What Every CEO and CMO Must Know: Opportunity Markets - Bill Harvey

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A brand always has certain segments where its uptake is fastest. They may or may not be the core market for the brand — a brand may have several different opportunity markets of which one is the ROI-driving core target. To go after that core while at the same time also extracting as much as possible from the other brand-responsive targets requires budget allocation, people resource and attention to creative and media suitable for each target. In some cases the creative can stay the same, but the media needs to be different to go after one of the other opportunity markets other than the core.


Setting some default rule such as “10% allocation for opportunity markets” is not a bad idea as a starter. At least it gets one to think about and investigate the data related to opportunity markets.


The same techniques that apply to the opportunity markets for a large brand also apply to tactics useful for a small brand with a miniscule advertising budget. In both cases one has to do a lot with a small budget. And in both cases the key tactic is to go hyperlocal and advertise in geographies where the indicators are way above average — Category Development Index (CDI), Brand Development Index (BDI) and especially the best indicator of where incremental dollars are justified, Brand Fast Growth (momentum).


Every brand has opportunity markets in this sense. Those are the geographic markets where these indicators are high. Today, due to the existence of about 2800 cable zones in the U.S., both TV and digital can be aimed precisely into select cable zones where CDI/BDI/BFG (momentum) indicate brand opportunity. Every brand can and should do this as a Hyperlocal Opportunity Heavy-up (HOH). Small brands with almost no ad budget should cover the U.S. with a thin layer probably of digital and focus a TV/digital mix at these opportunity markets. The bootstrap strategy would be to drive sales up to the point where the tactics proven in the opportunity markets can be rolled out everywhere, maintaining higher weight in the opportunity markets.

This use of spot media thinking has actually declined over recent years for the wrong reasons. Advertisers using procurement ideology to incentivize media agencies have driven most agencies to want to go as network as possible in order to be able to carry out assignments profitably with the compensation pushed down to the floor. Until the new tools led by TRA are fully used to provide ROI-based bonuses to agencies the situation is not expected to change for the better.


I’ve recently decided to adapt my consulting practice (Bill Harvey Consulting) to also serve as a specialist working to supplement the agency in executing hyperlocal TV/digital buys with research/measurement. To carry out this service I’ve been joined by Dennis Lentz, recently a leader in TV research and hyperlocal crossmedia activation at AOL. Dennis is now a Senior Partner at BHC; please welcome him. Our vision is to provide a turnkey solution to make opportunity marketing easy.


Charter Communications, as reported earlier , has also taken steps to support opportunity marketing. Advertisers can match databases with Charter’s subscriber base for media selection using Charter’s set-top box data, and can read the sales results through their own purchase records at anonymized matched household level.


Comcast Spotlight and National Cable Communications (NCC) also have their own programs to support opportunity marketing. Our work with them in the past has indicated that TV/digital heavy-up in high CDI markets can provably lift sales and ROI. TV and digital work well together as shown by largest sales lifts among those reached by the brand in both media. Looking at those reached by the brand in only one of these media, TV tends to bring in people who have not bought the brand recently whereas digital appears to increase repeat buying.

One vertical where cable zone opportunistic marketing has also proven itself is tune-in advertising for network shows. When buying tune-in spots on a network one does not own, the general rule is you’re not allowed to specify the day and time of the promoted show. This is not a restriction when buying MSO inventory in a cable zone.

Opportunistic cable zones also exist for program genres, which can be identified, and heavy-up tune-in spots run in these areas have been proven to lift ratings. Not only can the zones be chosen empirically but, using set-top box data, so can the programs in which to run the tune-in ads.

Action Takeaways:

  1. Every brand has opportunity markets, besides the core, that deserve small budgets used geographically.
  2. Small brands can bootstrap by focusing most of their small ad budgets hyperlocally at first.
  3. Networks should test tune-in advertising heavy-ups with TV/digital in high opportunity cable zones using MSO inventory that allows “day, date and time” in the creative.
  4. TV and digital work well together, use them that way.
  5. If you have your own purchase data by household, why not leverage it opportunistically in the Charter 5MM homes footprint by first selecting high opportunity zones, then doing match for picking shows, and reading sales lifts at household level.

Hyperlocal TV/digital can be a high-return tactic for all or many of your brands.

Bill Harvey is a well-known media researcher and inventor who co-founded TRA, Inc. and is its Strategic Advisor.Bill HarveyHis nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute runs his weekly blog on consciousness optimization. Bill can be contacted at bill@billharveyconsulting.com

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