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No Derby Day? No Problem. How Simulmedia Can Reach Your Audience Without Live Sports

Mary Grace Scully
Mary Grace Scully
Published: May. 01, 2020

Without big sporting events, advertisers that rely on live sports to reach their target audiences and drive business results now find themselves having to quickly execute a Plan B instead. That’s why we’ve been running campaign experiments that prove sports fans are still watching other programs on TV. It just requires a different approach to reaching them.

This brings us to our most recent experiment: Derby Day. Saturday, May 2nd would have marked the 146th Kentucky Derby. While the race itself starts and ends in about the time it takes for me to make myself a mint julep, an entire afternoon of programming is devoted to the race on NBC. This gives a range of advertisers the opportunity to get in front of the Derby audience because the prices of the spots range significantly throughout the afternoon as well.

The average commercial spot during last year’s Derby Day on NBC was $184,734, but spots in the early afternoon, when the festivities are only beginning, cost in the ballpark of $50k. These spots double in price about every hour, jumping up to about $340k per spot before the post time at 6:50pm last year.

Even at just $50k, about 15% of the price of the most expensive Derby spot, we’d still reach about half of both of these target audiences that all of the Kentucky Derby spots did combined.

Our planning software took all of this into account when setting up the rules of our experiment, even calculating the total reach of every spot throughout the entire programming event combined.

With advertisers forced to wait until the fall for the chance to air their ads during this year’s Derby, our experiment will show brands how they can reach as many, if not more, of The Derby audience this weekend while they watch other programs on TV. With patented planning software, buying audiences with Simulmedia is a safer bet than any gamble at the Derby.

Rules of our experiment

Campaign duration: 3 days. We selected 5/1-5/3 to align with the Derby’s originally scheduled race day, May 2.

Campaign cost: $340,000. This is the average price of the commercials that air immediately before the race starts.


Audience reach for A25-54 in market for financial services and A21+ bourbon drinkers.

For $340k, which is the price of a prime Derby spot (noting that some were as much as $370k), Simulmedia built a plan across 56 networks and 431 different spots over the course of this weekend.

Our plan would have reached 65% more A25-54 in the market for financial services than the highest performing spot in the 2019 Derby did. Not only that, but our plan would have reached 46.6% more of this audience than every spot in Derby did, combined.

To put that in perspective, our platform predicts reaching almost three times as many A25-54 in market for financial services this weekend without live sports compared to the total of that audience watching the Country Horse cross the finish line last year.

The results are just as impressive for targeting bourbon drinkers outside of this bourbon-soaked mint julep holiday. Our plan would have reached 38% more A21+ bourbon drinkers this weekend than every spot combined did at the Kentucky Derby in 2019.

But to really drive home the (horse)power of our platform, we ran the experiment again at a reduced budget. For $100k, which is less than one third of the budget of the most expensive spots, we’d still reach more bourbon drinkers and adults in the market for financial services.

Simulmedia plans versus buying the most expensive spot airing right before the race.

Even at just $50k, about 15% of the price of the most expensive Derby spot, we’d still reach about half of both of these target audiences that all of the Kentucky Derby spots did combined.

Simulmedia plans versus total reach of select audiences throughout the duration of the Derby.

So, what are these audiences watching, if not live sports?

Here’s a closer look at the A25-54 in market for financial services plan:

TV networks and spots that were cost-effective in driving target audience reach.

While this was just an experiment, it shows that coveted viewers of live sports can still be found across all of national TV despite major sports cancellations. You just need the right tools for the job in order to reach them. This is exactly what Simulmedia offers. We give you the power to reach these viewers no matter what they’re watching, as well as more just like them. Plus, we can reach them fast. Our platform can get your campaign on air - and off the air - in as little as three days. Let’s just say if Simulmedia were to have a horse in this year’s race, we’d certainly bet on it.

Livestream: Experiment Walk-through

Simulmedia’s Erica Meyer, VP of Account Management, and Nico Ricci, Chief Data Scientist, joined us to walk-through how for less than the price of one Derby 30-second ad, Simulmedia can reach more Derby viewers across TV this weekend, in particular, more A25-54 in market for financial services.

They also use Nielsen viewing data to show that sports fans are still in fact watching TV, just in other places. Download the slides we use in the livestream breaking down the viewing trends.

If you’re interested in seeing how Simulmedia can strategically reach a lot more of your brand’s target audience no matter their make up or show preferences, predict what they will actually watch on TV using our patented forecasting technology, deploy software to get on air and measure results fast, and help you take control during this uncertain time, let us know.

We’ll get back to you with a personal campaign proposal, free of charge, showing how you can reach your strategic audience across national TV.