The Buy-it-Yourself Model Makes Landfall in Local TV
September 17, 2019 | Contributed by: Neal Polachek
Those of you who know me have probably heard my pitch for the buy-it-yourself ad platform for local and small businesses. Perhaps you’ve heard it more than once.
I can’t recall the exact date when I first made the case for a BIY platform. I think it was about four years ago, when I was trying to persuade Camilyo’s Samuel Sattath and Gil Ilani to create a BIY platform for one of their large U.S. partners.
I based this recommendation on my experience at BuzzBoard, where I had observed how the rapid development of data and tools had begun chipping away at many of the value-added services that local sales reps usually provides. These included background analysis, asking questions about audience, assessing digital readiness, and so on.
To me, the logical next step of this gradual automation of the sales process was to take the sales rep completely out of the equation and let local businesses make their own local advertising choices, guided by an intelligent platform.
Yet, perhaps not surprisingly, I found myself talking to walls. Lots of walls.
Every once in awhile someone would nod their head and suggest I wasn’t completely off my rocker. At industry event after industry event, I would posit the notion of a BIY platform for SMBs to purchase local media. Over and over I would have to explain that I was talking about the buying process, not the fulfillment process.
Turns out I wasn’t dreaming. However, I was surprised that it was Comcast launching the self-buying platform. Not surprised because they do seem like a pretty innovative company, but because I would have expected a more digital-centric company to take the lead.
Comcast has positioned the new tool as a self-service ad-buying solution for small and midsize business owners to “plan, design and manage advertising campaigns with a few clicks of a mouse.”
Comcast aims to offer an easy to use, easy to buy option for small businesses to leverage the benefits of TV advertising, something that has historically been out of reach to many SMBs either because they couldn’t afford it or no one wanted to sell it to them.
Undoubtedly Comcast, like other local media entities, had run the numbers on fielding a local sales team — be it in the field or via the phone — to reach the small and midsized advertiser and couldn’t make the math work.
Enter the BIY platform. According to the article, Comcast’s buying platform is:
- Aimed at small and midsize businesses, offering ads for as low as $250
- Allows businesses to choose between running their own ad or having Comcast produce a spot for them
- Able to provide regular updates on how the advertisement is performing.
Despite being on their devices habitually, Americans still spend nearly five hours a day watching television. Comcast sees the new service as a great option for SMBs in the company’s 63 local markets to finally access the eyeballs of all those adults settling into their couches every night.
To its credit, Comcast Spotlight has also built performance metrics into the platform.
Maria Weaver, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Comcast Advertising said this about the new platform, “From education to execution, the online portal guides clients through the full process of planning, buying and airing their TV campaigns. This experience enables businesses to use data-informed TV schedules to reach their target customers and achieve the results that only TV can deliver.”
I plan to follow up with Comcast Spotlight and learn more about the company’s objectives, expectations, and ultimately the results of this initiative. Now, if I can just keep my eyes open while I am watching TV at night, I might even see a local ad or two.
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