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Online Video Ads the Next Craze

Some say Eyewonder is late to the game with its recent introduction of six new video ad formats. This introduction follows related video offerings from MSN, Unicast, Macromedia and Viewpoint. Eyewonder CEO John Vincent says these new ad units are more flexible and load faster than other offerings. With "only" 30% of consumers saying in a recent study that online video ads are not annoying, expect this space to see a flurry of activity as companies and advertisers clamor for first-mover advantage.

by Steve Hall    Mar-18-04    

Nielsen and Ad Agencies in Bitch Fight Over Ratings, New Model Will Emerge

Nielsen is having a bit of a tiff lately with ad agencies over its provision of television ratings. While the majority of ad agency execs want commercials rated, not the shows they air within, Nielsen claims they have already offered those ratings to agencies. Agencies have countered saying those ratings, 60-second unit measurements, do not adequately serve what's really needed, the measurement of actual commercial ratings. The way the 60-second unit ratings are taken do not align exactly with when commercials actually air. That is the sticky point agencies have with this offer from Nielsen.

This new method of commercial measurement, if it sees the light of day, could foster some radically different methods of television commercialization. If it's commercials that are measured and not the containing programs, all of the promotion that goes into hyping a television show to viewers in order to achieve high ratings could now go towards hyping commercials to viewers instead. Imagine NBC, faced with radically lower ratings because of ad-skippage, bathroom breaks, etc. The network would have to insure a high level of commercial viewership to maintain its ad rates. Conceivably, NBC would have to do whatever it could to make viewers watch commercials.

In theory, NBC would have to offer incentives to viewers to watch commercials. These incentives could be monetary in nature or come in other forms. Aside from possible Nielsen ratings that would "count" commercial viewership, embedded within the commercials (or before or after a commercial break) would be some sort of code or proof mechanism for the viewer to redeem. This would be necessary, not to prove viewership (although it could serve as a form of comparison to Nielsen ratings) because Nielsen would provide that proof with its new commercial ratings. It would be needed simply to get viewers to watch so high commercial ratings would be achieved for the network, then reported back by Nielsen, then used by networks as a basis from which to set rates for advertisers.

This could dramatically alter the definition of a commercial. While consumers might be swayed financially into watching a commercial, after a time, if commercials remain as boring as they currently are, no amount of money will get consumers to watch when they can so easily skip commercials. Commercials will have to take on elements of what I think is one of the better forms of promotion, the movie/TV trailer. Trailers, whether for good programming or bad, always seem to create the sense that you absolutely positively have to watch the movie/show being promoted. Does any current commercial today come close to that? Yes, promoting content is very different than promoting and ad but we're talking theory here.

That's just one idea. There could be many additional means to make commercials a "must watch" activity. A series of commercials could take on the form of a soap opera or serial drama where viewers would have to watch from day to day/week to week to either follow the story line or to receive other "incentives" for financial redemption. In this sense, commercials become a form of the programming.

In essence, this new economic model would compel networks to pay (or compel in some other very powerful way) viewers to watch commercials so that they can continue to sustain their current ad supported business model. Extrapolating this further, the current model is flipped on its head. Advertisers become producers and the programming becomes the commercial.

by Steve Hall    Mar-17-04    
Topic: Opinion, Research, Television, Trends and Culture

Jamie Spears to Star in New Nickelodeon Show

As Nickelodeon unveiled its new lineup during its upfront presentation yesterday, the kid focused network announced new shows developed to reach the tween demo. One new show, produced by Whoopi Goldberg, will focus on an all girls soccer team. A second will headline Jamie Spears, sister of clothing-challenged diva Britney Spears. A third, called "Unfabulous," will star Emma Roberts, cousin to Julia Roberts, and illustrate how music helps her get through life.

by Steve Hall    Mar-17-04    

Dustin Hoffman Audi A6 Ad He Doesn't Want You to See

Dustin Hoffman has reprised his role from "The Graduate" to hawk the Audi A6 and a new ad. It's been banned from airing in the U.S. When will marketers, handler and stars themselves realize it is impossible to prevent the spread of these things. Of course, half the time it's planned that way. And becasue it's been promoted as "banned," the poor servers are working overtime at Ad Age to serve this thing to the whole world that isn't supposed to see it.

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

Advertisers Tap Spring Break Audience

With an estimated half-million college students on Spring Break from mid-March through mid-April in Panama City, advertisers are taking note. Namely, the Army. The U.S. Army's Goodwill Ambassadors' elite parachute team, The Golden Knights, are making jumps down on the students as a recruitment effort.

I can envision the conversations. Army officer to drunk hot babe in tiny bikini: "Would you be interested in hearing about a career in the Army?" Hot babe responds: "Sure, after you show me your weapon and let me size it up."

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

Ad Age Report: Magazine Circulation Plummets

Magazines have seen a 70 percent decline in newstand sales. Read Ad Age's Special Report: Circulation Solutions, an in-depth look at the state of magazine publishing affairs.

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

MPG For Sale Yesterday But Not Today

Oh, those acquisition rumors. Don't you love them? Yesterday, the New York Times reported Havas media services agency MPG had received an offer for a 49 percent stake in the company. Well, today, it's all being denied.

"We've had no offer" for MPG, said Havas spokesman Simon Gillham, and clarifying, "absolutely none of MPG in any form, whole or tiny parts, is for sale" because "it's part of our core business."

Havas has had some financial turbulence lately reporting some losses last quarter and perhaps wants to keep rumors quite even if there's a chance they may be true. It's so easy to plant a story and then deny it and you never really now what's true until after it's all done.

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

Japanese Ad Campaign Encourages Better Manners While Smoking

While Japan is far from being as uptight about smoking as those in America are, Japan Tobacco Inc. has launched an ad campaign urging consumers not to quit but to be more considerate. Instead of discussing the health issues surrounding the death sticks, the campaign carries copy such as, "The hand holding a lit cigarette is the same height as a child's face." Hmm, so it's OK to suck down that nicotine, just don't burn a kids face off while you are doing it.

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

Puritanical Insanity Waning Already, CBS Won't 'Boob-Delay' Final Four

Less than two months after the breast baring even that sent the nation into a puritanically conservative spiral, CBS, the network that started it all, is getting back to reality and won't use a 10-second delay during the NCAA Final Four tournament.

The New York Times had originally quoted a source over at CBS, Martin Franks, who said the network would add a delay. He was corrected by his PR spokesman Dana McClintock who said, "A CBS executive overstated the company's position. The network will not be delaying any of the games." Get your story straight guys.

by Steve Hall    Mar-16-04    

England's Channel Four Ad Pokes Fun at America's Puritanical FCC

In this commercial for Channel 4 in England, television stars are asked what there favorite swear words are...and to say them. So in a sort of FCC FU homage, this ad has more cuss words in it than Tony Soprano gets out during an entire season of "The Sopranos."

If you want your TV uncut, Channel 4 is the place to go. If you live in America, you're out of luck.

by Steve Hall    Mar-15-04    

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