In Part One of this series we reported on a NBC Universal study done with TiVo Research that showed how extraordinarily powerful synergy among media can be and how a single-medium strategy can bomb. In Part Two we reported practically an entire tune-in best practices guide from our interview with Charlie Fiordalis, Chief Digital Officer of Mediastorm, an innovative and leading tune-in agency. In this third post, courtesy of James Fennessy, Chief Commercial Officer of SMI -- the industry’s new Standard Media Index -- we study the actual year-to-year latest trends in tune-in spending. (For the latest from SMI, be sure to follow James Fennessy’s blog right here at MediaBizBloggers.)

For those of you who have not yet discovered SMI, it’s a relatively new company I heard about originally from CBS' Dave Poltrack. I was fascinated as he recounted the story of SMI starting in Australia and providing a free state of the art accounting system to ad agencies there, rapidly becoming the system used by all the global holding companies in their down-under offices. SMI then compiles the data so that all anyone can see are the aggregates useful to all, which they publish and charge money for. No one’s confidential data, no brand and no agency, can be seen in these publications. SMI then did the same in the UK and the US, where a single holdout remains, GroupM, although the WPP agencies are cooperating with SMI in Australia.

In an industry whose total spending records were always clouded by the use of rate card data rather than actuals, SMI is definitely part of the data revolution being experienced by all sectors. We are fortunate to have permission to release these important findings courtesy of SMI.

First, the only qualifier: These are paid media spends and do not include the equivalent value of a network running a tune-in spot for one of its own programs for free, which is estimated to be larger than the entire paid spend category reported here. In other words most of the tune-in GRP are judged to be in the unpaid category, and virtually all of that TV advertising, plus a bit of unpaid digital using the network’s own (and sister networks’) digital inventory. Here then are the trends for how networks have been spending their actual green tune-in money, first half 2015 vs. first half 2014, in the U.S.

Total spending is up +17% year over year for paid tune-in. The biggest increase, +31%, is in television itself. The other increase is in digital, up +25%. Magazines are down -24%, radio down -11%, newspapers down -6% and out of home down -4%. Despite the value of synergy and positive ratings lift results seen in virtually all of these media categories, TV and digital are being found to be the most impactful per dollar on TV ratings for network programs. However, because of synergy the dollar amounts in the other media types are not expected to ever disappear entirely. The need for ad dollars, not just from this tune-in category, are expected to drive print-centric and outdoor-centric media owners to launch and expand their own screen media ventures in order to continue to ride the gravy train. Screens are where it is all going, as we wrote in a 90s article with the Chairman of Omnicom Europe. Within TV paid tune-in, every single subcategory is up:

U.S. First Half 2015 vs. First Half 2014
Paid TV Tune-in for Network Programs

+341% Broadcast Network TV
+47%   Ad Sales House (e.g. Simulmedia)
+22%   Cable Network TV
+13%   Local MSO Cable
+8%     Broadcast Spot TV
+1%     Syndication

Source: SMI

Possibly the reason that broadcast network is up so much has something to do with the fast reach factor I have examined in recent blogposts. Higher rated fare tends to get reach higher and faster, and this tends to improve a campaign’s recency i.e. amount of exposure soon before the shopping trip/promoted program’s airing. The loosening of rules limiting the extent to which networks are willing to mention day/date and time period in airing a competitor’s tune-in advertising must also have had something to do with these gains. MSO inventory used to offer the only competitive airtime that would accept day/time mention and now it is beginning to be more widely accepted.

Within digital, just as in TV, every subcategory is up in spending on paid tune-in for network TV programs:

U.S. First Half 2015 vs. First Half 2014
Paid Digital Tune-in for Network Programs

+156%  Pure Play — Social
+34%    Pure Play — Internet Radio
+28%    Pure Play — Video
+14%    TV Network — Digital
+11%    Pure Play — Content/Search
+10%    Ad Network/Ad Exchange
+5%      Print — Digital

It’s worth noting the leaps in digital spending for social and for Internet radio in the tune-in category. Please share your comments and questions that shed light on these trends -- thanks! We will continue the study of further SMI numbers relating to tune-in in the next post.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.