Thursday, December 10, 2009

Research Creates Better Strategies for Web Advertising

In the early days of television, advertisers had no idea how to capture audience attention in the new medium. The only precursor to TV advertising was print or radio ads, so they did the best they could to use those experiences and apply them to an entirely new focus.

Today, we’re looking at a similar problem with web advertising. We know print ads. We know TV ads. But do we know web ads?

Research being conducted by the Walt Disney Company suggests that we don’t know it nearly as well as we think. In the research labs, volunteers are asked to scroll through websites while researchers observe them through one-way glass, recording the movements of their eyes as they track objects and text on the screen. One ad catches the reader’s attention. Another goes by unnoticed. What made the difference?

That’s what the Disney researchers are attempting to discover.

Their methods are fairly straightforward, trying out different combinations of ad types and sizes in different places on the web page to see which are most effective at capturing and holding attention. The research also includes keeping records of heart rate, skin temperature, and facial expressions so that enthusiasm can be recorded.

The Starcom MediaVest Group considers Disney’s research “invaluable,” and Allstate, Kellogg and Bank of America are also getting in on the action.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting Around the TiVo Ad Problem

Cable TV networks have long bemoaned TiVo as a way for their consumers to get around watching regular advertisements. And lately, they’ve also been getting a lot of pressure to put their shows online for free as many stations and networks already do – a double whammy for advertising and a serious threat to the cable networks’ profits.

Comcast is bouncing back with a double whammy of its own: In a test of consumer response, it’s launching several TV shows from a handful of major media companies – including CBS and Time Warner – into online venues. The catch? You can’t watch them unless you’re already a cable subscriber, and the online shows have the full panoply of advertisements, just as they would if you watched them on the tube.

There’s some argument as to whether consumers will accept the new dynamic after having been introduced to full-length TV shows, including many cable network shows, in an online forum for free. Beyond the cost issue, one of the benefits of watching a TV show online thus far has been the drastically shortened advertisements.

In a 30-minute show, for instance, viewers might see only two minutes’ worth of commercials – that’s about 8-10 minutes less than their normal exposure to commercials during the course of a show that length.

TV networks are working on finding a happy medium. More ads than the current brief spots might still be palatable to consumers. After all, fewer ads are still fewer ads – even if those online spots get a little longer than they are currently, they’ll still beat out their TV counterparts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Could That Web Ad Contain a Virus?

Hackers can be smart people and they have started to strategize to expand their reach and attract new victims.

Online advertising is specifically designed to target a large number of people, often in a specific demographic, and hackers are piggybacking on those marketing efforts to land some serious viruses right where they’ll do the most damage.

The strategies of these hackers usually involve taking over a currently existing ad and infecting it with malware. When interested customers click on the perfectly legitimate company ad, they’re also downloading a vicious virus into their company – unbeknownst to either them or the advertising company.

Companies are responding to the virus problem with serious investments in Internet security in an attempt to protect their customers. Obviously the malware-ridden ads can seriously damage a company’s reputation, as consumers get the impression that doing business with them only leads to potential damage to their computers and personal information.

To keep their names out of the mire, companies have worked hard to remedy the problems as soon as they occur and get the ads taken down within a few hours. Unfortunately, a few hours is all it takes for a well-positioned ad to reach thousands of customers, many of whom will be infected with the malware.

Online security may become one of the few places companies are willing to invest more money, even in a rough economy. With web advertising one of the few marketing strategies that is showing growth, companies can’t afford to have those dollars get killed by a virus.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Social Media Beats Out Conventional Marketing for Procter and Gamble

Social Media Beats Out Conventional Marketing for Procter and Gamble

If we had any doubt that social media was the future wave of marketing, there’s a case study recently put out by Procter & Gamble that will make you think twice.

Josh Bernoff, the co-author of Groundswell, demonstrated a social media technique that P&G judged four times as effective as their usual marketing tactics. Dollar for dollar, the social media approach was four times better.

Shhh…don’t talk about that product
P&G was marketing tampons, a product that no one especially wants to talk about directly, much less in advertising. So instead of marketing their products through conventional methods, P&G created a website called, where its users could talk about anything from parents to music to problems at school to health issues – including, naturally, subjects that were handy lead-ins to tampon use.

They didn’t go for the direct sale, though. In sections where it was relevant, they simply put in a small message: brought to you by Always maxi pads and tampons. That simple technique – a place to open a dialogue and a small reminder about the host – was four times as effective as other tactics.

Friday, September 4, 2009

People Switching From TVs to PCs

Remember when everyone was worried that the DVR made television advertising obsolete? Well, only about one in every five households has a DVR – but over 75% have access to the Internet at home. As more and more TV shows air online with shorter or no commercials, computers with Internet access are proving to be more of a threat than DVRs.

Interestingly, Magid Media Futures did a recent online national study and found that the foremost reason people watched shows online wasn’t necessarily to escape commercials. They usually watched shows online so they could catch their favorites at a more convenient time.

However, that doesn’t mean that escaping commercials isn’t still a factor. Commercials online are both shorter and less frequent than TV ads.

Online media buyers can count themselves fortunate in this respect, though: Consumers may be more likely to watch online ads. With the shorter viewing time, it’s less likely that they’ll get up for a five-minute trip to the kitchen, and there is no ad skipping online.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The State of DRTV (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous post, we talked about DRTV and its newfound rise in the marketing world.

Here are three more great insider tips for how to get the most out of DRTV in today’s consumer market:

You Live in an Online World

When you think of direct response TV, you naturally think of, well, TV. But there’s a big online component to DRTV that you’d be remiss to neglect. Currently, as many as a third of DRTV product sales happen online, not through the 800 number. Don’t forget that many of your consumers will be looking for you online – and may not buy if they can’t find you.

Steal This Product

Your product doesn’t need to be completely new – and in some cases, it can help if it’s not. Think of how many ab machines or slice-and-dicers you’ve seen available. None of them want for customers. Look at what’s succeeded so far and take a hint. It can also give your product validity, since people are suspicious of completely new things.

Shorter is Better

The 120-second spot can do a lot more than you think. They often work especially well for DRTV because consumers can find the product and all of the additional information they’re looking for online. Give them the benefits, the 800 number, and a website, and let them come to you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The State of DRTV (Part 1 of 1)

Advertisers of all backgrounds have long considered direct response TV some of the least sophisticated selling in the industry. It turns out DRTV had the right idea – with a dwindling consumer market, people aren’t looking for sophistication.

Making an impulse buy with the promise of their money back sounds pretty sweet to a lot of media buyers, even if they never quite get around to taking producers up on that promise. And as DRTV experts for years have known, they aren’t likely to.

If you’re new to DRTV in today’s market, there’s a few things you should keep in mind:

Prime Time Isn’t an Opportunity

Prime time sounds like a great opportunity for most other advertising types, but for DRTV, it can actually work against you. People watching prime time TV expect to find a certain kind of programming, and they may actually change the channel when they don’t see it. Stick to the audience who wants to find you.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

On average, only about 1 in 5 products put out by major multiproduct marketers actually succeeds commercially. Don’t count on the one product you’re shilling to be your sole source of success.

Tune in for Part II of The State of DRTV.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Experts Weigh in: How Marketers Can Benefit from Both Search and Social Media

Who doesn’t want to know how to best maximize returns on their search and social media investments? Most online media buying experts will tell you that the best strategy is to integrate both channels.

The difference between search engines and social media. Joel Lapp, Senior Vice President of Account Services at Reprise Media says that lots of marketers view search engines and social media as two completely different entities. However, he states, "These two online mediums have much more in common than you might think."

Social media can improve search rank results. Lapp reveals that social media sites usually rank well in the search engine results.

You'll start to notice that search engines are beginning to provide search media sites results from videos, blog posts and forums. This means you can use search engine advertising to drive people to social media pages. It's a good idea to take advantage of the way search engines rank social media results.

Integrate paid search and social media. Ian Orkondy, Manager of Paid Search at Rosetta, reveals that there are numerous opportunities for marketers to improve the performance of their paid search campaigns by integrating it with social media.

Social media gives marketers an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and have two-way conversations about their experiences, interests, etc. It's also a great way to test out new ideas.

Find your biggest fans before getting social. Brian Chappell, Social Search Strategist for Ignite Social Media says, "One key element to social media optimization is finding folks interested in your products or initiatives. A way to do this is to find key influencers within a social network that might be interested in your product."

For example, you can go on Facebook and search to find others interested in "real estate investments." The important thing to remember is find your fans before reaching out on social sites.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cable Finds a Revenue Stream that Works

Despite the current economy, experts seem to be optimistic about the future of the cable industry. They don't anticipate that cable will experience the same trauma that traditional media is experiencing.

Protected by a dual income stream
One of cable's biggest strengths is its dual income stream which is its biggest protector right now. Even though cable's total ad intake could come in somewhere between being up one percent to being down by three percent during 2009, carriage fees will likely break any fall that occurs.

Broadcast networks fall short
Viewer fragmentation is another big issue. According to Nielsen, data ad-supported cable is up 10 percent in prime season to date, while the Big Four broadcast networks have plummeted another seven percent. The core audience demographic 18 to 49 age group of cable viewers is up nine percent from last year while NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX had a combined drop of 11 percent.

Surviving the economy
If cable giants like Discovery, Turner and Scripps are expected to perform well this year despite the dismal effects of the economy is having on broadcast networks, they still need to make it through the beginning of the first quarter, a period in which media spending typically declines after the holiday season.

To put things into perspective, Peter Koeppel, president of a Dallas media buying agency Koeppel Direct stated, "after 9/11 general advertising cut back significantly and I expect similar cut backs in the second quarter of 2009 which will create more opportunities for direct response advertisers."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wal-Mart Sails Along in a Sinking Economy

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is on the upswing despite a struggling economy that is causing consumers to cut back on spending and retail chains to struggle to remain afloat while thousand continue to lose jobs.

Finding success
A week after retailers Best Buy and Starbucks announced more store closings and layoffs to come, Wal-Mart reported that their earnings for the third quarter rose 9.8 percent while sales increased 7.5 percent.

Stores that had been in business for at least a year reported a 3 percent increase in sales – that's twice as much as earnings during the previous year, and much more impressive than almost every other U.S. retailer.

Wal-Mart bounces back
This pattern is largely because of the economic downturn. As consumers seek cheaper products and weaker retailers end up closing up shop, Wal-Mart continues driving down prices, undercutting competitors and squeezing costs from other suppliers.

Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart's chief financial officer explained, "Our balance sheet is actually stronger than a year ago. If you think of the environment we are in, there are very few people who can say that."

It seems as if the souring economy has resurrected Wal-Mart just as its dominance was being threatened by lower returns on its bigger than life expansion formula, more selective consumers and a growing list of competitors. Now the company's size is its advantage.

Wal-Mart power
According to Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, for every dollar spent on goods other than cars last year, 8.2 cents went to a Wal-Mart store or Sam's Club, the company's warehouse chain.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DVR Threatens Daytime Viewing Loyalty

The Syndicated Network Television Association (SNTA) has been telling advertisers for a long time about how day-and-date syndicated programs retain more viewers because people still watch television in traditional ways as scheduled without skipping over the commercials.

But, like so much else in TV, this, too, is changing.

More households are purchasing DVRs. A study of 800 daytime television viewers age 18 to 54 was conducted by New York-based Frank N. Magid Associates. Twenty-five percent to 50 percent of viewers of any particular daytime show are now shifting into digital video recorders (DVRs).

Over one-third of those surveyed had DVRs, while one in five said they planned to purchase one. The survey included 25 daytime shows: all of the network soap operas, seven court shows and eight talk shows.

The number of DVRs in homes is growing according to SNTA. Nielsen reports that 23 percent of homes have a DVR. The numbers are higher among adults 18 to 49 at 29 percent. Media buying agency Koeppel Direct projects that by 2010 approximately one-third of all households will have a DVR.

Why are DVRs such a threat? People use their DVRs to record shows they like that they can then view at any time of the day or night. Many watch nighttime shows on their DVRs during the day. This eats away at a program loyalty and becomes a daily habit.