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Making the Most of Unsold Ad Inventory

Steve Schachter of Cannella Media
Steve Schachter of Cannella Media (Image credit: Cannella Media)

Too often, media properties’ inventory goes unsold or impressions unfilled and they end up filling their logs with promos, slates and PSAs or run bonus weight for clients (i.e., free spots). While this may help them with client relations or channel promotion, what it doesn’t do is generate revenue. Lost ad inventory is gone forever. 

As viewers are more fragmented than ever, there’s even more unsold or underutilized ad inventory. Media properties with multiple channels, digital channels or streaming services provide more opportunities for revenue generation, but often have huge chunks of unsold time going unused.

With OTT platforms and streaming services, viewers often wind up seeing the same spot over and over again, as frequency capping can be hard to manage across multiple DSPs. Not only does excessive repetition inhibit viewing, but it can also cause viewers to form a negative impression of the advertiser. Sometimes the ad slot isn’t even filled at all and viewers are presented with a 30-second “we’ll be right back” billboard. This creates a less-than-optimal viewing experience, driving away viewers and devaluing the platform.

When media properties have the ability and flexibility to fill their underutilized inventory with ad variety, it breaks up the monotony and keeps viewers engaged while generating additional revenue.

Filled Inventory Leads to Revenue Opportunities

When ad buyers see repetition, pods filled with promos, or PSAs in high-profile time slots, it screams there’s open inventory. Buyers often use this knowledge to drive down rates on advertising buys or request media property run extra spots at no charge.

Media properties have also learned the hard way that when they give too much bonus weight to advertisers as value add, it ceases to be effective. Free spots can become guaranteed spots in future negotiations, which lowers the average spot rate.

Filling remnant ad inventory with different creative doesn’t just generate revenue, it also sends subtle messages to advertisers. When they see that ad pods are full of variety — and often filled with high-quality spots — it improves the perceived value of the media. 

Partnering and Executing

To monetize remnant or unsold inventory effectively, media properties need to have partners who can help by streamlining the process and maximizing inventory value. The ideal media partner has national reach, deep connections to advertisers, and an optimized system for delivery.

Media properties need a partner that provides a unique solution for stations using short-form CPA (Cost Per Action) advertising. Media properties run the ads during unsold inventory and fill logs at their discretion. They get paid when viewers take action. Each ad has a unique call-to-action specifically attributed to the media property airing the spot – such as a unique promo code redemption and/or URL visit, or by calling a toll-free number, ensuring media properties have accurate attribution for revenue with no additional work on their part. Spots are 15, 30 and 60 seconds long and can be delivered in any format needed.

Some of the best CPA offers are lead-generating, spanning a variety of categories:

• Business/finance

• Education

• Healthcare

• Insurance

• Mass torts

• Products

These advertisers don’t traditionally buy local stations, station groups, fragmented streaming properties or local networks, so media properties can access revenue by attracting dollars they otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to obtain and won’t siphon dollars away from the marketplace.

Media Properties Maintain Flexibility

One of the advantages of using CPA ads is that stations and media properties maintain total control and flexibility. In addition, they benefit in numerous other ways:

• Optimize the revenue they generate from CPA ads by seeing which spots generate the most revenue and running those as frequently as they want.

• Traffic managers and sales managers don't have to submit pre-logs, post-logs, or performance affidavits. 

• The business office doesn’t have to generate invoices and statements or worry about collections.

• When viewers call a phone number on a CPA ad, go to a custom URL or use a promo code, this action is automatically recorded and posted to the media properties account.

Maximize Revenue, Keep Viewers Engaged

The right partner and the right solution can lead to maximized revenue for the station and increased satisfaction for the viewer.

Everybody wins.

Steve Schachter is senior VP of Business Development & Distribution for Cannella Media DTC.