Opinion: Cable exec cites value in tight market

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The mandate for maximizing the value received from media choices is stronger than ever-heightened by marketers' growing demands for accountability. Media outlets that embrace this challenge will have a competitive edge in gaining market share and meeting profitability goals.

As media budgets tighten, the pressure to produce higher returns on investments is building throughout the advertising chain, from client to agency to media.

Rather than retreat in a soft economy, advertisers would do well to adopt a long-term strategy that focuses on smarter spending now. Cable TV is positioned to deliver exceptional value and enhanced consumer targeting through a variety of strengths, including:

* Growing appeal: Ad-supported cable's prime-time audience has continued to grow throughout the current TV season.

Cable's expanding acceptance among consumers includes key demographic groups such as teens and kids, who spend more time watching the medium than they do broadcast TV. In addition, cable programming now reaches more than 82% of all of the nation's TV homes.

Marketers have come to realize that when cable is a key component within a media plan, advertisers usually get more than they pay for, since cable's audience will likely increase throughout the life of the plan.

* Growing effectiveness: Consumers think highly of cable programming. In a recent Equitrend study that measured consumer perceptions of quality among all media (TV, radio, magazines and newspapers), cable took 15 of the top 25 positions in the ranking. Broadcast TV took two.

Cable proved to be at least equal to broadcast TV in terms of commercial performance, according to a study conducted last year by Nielsen Media Research for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. It revealed there is virtually no difference between broadcast and cable network TV with regard to commercial exposure and unaided commercial recall.

* Minimal waste: Cable TV eliminates demographic, geographic and psychographic waste better than any other TV form. It gives viewers more choices, thereby providing advertisers with discrete targeting choices that complement the demographics and lifestyles of their best customers. The continuity of cable's programming between the national cable networks and local systems provides the added capability of using the same environment for marketing messages.

* Unduplicated reach: The audiences viewing cable's targeted programming provide a high level of unduplicated reach. Combining cable and broadcast in a 50/50 mix provides a way to maximize reach and avoid duplication.

* Leadership: For those advertisers attracted to new-media options, cable again provides an excellent value. Cable's branded Web sites dominate all media Web sites, garnering more than 60% of the total audience they attract. In addition, cable leads media such as broadcast TV in the deployment of more advanced consumer messaging technology.

Cable is a valuable tool for advertisers and ad agencies that must ensure a healthy return on media outlays during the challenging economic circumstances. To be certain, cable delivers exceptional value at all times. But it can be especially beneficial during volatile times like these. M

Mr. Ostrow is president-CEO of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.

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