CBS Pairs Traditional and Digital Media to Reach Consumers

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On the first day of the inaugural Street Fight Summit, Ezra Kucharz, president of CBS Local Digital Media, said in a keynote address that TV and radio are not going anywhere, but that broadcasting will continue to integrate more with online and mobile. CBS has dramatically reshaped its local online properties to combine content across platforms, resulting in major traffic growth over the past year, he said.

“We’ve changed the business fundamentally here in a very short period of time,” Kucharz said. More specifically, CBS took its separate brands in 25 local markets and combined them into regional online portals. The portals are anchored around sports, traffic/weather and news, as well as added lifestyle content.

“One of the things we’ve seen more and more of is this integration model,” he said. And more and more marketers and advertisers are asking for multi-platform campaigns, he said. A TV campaign receives a 24 percent lift in brand awareness when paired with digital. “This is going to become really important here in the next 12 to 24 months.”

Kucharz pointed out that CBS is uniquely positioned to capture the consumer throughout the day, starting with the morning radio, continuing with digital content throughout the day, and ending with the television. The idea is to plant a story on the radio that consumers continue to follow and share online. “What this creates for all of us is a lot of opportunity,” he said. And at the root of it all is “great content.”

Mobile is the next frontier, though ad dollars haven’t caught up yet, he said. The company has seen a big lift in traffic to the mobile Web and app usage, which Kucharz predicts will be as big as online in the next few years.

Does this mean that CBS feels positioned to beat the digital-only content companies popping up in local markets? Not necessarily. He said they are actively seeking content and technology partners to help build traffic and revenue, though he was vague about what they are specifically looking for. “We’re looking for other companies to work with on interesting ideas in the local space to help us reach consumers and generate revenue,” he said.

Photo credit: Shana Wittenwyler