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How Local TV Advertisers Can Survive The Upcoming Onslaught Of Political Ads

10/12/2015

If your intent, as a Central Pennsylvania business owner, is to advertise your products or services on Local Television in 2016, you will have to “play politics” to ensure that your commercials will air.  No, you don’t have to run for office, but you do need to be aware of those candidates who are and the effects they’ll have on your advertising plans. 

 

Many in the Broadcast industry are expecting two robust rounds of political advertising here in the Keystone State.  I’ve recently interviewed the advertising sales managers at WGAL, WHTM, WHP, WPMT, and Comcast Spotlight to ...

read more

Television Really Sizzles in the Summer

6/16/2015

MORE NEW SHOWS ON MORE SCREENS

Advertisers are increasingly focused on premium video content—wanting to be sure that their ads are placed on programming that people want to watch and that the content won’t damage their brand. In its first major report since broadcast and cable networks teamed up to create the Video Advertising Bureau (from the former Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau), the VAB explains how television networks rule summer programming, with more new series than any competing content source—and dominance across all screens.

Ad-supported television networks have announced more than 70 new programs for the summer, by ...

read more

Small Business Recovery Mode

6/4/2015

SMALL BUSINESSES STILL IN RECOVERY MODE

OPTIMISM FOR GROWTH; HIRING PROBLEMS

Seven years after the “Great Recession,” two-thirds (64%) of small business owners report their businesses are still in the process of recovering, according to a survey for Bank of America. The semi-annual nationwide survey by Braun Research found that only one in five (21%) state they have completely recovered from the recession.

However, despite these lingering impacts from the Great Recession, small business owners are still confident about the future growth of their businesses: 63% believe revenue will increase in the next 12 months (versus 62% last fall), and ...

read more

Sorry, Flo!

6/2/2015

Some of the most heavily-advertised brands in the auto insurance business do not do well in the annual J.D. Power satisfaction study of the insurance purchase experience.

Power notes that after average rate increases of 2.5% in 2013 and 2.1% last year, many customers are shopping for a new insurer, but few are actually switching. “Customers are being pushed into the market due to rate increases,” Power’s director of insurance practice said. “But unless they can find a policy that will save them money, they’re not switching providers. In fact, many of those customers can ...

read more

How Local TV Advertisers Can Survive The Upcoming Onslaught Of Political Ads

How Local TV Advertisers Can Survive The Upcoming Onslaught Of Political Ads

10/12/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
1 years ago

If your intent, as a Central Pennsylvania business owner, is to advertise your products or services on Local Television in 2016, you will have to “play politics” to ensure that your commercials will air.  No, you don’t have to run for office, but you do need to be aware of those candidates who are and the effects they’ll have on your advertising plans. 

 

Many in the Broadcast industry are expecting two robust rounds of political advertising here in the Keystone State.  I’ve recently interviewed the advertising sales managers at WGAL, WHTM, WHP, WPMT, and Comcast Spotlight to understand the projected advertising environment my clients need to prepare for.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

 

All indicators point to a record amount of political dollars being invested here in Central Pennsylvania.  The most active months will be in what is known as the “Political Windows”:

  • 45 days before the Primary Election (March 12 through April 26)
  • 60 days prior to the General Election (September 9 through November 8)

 

How much will be spent?  Here’s what one station executive shared:

  • $1.2 million in March
  • $2.0 million in April
  • $1.6 million in August
  • $2.5 million in September
  • $3.0 million in October

 

 

Those numbers represent significant increases over the record expenditures of 2012.  Where will all of this money be spent?  Not all stations will share it equally.  WGAL, because of its dominance with local news programming, will garner the lion’s share, probably nearly 45%.  On the other end of the spectrum, WPMT / FOX43 will pick-up about 10%.

 

Political dollars will be spent pushing, positioning, and poking candidates and issues for the following:

 

PRESIDENTIAL

Without an incumbent in the race, expect the remaining Republican and Democrat candidates to spend BIG money.  Pennsylvania is seen by many as an important swing state.

 

SENATE

Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey seeks reelection.  PAC money is already being spent to support him.  Look for Democrat challengers Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty to face-off in April.

 

CONGRESSIONAL

Expected spending to be higher than in 2014 for the (6) Congressional Districts in our DMA.

 

PA STATE TREASURER / STATE AUDITOR GENERAL / STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL 

Very crowded fields in the Primary will result in aggressive spending levels.

 

PA STATE ASSEMBLY 

Numerous House and Senate seats up for grabs.

 

VARIOUS ISSUE ADVERTISING

Projected to come from groups representing special interests in the Presidential, Senate, Congressional, and State Officers as well as PACS.  Look for various backers and distracters of Marcellus Shale (Energy), Healthcare Reform, and Medical Marijuana.

 

So, how much ad time can a Candidate buy on a station?  According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines, here’s what we know:

 

Federal candidates – i.e., candidates for President, Vice President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives – are entitled to “reasonable access” to buy spots on broadcast stations.  Stations must sell time to federal candidates throughout their campaign and cannot set any predetermined limits on the spot inventory made available to federal candidates.  The only exception is that stations can exclude federal candidates from news programs.

 

State and local candidates, on the other hand, do not have any right of access.  Accordingly, stations can set limits on their inventory and/or accept ads only for certain races; or decline ads altogether.  However, if they accept one candidate, they must treat all other candidates in the same race evenhandedly.  Also, remember that if they afford time to state and local candidates, all other political rules apply, including lowest unit rate and equal opportunities obligations.

 

What price do Candidates pay for commercials?

 

During the 45-day period preceding next year’s Pennsylvania primary election (March 12 -April 26) and the 60-day period preceding the general election (September 9 - November 8), all spots sold to candidates must be provided at the station’s “lowest unit rate.”  The lowest unit rate (or “LUR”) is the amount that is offered or charged to the station’s most preferred commercial advertiser for the same class (e.g., immediately preemptible spot) and amount of time (e.g., 30 seconds) for the same period (e.g., 11:00 news).  Outside the applicable LUR windows, stations can charge “comparable rates” charged other similarly-situated commercial advertisers.

 

Note that the LUR does not apply to third-party ads or Internet advertising.  The LUR only applies to authorized candidates.

 

Is every Candidate given an equal opportunity to purchase advertising time?

 

When there has been a “use” of a station by one candidate, legally qualified opposing candidates for the same office (whether federal, state or local) must be given an equal opportunity to “use” the station in a manner comparable to the first candidate.  Stations are not required, however, to notify opposing candidates of their equal opportunities rights; instead, these candidates must make their equal opportunities claims within seven days after the triggering “use” – which is why it’s very important that information about political buys and other “uses” be placed in a station’s political file promptly.

 

For example, if Mayoral Candidate A buys a schedule of prime time spots, then the station must allow Mayoral Candidate B an equal opportunity to purchase the same amount and desirability of time, provided that Candidate B requests such time within seven days after Candidate A’s first spot airs.  

 

The equal opportunities obligation also applies where a free “use” is made.  For example, if the station airs an old movie in which Candidate A appears, then Candidate B would have a right to request free comparable time on the station.

 

Please note, however, that candidate appearances on many news and public affairs programs are exempt from the equal opportunities requirements.  These exempt “uses” include candidate appearances on bona fide newscasts, news interview programs, news documentaries and on-the-spot coverage of news events.

 

Okay, so what can you do to insure that your commercials air during the two upcoming “Political Windows”?  Here are some strategies suggested by the Local TV Sales Managers:

 

  1. Book early.  Plan in advance and place your schedules with each station as soon as possible.  Available commercial inventory will sell-out rapidly as we approach the “Political Windows”.
  2. Pay a higher rate, especially in news programming.  Rates fluctuate on a daily basis according to the class of time ordered.  Outside of the “Political Windows”, most advertisers will negotiate a low rate considered to be immediately peemptible.  In most months, those commercials will usually air.  But during the “Political Windows” next year, immediately peemptible spots will be blown-out first by Political ads.  Buying in advance won’t necessarily protect you if it’s at a very low rate.  Be willing to pay middle of the rate card.
  3. Consider running 10-second commercials.  If your message can be effectively communicated in less time, this could give you a big advantage.  Nearly all political ads are 30-seconds in length.
  4. Buy outside of news programming.  Inquire with each station about programming that’s unique to them and that politicians won’t necessarily buy.  For example, NBA basketball or college football telecasts, local home improvement / healthcare / self-improvement sponsorships — all are areas that politicians don’t typically use.
  5. Use Cable TV during the “Political Windows”.  Providers like Comcast Spotlight and Service Electric will have available inventory on networks such as FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Bloomberg, CNBC, and FOX Business Network if you need to reach a news oriented audience. 
  6. Go Digital.  Custom, dominant banner ads and video pre-roll are available on stations’ websites.  And Digital ads don’t play by the same FCC regulations as do broadcast ads.  If you place a dominant, fixed-placement ad on a station website, a political candidate or PAC will NOT preempt you.
  7. Avoid October.  The Central Pennsylvania DMA will be wall-to-wall with political ads.  Most stations’ newscasts (especially WGAL & WHTM) will be sold-out.

 

Finally, your local station account executive should alert you in advance to potential weeks that could be of concern.  Most stations place “dummy” political schedules into

their computer inventory systems to reserve the projected political time and minimize the actual local advertiser displacement.

 

Local television advertising is still the most impactful media for reaching consumers that use your products or services.  It’s just going to be a little more challenging to “stand-out” in 2016’s crowded political market. So, the best advise:  Don’t wait.  Plan early for next year’s TV advertising.  Be willing to pay a little more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Television Really Sizzles in the Summer

Television Really Sizzles in the Summer

6/16/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

MORE NEW SHOWS ON MORE SCREENS

Advertisers are increasingly focused on premium video content—wanting to be sure that their ads are placed on programming that people want to watch and that the content won’t damage their brand. In its first major report since broadcast and cable networks teamed up to create the Video Advertising Bureau (from the former Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau), the VAB explains how television networks rule summer programming, with more new series than any competing content source—and dominance across all screens.

Ad-supported television networks have announced more than 70 new programs for the summer, by VAB’s tally. That cuts across more than 40 broadcast and cable networks. Meanwhile, Netflix has announced five. Those new TV shows, combined with a large mix of continuing established programming, “will offer viewers original content every day of summer,” says VAB.

When it comes to reach, no other medium even comes close to TV in the summer. VAB says Persons 2+ reach over the summer, as calculated by Nielsen, is 97%. By demo, the percentages range from 94% for Persons 18-24 and 95% for Persons 18-34 to 96% for Persons 18-49 and 97% for Persons 25-54. That leaves out hardly anyone when it comes to summertime TV viewing.

Looking at Nielsen Npower data from last summer, VAB finds that “the depth of new, original content drives people to TV brands across screens.” During July 2014 Persons 2+ spent an average 136 hours, 25 minutes with ad-supported TV brands, including 100 hours, 28 minutes watching the TV screen, 22 hours, 16 minutes on a computer and 13 hours, 41 minutes on a mobile device. That compared to a total 17 hours, 23 minutes on the four portals (Google, MSN, AOL and Yahoo!), including 13 hours, 13 minutes on a computer and 4 hours, 10 minutes on a mobile device, and to a total of 17 hours, 56 minutes on Facebook, including seven hours, 2 minutes on a computer and 10 hours, 54 minutes on a mobile device.

The same trends hold up for the younger demos as well. In Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-24 television content still beats the four portals or Facebook in time spent on the computer screen or on mobile screens. And, of course, time spent watching TV content on a TV screen dwarfed the time spent watching other screens— even if you added the TV streaming time to the time spent with the four portals and Facebook.

“Almost four times more time is spent with ad-supported TV brands across screens during the summer months than with the four portals and Facebook combined,” said VAB.

Small Business Recovery Mode

Small Business Recovery Mode

6/4/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

SMALL BUSINESSES STILL IN RECOVERY MODE

OPTIMISM FOR GROWTH; HIRING PROBLEMS

Seven years after the “Great Recession,” two-thirds (64%) of small business owners report their businesses are still in the process of recovering, according to a survey for Bank of America. The semi-annual nationwide survey by Braun Research found that only one in five (21%) state they have completely recovered from the recession.

However, despite these lingering impacts from the Great Recession, small business owners are still confident about the future growth of their businesses: 63% believe revenue will increase in the next 12 months (versus 62% last fall), and 66% plan to grow their business in the next five years. 67% of small business owners would rather delay or reduce their own compensation than take any other course of action to make ends meet. In fact, more than half (54%) of small business owners surveyed said they have either never given themselves a raise, or haven’t done so in more than two years. More women than men report having never given themselves a raise (23% of women, versus 15% of men). 85% of small business owners work more than 40 hours per week on average. Furthermore, 30% of respondents work more than 60 hours per week on average.

When it comes to their employees, small business owners overwhelmingly find the need to reward them and show their appreciation. Almost all (94%) say their companies have employee appreciation programs, including: Dinners and outings (46%); Spot bonuses (44%); Office recognition programs (35%); Extra time off (34%); and Off-cycle raises or promotions (25%).

46% of small business owners plan to hire additional employees over the next 12 months, down from 52% a year ago. One potential reason for this decline is that 41% are struggling to find qualified job candidates. They cite a number of challenges, including candidates who: Lack the skill sets they are seeking (59%); Have salary expectations that are too high (45%); Prefer to work for a large or midsize brand (29%); Want benefits they do not provide (26%).

As for those benefits—56% of small businesses offer employees flexible hours; 48% closing on major holidays; 46% paid vacation time; and 37% health insurance.

When asked about top economic concerns, small business owners once again cited health care costs as a top concern (70%) with the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders coming in as the second-highest concern (69%). Interestingly, while two in five small business owners believe required health care plans for employees would have the greatest negative impact on their businesses, another 23% believe they would have a positive impact.

Sorry, Flo!

Sorry, Flo!

6/2/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

Some of the most heavily-advertised brands in the auto insurance business do not do well in the annual J.D. Power satisfaction study of the insurance purchase experience.

Power notes that after average rate increases of 2.5% in 2013 and 2.1% last year, many customers are shopping for a new insurer, but few are actually switching. “Customers are being pushed into the market due to rate increases,” Power’s director of insurance practice said. “But unless they can find a policy that will save them money, they’re not switching providers. In fact, many of those customers can’t find a better deal and ultimately don’t switch.”

Power found that only 29% of customers say they found a better deal and switched in the past year, down 12 percentage points from a year ago. Shoppers who did switch though said they achieved an average savings of $388, up from $340 a year ago, which will allow companies to continue to highlight big savings for people who switched in their creative.

Erie Insurance ranked highest for the third year in a row, with a score of 870 on a 1,000-point scale, just ahead of Ameriprise and The Hartford, each with an 869. The industry average of the 23 companies studied was 833. 

Of the two most heavily-advertised brands, GEICO just barely beat the average with an 836 score and Progressive trailed significantly with an 817. 

Other major companies studied were Liberty Mutual (848), Travelers (838), Nationwide and State Farm, each at 834, Allstate (832), and Farmers (831).

USAA, which is only available to military personnel and their families (but still advertises on television), is not included in the rankings but actually beat all the others that were included with an outstanding 896 score.

Car Dealers' Profits Way Up!

Car Dealers' Profits Way Up!

5/31/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

CAR DEALERS' NET PROFIT UP 13.4%

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has just released data for the typical dealership in this year’s first quarter and the numbers are very, very good. The average dealership produced a net profit before tax of $291,964, which is a 13.4% gain over the $257,499 recorded in the first quarter last year.

Total sales for the quarter were 7.3% ahead—the average dealership took in $12.085 million compared to $11.263 million last year. Total gross profit, including cost of goods but excluding Selling, General & Administrative costs or advertising, was $1.652 million, 6.1% better than last year’s $1.558 million. Adding those costs in, total expense was $1.360 million compared to $1.300 million last year, producing the $291,964 net profit.

New vehicle sales brought in $6.679 million at the average dealership, up 7.6% with the average new vehicle selling price of $33,135, 3.3% better.

The used vehicle department produced $3.992 million which was 7.5% better than last year, while the average price of a used vehicle rose by 3.5% to $18,879.

Revenue from Service & Parts was up 5.4% to $1.414 million. NADA says the average dealer spent 6.3% more on advertising, up from $113,662 last year to $120,811, with the average per new vehicle sold up slightly to $639 from $627 last year.

Local Auto Advertising: $15.1 Billion

Local Auto Advertising: $15.1 Billion

5/30/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

TV GETS MOST, ONLINE IS GROWING

 

A new report from BIA/Kelsey projects that automotive organizations will spend more than $15.13 billion on local advertising in 2015, representing 11.1% of the $137.9 billion total local advertising market.

 

“The auto industry and television came of age together as keystones of twentieth-century American culture,” said Mark Fratrik, SVP and chief economist BIA/Kelsey. “The two industries remain closely tied, with the auto industry being dependent on over-the-air television advertising, and all auto vertical subcategories relying heavily on traditional media to get their message to their audience.”

 

Auto dealers and manufacturers are projected to spend $11.3 billion on local advertising this year. There are approximately 17,600 new vehicle dealers in the country and BIA/Kelsey projects that the average auto dealer will spend more than $640,000 on local advertising this year. Other types of dealers—including motorcycles, RVs and such—will spend $50,000 to $100,000 per dealership for a total of $1.0 billion. 

 

Other auto-related businesses—such as auto parts stores, tire dealers and gas stations—will spend a lot less on average, from $15,000 to $40,000 each on average, but still contribute to the $15.13 billion total.

 

Of that $15.13 billion. 77% is expected to be allocated to traditional media. BIA/Kelsey estimates 33.9% of local automotive advertising budgets is spent on over-the-air television, and another 1.7% on TV online advertising. In addition to the heavy use of television, newspaper (14.7%), online (12%) and over-the-air radio (11.6%) account for meaningful traditional market shares in automotive local ad spending.

 

“Despite traditional media’s dominance in the current automotive marketing mix, digital advertising is on the rise, and will represent nearly one-third of automotive local ad spending by 2019,” says Fratrik. Pure online advertising, consisting primarily of search, is the largest digital automotive channel. BIA/Kelsey’s report, Insights into Local Advertising— Automotive Vertical, projects that going forward all growth in local advertising for the automotive vertical category will occur on online/digital media, reaching 30% of total local advertising by 2019, up from 12% in 2015.

Online Viewers Become More Demanding

Online Viewers Become More Demanding

5/25/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

Watching videos online is no longer a novel experience— and with over the top (OTT) viewing increasingly mainstream, people are demanding higher quality in video delivery. The third annual Viewer Experience Report from Conviva says delivering a top-notch experience to each and every viewer has never been more complex—nor more fundamental—to acquiring and retaining an audience.

“Viewers used to be content with an OTT service if the video began playing at all—this is no longer the case,” said Hui Zhang, CEO, Conviva. He says consumers now demand a multi-dimensional experience that provides superior picture fidelity, zero resolution volatility, and TV-like viewing quality, “and will abandon the streams that do not deliver.” Video start failures are diminishing but other factors remain relatively unchanged: Video start failures have decreased by almost half to an all-time low of 2.6% while buffering and low resolution experiences remained relatively unchanged from the previous report. Picture fidelity continues to rise: Worldwide picture fidelity grew 30% in 2014, as picture fidelity increases, so does time spent consuming content.

Playback interruptions are still enemy #1 for OTT services. The Conviva report found that 14 minutes of viewer engagement is lost on average for each 1% of video interruptions experienced.

Multi-screen viewing is at an all-time high: While average household size has been shrinking, the number of devices in use within each household has risen, with the average household of three people using two devices simultaneously during primetime.

Challenges Persist For Small Businesses

Challenges Persist For Small Businesses

5/20/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

SURVEY FINDS LESS OPTIMISM

 

Small business owners reported being less optimistic in the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, due to small declines in how they regard their business financial situation, most notably current revenues. The modest decline in optimism follows a significant jump in small business optimism at the end of 2014 and early 2015.

 

In a quarterly small business survey conducted April 6-10, the overall Index score measuring owner optimism, dipped from 71 in January to 64 in April, representing the first significant decrease since November 2012. The second-quarter Index score is still considerably

higher than it was in the second quarter of 2014 when the score was 47 and 2013, when the score was 16.

 

The survey echoes some of the worries that small business owners voiced in a survey for Bank of America, which we reported on May 5. In that survey only 21% of the respondents said their businesses had completely recovered from the recession.

 

The Wells Fargo/Gallup survey found several factors contributed to the decrease in optimism this quarter, including: Lower revenue—In the April survey, 42% of small business owners reported that their company’s revenues increased over the past 12 months, down from 49% in January; Credit expectations—When asked about access to credit, almost a third (30%) of small business owners said it was very or somewhat easy to obtain credit when they needed it, down slightly from 34% in January.

 

There were some bright points: 58% of small business owners reported that their company’s cash flow was very or somewhat good over the past 12 months, up from 54% in January and 50% a year ago—and the percentage of business owners reporting good current cash flow is the highest since the first quarter of 2008; 65% of small business owners rate their company’s financial situation as very or somewhat good, unchanged from the January survey and up from 57% a year ago.

 

When business owners were asked to identify the most important challenge facing their business, several concerns rose to the top of the list in the April survey. Business owners said their top concern was attracting customers and finding new business (14%), followed by government regulations (11%) and the economy (11%). These top challenges have been consistently reported as top concerns of small business owners since early 2013, when the question was added to the survey.

 

On the hiring front, just 16% of small business owners reported increasing the number of jobs at their company in the last 12 months, compared to 19% in January 2015 and 14% at this time last year.

Homebuyers Coming Off The Sidelines

Homebuyers Coming Off The Sidelines

5/13/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

As the busiest home buying season of the year gets under way, potential homebuyers are poised to get off the sidelines and enter the market, according to a national survey by Chase. Three in ten potential homebuyers say they plan to purchase a home in the next 18 months.

The majority of interested buyers (62%) think that now is a better time to purchase a home compared to last year. Top reasons Americans want to buy now include rising rental costs and historically low interest rates. Whether shifting from renting to buying, or upgrading from their current home, potential homebuyers want to make a move before interest rates begin to rise, as experts predict. 32% want to buy soon in order to take advantage of low rates; 35% say that 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates rising above 4% would delay their decision to buy. 20% percent say the rising cost of rent—making buying a better value—is their number-one reason to buy.

 

Potential home buyers are optimistic that it’s a good time to buy, but they anticipate challenges. Besides interest rates, Chase’s survey found that interested buyers are concerned about finding the home they want within their budget—and beating out the competition to get it. Nearly 70% of prospective homebuyers worry that they may have already missed the chance to buy at the best time because of rising home prices. The majority of potential homebuyers are concerned about finding a home that fits within their budget (56%) and that’s located in a quality neighborhood (56%).

Hitting The Highway This Memorial Day

Hitting The Highway This Memorial Day

5/6/2015 12:00:00 AM EDT
2 years ago

MEMORIAL DAY TRAVEL SPENDING TO RISE

 

AAA Travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 21-25), a 4.7% increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations.

 

It’s no surprise that lower gas prices have made people more likely to take a trip by car. AAA estimates that U.S. households have spent about $400 less on gasoline, due to lower prices so far this year, in comparison to the same period in 2014. Holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.5% to 2.6 million leisure travelers. Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, is expected to decrease 3.6% this Memorial Day, to 1.64 million.

 

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just 2% from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 3% with an average cost of $124 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only 1% higher than last year. Airfares are experiencing the largest increase. The average round-trip, discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased 6% to $227 from $215 last year. AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.