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How to Sell TV Book Ads by Getting Someone Else to Do It

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How to Sell TV Book Ads by Getting Someone Else to Do It

Article excerpt

TVData sends advertising consultant reinforcements into battle to sell out TV books

Like slumping hitters getting advice from a baseball team's batting instructor, some newspapers with subpar ad sales for their TV books are getting pointers from outside advertising consultants.

Most newspapers consider their popular TV sections loss leaders because sales reps focus on selling ads for their paper's other parts and special sections.

Those may be unnecessary losses.

TVData, a Glens Falls, N.Y.-based firm best known for its TV book listings and features, says its advertising consulting service has established a record of selling out a year's worth of ad space in TV books with more than 80% of its 130 clients.

When E&P challenged TVData to back up its claims with hard evidence, the privately held firm offered a peek at some of the numbers in its proprietary ledgers.

Art Bassin, 55, president and CEO of TVData, says his company has annual revenue of about $25 million with an annual operating cash flow of roughly $5 million.

The firm's consulting service for TV books, known as its TV Advertising Network, has revenue from commissions of more than $2 million a year and is growing "rapidly," says Kathleen Tolstrup, 44, senior vice president for newspaper sales.

The program is a "stunning" success, claims Bassin. "We have more demand than we can meet."

The program began three years ago with 24 newspaper clients, and officials expect it to reach 150 clients next year.

"The concept was to go into our newspaper customers and work as a partner with them in developing revenue sources to support their TV books," says Tolstrup, who notes that TV sections have steadily added pages as the number of TV channels has grown exponentially.

TVData's biggest competitor in the TV listings and features field is a part of Chicago-based Tribune Media Services (TMS), although TMS does not have a program to help newspapers sell local ads.

Stephen Tippie, TMS marketing director, says, "I think that anything we can do, or our competitors can do, to help newspapers sell ads is terrific, but we take the approach that newspapers know their local communities best, and therefore they are best equipped to sell advertising locally.

"Where we see adding the most value is in our power to aggregate national advertisers and sell ads that papers wouldn't normally be able to get," adds Tippie.

TMS' 10-year-old national ad sales campaign places thousands of advertisements, most of them program "tune-in" ads, each year in 150 newspapers and newspaper Web sites, including all of the nation's 50 biggest newspaper operations, according to Barbara Needleman, TMS' vice president/database and advertising products.

A year ago, TVData began to compete in the arena of national advertising sales with a program to sell national ads to go with the firm's listings for newspaper Web sites; it is currently rolling out a program to sell national ads for the print versions of 2,000 dailies and weeklies.

Some of the biggest newspapers may soon be getting ads through both TMS and TVData, predicts Bassin, whose program focuses primarily on papers with circulation under 100,000.

Bassin's 15 advertising consultants typically spend 10 to 20 days at a client newspaper, teaming up with the paper's sales reps on calls to local advertisers.

Most of the advertising consultants are in their mid-30s with 15 years or so of experience as sales reps, says Bassin, and most earn between $40,000 and $50,000. "They have very high credibility in the newspaper environments they go into," says Bassin. …

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