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Griffin: Insertable Nets Key to Sales

Cable operators, looking to boost their share of local ad sales, continue to add more insertable networks. The channels' capacity to reach specific viewer groups is an advantage MSOs must emphasize more in their efforts to sell local-market clients, one vendor said last week.

"The proliferation of insertable networks gives cable an edge versus local broadcasters in being able to better pinpoint audiences," said Bennett Griffin, founder and president of Griffin Media Research. "Cable's ability to deliver very focused, passionate viewers to specific geographic locations is an advantage the industry needs to leverage more."

Providing cable systems with customized, qualitative data that supports those claims has helped Griffin Media secure more than 100 cable system clients, ranging from small markets to those serving the New York DMA. Upcoming additions include: Comcast Cable systems in Savannah and Augusta, Ga. and Sunflower Broadband in Lawrence, Kan.

Griffin said the Wichita, Kan,-based company's ability to narrow market information down for cable systems gives it a leg up against other research outlets that rely on data encompassing larger samples.

"Account execs at systems don't have to extrapolate data down from wider DMA or national footprints," he said, noting that data collection processes are driven by proportional population bases.

In other words, if men 18 to 34, make up 6% of the total population of the survey area, that group represents 6% of completed phone interviews. The company claims it typically "turns around research within 90 days or less," and can filter out satellite viewing in assessing ratings results and advertising opportunities.

Griffin said the Griffin Cable Report, which provides market area media usage info across cable, broadcast, radio and newspaper, as well as demographics, lifestyle, retail, buying habits (40 questions) and category data, holds several advantages for MSOs. First, Griffin said the data combinations enable systems sales staffers "to prospect, to show clients why they should potentially buy cable." For existing accounts, sales staffers armed with "recent viewing data" can help clients "see if they should still be on a group of networks, or determine the value of advertising on other channels."

"I think [Griffin's research tools] with the buying, demographic and psychographic information, as well as the network [ratings] cume reach data, are most useful in convincing clients that cable should become a part or a bigger part of their local media mix," said Dan Beblo, general manager of Comcast Ad Sales in Boardman, Ohio.

Beblo said that Griffin was instrumental in ramping up business with a local furniture chain in the five-county Youngstown, Ohio DMA.

Wielding research that covered buying habits and suggested a mix of cable networks that could effectively reach prospective purchasers, Comcast persuaded the chain to run ads in support of two stores, while a third did not benefit from a local cable buy.

"There was a major jump in sales at those two outlets," said Beblo, adding that the client is now spending "a more appropriate share of dollars" with Comcast in the market. "It was important for us to be able to show the number of women in the area who had spent money on furniture over the past year, or were planning significant purchases."

Looking ahead, Beblo said he expects Comcast to put Griffin research and software to use with clients in the financial, banking and health care categories.