Benny Griffin has been at this for a long time. As a Wichita-based researcher, his boutique research facility has been helping ad sales people analyze local markets since the mid-1980s. In fact, ad sales research seeped into his blood. Literally. He now has two sons in the business. One of them, Bennett, recently developed a killer software program that allows clients to not just view, but interact with, market data. It allows them to randomly select different criteria to determine, for example, the number of red Ford pickup truck owners in a given cable system. But more than that, it tells them which of these truck owners soon will be in the market for a new truck. Benny saw what his son developed, saw the increasingly complex and competitive cable landscape and thought there must be a way to influence more areas of the cable business than just ad sales. He asked Bennett to add a layer to the program that would measure attitudes and usage of telecommunications products and other things cable marketers might want to know. Now, with a couple of mouse clicks an end user will be able to determine how many men 18-34 in a given geographic area have just purchased an HDTV, and how many of that group earns more than $50K, owns a home and subscribes to DBS. Or how many do all those things and drive a red Ford pickup truck. The ways to slice and dice the data seem as endless as the imagination of the user. But now the question comes, are cable’s marketers ready for such a product? Griffin admits he has some concerns that despite radical changes in the marketplace and the heightened competition, some MSOs might be slow to embrace the need for greater sophistication. As he said, "Some seem to understand it, some don’t." It’s interesting that Benny has gained such acceptance from the ad sales community, yet finds he has to pitch marketers from the same company. After all, it’s ultimately the same person who signs both sets of paychecks, right? But that is one of the great conundrums of cable – the staggering infrequency with which marketing and ad sales actually talk and share intelligence. And even though CTAM recently has been trying to bring the groups together, it’s as though they are two trains headed to the same destination on parallel tracks. Benny feels cable has two compelling points of differentiation when compared to DBS: VOD and locally originated (LO) programming. He and I discussed Sunflower and TWC Milwaukee, two systems that are combining VOD and LO. He believes each is not only a pioneer, but will be emulated as the DBS war escalates. His major concern, however, goes back to ad sales. He feels that as operators seek a greater slice of the $28 billion national spot pie, they’ll continue to act more like broadcasters, and behave less like local entities. He claims that using ratings to chase spot dollars tends to "commoditize" cable, and minimizes its competitive advantages vs DBS. Griffin hopes that even as operators chase after those national spot dollars, they’ll continue to stress the localism that has made their medium unique. "Cable is truly a neighborhood medium," says Benny, "and when everything starts to become a commodity, how you win is to find those areas of differentiation and focus on them." My guess is an encyclopedic knowledge of the local marketplace is a good place to start, even if you’re not selling red Ford pickup trucks. M.C. Antil can be reached at [email protected].

The Daily


NAB Threatens to Sue FCC

NAB gave the FCC a deadline to respond to its request to pause its 2022 review of broadcast media ownership rules and expeditiously release its 2018 quadrennial regulatory review.

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up


Mar 31
The FAXIES Awards 2023 Final Deadline: Friday, March 31
Apr 28
Top Ops & Regional RainmakersNominations Due: April 28
May 19
The Diversity List – 2023First Deadline: May 12; Final Deadline: May 19
Aug 18
Most Powerful Women – 2023Deadline: Aug. 11; Final Deadline: Aug. 18
Full Calendar


Seeking an INDUSTRY JOB?

Hiring? In conjunction with our sister brand, Cynopsis, we are offering hiring managers a deep pool of media-savvy, skilled candidates at a range of experience levels and sectors, The result will be an even more robust industry job board, to help both employers and job seekers.

Contact [email protected] for more information.