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Agrimarketing : January February 2015
the ten million subscriber level, and that has more than tripled today. Consumer brands like the ones I was working on at the time were starting to recognize the viability of the rural markets and had a broader way to reach them. “Then, add in the wave of success that cable networks such as CNN, ESPN, TNT, Food Network, began to experience. Ag programming, specifically a dedicated network catering to the ag and rural space, became important,” Nelson explains. “Networks like CMT and Outdoor Channel began tapping into the market. However, they still needed to be broad enough to reach a diverse audience. “Of course, access was a big factor,”Nelson says. “However, the next biggest factor in my opinion, was the economy as a whole. As many sectors were struggling during the recession, agriculture was still not only viable, but thriving. “This enabled new players to enter the category and invest in ag as not only an interest, but to tap into the marketing and dollars that were not being tapped into previously.” “It’s that great line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams:’ ‘If you build it, they will come,’” notes Haller, “but there also has to be a combination of multiple factors. “The first obvious one is the rise of RFD-TV, now with 24 ag shows, some of which have multiple airings that deliver double digit or more cumulative farmer ratings. And if you look at the top-rated ag shows on RFD, all of them also have a syndication element and are available in key spot markets on local affiliates.” Haller continues, “So the persistence of creating quality daily ag programs, offering major shows on the weekend, and the choice of viewing on RFD and/or a local affiliate, seem to be working.” “The availability of satellite TV to rural areas certainly has been one of the greatest reasons for growth in ag-oriented programming,” adds Reese. “Even before the addition of ag TV, rural customers were purchasing satellite TV, so they could watch programming the rest of the country was receiving via cable TV, especially ESPN. “The creation of RFD-TV has enabled the growth in ag-oriented TV. A satellite/cable channel dedicated to the rural lifestyle has greatly increased the ability of programs that are very niche oriented in the grand scheme of things to target their audience,” says Reese. “I don’t believe these types of programs would have been ‘viewable,’ otherwise. By this, I mean programs such as ‘This Week in Agribusiness’ or ‘Cattlemen to Cattlemen’would not have appeared on any of the four major networks in timeslots that would appeal to the agricultural community,” Reese says. TARGETING WITH TV She continues, “When you purchase ag-oriented TV programs, you are more assured that you’ll be hitting your target audience than with traditional cable channels or the four major networks, which will then give you a better price per consumer reached or a better ROI.” “For the majority of our accounts, TV is still a ‘nice to have,’ but not as essential as print, digital or radio,” Reese continues. “However, with some of the programming that is now available, it’s possible to have a presence during this program without the expense of creating a TV spot.” “TV also offers the advertiser the benefit of sight and sound. It’s one of the best mediums for building immediate awareness, if purchased correctly.” “We also utilize spot buys because we need to match product messaging to geography as well as a grower audience,” notes Burke. “TV is still an important part of the traditional media mix when the goal is to drive awareness. It’s especially useful for new brands or brand repositioning. To be considered, TV has to be able to deliver the message and the audience at a reasonable cost.” THE FUTURE FOR AG TV The future for ag TV depends on its ability to adapt to market and advertiser needs, according to Reese. “In the very near future, the ability to pinpoint target your audience will become more and more important and will affect the efficiency of every medium. In fact we are currently exploring psychographic targeting with several vendors.” Reese adds, “It’s about addressable TV matched with programmatic TV. In other words, local buys offered on satellite TV buys. If the satellite channel can get to that, the budgets will probably increase. “However, if everything remains status quo,” Reese says, ”TV spending will be reduced and will be replaced by digital. When purchasing digital you can target down to a zip code level and the ability to pinpoint target your customer is becoming more and more important.” “For the near future, ag TV seems very healthy and in some respects the healthiest of the ag broadcast options available today,” adds Haller. “The current lineup of ag TV is very balanced and fits a specific need that a critical mass of growers are embracing and watching. The primary factor pivotal to ag TV’s future positioning is its ability at being a local medium vs. only a national umbrella buy.” DELIVERY “TV will continue to be judged on message and audience delivery — just like print, radio and online,” states Burke. “It will always be a mix of mediums because the audience ‘consumes’ media at different times and for different purposes.” Burke continues, “The biggest factor that will affect TV is grower consolidation. If the reach numbers get small, TV will be priced out of the mix.” “A challenge for ag programming and channels will be to ensure they can be delivered easily through a multitude of channels and devises,” says Nelson. “Rural Media Group’s entry into the satellite radio field is that type of step by extending content beyond a single devise.” Nelson concludes, “The biggest challenge to traditional TV will be the players. While there have traditionally been TV programmers, print publishers, and radio broadcasters, the lines are getting very blurry. “For a media planner, it’s never been more apparent that art and science have converged.” AM January/February 2015 s Agri Marketing 21
Marketing Services Guide 2015