The New Bias In Media Placement

These days your advertising works harder and harder at messaging an even mildly willing consumer. There are so many factors at work with the American consumer:

  • They don't believe anything you pitch
  • They don't want to be sold
  • Their loyalty lasts as long as the battery life
  • They desire credibility over longevity
  • They judge you by the company you keep

The last of these points is critical. "Media Bias" in journalism is defined as: "... the bias or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered. The term "media bias" implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the perspective of an individual journalist or article. The direction and degree of media bias in various countries is widely disputed."

The reason that this is important? Well, channels, networks and even advertisers within those syndicates are now perceived (if even mildly) to align themselves with their positions.

Think "FOX NEWS" ... for many the first thing that comes to mind is FOX News, the GOP and by extension their conservative political positions. And yet the FOX owns FS1 which draws popularity from extreme sports and shock-jock personalities.

Think "The Weather Channel" ... for many they think a channel that you click over to, to see if you're about to be killed by a tornado or find out if will rain on your trip to Cancun. That said it's also a consortium made up of The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and NBCUniversal and produces an array of original content and positioning types.

Think "Lifetime" ... for many husbands you think "oh no, another movie about a crappy fiancé that meets the perfect match who moves in on the same street!" But did you also know that this channel now owns the rights to the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)? Therefore, if you're a marketing professional the same channel you may have thought of as a square peg in a round hole might be the perfect match given the alignment.

This is all part of your media mix and for those of you who manage this placement you realize matching the correct show(s) and timing to best match the interests of your consumer demographic and buying propensities. What you MIGHT NOT be taking into consideration is the perceived bias, media and or otherwise, that might hang around the neck of that channel. More and more people are simply cutting cable altogether. That mentality makes those that DO still have it even more discerning about the content that they watch. Therefore, if you're trying to sync up with that perfect fit for your consumer, ask yourself "would they skip this channel altogether based on the collective PERCIEVED bias of content?"

Many reading this will fight me that buying during Wheel of Fortune will close in on a boomer demo or ESPN on males from blah-to-blah age. I'm not saying that's horseshit. I'm saying that with an on-demand world, there's no reason to settle. Therefore, if you feel that your product or service might not be in lockstep with the PERCEPTION of a channel, perceptions such as:

  • Political positioning
  • Content ratings
  • Predominance of content/show style
  • Female vs. Male domination of content
  • Language propensity (Spanish, English and or European)
  • Race, Religion or Theology

Take all of these into consideration before making a hefty investment into a media segment. 

RECOMMENDATION:

Buy online within the network and channel. Seed your brand, product or messaging and see if you begin to move the needle. This way your media spend is exponentially fractionalized and provides a solid test bed for a television purchase. The last point, if you're using a media buyer/placement firm, insist that they take you through the schedule and connect the dots to your end consumer. If they can't, you need to cut the cord or make them go back to the drawing board.