr. Romney’s economic leadership, but not the one that mocks Mr. Santorum.

The group the campaign has designated as potentially persuadable was culled from surveying thousands of online users about party affiliation, positions on key political issues and opinions about the president. From those responses, the campaign’s outside digital strategy firm, Targeted Victory, was able to narrow down the type of people it wanted: 18 and older, Republican-leaning and strongly dissatisfied with the current administration.

Using the Web histories of the people who fit that profile, Lotame, an audience analytics company the campaign has hired, uses algorithms to find other computer users who might have similar political sentiments based on their browsing. Looking at what these people do online — what they read, where they leave comments and what content they share with friends — all helps refine the sample.

When the Romney campaign puts its ads in front of these people, it can tell whether they watched the videos, which requires someone to scroll over the ad and hold the mouse there for three seconds, how long they spent watching and whether they took any actions because of the ad, like sharing their e-mail address, giving money or posting content to Twitter or Facebook. Knowing who is responding to the ads helps the campaign refine its ideal audiences even further.

“When I look at the people who click on that banner ad or looked at that video or went to the donation page, we can unpack a whole new set of behavioral variables,” said Adam Lehman, Lotame’s chief operating officer.

Along the way, the Romney campaign has learned a few common characteristics of its online supporters. They tend to like to take online quizzes on news and entertainment Web sites. They like to share photographs. And they are interested in topics like technology, literature, home repair and child care.

But just as important is knowing where a message is likely to fall on deaf ears. In that case, the campaign has discovered certain traits that tend to be associated with people who do not respond to Mr. Romney’s ads. For example, their online behavior shows they are interested in video and casino games, bowling, martial arts and jazz.

These patterns can vary by state. For example, in Michigan, people who visited Christian music Web sites were not fans, something strategists attributed to the likelihood of such people being Rick Santorum supporters.

The results of putting this data to use have been encouraging. Targeted Victory says that people who see audience-specific Romney ads engage with them at a rate three to five times higher than they do with a standard ad.

“As much of the fat that you can clean out, that’s an advantage to the campaign,” said Ryan Meerstein, the senior political analyst at Targeted Victory. “Our system is getting smarter every day as we learn more about these users.”

A Fistful of Smart Media Dollars – TV + Video on Multiple Screens, by Jay Fulcher

Techcrunch – March 31, 2012

Editor’s note: Jay Fulcher is CEO of video technology company Ooyala. This is a follow-up to his columns “Fear And Loathing In Online Video” and “One Screen To Rule Them All“. Follow him on Twitter @jbfulcher.

The rise of smart, multi-screen streaming media is fundamentally changing the TV experience. This year, for the first time ever, Americans will watch more movies over the Internet than on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray. Ooyala’s Video Index Report found that non-desktop video plays doubled in the fourth quarter of 2011. Tablet sales continue to explode. People now spend more time on Xbox Live streaming movies and TV shows than playing video games. And consumer electronics manufacturers are gearing up to ship 125 million Smart TVs in 2014. Simply put, TV is no longer constrained to a single box, a single screen, or a single UI.

Smart networks, broadcasters, studios and service providers recognize that there’s real money to be made as TV moves into the information age. People are not only watching more movies and TV shows online, they are paying for access to premium video content. Recent studies reveal that over half of American tablet owners paid to watch a movie in Q4 2011 and more than 40% paid for TV content. These are strong signs that we’ve come a long way from Jeff Zucker’s “digital pennies” remark back in 2008.

To make the most digital dollars, new TV technologies should securely deliver media to viewers on their terms. Audiences today have personal, portable ways to consume content. There are more screens, platforms and devices to display their favorite shows, and more ways than ever to rent, purchase, gift and download video content. It is an exciting time for both TV viewers and TV content providers.

Innovation is a tricky business, however, and change can be hard. There are bound to be a few missteps and failures as we invent the next generation of TV. This isn’t a new phenomenon. For every VHS recorder there is a Betamax; for every DVD, a Laserdisc. But there will also be key victories and new revenue streams as media and technology combine to create the TV experience of tomorrow.

Here’s how forward-thinking media companies will profit from the new TV.

Big Data & Analytics

More than a buzzword, Big Data is changing the way we look at information — and the world around us. The ability to quickly extract actionable insights from vast sets of data has already become a business imperative in some sectors. This trend can only grow. Corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations will all leverage distributed computing to gain insights into their operations and their constituencies and maximize efficiencies.

Big Data and analytics will become mission critical for major media companies as TV moves to IP delivery. Firms that fail to invest in data-driven solutions will be at a severe disadvantage in the marketplace. Putting analytics tools in place to collect and analyze key metrics enables video publishers to see how people interact with their content — and understand where and why it’s underperforming (something that was impossible before). These insights will inform critical business decisions that impact audiences and drive revenue.

Intelligent Monetization

As we all know, the easiest way to make more money in media is to sell more advertising. But simply inserting more pre-roll ads into a video stream, for example, quickly falls prey to the law of diminishing marginal returns. An initial uptick in revenue is followed by a substantial dropoff in ad completion rates, as viewers quickly grow weary of the oversupply of irrelevant ad messages.

Smart monetization strategies go hand-in-hand with analytics. With the right tools in place, video publishers can analyze how variables like ad load (the number of ads served per video) and ad placement (where ads are inserted within the video) impact viewer engagement. It’s even possible to find the optimal rental price for, say, a feature-length movie. And soon it will be commonplace to match ads to viewers based on social graph interests, location, device type, and viewing history.

Smart video publishers will use analytics to simultaneously accomplish two somewhat conflicting goals: (1) maximize digital revenue, and (2) create and/or maintain an optimal viewing experience for their viewers.

Personalized Content

A streaming media strategy based on Big Data computing, powerful analytics and smart monetization results in a personalized viewing experience across all connected screens. Content producers and providers will attract and retain more viewers when they deliver highly relevant content to their viewers, and presented in a way the viewer prefers.

Insights derived from vast data collection ensures that the right content is delivered to the right viewer at the right time. The future of personalized television is geo-targeted, interactive content. Viewers who opt to share data will receive a better experience: location-specific ads, augmented reality media experiences, interactive games and content targeted for their viewing history, network and device. Content publishers will also tap into social networks to deliver meaningful content that is informed by viewer interests. As social media continues to evolve, expect video to play a bigger role in how we relate to one another online.

In Sum…

The TV of tomorrow will be smart. It will understand who is watching, where they are, and what shows they enjoy. The end result will be a more personal TV experience that spans multiple screens and locations.

TV is changing quickly. There is a real need for companies to recognize and get out ahead of this change. With the right tools (like those offered by my company Ooyala), fistfuls of digital dollars are there for the taking.

TV Has A Growing Reach Problem

TV Used to Put the ‘Mass’ In Mass Media. Not Anymore.

By: Published: February 28, 2012


In 1997, noted media researcher Erwin Ephron presented a paper titled “Learning to live in Lilliput, the media land where small is beautiful. Optimizing reach with low ratings and other thoughts on TV fragmentation.” In it, Ephron wrote about the TV’s growing audience-fragmentation problem and presciently saw what would happen if the media-buying community continued to focus the bulk of TV budgets on a declining pool of larger-rated shows without strategically dispersing a large volume of spots across lots of shows with small audiences.

Folks didn’t listen then and — in spite of fragmentation along the lines of Ephron’s forecast — apparently won’t listen now. TV ad campaigns in the U.S. today deliver considerably less reach than they did in 1997, even though TV viewing is at an all-time high. Fifteen years ago, a heavy national schedule with average frequency would reach 80-90% of its target audience in three weeks. Today, most heavy multiweek national ad campaigns are lucky to reach 60% of TV viewers in their target audience.

The story is even worse when it comes to frequency distribution. Fifteen years ago, TV advertisers could expect 40% of their campaigns’ impressions to be concentrated on the 20% of their target audience who were the heaviest TV viewers. Today, the frequency imbalance is almost twice as bad. According to both Nielsen data as well as Simulmedia’s database of anonymous second-by-second set-top box viewing data of 30 million Americans, those 20% of target viewers who are heavy TV viewers now receive 60 to 80% of most national TV campaign impressions. This squanders advertiser money, needlessly accelerates the “wear out” of creatives and alienates target customers who feel bombarded by redundant messaging.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and run the data yourself with any of the national audience data systems: Nielsen AudienceWatch or Nielsen AMRLD or Kantar or TRA or Rentrak. You will see similar results.

How did this happen? It happened because TV audiences have fragmented dramatically over the past 15 years and the TV media industry has not adjusted its planning, buying and measurement tools and strategies to keep pace.

Twenty years ago, the average American household had access to 28 TV channels, and brands like Fox, Nickelodeon and TNT were babies. Today, Americans have 165 channels and watch networks like Military Channel, Investigation Discovery and BBC America. Twenty years ago, in an average week, there were hundreds of shows with a rating of 10 or better. Today, there are scarcely more than a dozen. Today, it takes four to five spots to deliver the equivalent media weight of one spot 15 or 20 years ago, and eight to deliver as much reach. That’s an enormous change.

As Ephron’s paper noted, “Fragmentation challenges the analytical capabilities of our research systems. … Our current approach — using the program and day part as ways of organizing media value — becomes less useful as audiences get smaller.”

TV’s ability to reach a lot of people in a short period of time, and to do it efficiently, is what has historically set it apart from all other advertising media. It is why national brand advertisers have to plan and buy it first and why TV has historically received the dominant share of brand expenditures. Neither radio nor print nor out-of-home — nor even the internet — has the capacity to efficiently deliver multiple effective advertising messages to tens of millions of target consumers in the space of a few days or weeks.

However, competition for media dollars is intensifying. Clients want to move more money to digital. They want to “jump into” social media. They are demanding more and better measurement and ROI. This is not a good time for folks in the TV media industry to undermine their core competitive advantage and sell and buy campaigns with such bad reach and frequency balance. And it certainly won’t help the medium’s ability to stave off calls to shift more money into digital channels.

Unfortunately, so much of the energy in TV buying today is spent chasing those declining dozen or so top-rated shows rather than developing the analytical chops to efficiently accumulate target audience across the exploding landscape of smaller-rated shows that attract relevant, passionate audiences. The problem, as all media researchers know, is that heavy TV viewers tend to watch all of the highly-rated shows, so buying more of those shows doesn’t get you much more reach. Not so when you get into lots and lots of lower-rated shows.

Contrary to the opinion of many, strategically dispersing ads across many smaller audience shows is not mutually exclusive with buying those several high-rated shows which clients seem to prefer. They complement each other, and you get much more reach and much better balanced frequency. As we prepare for this year’s upfronts, I do think it would be instructive to go back and read the concluding sentences to Ephron’s paper:

Buyers will have to push for change. The TV networks are trapped by their own success with day parts. In prime time, more dollars chasing less inventory has increased prices substantially each year. But there is an issue larger than pricing. Day part thinking increases costs and limits reach which, in turn limits television’s effectiveness. Smaller ratings need not cripple TV if we learn to use the entire medium.Fragmentation is not the nemesis of mass TV advertising. There is a cosmic fairness to it all. Greater choice for viewers creates the fragmentation which in turn creates greater choice for buyers. If we are going to live in Lilliput, we should wake up and smell the little flowers.

What do you think? Is the industry ready to hear Ephron’s nearly 15 year-old warning?

Dave Morgan is CEO and founder of New York-based Simulmedia, a TV ad targeting company. Simulmedia uses data-driven technology to help improve the relevance and results of TV advertising. Follow him on Twitter at



CPM Participates in Sacramento Candidate Training Boot Camp

Top California Female Media Operatives Join Force to help Women Candidates (as appearing in ELECT WOMEN magazine)

Fran McInerney has built a lot of muscle directing targeted political advertising campaigns.  While heading Comcast’s political efforts in the region for many years, Fran logged countless hours overseeing ad placement and compliancy for over 150 races including statewide props, advocacy/organization campaigns, independent expenditures and local measures.

This knowledge combined with strong working relationships with independent political consultants was paramount when Fran decided to form her own firm, (CPM) Campaign Political Media in 2010.  Based in Northern California, CPM is a strategic media planning and placement firm specializing in broadcast, cable, radio and online for candidates, issue and advocacy groups.

Recently, Fran added credence to CPM’s high level of blue-chip expertise by bringing in a new woman partner, Evelyn Grewal.  Evelyn joined CPM with solid media credentials in both traditional and new media.  She spent the past few years in tech and digital strategies including web and mobile-based initiatives. Prior to that, she served as VP Media for Macy’s West, a division of Federated with over $134B in revenues and a California-focused ad budget of over $300M. In an earlier life she managed a multitude of national political campaigns in the broadcast television arena for Blair Television Sales.

While working on their slate of candidates for the 2012 election cycle, Fran and Evelyn were reminded once again of the lack of women running for office.  They cite the alarming statistics from the Woman’s Campaign Fund:  “The United States trails behind much of the world, ranking 90th in the number of women in the national legislature.  Only 17% of the seats in the current US Congress are held by women, and women make up only 24% of individual state legislatures combined.”

As part of their focus, the newly aligned partners at CPM have decided to direct part of their efforts towards helping women across the country achieve positions of power in legislative bodies.

“It’s time women achieve our ‘share of voice’ in government,” says Fran.  “Consider this fact: 50% fewer women than men ever consider running for office, and of those, less than 30% actually run with only a fraction seeking higher office.”  She adds “We at CPM would like to offer help and professional advice to female candidates seeking office.”

Evelyn chimes in: “Women must be empowered to stand guard over issues that are important to all women – whether they are stay-at-home moms, working women or retired.  We know, first hand, a woman’s role as caregiver and the difficulties and issues women face in caring for their families and elderly parents.  We are also passionate about women’s rights and the distorted balance of power with men forming 83% of the sitting US Congress.”

As part of their initiative, Fran and Evelyn will be sharing their media knowledge by participating in training boot camps for female candidates.  The first, in partnership with Sacramento’s Fem Dems will be held on March 3rd (

Fran says, “Our goal, regardless of political affiliation, is to help qualified female candidates successfully navigate the media landscape for optimum ROI on media spend.”

CPM specializes in all media, including Broadcast TV, Cable, Radio, Print, Out of Home, and Online.  In addition, they provide services for website and mobile application development and a multitude of web-based digital applications for campaign fundraising and social sentiment monitoring.

Interested parties can visit their website at and can email them for advice or answers to questions.

Mobile Video Ads Growing Fast; Will Mobile Video Trump Online Pre-Rolls?

Not only are consumers increasingly connected to their mobile phones, they’re also responding to the ads they see on handheld devices. A pair of recent studies confirms that advertising on mobile video isn’t just growing quickly; it’s growing effectively.

For starters, online video ad network YuMe reported that the number of mobile impressions jumped in volume by more than 80% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2011, in its latest quarterly trend report. Mobile comprised about 5% of ads served in the fourth quarter, up from 2.7% in the third quarter.

YuMe also found that pre-roll ads, while still incredibly dominant, dropped to 89% of ads in 2011, down from 93% of video ads in 2010. Specifically on a quarter over quarter basis, pre-rolls dropped from 90% of all video ads in the third quarter to 86% in the fourth quarter, a drop YuMe attributes to more share coming from mobile phones and connected TVs.

Does this data suggest that mobile is on a path to overtake pre-rolls? There’s not enough evidence yet to draw that conclusion. However, mobile ad campaigns for the time being are among the most effective. Mobile phones generate a much higher click through – 4.5 times – than that of online video, according to a new report from video vendor Videology. On mobile phones the messaging is often more targeted, the calls to action are stronger, and consumers are also more connected to their phones, Videology said. A mobile phone feels personal and thus can elicit more response.

It’s also worth noting that a rising tide lifts all ships. New media works best in tandem and Videology found that campaigns using multiple screens of online video, mobile and connected TVs generated a 9 times increase in brand recall than those only using online video.


Smartphones and tablets best PCs in click-through rates

The numbers continue to add up for mobile commerce. An analysis of the paid search spend of more than 1,000 advertisers in the fourth quarter, including retailers such as Macy’s Inc., No. 17 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, and, finds that the consumers are more likely to click on an ad on a search results page when using smartphones and tablets than when using desktop and laptop computers, says Marin Software Inc., an online advertising services and technology firm.

The smartphone click-through rate, which measures the number of clicks an ad receives against the number of times the ad is shown, was 1.25% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The rate for tablets was 1.31%. Desktops and laptops came in at 0.95%.

Tablets and smartphones garnered 4% and 6%, respectively, of the click share for the paid ads included in Marin’s “U.S. Online Advertising Report, Key Trends & Insights, October-December 2011.” While no year-ago data is available, mobile devices represented 5% of clicks on paid search ads in the third quarter, says Matt Lawson, Marin Software vice president of marketing.

Adding Online Video to a TV Campaign Significantly Increases Reach

Online video ad network YuMe has released the results of a joint study it conducted with Nielsen, which sought to quantify the impact of a $500,000 online video ad buy when combined with a $2.6 million TV advertising campaign for a major CPG brand. The study found a 14% increase in reach for the targeted 35-54 age demographic during the combined online video and TV campaign. Based on the findings, YuMe and Nielsen emphasize that an integrated campaign combining multiple screens can deliver an impact and ROI exceeding that of standalone TV campaigns. Other findings from the whitepaper include:

  • YuMe online video outperformed TV with a 22% increase in brand recall and a 31% increase in message recall one day after exposure.
  • The online video spend was more efficient (almost double) than the TV spend. In fact, the cost per point (CPP) was reduced by 11%.
  • Almost 9 million people in the 35-54 age demographic were exposed to the combined online and TV campaign.

Check out the actual study here:  <>