Local Thunder’s ‘Promotional Stew’ for TV Sites

The leading evangelists for online TV station advertising – WorldNow, IBS, Broadcast Interactive Media, Media Span, the station groups themselves – have their work cut out for them. Some TV stations are now registering in the mid-six figures for online sales, but most, going into the NAB Show next week in Vegas, really haven’t done much.

In addition to the companies above, I’ve been talking to Local Thunder, a new entrant focusing on providing a TV station-hosted “promotional stew” for local advertisers. The Portland,ME-based firm now has six stations selling its solutions, and 14 stations signed up. Post-NAB, the company promises to announce many more. The current lineup ranges in size from Denver (DMA #14) to Monroe, LA (DMA #142)

At the heart of Local Thunder’s offering is a discount gift certificate program that allows consumers to prepay for electronic gift certificates that can be brought into the store. The certificates, which are discounted at 20-25 percent, are similar to what restaurant.com is doing in that space – and locks in the customer. Local Thunder also provides coupons, which are preferable for low dollar sales, (i.e. frozen custard), targeted email newsletters and rich banner ads.

So far, 220 advertisers have signed up, typically for six-month programs. One of the pioneering sites is KNOE-TV in Monroe. Since February, it has sold 40 ads. Packages run in six month increments, and are valued at $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the size of the market, etc.

“We’re providing a CMS (Content Management System) for building out city sites,” says COO Jim Boutin. He notes that the focus on promotional offerings lets stations better serve existing customers – many of which have no other Web presence — and attracts new customers as well. One station, CSRA-TV in Augusta, GA, for instance, is getting a 50/50 new customer/old customer split. The notion of “how do you sell it” has not been a problem for our clients and their sales staffs, adds Product Development head Matt Kennedy.