By K.C. Neel There are few local network campaigns that can work for cable operators’ ad sales, marketing and community affairs departments, but Court TV’s digital fingerprinting campaign is one of them. Now in its second year, the campaign so far has raised about $2 million in local ad sales for cable operators, according to Tom Wolfe, Court TV’s VP, affiliate relations. And it’s won awards from CTPAA, CAB and CTAM. Although the fingerprinting campaign benefits three departments, its driving force is local ad sales, says Alex Hills, Court TV’s senior manager of affiliate sales/marketing. Court TV’s campaign, which has fingerprinted more than 75,000 kids at various events and venues, is so popular with local advertisers that Court TV had to buy another fingerprinting machine, Hills says. More than 80 fingerprinting events are scheduled so far this year. Among the bright spots in the digital fingerprinting campaign:

  • Comcast sold the event to a Cherry Hill, N.J., Volvo dealer last fall. Dealer Larry Stevens says it was the best day he’s had in seven months in terms of sales and traffic.
  • Bright House Networks in Bakersfield, Calif., sold the promotion to a local Honda dealer, and brought in more than 300 kids in three hours. The MSO ran 600 cross-channel spots to drive traffic to the dealership. Gordon Galindo, Bright House’s local sales manager, says the MSO scored major points with the local dealer. "It’s promotions like Court TV’s digital fingerprinting that helps separate us from all the other media," he says.
  • Bright House’s Tampa division has used the fingerprinting campaign several times, says Frani Pisana, promotions manager. She scheduled four events in the span of a week last year and is doing the same thing this July. She schedules events in different parts of town with different businesses so each client can have a feeling of ownership with the campaign. "It’s an incredibly easy campaign to sell to advertisers," Pisana says. "It’s easy to set up, it’s turnkey and the community loves it. The clients love it because it gives them something to connect them to the community and do something proactive."
  • The fingerprinting campaign was conceived in August 2002 after Cox asked Court TV to participate in a local kids festival in Baton Rouge, La., Hills says. "Cox wanted us to do something big for this event," he says. "We brought in the fingerprinting machine, and I was amazed at how successful it was. There were lines for seven hours both days of the event. It was so hugely successful we decided to craft it as a local promotion other local operators could use to entice their clients." The campaign has been particularly appealing to local car dealerships, Hills says. That’s led Court TV to launch the summer fingerprinting tour with the theme "Driving Safety Home," which will include specific fingerprinting events for car dealers, gifts for kids, taggable safety tips and taggable cross-channel spots for the promotion. Court TV doubled the number of affiliate staffers to help local operators with ad sales, Wolfe says. The network relaunched its affiliate website, which includes a client incentive program, regularly updated programming and ratings information, research, ad slicks, cross-channel spots and the ability to sign up for promotions on the spot, he says. Court TV invested a lot of time and effort into developing its local ad sales promotions because it helps secure better channel positioning and analog distribution, Wolfe says. Court TV launched a major channel repositioning initiative earlier this year and determined that the network should be grouped with similar general entertainment networks such as TNT, A&E and TBS. These local campaigns reinforce that notion, he says. The campaigns also require operators to run at least 400 cross-channel spots promoting Court TV programming. To date, the network has secured more than $2.5 million worth of advertising for its programming lineup, and it’s driving local ratings, Wolfe says.

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