Caution to Local Charlotte TV Advertisers: Changes Are on the Horizon

Charlotte, North Carolina: the “New” City; the “Next Atlanta”; the Queen City, and the “never to be compared to Raleigh because we’re better!” city. Charlotte is a city that has nearly doubled in size in the past ten years. It has a blend of newcomers from Ohio, New York, Florida, South Carolina and a new cultural blend now made up of northerners, southerners and one of the fastest growing Latino populations.

What does this mean to the businesses of Charlotte and the local advertising world? Advertisers need to understand the changing make-up of the consumers they are speaking to. Who are the newcomers and where do they live? They also need to understand not only the changing landscape of the city but how to reach consumers in the new landscape of the media and digital world that surrounds them.

The growth of the city has changed the broadcast media world of Charlotte in two major ways. The first change is the ranking of the Charlotte DMA market by Nielsen. In 2007, Charlotte’s population rise caused Nielsen to announce Charlotte as one of the top 25 DMAs in the country, surpassing Indianapolis and San Diego. Big deal, right? More people means more traffic!

To local advertisers it should be a big deal. To them it means that now national advertisers are recognizing Charlotte as a major city. More national businesses want to sell their products to this market and as they spend their advertising dollars here it will put pressure on television inventory and drive up broadcast rates. This dynamic must be understood by businesses and their advertising agencies as it will make it tougher for local businesses to compete.

The second major change that will affect the advertising world of Charlotte is Nielsen’s measurement system. In October 2009, Charlotte’s Nielsen TV rating system will change from the traditional diary system to Local People Meters (LPM). This will increase the sample size of “Nielsen families” and should improve accuracy of the TV ratings. It will also track more active viewing by forcing Nielsen families to log into the TV when they are viewing instead of relying on recall and filling out a paper diary. Now it will all be automated!

Again, how will this affect local Charlotte advertisers? We will see a shift in the ratings of many programs. Typically when a market changes from the diary tracking systems to LPMs, rating points go down an average of 30%. On paper it will look like you are getting a lot less for your money, but in fact it does not mean that you will be reaching fewer people. Instead, the “currency” or the measurement system is changing. It’s as if we were going from the use of dollars to pounds in the United States.

Is your head spinning yet with all this change? Charlotte TV advertisers will need to make sure they are on their toes during these transitions. Advertisers must watch the rating trends to ensure cost-per-points stay consistent and perhaps evaluate TV buys on a cost per spot basis until the ratings points level off to a new average. Charlotte TV advertisers be forewarned and be cautious with your advertising dollars. Make sure you have an advertising agency, like Media Works, that understands these changes and is looking out for your best interest. Holding the broadcast media accountable for every advertising dollar you spend is vitally important in today’s tough economy and is what we’ve prided our business on for years.

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