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Creating a New Cable Buying Metric

Universal Regional Networks (URN™) increases audience by 100% without additional funding

“A3 media continues to address how to build a better mousetrap. In 2015, A3 began to look at buying cable horizontally across the footprints offered by cable providers. This at the time was a new concept. Most cable providers are set up to offer vertical (market-by-market) placement. Cable can be challenging to buy. A3 offered a time saving, cost efficient buying model. Fast forward into the 3rd year of the planning cycle and 90% of the agencies in the county still do not entertain buying cable horizontally. This is a disservice to the client. A3 has found a way to be innovative. They are courageous in their approach to the business.”

Donna Sue Marks
National Sales Director, Via Media TV

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Executive Summary

Our client, a mid-market, regional company with products available in 23 states, was interested in adding television advertising to their current media mix. They wanted to reach their targeted consumers in 109 targeted markets within the states that had product availability. The TV campaign was requested to run twelve-weeks, during their busiest selling season and provided a modest advertising budget to accomplish the task.


  • Add a sustained television advertising campaign to the existing media plan in the most cost-effective manner

  • Reach all 109 markets with television advertising

  • Achieve a 70% reach with a 3+ frequency within the specified audience in these markets over the twelve-week period


1. Linking Unconnected Media Markets and Outlets

Local television network affiliates are not all network owned. The majority are privately held and only share the affiliation and insertion feed for nationally televised commercials. All other advertising inventory is sold locally. Airing a commercial with the CBS affiliate in Cleveland as well as Pittsburgh means dealing with each one individually in order to have a commercial appear in both markets.

2. Unifying Unequal Market Measurement Metrics

Television metrics are typically rated and priced on a cost per point basis (CPP). Each point represents 1% of that market area’s measured demographic audience. Larger markets typically carry a greater cost per point due to greater population numbers.  For Example, a point in NYC could be an audience 10X larger than the same audience point measured in Cincinnati.

3. Accessibility

The only option for tying together all 109 markets was using NCC Media (NCC). NCC is the organization that represents video programming providers (cable and satellite providers) in every US market and is jointly owned by three of the nation’s largest cable providers.

4. Budget restraints

  • National buys yield tangible measurement and cost metrics but do not provide a uniform rating system or multi market price advantage when purchased at the local level.

  • Initial estimates in utilizing NCC’s services would require a budget increase of over 200%


A3 Media creates URN™ (Universal Regional Network) to accomplish the task.

A3 media quickly assessed that the standard TV cost per point (CPP) model would not be financially feasible for our client if we needed to assess 109 different size audiences individually. In order to standardize costs across all markets and develop a more precise measurement for reach and frequency. A3 Media moved the metrics to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) which is a measurement that radio, out of home and digital marketing have been moving toward for several years. Doing so allowed for equal assessment and cost efficiency within each local flight.

In order to sway the cable providers to alter their standard metrics from CPP to CPM, A3 Media developed the “Universal Regional Network” (URN™) which facilitates the purchase of network ads based on the measurement of impressions rather than points. Implementing this change involved convincing the preferred cable networks (Comcast, Time Warner, Spectrum Reach, Bright House, Cox, Via Media and Cable Vision) to sell the spots directly to our agency and bypass the NCC and their inflated managerial costs.

A3 Media then created a method that would combine all local television systems with a single contract that included 232 local and interconnect cable systems within the 109 markets. The scale of this challenging approach had never been attempted before. A3 Media accepted the challenge and agreed to monitor every individual market for each of the cable providers as their internal structure was not capable of doing so. This unique strategy enabled A3 Media to negotiate rates that were far more favorable than would have been possible if purchased using the traditional local model.


By using the “Universal Regional Network” (URN™), A3 Media was able to effectively and efficiently reach the desired audience in each of the client’s 109 markets.

Utilizing only the client’s intended budget, URN™ was able to drive impression levels from 19.9M households to over 43M households reaching more than 130M Americans. A3 Media exceeded the client’s objectives and the campaign yielded a reach above 85% and average frequency in most markets of 10+. The innovative efficiency of the buy allowed the weeks of the campaign to be extended from twelve to eighteen weeks, a 50% increase in overall audience exposure.


For regional mid-market companies, achieving media goals requires partnering with an agency that understands each specific need and will push to exceed the client’s objectives in every medium. A3 Media expertly assesses the needs and obstacles each of our clients face. When a system is not yet in place to accomplish a goal, we will create one, like the “Universal Regional Network” (URN™). A3 Media excels at delivering the advertising solutions that matter and produce the best possible results for our clients.

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