The slow evolution of TV advertising

28 07 2007

Product placement in US TV advertising was up 30% in 2006, according to numbers from research firm Nielsen, which has been tracking the category for the last three years. More interesting still, are the comments from John Zamoiski, CEO  of Norm Marshall & Associates, a firm which specialises in marrying brands with entertainment.

Mr Zamoiski asserts that it’s all about permanence: first ushered in with movies released to archival formats, such as VHS and DVD — stuff which consumers would watch over and over again, thereby exponentially increasing the value of any brands featured in such movies.

The explosive growth of TV programs on DVD and new distribution channels such as VOD and online video are only increasing the field of opportunity.

And how pervasive is product placement? Well this is the man whose firm got Dunkin’ Donuts into The Sopranos, Cadillac into Rescue Me, USA Today in The West Wing and Crown Royale in Desperate Housewives.

In related news from the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit, eMarketer reports more Nielsen numbers, suggesting that not only are more Americans interested in watching online video, but that such usage actually increases TV viewing time.

Leslie Moonves: show me the money

23 07 2007

When it comes to multiplatform, Leslie Moonves of CBS has a simple solution: watch more linear telly. According to this report in Ad Age, Moonves is adamant that content monetisation comes from linear and linear only. He sort of has a point and not all at the same time: if you follow his argument that online metrics are a bit wonky, it figures (Nielsen’s more accountable system won’t be in place until 2011) — but then it’s hardly as if linear TV measurement is that accountable.

The report belies a broader point, simply that while an increasing amount of ad spend is moving away from ‘traditional’ media and on to the web — hence why every major network is beefing up its online services — a smaller proportion is going in to online video advertising. Madison Avenue remains years behind the curve when it comes to online video ads, usually farming such work out to the plethora of boutique agencies which specialise in the area; but the spend is still peanuts compared to overall budgets.

Advertisers and networks listen: the web is where < 35s are. Social networks are grabbing their attention in a way TV — until now, the pre-eminent medium — cannot compete with. It’s not the end of TV, it’s the beginning of searchable TV.

Online viewing on the rise, but TV still in rude health; study

18 07 2007

Just a day after New Paradigm’s bleak assessment that 16 to 29s would rather have the internet than TV, Nielsen and the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (detect vested interest?) have hit back with their study, which assert that while 63% of 129 million broadband users in the US watched online video during March (a 16% increase from September 2006), it’s “incremental new viewing”, not a substitute for TV viewing. But there’s more: 33% of those surveyed increased their TV viewing time vs. 13% who spent less time in front of the TV.

Other insights include ABC as leader of the pack when it comes to the network TV portals, while the Yahoo! movie site was the frontrunner in the film category.

Sample and methodology: 2,200 online interviews.

Web metrics just got a little more serious

10 07 2007

No more handbags between comScore Nielsen/NetRatings when it comes to online measurement, at least as far as the US Interactive Advertising Bureau is concerned. Why? You can’t realistically monetise it until metrics are standardised.

As an indication of how complex the whole area can be, here are some of the different metrics being applied by the US networks, when it comes to the performance of online video properties (full report available from TV Week here, assuming it doesn’t become premium content after 24 hours):

“Turner Broadcasting last week said it intends to report how many episodes of its TNT and TBS series are watched online, rather than how many streams, or segments, of a show get played.

Last month, NBC spurred networks to re-examine how they count Web viewers when it announced it had delivered more than 300 million streams of video on since last October.”

“The industry would benefit from standardization in terms of reporting because it’s harder to move forward when there is confusion,” pithily put by Tracey Scheppach, senior VP and video innovation director at media-buying agency Starcom USA [which represents clients advertising on at least four of the major network online offers].

So the piece continues: “If you report streams, you end up being able to game the system, meaning I can create gains or losses at will, simply by cutting a show into more pieces,” said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting.

That’s why Turner has decided to switch from reporting streams to episodes. Earlier this year, Turner reported TBS’ “My Boys” had delivered 2.7 million streams online. But each episode was broken into three streams, providing an unclear picture of how many episodes consumers were watching. [Echoes of MSN’s Live Earth stats to date, anyone?]

“I want to give more information rather than less, and at least give information they can compare to other networks or to episodes on our Web sites,” Mr. Wakshlag said.

The lack of standards so far is keeping the Web from fulfilling its potential as a medium that lets advertisers know exactly who is seeing their commercials — and acting on them.

Quite, hmmm…

ABC reports episode starts, while NBC reports streams. Fox releases aggregated streaming figures for Fox Interactive Media, which includes Fox’s full-length episodes and MySpace videos as well. CBS doesn’t release data on consumption of its online video.

NBC prefers to report streams to give a sense of the volume of people clicking in to its sites, said Vivi Zigler, executive VP of NBC Digital Entertainment and New Media… ABC initially reported streams viewed of its full-length episodes on last summer and then quickly switched to include counts of episodes and streams. Since last fall, has delivered more than 120 million episode starts and more than 500 million streams.

“When we first did streams it was just a mad rush to figure out what the data was,” said Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media with the Disney-ABC Television Group. “But streams are segments of a video. So we decided it’s probably a lot more accurate to call it episode starts.”

Roll on standardisation…