Local Television Meets Mobile: The Conversation at MMA

Today at the MMA Forum in New York, a panel of local broadcasters broke down the opportunities at the crossroads of television and mobile. So far, the way this has played out is mostly through positioning mobile as an extension of online and on-air content.

This can involve gathering imagery in breaking news situations to be used on the Web or sometimes on the air, said Roger Keating, VP of digital at Hearst. It also involves supporting online and broadcast assets with things like text alerts for breaking news or weather.

But Keating reminded us that soon on the horizon — six months in Hearst’s case — we’ll see (literally) live simulcast via mobile, thanks to the efforts of the OMVC, which we’ve covered in the past. That will change mobile from an extension to a parallel distribution asset.

For Telemundo, mobile is a unique opportunity, said SVP Enrique Perez, because it’s a primary source of communication for 50 million hispanics living in the U.S. Ownership and usage overindexes for Hispanics, he says, so almost everything done on air is extended to mobile.

In terms of ad dollars, there’s more acceptance of mobile advertising, said Kristin Aldridge, director of interactive sales at Philidelphia’s 6ABC, but education is still necessary. Advertisers, especially small ones, generally shy away because they think they need a mobile site.

So it’s broadcasters’ job to give them options such as microsites, store locators or click to call. But the key is cross-platform marketing, where Aldridge sees the best response rates. This includes reaching different (read: incremental) demographics across air, mobile, online and iPad.

“It’s not a silo,” added Perez. “With TV + mobile + Internet, you can make 1+1+1 = 6.”

Meanwhile, there’s still a mix of SMB and brand ad dollars, with the majority not surprisingly coming from national companies targeting different DMAs. This is especially true for Telemundo where hispanic populations in different cities behave differently.

Perez reports about 65 percent of ad dollars come from multimarket national advertisers. But this will move down market with natural SMB adoption trends (the same we saw online), as we’ve argued.

The bottom-line opportunity was summed up by Hearst’s Keating, in seeing mobile as a no-brainer for broadcasters because of the inherent localization of the content, and its visual nature.

“In the last decade with online digital advertising, we had one hand tied behind our backs in taking image-rich news coverage, and translating it to text,” he said. “But mobile celebrates images.”

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