Where can marketers find teen boys? Video arcades are the best bet, says Eric Hebel, VP of Channel M, an 11-year-old L.A.-based company that runs a network of closed-circuit TV programming outlets in 175 U.S. mall-based arcades.
Targeting males in the 12 to 24 age bracket (comprising 67% of Channel M Arcade Network’s reach), Channel M’s TV screens blast out high-energy music videos, extreme sports coverage, music artist interviews, trivia, animation-and demo-appropriate advertising. For US$55,000, teen marketers can run 30-second spots on the Network every 40 minutes, netting more than 80,000 exposures with six million viewers every 28 days.
‘Marketers are having a harder and harder time reaching teen boys through traditional means of advertising,’ says Hebel. ‘They’re not watching TV every night, and they don’t read a lot of magazines, so marketers need to look at new vehicles to get them.’ Channel M has worked with biggies like Nintendo, Mattel, Coca-Cola, Lego and Hasbro, as well as various movie studios and television networks. Marla K. Goldstein, NBC’s senior director of media planning, used Channel M to promote last year’s critically-acclaimed high school dramedy series Freaks and Geeks and the net’s Saturday morning teen programming block tNBC. Goldstein says females are easy to reach through magazines such as Seventeen, YM, Teen Vogue and Tiger Beat, but ‘there are considerably fewer ways, in terms of size of audience and relative impact, to reach teen boys. Channel M delivers that audience that we really can’t get any other way.’
San Francisco-based Zowi Corporation, which offers a chequing account- or credit card-funded buying card called Cobaltcard that lets teens shop on-line and at stores that accept American Express, is the newest Channel M advertiser. Looking to skew its product slightly male, Zowi has commissioned Channel M to create a 15-second TV spot that starts running on the Arcade Network (two locations) this month. The spot, along with supporting display posters and flyers in arcades, direct teens to a special URL with the incentive to win prizes like 1,000 free tokens or US$250 on a Cobaltcard. Rounding out the program, a second on-line sweepstakes on www.namcoarcade.com, a teen video game enthusiast site that nets between 17,000 and 20,000 daily hits, will offer the same prizes.
The largest out-of-home TV network in the U.S., Channel M also reaches consumers at movie theaters and Blockbuster stores, reaching a total of 11 million six- to 11-year-olds and about 30 million kids in the two to 17 range every 28 days. Channel M recently launched a Retail TV service designed for retailers with in-store TVs.
Hebel says music chains will be Channel M’s next natural location, and plans also include going after restaurants with a kid-specific audience like Chuckie Cheese.