Look Into Court TV ...Deeper

Psychics will conduct readings at malls, car dealerships and other local retail outlets nationwide as part of a local-ad-sales promotion that Court TV is conducting to help cable operators sell their spots.

Court is providing local cable operators with spots promoting the psychic appearances and the network's show Psychic Detectives, as well as publicity for the events. The spots are taggable, meaning a cable operator can promote the event on other cable networks and add the cable system's logo to the spot.

Like other local cable promotions, this one generates awareness for Court TV's shows, the advertiser's venue and the local cable company, which often gets an image boost from coverage in local press. A similar promotion last year, which offered digital fingerprinting for kids, has helped cable operators generate more than $3 million in local-ad-sales revenue through more than 100 events at which more than 100,000 kids were fingerprinted. The Cableadvertising Bureau recognized the promotion as the best in the cable industry.

The ad community still doesn't spend much on local cable spot advertising, and the money that is spent usually goes to the highest-rated cable networks, not niche players. That's why Court TV tries harder; it has to convince ad buyers that specialized networks can work, too. That message to cable companies' local-ad sales reps is pushed by a Court TV campaign called “Selling Deeper and Broader.”

“Cable operators' local-ad sales reps tend to fall back on what's comfortable and sell based on legacy,” says Court TV's Ellen Schned, senior VP, national accounts and regional sales, who points out that some 80% of all local-ad-sales revenue is generated from just 10 networks.

“When you realize there's at least 40 to 50 insertable networks providing two to three minutes of local avails to the MSOs, clearly there's a lot of money being left on the table.”

The Deeper and Broader campaign seems to be paying dividends: Since Court began it a little more than a year ago, revenue in local markets has jumped 165%.