How should I manage my avails and related pricing so inventory doesn't go unsold or doesn't always sell out?
“What do you mean we don’t have any avails left in drive time?"
Have you ever heard that from your salespeople? Did they know of your avails situation in advance? Did you?
Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture. Managing your avails begins with knowing the value of your inventory across all dayparts and days of the week. That number will let you know the potential revenue on a monthly and yearly basis, which is important when projecting your annual revenue for your goals and budget.
When you know the total value – and every daypart has a value – your next step is to sell the value of all of your dayparts to every prospect and client.
If you plan correctly and show the value of each daypart to your sponsors, there is no time period that should go unsold, and you can better manage your inventory.
But let’s look at a real-world situation for a moment. There are sponsors who believe that the morning and afternoon drive times are the best place to reach your listeners, so that’s the only place they want to run their credits. That can increase the demand on your limited supply of avails. You can accommodate that request but spots in high- demand dayparts should be priced higher when that’s the only daypart the sponsor wants to buy. The rule of “supply and demand” calls for higher rates.
However, you can manage your inventory and, with advanced planning, not have to increase the rates in high-demand dayparts when you offer a package that includes other dayparts.
Here are examples of schedules that can help you manage the sales of inventory in all dayparts.
A Total Audience Plan (TAP) can be designed using either three or four dayparts. The plan includes inventory from Monday through Sunday. The three-part TAP is made up of your morning drive, midday, and afternoon drive dayparts. When you add your evening daypart to the mix it becomes a four-part TAP. Both of those plans will deliver a valuable audience to your sponsor while spreading out the use of your inventory.
Compared to a drive-time only schedule, one that uses additional dayparts means fewer spots are needed in your drive times, which lessens the demand for that inventory. The benefit to your underwriter is that her schedule will reach a larger number of your listeners.
Of course if the only dayparts the sponsor wants are the morning and afternoon drives, then those dayparts should be priced at a premium rate, higher than when packaged with other dayparts.
Having several package options provides benefits for the underwriter and the station, including:
Creation of an incentive for underwriters, providing them with a way to have more spots (at a potentially lower cost overall) which can lead to an increase in listener response.
Offering existing underwriters a way to reframe their thinking about how they can buy efficiently.
Can help dissuade underwriters from wanting only drive times, or specific programs.
Your department’s inventory will be spread over all dayparts instead of only one or two, helping to avoid a sold-out situation, and you’ll maximize your revenue potential by selling more station inventory.