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5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Must Know in September 2018

SQADPOD: 5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Should Know – September 2018

Industry news and insights podcast curated from the world of advertising and marketing trends.

With the return of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, fall is officially upon us, regardless of the weather outside. All the coffeehouses are replacing their fruity summer favorites with hot drinks for the cooling temperatures. People are reluctantly packing away their summer clothes and searching for their coziest fall sweaters as the leaves start to fall from the trees. The seasons change just like the advertising trends that transform the industry. This month, we’re talking about crowdsourcing ad ideas, Nike’s controversial ad strategy, the personal side of political ads, mood-inspired advertising, and the creative side of ad campaigns.

1. Crowdsourcing Ad Creative

Publishers often find themselves tossing a large portion of their marketing budgets into creative departments to find the most strategic ways to market to their readers. Now, some publishers are tapping into a less traditional resource for ad ideas – the very people you will be advertising to. User-generated platforms like 9GAG, Tumblr, and Thought Catalog are calling on their loyal users to be the creative drive for advertising content that could be used in pitches to advertisers. According to these companies, this direct user input is invaluable because they are the target audience and know the types of campaigns that will speak the loudest and resonate the most with people like them (or at least that’s the hope). And it turns out this form of crowdsourcing advertising ideas is a win/win: the publishers are paying these users for the projects they work on, but the cost of developing these creative ideas is far less expensive than running the process through a massive creative department. Strategies like this mean company pockets have a bit more cash.

2. Nike Bets on Controversy

Nike is no stranger to controversy, historically spurring conversation around difficult topics through its marketing campaigns that touch upon subjects from ageism to disabilities. Recently, the launch of their new ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has caused a little backlash and a whole lot of press coverage. Thanks to the viral wildfire of advocates and protesters alike, the ad spot shot through social media and the world like lightning. Compounding the resonance of the ad were the ancillary protest and support posts that closely followed. Some even went as far as setting their Nike sneakers on fire in protest (they certainly won’t be getting a refund). The local and national news then picked up on the reaction to the ad, which spread the message further than Nike ever could have done with their original online-only ad strategy. Some say Nike is “taking a side” on a controversial topic, while other say it was a shrewd advertising gamble that has magnified Nike’s media presence and brand awareness unlike any ad currently running. No matter how you slice it, people are talking about Nike, and isn’t that what advertising is all about? Take out the politics and the personality, and you’re left with an incredibly successful branding campaign that boosted the companies stocks by 30% – if it was a gamble, Nike beat the house.

3. Putting People Back in Politics

Traditionally, political ads follow a predictable formula of the candidate looking straight into the camera promising better policies around healthcare, taxes, education, and other issues. You see dramatic cuts to handshakes in the local community, ribbon cuttings, kissing babies, and fiery rhetoric from the podium. Predictable, and apparently, passé. Now, we’re going to be seeing more and more candidates dropping the slick, over-produced montage ads in favor of more documentary-style videos that feel more grassroots and approachable. Candidates share personal stories that feel authentic to the viewer, while deflating potential negative ads from opponents. When a candidate uses a personal story about coming from an abusive household, or a relative who struggled to find work due to a criminal record, or having a mother who battled addiction, they are essentially adding a defensive shield of sympathy around their campaign. After all, who wants to vote for the guy that attacked an injured veteran or domestic violence survivor? When a candidate leads with something that feels like authentic vulnerability, voters notice. They go from being voters to being advocates. Best of all, these types of videos are a lot less costly to make and are more likely to go viral. You can bet we’re going to be seeing more of these as the mid-term elections approach.

4. In the Mood to Buy

Advertisers have a lot of data to work with when targeting consumers. There’s vast amounts information on location, demographic, income, hobbies, sports, books… you name it and there’s data for it. Now, media companies are looking to target ads based on the emotional state of their audience. The New York Times launched a tool called Project Feels that lets advertisers target ads based on the type of emotional response certain contain is expected to elicit. ESPN rolled out LiveConnect, which gauges how sports fans react to different parts of a game, how they feel about team lineups, and then aligns that data with advertisers’ goals. And these companies are seeing a positive impact for advanced mood targeting. For example, the USA Today Network ran an ad campaign for a nonprofit that targeted people reading inspirational stories (that we all know evoke a certain type of feeling). The result? Twenty-five percent higher donation rates than from ads showing up in content that was not emotionally targeted. These new data tools are trying to predict consumer moods based on engagement, then use artificial intelligence to serve up an ad that fits the mood. Adaptive mood-targeted ads means more emotionally intelligent advertising, but some may call that emotional manipulation. We’ll have to see if consumers will catch on.

5. Kudos for Creative Ads

The best creative ads are pushing the boundaries of marketing, driving engagement, increasing brand awareness, and leaving people talking for days. In the innovation file today:

You’re walking on the sidewalk and from afar, something catches your eye: a human body plastic-wrapped against a bus stop. What?! As you approach the bus stop, your mind is whirring until you realize it’s fake – an elaborate ad for the Netflix series, “Altered Carbon”. The ad campaign for the show took out-of-home marketing to a whole new level with its combination of creativity and shock value. You can just imagine what kind of response it received both on and offline, giving the show a whole lot of attention ahead of the launch of the new season.

Another noteworthy ad idea that caught the industry’s attention comes from OpenFortune, a company that runs ads in fortune cookies. The company recently worked with Capital One to print an ad campaign on 10 million cookies to be distributed to 5,000 Chinese takeout restaurants. One entrepreneur who cracked open his post-meal sweet expecting his lucky numbers discovered the ad in its place, along with a related quirky fortune. He took his cookie to Twitter, where it was well-received with 10,000 likes and then found its way to Reddit where it got another 32,000 upvotes.

By |September 21st, 2018|Game Changers|0 Comments

DATA REPORT: “The Big Bang Theory” Says Goodbye – A Historical Ad Cost Trend Analysis

CBS is saying goodbye to “The Big Bang Theory”, which will air its final season this fall after lead actor Jim Parsons decided it was time to move on from the show. As fans mentally prepare themselves for the last season, airing September 24, the SQAD Data Team jumped into the ad cost database to analyze the trends of the show since its inception in 2007 through the 2017-18 season.

In this report:

Ad Cost Trends Over the Years

In reviewing the average combination ad costs (scatter and upfront) for each of the 11 seasons, we see how the program had become a powerful revenue driver for CBS.


Key Trend Insights:

  • The first season of “The Big Bang Theory” saw average ad costs of $133,355
  • Prices increased steadily climbed through the years until its peak during Season 8 (2014-15)
  • At the peak, ad costs were averaging $345,535, nearly 160% more than the first season
  • Since season 8 on, prices have declined:
    • Down 6% from Season 8 to 9
    • Down 5% from Season 9 to 10
    • Down 10% from Season 10 to 11
  • Season 11 averaged $276,841 per 30 second ad, which was:
    • 108% higher than the first season
    • 20% lower than the peak at Season 8

It’s not clear if the decreasing revenues are related to decreasing popularity with advertisers over the past few years, or if the market is simply correcting from an overly enthusiastic bidding war for the loyal viewers.

How “The Big Bang Theory” Compares to Competing Shows This Fall

The final season of “The Big Bang Theory” will premiere with a special on Monday, September 24, and then return to its Thursday 8 P.M. spot. The Data Team compared the 11th season to competing shows airing on the Thursday time slot on other broadcast networks (using 2017-18 data).


Key Trend Insights:

  • “The Big Bang Theory” takes the lead with an average ad cost of $276,841
    • 64% ahead of ABC’s hit show “Grey’s Anatomy” – which averages $168,946 per :30
    • 170% better than NBC’s “Superstore”
    • 10 times higher than “Supernatural” on The CW
By |September 12th, 2018|SQAD Data Reports|0 Comments

MediaLogic: WRAP Delivers Instant Reports With Nielsen Live +1 Stream

Nielsen’s new Live +1 subscribers find faster audience analytics and reporting with SQAD MediaLogic: WRAP

Nielsen subscribers officially gained access to the new Live +1 data stream in late August and subscribers to the audience analytics research tool MediaLogic: WRAP, provided by SQAD, had instant access to the new data.

“We ensure that WRAP is automatically synced with all of Nielsen’s audience insight databases,” says John Yang, SQAD’s product director for MediaLogic: WRAP. “As Nielsen rolled out its first Live +1 stream last month, our system was already capturing the new data. Our subscribers have immediate access to the data through our research tool, allowing them to find crucial audience stories in just seconds.”

SQAD’s MediaLogic: WRAP is a subscription-based research tool that provides the industry’s fastest audience discovery and reporting capabilities leveraging Nielsen data. WRAP offers users unrivaled flexibility to generate rich and complex analysis reports in a fraction of the time required for Nielsen’s in-house reporting system.

As Nielsen rolled out its first Live +1 stream last month, our system was already capturing the new data. Our subscribers have immediate access to the data through our research tool, allowing them to find crucial audience stories in just seconds.

– John Yang, SQAD’s Product Director for MediaLogic: WRAP

“The key for any Nielsen subscriber is to be able to dig deep into the audience data to discover the unique engagement stories advertisers, agencies, stations, networks and holding companies need to effectively manage their strategies,” Yang continues. “Our subscribers gain a competitive advantage because they save the time and frustration that can come with reporting on audience behaviors. Having the advantage of speed translates into real dollars on the bottom line.”

Nielsen subscribers who want to increase the speed of their research and reporting work directly with SQAD to add MediaLogic: WRAP to their in-house software tools. Nielsen data is synced automatically to the local WRAP client and available for instant reporting. Common searches and research criteria can be saved for frequent reporting and all reports can be shared to connected users within an organization.


SQAD LLC has been an industry leader for more than four decades in providing audience analytics research tools for Nielsen data through SQAD MediaLogic: WRAP. Additionally, they provide advertisers and agencies with the mission-critical media planning software MediaTools – a robust and flexible end-to-end media planning solution. They also provide more than $1 trillion in real transaction ad costs through their MediaCosts data, which includes national broadcast, cable and syndicated television, as well as local broadcast, cable and Hispanic TV, radio and out-of-home advertising. Learn more at www.sqad.com.

By |September 7th, 2018|News Room, Press Releases|0 Comments

‘Last Man Standing’ Reboot Will Not Be a Top Revenue Generator for Fox

The Tim Allen reboot will likely hold its own during the Friday 8 P.M. timeslot against shows on competing broadcast networks, according to new report from SQAD

Comparing the final season of “Last Man Standing” to current shows on its reboot network, Fox, indicates the show may not be a top revenue generator, according to a new report from SQAD – an advertising research, analytics, and planning company. However, the reboot will likely compete well in the Friday 8 P.M. timeslot against programs on other major broadcast networks.

“When we look at the show’s ad cost performance during its final season on ABC and compare it to current shows on Fox, ‘The Last Man Standing’ is not breaking any network records – finishing at least 74% behind ‘Empire,'” explains Dan Klar, VP of Product Development for SQAD MediaCosts: National. “However, the reboot is not competing against other Fox programming, and that’s where you see the network’s larger strategy. Measuring ‘Last Man’ against programs airing on the same timeslot on other networks, we see that it ranks much higher in average ad costs, finding a spot just behind ABC’s ‘Fresh off the Boat.’”

Analyzing the Friday 8 P.M. timeslot, the last season of “Last Man Standing” comes out ahead of “Blindspot” (NBC) by 12%, “MacGyver” (CBS) by 25%, and “Dynasty” (CWN) by 183% (based on 2017-18 ad cost averages).

There is a chance that this new iteration of the show could outperform its final season and come out on top of the competition.

– Dan Klar, VP of Product Development for SQAD

“Of course, all of this speculation assumes the advertisers will be as interested in the new version of the show as they were in its final season on ABC,” says Klar. “There is a chance that this new iteration of the show could outperform its final season and come out on top of the competition. We won’t know for sure until the new 2018 upfront ad cost numbers hit the buying systems of our contributors.”

Find the full report on the SQAD website: DATA REPORT: “Last Man Standing” Reboot on Fox


SQAD LLC has been an industry leader for more than four decades, processing more than $1 trillion in real transaction ad costs from advertising housekeeping system. Their MediaCosts data includes national broadcast, cable, and syndicated television, as well as local broadcast, cable, and Hispanic TV, radio, and out-of-home advertising. They also provide audience analytics research tools for Nielsen data through SQAD MediaLogic, and provide advertisers and agencies the mission-critical media planning software, MediaTools – a robust and flexible end-to-end media planning solution. Learn more at www.sqad.com.

By |August 30th, 2018|News Room, Press Releases|0 Comments

5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Must Know in August 2018

SQADPOD: 5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Should Know – August 2018

Industry news and insights podcast curated from the world of advertising and marketing trends.

Summer is winding down and the pumpkin-spice lattes are waiting in the wings. There’s just enough time to squeeze in one last beach day, a couple of more outdoor movie nights, and a pool party before it’s all over. But even as summer slows down, the industry news and trends are not. This month we’re discussing Google’s programmatic OOH plans, NBCU’s promotional streaming service, the consolidation of ad tech firms, Amazon’s eye on movie theaters, and California’s tough new online consumer protection law.

1. Google is Headed Out-of-Home

What do you do when you’ve conquered the digital advertising world and become the undisputed leader in online ads? Well, if you’re Google, you take your game on the road – literally. The potential value of out-of-home advertising (that’s your billboards, street signs, bus ads, etc.) seems to have caught the eye of the digital giant. It is reportedly looking to expand its programmatic technology onto physical billboards, and other OOH ad spaces, with the goal of targeting key demographics based on time and place data it collects through its Android operating system. Leveraging this digital data into the real world would give Google a leg up on their closest competitor, Facebook. Without the robust geolocation data of Google, Facebook does not have the flexibility to take their data off the screen. By aggregating and generalizing target demographic data from their mobile platform, Google will be able to offer advertisers more relevant ads to the people in the vicinity of a billboard at any given time. Imagine: a billboard in a New York City subway station during rush hour can be programmed to display an ad targeting men 25-54 with incomes of $85K+, and then change at midday to target women 35-55 who like yoga and fitness. In theory, the ads would rotate based on the demographic majority around the ad at any given time. While privacy policies will prevent Google from targeting based on individual web history, programmatic advertising based on mass data collection could be a game changer for the outdoor advertising industry.

2. NBCU’s Round About Streaming Strategy

Traditional television networks are continuing struggle to find a place in the over-the-top (OTT) market. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBOGO are taking eyeballs away from traditional linear TV arena, and advertisers have been noticing. NBCUniversal (NBCU) made its attempt to enter the streaming world back in 2016 with the launch of their $3.99-per-month service, Seeso – we don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it – shutting down after only two years. Now, NBCU has regrouped to introduce a new service with a totally different approach. The platform is called WatchBack and is planned to launch by the end of this year. This free service will not include any exclusive or original content but, instead, give viewers access to a limited numbers of episodes from NBCU’s channels including USA, Syfy, NBC, etc. Rather than diving into the already crowded OTT market, NBCU is using their app to lure viewers back into traditional television by teasing them with broadcast content. On top of this strategy, NBCU is also considering incentives and rewards for watching their programming. It is certainly a different strategy from other OTT and their original Seeso service – using streaming not as the end goal but as the bait, with the true agenda of bringing viewers back to traditional TV. We’ll have to see if this plan actually attracts viewers back to NBCU’s linear TV viewing format.

3. The Rise and Re-Shuffle of Ad Tech

Ad tech firms have experienced exponential growth in the past decade, fueled by the combination of innovative ideas and the generous streams of venture capital looking to cash in on the growth industry. With advancing technology, advertising has undergone a metamorphosis in the ways we create and deliver digital ads. Thanks to innovations from new start-ups, everything from programmatic advertising to header bidding has changed. But, the good times can’t last forever. In the past few years we have a seen a decrease in funding to ad tech firms, as competing against Facebook and Google prove to be a challenging battle. The duopoly’s control over the advertising industry continues to grow to squeeze out smaller ad tech firms – forcing smaller players to either consolidate or close their doors. In the past, ad tech startups have served as catalysts for technological innovation by constantly pushing the limits and reframing the strategies for effective targeting. As investors lose their appetite for smaller firms to take on Google and Facebook, funding dries up and fewer potential disruptors enter the scene. Last year, more than 90% of the $88 billion in online ad spending went to Facebook or Google, and the number of independent ad tech companies fell 21% to 185 as of the second quarter of 2018. The decrease in these startups could change the game as there may be fewer opportunities to transform the industry.

4. Grab the Popcorn, Amazon Goes to the Movies

It has become obvious that Amazon will not be constrained to the limits of the digital world. On top of the jaw-dropping acquisition of Whole Foods last summer, they are now reportedly in talks to buy up Landmark Theatres, which has 52 locations across the US. If they seal the deal, it would put Amazon in the center of an entertainment/advertising ecosystem that would not only benefit their own in-house content, but provide a one-stop-shop for major studios looking to advertise their films on the big screen and the small screen. Not only can Amazon advertise its own films in Landmark Theatres, but it can also offer advertising opportunities for other films on its website and apps – which can be targeted at consumers who watch movies. While the larger strategy of Amazon is not completely transparent, one thing is coming into clear focus: Amazon is looking to close the circle on consumer activity to have a hand in every part of the experience.

5. California’s Version of GDPR

The enactment of GDPR in the European Union sent shockwaves across the world, and now tech companies and advertisers are bracing for a new wave of regulations as California plans to implement its own version of GDPR by 2020. Dubbed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), it follows in a similar vein to the EU regulation. CCPA’s primary purpose is to protect user privacy, provide transparency as to what kind of information businesses are collecting from them, and give them the option to opt out of the sale of that information. While consumers and privacy advocates may applaud the effort, industry trade groups are gathering their arguments against it. The Association of National Advertisers has stated that the law “threatens the free flow of information and impacts U.S. consumers and businesses” and that it “creates a false sense of concern in the public about the use of largely innocuous marketing data.” No matter how you fall on the subject, there is little doubt that the CCPA will be a game changer once implemented. Just as auto manufacturing rules adopted by California have found their way across the country, you can bet we’re going to see other states embrace these restrictions, which will transform the future of consumer data collection.

By |August 28th, 2018|Game Changers|0 Comments

DATA REPORT: “Last Man Standing” Reboot on Fox

After “Last Man Standing” was canceled in 2017 from ABC, it seemed like it was the last we’d see of the program. But with the reboot of “Roseanne” proving to be a tent-pole program for ABC, drawing in right-leaning viewers, Fox stepped up to revive “Last Man” – another favorite of conservative viewers due to Tim Allen’s public political leanings.

The SQAD Data Team pulled ad cost numbers from the MediaCosts: National database for the last season of the show on ABC to see the what the advertising landscape looked like as it wrapped up the final season. Additionally, the team pulled ad cost numbers for shows that “Last Man Standing” will be competing against in the upcoming season on Fox, as well as on other networks during its time slot.

The Team conducted the comparison analysis using upfront unit cost data. The report is divided into the following three parts:

“Last Man Standing” In Its Last Season on ABC, 2016-17


The Data Team evaluated “Last Man Standing” during its last season on ABC before it was cancelled, comparing it against some of the top shows during the 2016-17 season. The show came in at the bottom for average upfront unit costs, at $73,113.

During that season, “Last Man Standing” was 56% behind top performer, “Modern Family”, which had an average unit cost for the season of $166,289. It also trailed “Grey’s Anatomy” by 55% and “Scandal” by 49%.

How the “Last Man Standing” Reboot Compares Against Shows on Fox 2018-19

The reboot is scheduled to premiere on September 28, joining a stable of popular programs including “Empire”, “Gotham”, “The Gifted”, and “Family Guy”. The Team analyzed the average upfront costs from last season (2017-18) to help set context for the “Last Man Standing” reboot on the network.

Comparing the final season of “Last Man Standing” against the ad cost performance of current Fox network shows:


Unless advertisers find a new excitement for the reboot of “Last Man Standing”, Fox may not have high expectations for the program to deliver big numbers for advertisers. If the new version of the show holds on to the advertiser interest from their final season, it will take the last spot on the network against other Fox shows airing this season.

The leading scripted drama delivering major ad revenue for this season on Fox is “Empire” at an average cost of $280,987, with “Star” following behind at $143,170 and then “Lethal Weapon” at $131,534. This places ad costs for “Last Man Standing” at 74% less than those for “Empire”.

The “Last Man Standing” vs. Competing Shows on Other Networks

While “Last Man Standing” probably won’t be the leading revenue generator among Fox programming, it may have a shot against competing shows airing in the same time slot on other networks.


Looking at the programs set to air on other major broadcast networks on Fridays at 8PM, we see that the final season numbers of “Last Man Standing” are holding their own for the time slot, taking second place behind “Fresh off the Boat” on ABC – which has nearly a 20% lead.The reboot comes out ahead of “Blindspot” on NBC ($65,353) by 12%.

By |August 20th, 2018|SQAD Data Reports|0 Comments

Cable News Ad Costs Change Significantly in First Half of 2018

Shifting political climate helps MSNBC see 129% growth in advertising prices against cable news competitors, says SQAD’s cost data

According to data released by SQAD LLC – an advertising research, analytics, and media planning software company – the three major U.S. cable news networks have experienced significant shifts in advertiser investment during the first half of 2018, likely driven by changing political landscapes and audience viewership trends.

The Data Report for Cable News Networks analyzes advertiser transaction data from cable news commercial buys in the scatter market – specifically CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC – for the first half of 2018 during the Morning and Primetime dayparts. According to the report, Fox News held the lead in average unit costs in the Primetime block at the beginning of the year, but MSNBC began making significant market gains and edged out Fox News in March for the top spot in scatter ad costs. By June, MSNBC’s prices had skyrocketed, putting it ahead of CNN by 30% and Fox News by 26%.

“We researched scatter ad costs to get a better idea of real-time market shifts – something we can’t see in the negotiated rates from upfront buys as they’re isolated from varying market trends and social volatility,” says Dan Klar, SQAD’s VP of Product Development for MediaCosts: National. “In analyzing the two dayparts, we found the three networks experienced substantial changes in scatter ad costs over the course of the six months. From January to June in the Morning block, we see a considerable shift for CNN with a drop of 45%, while in the Primetime block, MSNBC saw a massive spike of 129%.”

Our Cost Volatility Score really shows how these oscillating ad costs are affecting the market’s overall advertiser engagement.

-Marc Krigsman, CEO of SQAD

In addition to examining the fluctuations in scatter ad costs from January through June 2018, the Data Team also analyzed the overall volatility of each network by measuring the change in month-over-month percentage growth/loss of average ad costs on each network. Tracking the SQAD Cost Volatility Score helps put each network on an even playing field and view their overall gains and losses in market impact over time.

“Our Cost Volatility Score really shows how these oscillating ad costs are affecting the market’s overall advertiser engagement,” says SQAD CEO, Marc Krigsman. “In both the Morning and Primetime dayparts, we see MSBNC experiencing massive positive changes to its market impact when compared to where they started off the year. Specifically, the network ended with a Volatility Score of +42.2 in the Morning and +120 during Primetime. Meanwhile, volatility changes for CNN and Fox News were notably less dramatic and essentially ended around where they started.”

For the Morning daypart, the Volatility Score shows CNN down -6.2 since January, while Fox News saw a modest gain of 9.4 as of June. The SQAD report shows that volatility changes are more indicative of the shifting market impact when reviewing the Primetime block, where CNN ended June with a +33.5 and Fox News with a +24.6 – both are dwarfed by MSNBC at +120).

The full report is available on SQAD’s website: Data Report: Cable News Networks


SQAD LLC has been an industry leader for more than four decades, processing more than $1 trillion in real transaction ad costs from advertising housekeeping system. Their MediaCosts data includes national broadcast, cable, and syndicated television, as well as local broadcast, cable, and Hispanic TV, radio, and out-of-home advertising. They also provide audience analytics research tools for Nielsen data through SQAD MediaLogic, and provide advertisers and agencies the mission-critical media planning software, MediaTools – a robust and flexible end-to-end media planning solution. Learn more at www.sqad.com.

By |August 17th, 2018|News Room, Press Releases|0 Comments

MSNBC, CNN Make Scatter Pricing Gains, Fox Still Tops In Viewing

By: Wayne Friedman
August 3, 2018

Fox News Channel still commands the top spot in terms of viewership, with rising ad revenue, but MSNBC and CNN have been making sharper 30-second commercial pricing gains in the first half of this year.

In that time, MSNBC has seen rocketing price hikes for prime-time programming — up 129% to now average $13,550 for a 30-second commercial in June. It was $5,927 in January.

CNN was 31% higher to $9,451 during the January-to-June period (from $7,192), while Fox rose 22% to $10,095 (from $8,285.)

The data is courtesy of SQAD, a media cost data/ad-planning company, which analyzed scatter advertising deals — near-term, month-by-month, TV advertising deals…

Read more at: MediaPost.

By |August 6th, 2018|In The News, News Room|0 Comments

DATA REPORT: Cable News Networks, January-June 2018

In today’s volatile news cycles, cable news networks are constantly vying for the top spot in viewership and advertising dollars by delivering breaking news, providing historical analysis, and hosting spirited debate panels. The shifting political climate has begun to play a major role in the viewership and revenue capabilities of these networks.

To see the performance trends in cable news networks, the SQAD Data Team pulled scatter costs from the MediaCosts: National database for CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from the first six months of 2018. The team focused on scatter pricing to better analyze reactionary pricing volatility based on changing events, rather than the steady long-term investments made in the upfront buying season.

This report starts with a pure unit cost analysis of the networks from January 2018 through June 2018 for the Morning and Primetime dayparts. The second part of this report dives into a Cost Volatility Score analysis, for the same two dayparts.




Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
JAN $2,045 $3,686 $2,246
FEB $1,405 -31.3% $3,817 3.6% $2,384 6.1%
MAR $2,297 63.5% $4,374 14.6% $2,522 5.8%
APR $1,531 -33.3% $3,640 -16.8% $3,991 58.2%
MAY $2,207 44.2% $3,868 6.3% $3,332 -16.5%
JUN $1,121 -49.2% $3,937 1.8% $2,950 -11.5%


  • At the beginning of the year, Fox News held the highest scatter unit cost for the Morning block, with an average of $3,686 for the month of January. CNN trailed behind by 45% and MSNBC by 40%.
  • Of the three networks, MSNBC experienced the most significant increase in scatter ad costs over the course of the six months. By June, costs on the network averaged $2,950, a 31% spike from January.
  • From January to June, ad costs on:
    • CNN dropped 45%
    • Fox News increased 7%
    • MSNBC jumped 31%
  • Although Fox News hit a high of $4,374 in March, it did not recover to that rate for the rest of Q2 2018.
  • MSNBC hit its highest point of $3,991 in April (taking the top spot from Fox News for the first time since the beginning of the year) but did not maintain that unit cost for the rest of Q2.
  • Going into the new quarter from March to April, average ad costs fell 17% on Fox News and 33% on CNN, while rising 58% for MSNBC.




Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
Unit Cost Month/Month
% Change
JAN $7,192 $8,285 $5,927
FEB $7,384 2.7% $7,679 -7.3% $5,666 -4.4%
MAR $9,327 26.3% $8,119 5.7% $11,569 104.2%
APR $11,440 22.7% $10,739 32.3% $11,126 -3.8%
MAY $10,198 -10.9% $10,208 -4.9% $10,308 -7.4%
JUN $9,451 -7.3% $10,095 -1.1% $13,550 31.5%


  • At the start of the year, Fox News held the spot for highest Primetime scatter ad costs, averaging $8,285 in January – 13% higher than CNN and 29% higher than MSNBC.
  • For the month of April, 2018 CNN briefly took the top spot for scatter unit costs, edging out MSNBC by 3% and Fox News by 6%.
  • From January to June, MSNBC prices saw the largest unit cost jump of the three networks, skyrocketing 129% and averaging $13,550 in June – 30% higher than CNN and 26% higher than Fox News.
  • While ad prices oscillated throughout the first six months of this year, all three networks saw an overall increase from January to June. Comparing January to June, prices on:
    • CNN rose 31%
    • Fox News increased 22%
    • MSNBC more than doubled, jumping 129%


While looking purely at unit costs can provide insight into the revenue power of a given network, there is more to be said regarding the transformation of the cable news landscape when we review the cost volatility during the same six month period. Analyzing the three cable news networks from their starting point in January 2018 and calculating the percentage differential month-to-month shows the real magnitude of the unit cost shifts over time.

To calculate the SQAD Cost Volatility Score, we measured the change in growth/loss each network experiences month-to-month. The Score allows us to equalize the unit cost changes in order to see a larger trend in the networks’ market impact over time.


JAN 0.0 0.0 0.0
FEB -31.3 3.6 6.1
MAR 32.2 18.1 11.9
APR -1.2 1.4 70.2
MAY 43.0 7.6 53.7
JUN -6.2 9.4 42.2


  • Based on volatility in the Morning daypart, Fox News maintained their average market position, gaining +9.4 volatility points from January to June.
  • While CNN had a seemingly unstable market fluctuation, when the change in growth is equalized, it is only down 6.2 points from their starting position in January 2018.
  • The growth in market strength is best illustrated in MSNBC’s volatility scores as it ended the six-month period with +42.2 points, reaching a peak of +70.2 points in April 2018.
  • For Fox News, the market gains from March 2018 (when it had a volatility score of +18.1) were counteracted by the equally steep 16.7 point drop into April, bringing it down to a volatility score of +1.4.



JAN 0.0 0.0 0.0
FEB 2.7 -7.3 -4.4
MAR 29.0 -1.6 99.8
APR 51.6 30.7 96.0
MAY 40.8 25.7 88.6
JUN 33.5 24.6 120.0


  • In the first six months of 2018, all three cable news networks increased in market value.
  • Initial drops in Q1 2018 for Fox News were recovered in Q2, allowing the network to rebound to a +24.6 volatility score in June.
  • CNN maintained an overall positive volatility index for the entire six month period, ending June 2018 at a +33.5.
  • MSNBC experienced the most significant market strength gains overall, ending June 2018 with a commanding +120 volatility score.
By |July 30th, 2018|SQAD Data Reports|0 Comments

5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Must Know in July 2018

SQAD POD: 5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Should Know – July 2018

Industry news and insights podcast curated from the world of advertising and marketing trends.

We’ve hit the peak of summer with all the crowded beaches, backyard barbecues, and block parties. Now with the sound of ice cream trucks filling the air, there’s still a lot of buzz in the advertising world. For the month of July, we’re talking about AT&T’s advertising strategies, Facebook and transparency, HQ Trivia, text message advertising, and giving passive billboards true analytics.

1. AT&T’s Advertising Ambitions

It looks like AT&T is not letting the pending Justice Department challenge against its Time Warner acquisition stop its relentless push for advertising dominance. Assuming they can officially push the Time Warner acquisition through, AT&T plans to transform HBO into a toe-to-toe competitor for the king of streaming, Netflix. It would be able to use the data that comes with HBO to learn more about audience behavior, and in turn, create advertising services to bring in even more revenue. Not long after it received approval to purchase Time Warner – which is now being appealed – the telecom giant announced its acquisition of AppNexus, which operates digital advertising services and software. AT&T’s acquisition strategy is starting to come into full view as it looks to leverage technology and content for greater advertising opportunities. Its ace-in-the-hole against Google and Facebook may be the AppNexus acquisition, as it may super-charge their capabilities in advanced television advertising.

2. Facebook in the Age of Transparency

We have found ourselves standing at the cusp of a new revolution. Digital ad transparency is gaining ground and brands are coming under fire as consumers and government agencies demand answers for online data collection. With new laws like the GDPR (as well as new proposals from states like California) coming into effect, ad tech firms are being held accountable for the part they are playing in the collection and monetization of personal information managed by their technology. Thanks to this new scrutiny, Facebook is becoming the poster child for the new era of transparency. Initially, Facebook only required full disclosure for political ads – which would be archived for seven years and be publicly accessible – but now, it is requiring full disclosure for allbrands. Anyone advertising on Facebook must disclose who is behind the content and allow users to see all the ads they are running on the platform network, which includes Instagram and Messenger. While consumer groups may be applauding the transparency, advertisers have a reason to be alarmed as competitors will have a centralized source to review all the ads being run at a given time. Will consumers really find it useful to review the ongoing ads of advertisers and agencies? Will agencies be inadvertently disclosing their client lists and strategies if they advertise on Facebook? Time will tell how this new world of transparency will reshape the world of digital advertising.

3. HQ Trivia Becomes “Must See” Digital Programming

HQ Trivia took Apple iPhones by storm last fall to become a viral sensation. What began as a mid-afternoon distraction for many grew to be “must see” experience over the course of a few months – with the app racking up 1.7 million players at its peak in March when it partnered with Nike during its 20-minute broadcast. The live trivia game is live-streamed through the app every day at a set time, and users partake in the experience by answering questions in real-time with the promise of cash prizes. HQ has recently stepped up its games by offering more than just cash rewards. For example, the Nike partnership came with the incentive of exclusive sneakers; and another episode featuring judges from “The Voice” came with a $50,000 prize and a trip to the show’s finale. HQ has proven itself to be more than just a viral game – it’s reinventing traditional appointment TV for the era of time-shifting DVR programming. The app’s evolution to partner with brands on sponsored content creates a win-win situation, while redefining how mobile devices can be used to engage consumers. Bringing people together into a real-time event with real-time advertisements is a throwback to the age of captive audiences and shared viewing experiences. This is an exciting time to see how other innovators will remix this idea into new engaging strategies and advertising opportunities.

4. Advertising Gets Even More Personal

The advertising industry is constantly pushing the creative boundaries of marketing, refining the machine for better ways to reach potential customers. That’s what Steve Brown and Leonard Butterman had in mind when they started brainstorming an innovative strategy to disrupt mobile advertising. From their experience as fathers, they noticed that their kids were constantly on their phones, communicating though their digital devices even when they were physically sitting next to each other. Thus, the question arose: Why not tap into a currently ad-free space for the next generation of advertising – text messages? And that is how SlamAds was born. SlamAds would appear within the body of a text message, and would be generated based on the relevance to a given conversation. Suppose you were a SlamAd user talking about pizza – a link would pop up at the bottom of your text message for, as an example, a 10% off voucher for Domino’s Pizza that you would send to the receiver of your message. The incentive is simple. The sender gets paid for allowing the ad to be embedded into the text. Users can cash out anytime in the form of gift cards, contribute to a 529 plan for college tuition, or even donate to charity. There are still a lot of questions about privacy, permissions, and revenue, but the innovation of SlamAds places consumers at the center of the ad experience and has the potential to transform the mobile advertising world, bringing ads into even more intimate spaces.

5. What the EU Fine Means for Google

The day of reckoning has come for Google’s anti-competitive practices in Europe as EU antitrust regulators bring the hammer down with a hefty $5.1 billion fine. The fine comes from the allegation that Google forces Android device makers to squeeze out other search engines by strong-arming manufacturers to pre-install the Chrome browser and Google search, or risk losing access to the Google Play store, the central hub for all apps for the OS. This suit comes a year after Google was fined for prioritizing shopping search results to favor their own products and services – giving themselves an unfair advantage over other companies offering similar products. Now, having a commanding hold of more than 90% of the search market, 85% of mobile phones, and roughly 60 percent of browser market share, Google’s manipulation of the playing field was bound to catch the attention of regulators. Google will challenge the fines, but will also probably modify their practices to avoid future scrutiny. This can only be good news for competitors looking to break into Google’s stronghold.

By |July 24th, 2018|Game Changers|0 Comments