local media insider

WCTV.TV's wedding channel using ContentThatWorks

One year later, Draper-owned WCTV.TV weighs in on results from wedding channel

Alisa Cromer

Media: WCTV, a CBS television affiliate
Owner: Gray Television, Inc.
Market: Tallahassee, FL, population just under six million
Audience: 170,000 unique site visitors each month; station penetration is 45% of local TV watchers
Contributors to this report: Ryan Barber, Digital Sales Manager and Paul Camp, ContentThatWorks Chief Evangelist

Initiative: Brides365, an online wedding page
Challenge: To counter the site’s highly over-represented audience age 55 and older, WCTV wanted to attract a new, younger demographic. They also thought there were new opportunities in the market created by the local daily's paywall. The wedding services category seemed like a high value opportunity. 

The case for wedding services as a category 
“Weddings are the one place where you know that a young woman is going to spend, by national average, $27,000,” said Camp, of ContentThatWorks, which launched an online wedding platform in 2012, aiming for local media partnerships.

 “It used to be that the bride had to do a lot of leg work, but now 85 percent of brides plan online. Once a woman announces her engagement 67 percent of her online time is spent on planning her wedding. So it’s a very large, well-defined market where someone is intensely interested in the information for 14 months.
"Vendors recognize that if they do not reach and influence this customer during this 14-month window that person is gone forever.”

WCTV.TV was the first media partner of Content That Works new bridal platform. Benefits were a turnkey set-up that combines curated third party content, with local user-generated content. The site and content itself is fairly rudimentary; there is some pre-packaged content such as why people are marrying later, tips for timely thank-yous, fashions in brides maids dresses, colored cakes to match the wedding theme, etc. In addition, video is curated from YouTube. This video includes pre-roll ads that WCTV.TV does not get a share of, but provides content  free, so WCTV.TV sells banners ads on the site in multi-media packages. Here is how this is presented:

The site collected user-generated info from polls, uploads of UG video content and free, self-service online forms, where brides can enter and publish their wedding and engagement announcements.

Pricing and packaging

The WCTV sales team developed tiered multi-media packages to be sold both by reps to established accounts and by a dedicated rep to new accounts in a ten day sale. Packages included:
• An exclusive title sponsorship who recieve the premium leaderboard plus airtime, and impressions on the larger site for $850 per month.
• The secondary right hand cubes were priced at $195 a month and up, based on number of impressions on the larger site and ranking on the page, with the top ads being the most expensive. 
All sponsors received vendor directory listing, and no directory listings were sold a la carte, so that only sponsors are visible anywhere on the site. 
All sponsorships were sold on long term commitments in return for first right to renewals in for that category. Those who bought at the launch not only were promised first right of renewal in 2013, but also that their rate would be "grandfathered in."

One year later - What's working

As of 2014, the title sponsor  - a venue - is still on board at $850 and sees value in the exclusive position. Other smaller advertisers have dropped out due both to discomfort with advertising during the off-season, which the packaging required, and also changes in staffing that have shifted focus away from this initiative. 

Key points:

• Venues make great advertisers

• The venue's own events planner provided the leads for other sponsors. Other categories icnluding flowers and photography were not exclusive. it may work better to have seasonal advertisers, grandfather them the off season, and make them exclusive.

• Sponsorships were also discounted when packaged with TV advertising from existing customers. 
• The original 15 packages worth $30,000 in incremental revenue sold almost immediately, but of this less than $10,000 a year remains without a renewed effort.
• The initial long-term commitments were obtained from a single sales call. Since sales began in July, 2012, these were sold initially through the end of the year. As of January 2013, sales will all be for year-long commitments.
• Ten percent page view increases for the WCTV site in the last three months
• A few new TV advertisers
• 8000 to 13,000 page views per month, depending on time of year.
Lessons Learned:
• As weddings are seasonal and views fluctuate so any discussion of impressions with a prospective advertiser must include impressions to the main site.
• While dedicated staff is critical, that person needs to be able to also schedule and talk knowledgably about broadcast and run-of-site advertising for the main site, to encourage packaging. This is not a fit for a "digital only" rep. 
• Self-service online entry of free wedding and engagement announcements keeps costs down, traffic up, and sales staff focused on bringing in revenue.

Our Take: The ContentThatWorks platform to build the wedding channel is just one piece of an overall strategy to own the wedding franchise. Best practice is to use the channel to support a bi-annual magazine, and use both of these to support two wedding events and several contests - one at the event, one in the off-season.There is more to be done in this category if it is part of an overall strategy plan to develop a community site. This was a great step in the right direction at Draper, which continues to innovate, and has since launched it's own digital agency.

Many thank to Ryan Barber, Digital Sales Manager at WCTV.TV  and Paul Camp,  of ContentThatWorks for sharing this initiative. 

For more options also:  How to create a great wedding contest and Wedding page creates  $30,000 in ten day sale at WCTV.TVMay 2014 Top Ad Winning Wedding Contest and the full Green Paper on growing a weddings franchise from the best sites around the country.

Check out other peer reviewed resources at MediaExecsTech:

MediaOne of Utah

Wave2 media

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

draper, wctv.tv, weddings, contentthatworks