Case Study: Cox Media Group

social media strategy case study

Cox Media Group is an Atlanta, GA based integrated media organization that owns and operates 15 broadcast television stations, 86 local broadcast radio stations, four newspapers and more than 100 digital platforms. In most cases, the Cox Media properties are local market leaders, in both audience and revenue.

CHALLENGE: Cox Television Stations and Newspapers generate revenue from the sales of commercials (TV) and ads (newspapers). This advertising placement is made by marketing agency media buyers who use industry-standard formulas to determine what marketers will pay for these advertisements. Basically, in this model, the customers control the revenue potential. Agencies deduct a 15% commission from the budget for placing the advertising, so agency-placed media is discounted 15%. This situation is compounded by limited number of advertising units, especially on television, and thus revenue potential is fixed by these factors. Cox wanted to develop revenue streams that were not dependent on formulaic media buying models while creating new customer categories and revenue sources.

SOLUTION: Summer Multi Media Promotion. Ventura & Co. created a series of brand partnership promotional concepts that 1) were multi-media, including television, digital and print advertising; 2) had targeted experiential elements; 3) were product category exclusive. The first of these was “102 Days of Summer,” produced for Cox’s WSB-TV, Channel 2, Atlanta. The summer time period was selected as it was the “slow season” for television advertising and revenue. As the concept was much more than a media buy, Ventura stipulated that the sales process circumvent the traditional selling process to advertising agencies, and, instead be made direct to marketer CMOs or brand managers. These people were very receptive, as each presentation was customized to meet specific marketer goals or challenges. Marketers diverted funds from other marketing categories in order to participate, and per-unit revenue was much greater than had it been placed by agency media buyers. One example was “Win a Jeep to Keep,” a sweepstakes that awarded two (as in Channel 2) custom Jeep Wranglers. The Atlanta Jeep Dealers had committed to selling an additional 3,500 Jeeps in 2Q and 3Q. The high level of promotional exposure drove Jeeps sales beyond the goal. We also launched “The Kingsford Charcoal Picnic Patrols,” street teams that cruised the market in promotionally-branded Jeeps giving away offers and samples from other program participants. Picnicers spotted by the Picnic Patrol using Kingsford Charcoal were instant winners of picnic themed prizes and merchandise.

RESULTS: In Year One, 43 marketers participated in the program and delivered $1.4 million in plus revenue for WSB-TV in Atlanta. The station exceeded their quarterly sales goal by $900,000. The “Win a Jeep to Keep” sweepstakes elicited 350,000 entries. Every participating marketer exceeded their individual sales and marketing goals. Some used the promotion to drive additional retail buy-in and placement. “102 Days of Summer” won two prestigious marketing awards – AdWeek – BrandWeek Magazines’ Event and Sports Marketing Awards. “102 Days of Summer” was a Silver awardee in “Best Entertainment / Media Event” Category and a Bronze winner for “Best Use of Brand Sponsorship.”

In Year Two, the concept was launched in additional Cox markets – Pittsburgh, Orlando, Charlotte and Dayton, OH. Year Two combined revenues exceeded $11 million in plus revenue and over 160 brands participated across the five markets. Over 40% of all brand participants were new clients for the television stations. Year Three revenue was nearly $16 million and 180+ brands participated in the combined five markets.

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SOLUTION: Automotive l Garden Supply Brand PartnershipVentura & Co’s team members establish and maintain relationships with key marketing decision makers. During a casual conversation with the regional director of marketing for Lincoln Motor Cars, we were told that Lincoln had just conducted focus groups with current Lincoln owners to determine their lifestyle choices and habits. The focus group results showed that gardening was the #1 leisure activity of Lincoln owners. We also determined that there was $800,000 in annual discretionary marketing funding for Lincoln’s Southeast Region. This fund was controlled by our contact. We also had a relationship with the VP-Marketing and family member of a large family owned garden center in Atlanta, Pike Nurseries, with 21 locations across the Atlanta Metro.

We created a brand partnership opportunity for Lincoln and Pike’s Nurseries that aired on WSB-TV in Q2, the key gardening season. Lincoln created vehicle displays in all 21 Pike’s retail locations. A sweepstakes with a Lincoln Navigator as the grand prize was conducted by customer registration in the Pike’s stores. The entries were placed in a data base that was segmented by local dealer geography and given to Lincoln’s dealers. Pike’s provided $50 gift certificates that Lincoln dealers used as test-drive incentives. Pike also provided landscaping at the 11 Metro Atlanta Lincoln dealerships, with appropriate signage. WSB-TV wrote, produced and aired a saturation schedule of TV commercials to drive consumer awareness of the promotion.

RESULTS: Lincoln invested $400,000 with WSB-TV for the on-air promotional schedule.This was placed “direct,” meaning that the 15% agency discount was not applied and that an additional $60,000 was net to the station. The $400,000 was half of the discretionary fund for the entire southeast region for the whole year! Lincoln sales exceeded goal by 23% for the quarter and Pike Nurseries had their best quarter ever.