While moderating a panel about the future of national addressable TV at CES in January, David Kline, president of Spectrum Reach and executive vice president at Charter Communications, got a big laugh when he said that he didn't like using the phrase, "game-changer." If you're the one using it to describe yourself, Kline said, odds are "you ain't changing anything."
But when it comes to self-service advertising, there is no phrase that better describes what this innovation means for hundreds of thousands of local and regional advertisers, as well as for the traditional media companies that are deploying these tools — once the sole domain of adtech platforms, such as Google and Facebook.
Spectrum Reach's advertiser self-provisioning platform, called the Spectrum Reach Ad Portal, is now available in 16 markets, including Charlotte, Dallas, and Tampa. It will be available to advertisers across Spectrum's entire footprint by the end of 2020. The Portal is backed by anonymized and aggregated audience data, so businesses of all sizes can plan TV campaigns that reach the right customers.
Kline says that hundreds of advertisers in "all types of businesses — restaurants, realty companies, retailers, dairy farmers, tattoo studios, musicians…" — are already using the platform to tap into the power of television that was previously unavailable to advertisers without agencies or those lacking the ad budgets to warrant being called on by a cable or broadcast television salesperson.
"Let's face it, even the best commercial isn't going to make you drive across an entire market for a pizza. But if you're 10 minutes away, you might," Kline says. "We make it economic and easy for advertisers to reach consumers near them with the most powerful brand-building medium — and they can just put it on their credit card and buy as much or as little as they want."
Kline explains that these small businesses can upload images and have Spectrum Reach create a commercial, all right from the portal. "These are advertisers that could never be on TV before," he says, "and we know it's working because they're coming back to renew."
Levell Sipple is one of those renewing advertisers. He is the owner of WorldSmart LED in Kansas City, which sells lighting products to consumers and contractors. He says that in the seven months he has been using it, the Spectrum Reach Ad Portal has yielded dramatic growth for his business.
"I learned about the Ad Portal from a TV commercial," he says. "I was a little nervous about going through the system, but it was easy — painless. I selected my demographic, my area, and the distance from the store that I wanted to cover. It let me view the commercial, and then it did a confirmation for me and, whammo, I was done."
Sipple says he later spoke with a Spectrum Reach customer service rep who provided him with the times the commercial would air. "A few days later, I watched it at home with my family; my kids were like, 'Dad, you're on TV!' The best part was, about a week later, new people started coming into the store."
Sipple said that having his business appear on networks such as A&E, TLC, Weather, and others has been a game-changer. "We'd investigated TV before, but the quotes we got seemed crazy for a business our size," he says. "After we totaled everything up, it was going to be thousands and thousands of dollars. With the Ad Portal, we started with a budget of $350, and the very first customer we had from the portal came in and spent $280, so we knew it was a smart move right away."
When Sipple raised his weekly budget, which increased the number of commercials to run in prime time and boost the number of impressions, the campaign started working even better. He can handle most adjustments to his campaign on his own but appreciates that help is just a phone call away.
He has adjusted his commercial to emphasize reaching commercial or residential customers, changed the geography to focus on the area closer to his store, and renewed the campaign several times. Each change increases the number of people mentioning the commercial. More important to him and his partners, the company has acquired several new contractors as clients, directly attributable to the ads. He's also seen consistent "10 percent, 10 percent again, and 30 percent" increases in overall sales volume.
Nebraska Furniture Mart, Sipple says, is a huge furniture store with every type of lighting and furniture. "Their commercials run constantly and they're probably making millions and millions of dollars," he says. "But when we're on TV, we're as big as they are. And it's easy. I would tell any business looking to increase their [bottom line] and do it in an affordable way, that the Spectrum Reach Ad Portal will help them to reach the masses. It lets a small business become a big business."
Kline says that kind of reaction isn't unusual for small advertisers experiencing TV advertising for the first time. He likes knowing that his organization can help small businesses as much as it helps the largest advertisers that have agencies or work directly with Spectrum Reach sales executives. "We have perhaps 30,000 advertisers who work with us each year in a traditional way — bigger, more complex accounts that require a salesperson's expertise," he explains. "That's not changing."
Kline points out, however, that what the marketing his team is doing for the Ad Portal is also helping to attract larger advertisers that want to work with a representative.
The Ad Portal, Kline notes, allows Spectrum Reach to reachmany, many more of the advertisers in its footprint in a frictionless way. The ability to scale is the game-changer. "Our mission is to be the marketing platform of choice for our customers and to help them grow their businesses," he says. "Businesses of all sizes."
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