Perimeter ads solution to zapping

The CIA MediaVision study of viewing patterns during major televised sports events (MW February 5) should be warmly welcomed for reopening an issue which is fundamental for marketers looking to use sport as a platform: how to counteract the massive drops in TV audiences during the breaks in match telecasts.

However, your article signally failed to highlight the one medium which provides a guaranteed solution. The prevalence of zapping is not, of course, a revelation. Many will recall the NPA campaign of the early Nineties which detailed the fact that a majority of audiences were zapping breaks. Lowe’s “Ad Avoiders” research took this a stage further: pockets of viewers in all demographics are expert zappers, in particular upmarket men.

As major sport has developed commerciallly, driven by TV, it has become acknowledged as one of the most powerful communications platforms available. And lured by the drawing power of the biggest events, such as Euro 96, the World Cup and Five Nations Rugby, marketers are clamouring to get involved – and, if they are smart, to use all aspects of the marketing mix to get noticed.

The problem is, how do you get noticed by 100 per cent of the live audience, while they are watching the event?

One thing is for sure – if your mix for sport on TV only includes broadcast sponsorship and/or break slots, up to 50 per cent of the audience will zap you. Unless you are planning well in advance, forget event/team sponsorship, which will have been pre-sold. And what if the event is on BBC, the commercial-free channel?

The solution is perimeter advertising. Perimeters deliver an unzappable presence during the event itself. Your message will be seen by 100 per cent of the live TV audience, guaranteed, whatever the channel, including the BBC, and seen in global simulcasts to over 100 countries for the biggest events (try doing all that with a break slot).

Of course, perimeters are lower voice than a broadcast message, but however good any broadcast execution is, zapping reduces its value to nil for up to half the audience.

Perimeters, on the other hand, will deliver 100 per cent of the live audience, on any channel, and can be evaluated using well-developed research which is in broadcast currency.

Perimeter voice can also be maximised by careful site selection, good creative geared to TV (not outdoor – perimeter is a broadcast medium) and by packaging in spectaculars such as virtual ads, rotating ads, 3D mats and giant replay screens, all of which add to mindshare and standout. After all, getting noticed is what it’s all about.

Tim Crow

Marketing director

Sports & Outdoor Media

London SW7

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