One thing every channel and platform has in common around Upfronts this year is whatever you were planning on presenting – that’s no longer going to work. With live in-person presentations off the table, networks are tasked with figuring out what a non-traditional Upfront looks like, and in this new reality, social media and the data that touts the strength of programs’ social communities is more important now than ever before.
ListenFirst has researched and compiled best practices for how media brands can use social analytics and insights to power what promises to be a very unique Upfronts season. Here’s what you need to know:
Tip #1: Leverage Your Current / Historical IP
As audiences are spending more time at home consuming content than ever before, variety of content is what everyone is craving. Using ListenFirst data, networks are researching which of their current or older IP is currently trending on social (it may not be the ones you think!), and telling stories about the audience that’s engaging on social media. Understanding what fans are excited about will help networks understand which programs they should be re-marketing, and which programs will be most valuable for advertisers to buy against
For example, when the Coronavirus quarantine became a reality for millions of people across numerous states, Crown Media was ready. For two consecutive weekends, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries aired Christmas program marathons: “We Need A Little Christmas Marathon” aired the weekend of March 20-22, 2020, and “Miracles of Christmas Marathon” aired the weekend of March 27-29, 2020. Their quick thinking paid off. Christmas marathon-related content drove +70% higher average content responses than the average post published by the two channels and their programs the weekend of March 20-22, and +58% higher average content responses than the average post published by the two channels and their programs the weekend of March 27-29. Additionally, while Christmas marathon-related content accounted for only 7% of the two channels’ overall content published the weekend of March 20-22, 2020, it drove 26% of the content responses.
Furthermore, it’s important for TV marketers to focus on audiences who are already actively engaging with their programs. For example, Millennials make up the majority (72%) of the binge-watching audience, which also skews more heavily female (53%) than male (47%). In the past 3 weeks (March 19 – April 8, 2020), the top 10 TV shows mentioned by Twitter audiences in conjunction with binge watching include both new, current, and old series:
- Money Heist
- All American
- Game of Thrones
- The Wire
- Gossip Girl
- One Piece
- Breaking Bad
- Criminal Minds
Tip #2: Understand How to Connect with Fans at Home
TV audiences are living in a new world, and are therefore consuming social content and TV content in new ways. Using ListenFirst, networks are able to understand what their audiences are doing, how and where they’re engaging, and what’s piquing their interest right now. From content trends and recommendations to sentiment, key themes and audience insights, there’s no shortage of ways to understand how your fan base has shifted and how to engage them.
For example, with an influx of children home from school in quarantine, the TV shows receiving the most YouTube video views have seen a shift that favors younger audiences. In the past 3 weeks (March 19 – April 8, 2020), 6 of the Top 20 shows ranked by YouTube video views are children’s programming: Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, PAW Patrol, Teen Titans Go!, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Ben 10.
Comedy and family-friendly programming are also attracting the most new fans to their pages for light-hearted entertainment. American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, and America’s Funniest Home Videos all made an appearance the among Top 20 Fastest Growing TV Shows for March 19 – April 8, 2020, as well as late-night talk shows: The Daily Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show With James Corden, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Tip #3: Invest in Social Media Partnerships
While there’s a shortage of new programming to sell ad space in, social media remains. As TV shows are seeing more social engagement during these times, branded social partnerships are more valuable than ever before. Using ListenFirst’s social data, you can tout the strength of engagement with programs (new and old) on social, benchmark against past timeframes, campaigns, and other programs, and determine the value of branded partnerships on social media that may be more timely than traditional TV campaigns.
In Q1 2020, the TV brands published -54% fewer sponsored Facebook posts than in Q1 2019. However, TV programs and networks saw +25% increase in Average Responses per Sponsored Post and a +24% increase in Average Estimated Media Value per Sponsored Post, when comparing Q1 2020 to Q1 2019. Homing in on March 2020, Suave put their sponsorship dollars behind kid-favorite Nickelodeon to promote their Slime. Nickelodeon boasts a Facebook fan footprint of nearly 26 Million people, and the network saw a +224% increase in fans in March compared to February.
Tip #4: Utilize Quarantined Talent
While talent is stuck quarantining with the rest of us, they’re supporting programs in new ways – the new and the old!
Courtney Cox recently told Jimmy Kimmel that she decided to buy all 10 seasons of Friends to binge watch. The interview made an impact, as Friends earned +107% more new social fans the day Jimmy Kimmel Live! posted the video, compared to the day prior.
Meanwhile Steve Carrell, Jenna Fischer, and John Krasinski engaged fans around the 15th anniversary of The Office, generating a social uptick for the older show, including 14.9 million YouTube video views on the clip of Carrell and Krasinski reuniting.
Finding simple ways for beloved TV stars to talk about their most popular roles is a direct invitation for fans to revisit library programming, and bring more eyeballs to potential advertisers.
Tip #5: Personalize The Presentation
Up until now, Upfronts have always meant giving a single presentation to all of your clients, partners, and the press at the same time. However, with the live presentation aspect being removed this year that no longer has to be the rollout strategy. For instance, A+E Networks is making a 30-minute tape that they’re sending to hundreds of clients and agency partners, which is customized based on the needs of that client and situation.
Rather than make an educated guess what customized content should be delivered to clients, ListenFirst can help by bridging the gap with insights about both the client and their audience based on their social media footprint. For instance if you can identify that 60% of an advertiser’s social media audience is millennials, you can focus the upfront presentation to that advertiser more on how much your new programming slate will appeal to that demographic. Likewise, if you see that an advertiser has been seeing a high response rate around their IGTV content lately, you can emphasize in your presentation Instagram only promotions around the new shows.
Not every point you have to make is going to resonate with every audience, and without the constraint of a single presentation, you can just include the content that will be the most impactful.
While there are obvious drawbacks to Upfronts occurring in social isolation, there’s also the opportunity to leverage social for even more targeted selling. With a strategy more focused on figuring out what content is connecting with which audience, a digital-first Upfronts has the potential to use social media insights to make your programming stand out even more for viewers and clients.