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In Luring Younger Audiences, First Things First

(CBS/The Early Show)
You can tell a lot about a television program's audience from the commercials that occur in between programming. And the evening newscasts have long been known to carry more than a few ads for Celebrex. Whether it's worth it or not, however, television has always had its eyes on young audiences. In today's Philadelphia Inquirer ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson shared an idea with media columnist Gail Shister about how networks could go about luring younger audiences – by seeking commercial content that appeals to them.
"The current commercials 'bespeak an older audience,' says Gibson, in town last week to anchor 'World News' from the National Constitution Center. 'I'd rather have car ads.

'When you put on ads mostly for medicines, you're saying 'We want an older audience.' I would like ads that say 'We have a younger audience here.'"

Shister noted that such a move by the networks was "not likely," noting that, according to Nielsen Media research the median age of "World News" viewers this season is 59.9, 60.3 for NBC "Nightly News", and 59.5 for the CBS "Evening News."

Gibson's idea is a bit like putting the cart before the horse, it seems. Advertisements for a television broadcast are sold based on that program's existing demographics, said Ken Lagana, vice president of sales at CBS Digital Media. Since the evening newscasts currently skew older, they simply aren't a financially practical outlet for an advertiser who is looking to entice a much younger audience. "That demo just isn't going there," said Lagana.

"You'd have more luck going to those advertisers and have them buy into the ['Evening News'] simulcast because that's more targeted to their demographic," since younger viewers are more likely to get their news online, said Lagana.

All three network newscasts are obviously interested in generating interest among younger viewers—that was noted among the potential benefits sought by CBS News in hiring Katie Couric. But for advertisers targeting younger viewers, they'll have to see that marked change in viewership before they buy air time.

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