Category Archives: TV advertising

Nielsen fluffs up the TV ratings

The media ratings service Nielsen made two humongo moves recently that acknowledge video viewing is migrating away from live television. On Wednesday, it announced it would no longer track how many TV channels the typical U.S. consumer receives, because as MediaPost reports, “there no longer is a ‘consistent’ meaning for the term ‘channel.’ “

But the real story is this: Nielsen has also decided to change the very nature of television ratings by including “duplicate” viewing — as in, you watch a TV show tonight, and then you watch it again by playing it back on a DVR. This may sound like a nuance, but it is a huge shift in the concept of a media audience delivered. Advertising impressions have always been perceived as mutually exclusive. A newspaper with 100,000 circulation is assumed to reach 100,000 different sets of eyeballs. Broadcast is fuzzier, of course — a 100 GRP schedule could reach 100% of the viewing population once, or 1% of that population 100 times — but at the micro level of a single commercial airing, each audience has been assumed to be unique.

No more. A critic might suspect this move is Nielsen’s way of bolstering the broadcast industry, by boosting ratings numbers as audiences start to slide elsewhere. Magazine and newspaper publishers have tried similar gamesmanship with their BS “readership” malarkey; back in 2007, for instance, Essence magazine claimed its 1.07 million printed copies reached 7.8 million readers thanks to the magic of “passalong readership.” (“Look, honey, Essence magazine came in the mail — let’s hold a party and invite all our friends!”) Is Nielsen gaming the system by adding in numbers beyond the “live audience” to now include duplicates as well? Perhaps. Either way, the real challenge for advertisers is Nielsen provides no way to determine if any of that downstream DVR audience skips over commercials entirely.

Image: Tantek

Study: TV has most influence on consumers

Television is still most likely to convince consumers to purchase your product. A recent study in the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Japan and the U.K. asked 8,824 respondents to rank the top media that sway their purchase decisions. In the U.S., 88% of consumers said TV had the most impact followed by 49% for magazines, 48% for online, 42% for newspaper and only 27% for radio.

Part of TV’s pull may be the sheer saturation levels: Television still captures the lion’s share of marketing budgets, or about 1 in 4 of all advertising dollars. More than $70 billion was spent on television advertising in 2008 vs. $23.6 billion online.

However, online has already eclipsed newspaper and radio in persuasion. Magazines, look out. Via Steve Hall.

Photo: Spoon

Shilo: Guinness Spoken Word

Shilo may be our favorite design firm so we were a sucker for this Guinness spot, which combines Shilo’s trademark dark-think-of-England-being-bombed-in-WWII-ish animation with live action and an actor’s reading worthy of Shakespeare. What the hell does this have to do with beer? Nothing, which is what makes it so iconic. We struggle ourselves every day, trying to get somewhere important — career, family, finances, athleticism, just the evening commute. Guinness hit an emotional chord with us, their demo. Um, but we won’t drink it on the journey home.

Hat tip to Saatchi & Saatchi London, the creative team working with Shilo.

Yahoo and Intel make TV a little less like fire

We’ve often wondered at the failure of smart tech designers like Apple or Samsung to create a successful convergence device. One theory is people don’t want a single interactive gizmo. Humans have three zones of communications: a passive zone in which you view things, like TV or live theater, from a distance; an interactive zone about 2 feet from other people or your laptop screen; and a personal zone 6 inches from your mobile. This could be psychologically based, tied to your cave ancestors listening to stories by campfires vs. whispering intimately to their lovers.

Thus we have big TVs and small cell phones, and no single device does everything.

Steve Rubel notes that convergence may come after all, with Intel and Yahoo creating a Widget Channel that will embed computer-style interactivity onto the big screen. It would be an advertisers’ bonanza to have customers be able to click into the commercials for more information, or even purchases.

We’ll see if people used to watching fire from a distance now want to play with it.

Deconstructing the asterisk*

*Angela Natividad praises J&J and TBWA/Chiat/Day/NY for this campaign encouraging young athletes to stay away from steroids. At first, we thought this was creepy — a bit of a slam on the poor kids who struggle with acne. And then we realized this is brilliant. The only way to get the message out is to have the target pay attention, and acne or skin blemishes are such a pain for teens that they’d probably tune in to this spot to see the outcome.

Marrying an ugly habit with physical ugliness is a risk, but we won’t forget it.

Why Wrangler, we can barely see you

We’re torn over whether this works. Sure, Wrangler’s new TV spots, pointed out by our friend Kelpenhagen, are damned unusual. Could get noticed. Can see the couple on the couch now: “Look, honey, before you change the channel at the break, let’s pause and try to figure out what the hell that spot is about. A new alien flick?”

Subtleness is often loved by talented creative types, who dig nuance because it signals intelligence, sets them apart from loud car salesmen, and often wins awards. Subtleness is also defined as the state of being so delicate that you are difficult to understand.

TiVo pushes YouTube; advertisers tremble

TV advertisers, worried that audiences are avoiding them by skipping ads or moving online, may now have a heart attack. TiVo has announced it will begin streaming YouTube videos to its settop digital video recorders, giving consumers a new way to be entertained without watching ads.

About 1 in 4 U.S. homes now have TiVo-type devices that allow them to record shows and fast-forward through commercials. YouTube attracts 68 million viewers a month, who in May watched 3.8 billion videos. You do the math.

Photo: Esther G.

Cable’s Project Canoe could tip ad spending over

Cable systems Brighthouse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner have been in talks for more than a year to launch a unified ad targeting system. “Project Canoe” would use details on viewer demos to customize ads; if you have a pet, you’d see dog food commercials; if your neighbors have girls, they would be served ads for Barbie Dolls while watching exactly the same channel.

But this week, as the first details emerged, one interesting point came up: If advertisers can improve targeting, might that lead them to reduce their overall media spend?

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch noted in March that the effort is a ploy by cable companies to (a) combat Google TV, which offers detailed viewer profiling and targeting, and (b) to boost their share of the overall TV ad pie from $5 billion to $15 billion a year. (Most of the $70 billion spent on television ads in the U.S. goes to local spots.) But it could backfire. Once marketers realize which half of their TV advertising has been wasted, they may not want to spend that half at all.