Networks target ads to divert PR spending

The broadcast networks are set to throw their weight behind a New Year campaign on the benefits of advertising - a bid to stop the flow of revenue away from ads and into PR.

The broadcast networks are set to throw their weight behind a New Year campaign on the benefits of advertising - a bid to stop the flow of revenue away from ads and into PR.

The campaign will be based on the findings of a jointly funded network study, titled 'How Advertising Works 2'.

The media survey, looks at 'brands with different characteristics, in varying competitive environments, at higher and lower price levels, with and without trade promotion.'

The first in this series of network research, carried out by Carat division IRI, is described by David Poltrack, CBS executive vice president planning and research, as a 'major stimulus to the reversal of the migration of funds from advertising to promotion.'

The release of new data in 1999 could present the PR community with a headache. In the face of such research, promotions department are likely to have to argue the benefits of PR over advertising effectiveness.

The survey is due to be published before next April.

The details of the second survey were revealed by Poltrack at last week's Paine Webber Media Conference.

He said he expects advertising revenue to rise next year, despite predictions of an economic slowdown and the poor performance of the networks in 1998, and claimed that revenue will rise 3.5% in 1999.

The CBS senior executive attributes the growth to pre-millennium spending which will boost the network's coffers. He said a range of factors would boost spending in 1999.

Baby boomers will be reaching fifty and will have a lot of money to spend, and the millennium will prompt consumers to focus on the future and may increase spending on electronic products. Poltrack predicts the second and third quarters will record a gain of 4% while the fourth quarter will see advertisers spending up to 12.5% more than in the final quarter of this year.

This augurs well for other networks which, with the exception of WB, have all seen year-on-year declines in viewership.

CBS also revealed the results of a Nielsen-commissioned survey of the cable audience. It found that heavy cable viewers are less affluent and less educated than the general population of the US.

Summing up, Poltrack, claimed: 'The future of the network companies looks very bright. You must evaluate a television network in the context of the total television network system, the network itself, the owned television stations, the program production operation, the syndication arm and the new Internet services.'.

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