Ask the Experts Episode 2 Q&A: Connecting with Customers in New Ways

05.22.2020 Alyson Phillips4 min

Welcome to the second episode of Cox Media’s webinar series. Titled, “Ask the Experts,” our goal is to do just that – we ask marketing experts some of the questions we hear from local businesses every day. In our second episode, we talked to David Gustafson, Director of Consumer Insights and member of our corporate marketing team. We asked him, “Based on media consumption trends, how can businesses connect with customers in new ways during this time?”

David unpacked key data and trends surrounding the recent shifts in media consumption in line with shifts in consumer behavior. He also shared recommendations for local businesses looking to connect with their customers through media, based on these insights. If you’d like to watch the recording or listen in on that conversation, click here.

After the discussion, we had a lot of thoughtful questions for our guest speaker. We were unable to address all of them in the time that we had, so we followed up with David to get his perspective and advice.

Q: Has there been more of an uptick in network/Cable TV vs. over-the-top (OTT)?

David: From a percentage standpoint, we’re definitely seeing a higher growth rate for In our second episode.  In April, for example, average weekly streaming minutes more than doubled from April 2019, while total-day TV viewing was up just over 11% vs. last year, according to our analysis of national Nielsen data.  For perspective, though, TV’s growth is against a larger base.  The revised forecast from eMarketer shows that US adults average almost four hours per day of TV time, compared to about two hours a day with digital video.

Q: What percentage of TV and movie streamers are available through services that insert local ads like network apps, Roku, etc. as opposed to the Netflix/Prime/Ad-free Hulu mainly/only users?

David: As of March, Comscore estimated that the number of homes with subscription streaming services (aka, SVOD) and the number of homes with ad-supported streaming services (AVOD) were both up 11% compared to January 2020 estimates, with AVOD reaching about 5% more homes in total.  That meshes with eMarketer research showing that a slightly higher percentage of consumers prefer AVOD vs. potentially higher-priced SVOD services.

Q: You talked about sports viewing.  Do you have a sense of how well the NASCAR and golf events did this past weekend in terms of drawing viewers?

David: Although NASCAR fans weren’t able to attend Sunday’s Darlington race in-person, they definitely flocked to their TV sets.  Multiple reports put the average audience at more than 6.3 million viewers – an increase of 38% compared to the previous race telecast on March 8.  Meanwhile, Sunday’s live golf event drew more than 2.3 million viewers across NBC’s networks, including Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network.  The golf numbers potentially bode well for this Sunday’s The Match: Champions for Charity event, featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning (May 24 at 3pm ET on TNT, TBS, truTV, and HLN).

Q:  TV and video seem to have benefited from people being at home more.  Do we know what the impact has been like for radio and other media that tend to get more out-of-home exposure?

David: April was atypical in many ways, as nine out of 10 Americans adjusted to life under some sort of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order.  As a result, Americans’ average mobility in terms of miles traveled was cut almost in half in April, according to our analysis of data from Unacast’s Social Distancing Scoreboard.  Less time on the road means less time spent listening to the radio, especially during the key morning drive and afternoon drive time slots.  Similarly, when we’re not on the road, we’re not passing billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising.  For out-of-home media, dramatic audience declines in April likely will represent a floor, with a moderate rebound beginning as reopening continues.

Q: The current shutdown of Hollywood and production companies will undoubtedly have an impact in Q3/Q4 and beyond. How do you see TV networks responding to keep viewer attention?

David: Beyond the uncertainties surrounding live sports, how different networks address this question will be fascinating to watch in the months ahead.  Early reports are that some major networks, like ABC and CBS, are taking more of a wait-and-see approach, optimistic that production of scripted series will resume in time this summer for new episodes to be ready for the start of the fall TV season.  Other networks appear to be exploring what The Hollywood Reporter calls “gently used” programs – re-purposing shows that have previously aired on other platforms.  Still others will look for creative ways to leverage their lifestyle and reality programming. Click here for a look at what’s happening with Food Network.

Q: You referenced set top box data earlier in the presentation. When will this first party data be available for clients and agencies to use to optimize their ad campaigns with Cox?

David: Today, all Cox Media markets have access to our Audience Intelligence tool, a platform that combines Cox audience data with third-party consumer behavior data in an anonymized, aggregated, and privacy-compliant manner to help optimize TV planning across a host of audience segments – most notably in the automotive and political advertising sectors.  In addition, our TVE, digital, and mobile offerings leverage a variety of data partners to fuel targeted campaigns across a variety of audience segments.  Your local Cox Media team would be happy to provide more information on capabilities in your market.

Q: Is softer, more empathetic messaging still key in talking to our customers? Or do people want more/expect a return to normal offerings or business-as-usual?

David: Some level of empathy will continue to be important, as evidenced by a recent Mitto survey that found 3 out of 4 consumers agree that the advertising messages they’ve received over the past few weeks have “made them feel like brands care about their well being.”  To your point, though, more than 40% of Mitto’s respondents also indicated they’re ready now “to hear from brands about topics unrelated to COVID-19.”  Given that, you may want to consider shifting more toward a helpful tone that still acknowledges your customers’ potential hesitations.  Focus on the fact that you’re open, how you’ve changed to serve them, and – if possible – provide a deal or incentive as a call to action.  Find the right level of optimism in your messaging, without coming across as opportunistic.  We’ll also focus more on messaging during our next “Ask the Experts” webinar on June 3, so be sure to register for that one, as well.

Q: I am a small business owner. How would you spend a small budget of $2-3K per month?

David: Henry Ford is often credited with saying, “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”  So, first and foremost, congratulations on the decision to invest in your business!  Generally speaking, we suggest a mix of broad-reach media to establish and maintain brand identity, along with targeted solutions to give you a presence throughout the customer journey.  A solid, customized campaign should consider a number of specific variables, such as your location, type of business, existing presence in the market, and the complexity of your message, to name a few.  We’d love to connect you with one of our business development experts to learn more about your specific situation and help you come up with a plan that will make the most of your advertising investment.

As you can see, we had so many strong, thought-provoking questions during our second “Ask the Experts” webinar. If you’d like to brainstorm ideas for your business, our local marketing experts are here to help. For current Cox Media clients, simply reach out to your rep and they, along with the local marketing team, will be happy to sit down with you (virtually, of course) and brainstorm some ideas. If you’re not a Cox Media client, simply fill out the contact us form here on our website, or call 1-855-755-2691.

About the Author

Alyson Phillips

Alyson is the Director of Marketing at Cox Media’s corporate offices in Atlanta. With a background in journalism and over a decade of experience in brand marketing, she has a passion for connecting brands to their customers through powerful storytelling. In her role, she’s responsible for amplifying the Cox Media brand in the communities we serve nationwide – whether through advertising, thought leadership, or the customer experience. When she’s not working, she’s chasing around her twin toddlers and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

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