Should You Advertise on Cable News? Uh-Uh.
Cable news penetration is peanuts. In a recent prime-time viewing hour of 8:00 to 9:00 p.m., the total audience was:
2,492,000 - O'Reilly, Fox
564,000 - Anderson Cooper, CNN
608,000 - Chris Hayes, MSNBC
3,664,000 - Not-so-Grand Total
This is a 1.1 percent of the U.S. population of 320 million. In terms of influencing turnout at the polls: bupkis.
Screwball Rating Parameters
Overall ratings are based on P2+: "PERS 2+: The Nielsen estimate for the number of people aged 2 and over in the USA." Three-year-olds are not buyers. This is nuts.
People over 65 are not counted. All 45 million of us have ailments, a love for travel and toys, plus discretionary income. For some reason we are not worth advertising to. This is nuts.
The Ratings System Is a Joke
Nielsen, the television research firm, acknowledged on Friday that it had been reporting inaccurate ratings for the broadcast networks for the last seven months, a mistake that raises questions about the company's increasingly criticized system for measuring TV audiences. —Bill Carter and Emily Steel, The New York Times
MSNBC—The Elysian Fields for Liberals and Scraping Bottom
Billed as "The Place for Politics," MSNBC is sailing into hurricane headwinds of a nation sick unto death of do-nothing politicians. Rude, abusive interviewers such as Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough continually interrupt guests to deliver long, loud verbal screeds.
Mika Brzezinski, Morning Joe's resident curmudgeon, has transmogrified into a veritable Jack Cafferty in drag. Truly disreputable is frequent guest Mark Halperin, who called the President of the United States a "dick" on national television. Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle was fired from the Boston Globe for serial plagiarism. Personal agendist Rev. Al Sharpton was fined $66,000 for his role in the scandalous Tawana Brawley hoax. The few world-class, even-keeled journalists in the whole place are Andrea Mitchell, Tamron Hall and Willie Geist.
CNN—Politically Neutral and on the Ropes
In this epoch of horrific news—ISIS, Ebola, global warming, dying immigrants and government snooping—all-news CNN should be in fat city. Instead, Chicken Noodle Network is axing 300. Superstar Wolf Blitzer, who looks like the gatekeeper at Count Dracula's castle, delivers the news in a halting, boring monotone. CNN does have a number of superb correspondents, alas seen all too seldom. Among them: Jim Bittermann, John King, Nic Robertson, Martin Savidge, Jim Sciutto and Ben Wedeman. And, of course, the mesmerizing Christiane Amanpour, whose staff has been decimated by the empty suits in the current round of firings.
Fox News—Conservatives' Garden of Eden
Network prime-time star Sean Hannity I find to be smug, cocky and more nasty than informative. After reading Killing Patton by Hannity's partner in grime, I am in the camp of those who believe co-author Bill O'Reilly comes off as a wacko sensation-seeking, conspiracy nut not to be trusted. In the early morning I used to jump between MSNBC, CNN and Fox. I now skip Fox & Friends, because the low sectional sofa plus short skirts and cleavage create a Playboy Channel substitute for angry old men. [See the image in the media player at upper right.] Fox News' greatest gaffe was scrapping the elegant, energetic Shepard Smith—the best news anchor in television—for shrewish Greta van Susteren in the 7:00p.m. - 8:00 p.m. slot.
Takeaways to Consider
- I have spent 50 years in direct marketing, a.k.a. accountable advertising. This means absolute fealty to making offers, making it easy to order and the precise measurement of return on investment (ROI) based on the lifetime value of a customer.
- Hard-wired into my DNA is the following rule: "If you do not ask for a reply—and cannot trace a response back to the original advertisement—you are flushing cash money down the toilet."
- Leave brand-building to clever agencies in the business of fleecing dumb clients.
- "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." —John Wanamaker (1838-1922)
- Praise the MUTE Button. On my TV screen is an endless parade of complainers about COPD, loose dentures, bowel blockage, vaginal pains and hopes of erections lasting more than 4 hours. Plus the sleazy ambulance chasers looking to cash in on death by Mesothelioma.
- MSNBC and Fox News are in the business of generating fear, fury and hate on the Left and on the Right.
- Cable News is the current incarnation of what Vice President Spiro T. Agnew called, "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals," "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history" and "nabobs of negativism."
- Rethink your strategy when your advertising message is surrounded by whining sickies and political screamers.
- Chances are folks with knots in their guts are not in the mood for love.
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