TV Adjacency Issues Can Be Big Issue for Regional Companies

Mid-market companies need to monitor their adjacencies to protect the integrity of their campaign and budget.

Purchasing a TV flight for a regional or mid-market company can be fairly straight forward or quite complex depending on several issues that I’ll cover in another article at another time.

Today we’re going to focus on the injustice of adjacencies. Typically, an agency will look at the highest rated shows for their client’s audience, second tier programming and fringe areas. Normally unless budget isn’t an issue the final buy is a mix of them all weighted appropriately based on several factors. Each slot needs to satisfy several points to make the final buy roster and a good agency will know those points.

Typically, the spots should run during the actual show time, but in many cases, they fall into an adjacency slot, which can be quite different even though it’s only a matter of a few minutes. While the media outlets look at this as standard practice and benefits them nearly 100% of the time, it truly isn’t fair to the advertiser.

An adjacency ad placement is when an ad runs a few minutes prior to or after the scheduled show time. Here’s an example: A spot is set to run in an NFL game between 1pm. and 4:15pm. Instead the network runs the spot at 12:57pm.

While you may think these few minutes don’t make much difference, it will not only negatively affect the total audience’s impression levels but can greatly reduce the cost effectiveness of the spot and buy.

Let’s dive a little deeper. In most markets on several networks on Sundays from 12pm – 1pm EDT there is an NFL pregame show. A typical rating (m 21 – 49) may float between a 1.0 – 3.5. In larger markets the cost can be typically $ 1,000 – $2,500. However, immediately following the pregame show the game begins and runs from 1pm – 4:15pm. Depending on the team and the market, ratings can be 8.0 – 25.0 with costs from $5K – $25K. Quite a difference, right?

The size of the audience and the cost differentials are obvious, so I’ll just leave them at that. But according to the networks this adjacency is acceptable and it’s an industry standard. That might not be horrible if the station charged you the pre-game’s rate, but instead they charge you the “In Game” rate you initially ordered. The client obviously wanted the game with its hefty ratings if they were willing to pay the cost.

The problem for regional and mid-market size companies is normally their buys are placed their locally and not nationally. So, since national advertisers take precedence and the national networks don’t share the full profits of the national spots with the local affiliates, the local affiliates get the remnant and adjacency slots and need to turn them into big money to build their profits locally.

Depending on the show it’s not unusual that a local affiliate will not even receive an internal slot because the network has sold them all. Now imagine what damage this can do to a flight if it happens several times every week. And, the most interesting part of this is after being in media for the past 25 years of I have never seen an adjacency work in the favor of the client. It has always benefitted the station.

So, an agency needs to be diligent for their clients and preferably add a clause to the contracts that either excludes or regulates the number of adjacencies. Because this may tank a client’s buy or at least send their cost per point skyrocketing.

Author: Frank Gussoni

President & Founder of A3 media. We're Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.