Between 2002-2003, there were more than 15 syndicated talk shows on the air … give or take those few canceled by midseason. (And that’s not even counting Barbara Walters’ gabfest The View.) In fact, during that time there were so many afternoon yappers that underperforming and ratings-challenged shows were relegated to the wee hours of the morning.
As the career college industry regained its footing after 9/11, there was a definite and deliberate advertising push. Combine that with the sheer number of tacky talk shows and you had a recipe for success. One by one, however, the Sally Jessy Raphaels of the world disappeared, leaving the state of tabloid talk in disarray.
That was then … and this is now.
Any good media buyer in the career college sector will attest that the weekdays of wine and roses are likely over when it comes to bad talk shows. Gone are the days when you could sprinkle ads in Jenny Jones or Ricki Lake and be guaranteed leads. But that certainly hasn’t slowed the glut of ads in afternoon talkers.
"We typically air about 50-70% career-related educational accounts in our daytime talk shows," said Desi Hernandez, Local Sales Manager at WSFL-TV near Miami. "(Schools) will continue to run ads in talk shows for a simple reason: The ad runs, and the phone rings."
"It’s not uncommon for a school to run two, three, maybe four ads within a specific show," said Lynne Ramsey, Traffic Manager at KCCI-TV in Des Moines.
Taking the high road?
With the 2008 political season looming large, afternoon airtime is being encroached upon faster than prime real estate. Career colleges are finding themselves upping the ante and placing buys in high-brow (and subsequently high-priced) talk show forums.
"Normally, it’s ‘the trashier, the better’ … but not always," said Shannon Hart, Sales Manager for KCWE-TV, Kansas City. "We often have clients buying our trashy daytime programming, but also placing that exact same ad in our Oprah and (Dr.) Phil programs."
Oddly, one show has always been at the top of the tabloid trash heap when it comes to garnering leads. It should come as no big surprise to anyone that The Jerry Springer Show remains a consistent, sure-fire lead machine. For well over a decade, this daily freak festival still manages to dominate in many of its markets although its heyday of Oprah-sized ratings are clearly over.
Being bombarded by career college ads in talk shows is commonplace. But what, if anything, is going to steal their thunder?
"We are seeing
increasing success in judge shows," said Julia Pankiewicz, Senior Media Buyer at PlattForm. "They’ve helped ease the pain of losing stalwarts like Ricki, Sally and Jenny."
"Judge shows are the new thing and much more interesting in my opinion," said Glenn Coleman, Local Sales Manager at KTXA-TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth. "Come on! Judge Judy? You could watch her belittle someone all day, and it never gets old!"
Tyra all the time
With so many stations being swallowed up by corporate entities, it’s easy to have several stations in a market with the same owner. Often, these stations cross-pollinate their programming, which is why The Tyra Banks Show can run at both 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. on seemingly competing stations.
Bigger markets can have eight, nine, sometimes a dozen career colleges sandwiched in a city. Each of them desperately trying to make a name for themselves and/or separate themselves from the competition. And yet, ironically, they all tend to duke it out during, say, Maury.
"Like it or not, these talk shows attract an audience – a loyal audience – that will respond when the right message is advertised within the program," said KCWE’s Hart. "Hence schools concentrating their message in the talk shows; it works by delivering leads."
"Reality is escapism," said Richard Segal, Sales Manager at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. "People love this stuff and could watch it over and over. And that’s why schools pay the prices they do to advertise … it’s spot-on target marketing, and it works."
"You want to know who’s watching these shows? The exact demographic our career colleges are targeting," said Katie Tomlinson, Director of Media Resources at PlattForm. "It’s the coveted 18- to 34-year-olds who – pardon the expression – need to get a life."
"It’s called the 80-20 rule," said Danny Pumpelly, a Senior Media Buyer at PlattForm. "Proven shows are going to work 80% of the time no matter where you run them. Folks in Seattle love their Springer as much as people in Orlando, but it’s that 20% that is completely arbitrary and unpredictable."
Pumpelly also mentioned that most schools rarely give the time of day about the time of day their ads air. "It’s all about analyzing results and acting on the ever-changing ebb and flow of leads. Everything we do is data driven, but if we have data that suggests Montel actually works, then heck yeah, we’ll run during Montel."
Five years from now, is there a contingency plan on the horizon if the talk-show format ever died a slow, painful death?
"I don’t believe talk shows are dying, just evolving," Hart said. "There will always be a new face to the talk show category. They all try their own formats – some more Springeresque than others."
"We call it ‘Nuts & Sluts’ … the people on these shows are nuts or they’re sluts," said Segal. "But it ain’t broke, so why fix it?"