Social Media Buzz and Other Factors Change Television Ranking System

By admin | December 10, 2011

The tried and true Nielsen rating system has been considered the gold standard for determining how many people are watching a given show.

But new tools are challenging the old way of doing things by taking indicators like social media buzz and economic data into account. This will give advertisers and media buyers a clearer picture of the “true reach” of the show and its impact on audiences.

The new benchmarks will create a seller’s market because networks can more closely determine how much interest a show will garner from viewers – which spells out more ad impressions and revenue for advertisers.

For example, the Publicis Groupe SA ad-buying firm Optimedia creates listings of the size of television audiences by determining the number of people watching on TV, the web and mobile devices. In the past year, they added social media into the mix and figured in the mentions on Facebook and Twitter about a particular show. The data produces some surprising results. Fox’s Glee ranks just 55 on the Nielsen scale while Optimedia’s Content Power Ratings (CPR) ranks it as 2. NBC’s The Office has a 6 CPR rating and 105 in the Nielsen figures. ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy ranks 11 in the CPR scale and 27 on the Nielsen scale.

Online buzz is also becoming a factor in determining the success of new shows. Publicis’ Starcom Worldwide is teaming up with Network Insight’s to forecast a new show’s ad value based on online reaction. Although some worry that this type of “pre-analysis” could kill some potential hit shows before they reach the air, most are seeing the new tools and figures as valuable in determining where advertising dollars should go.

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Merchants Reduce Costs for Fees Through Policies and a New Law

By admin | November 19, 2011

It may be convenient to pay with credit cards or debit cards at the checkout stand, but merchants are feeling the pinch.

Unlike cash or check transactions, merchants are charged for each transaction when you use plastic. In July, federal laws went into effect to shrink debit card fees. But even before the law was enacted, merchants were seeking to limit transactions by reducing the amount of cashback that consumers can get and taking other actions.

For example, the Walgreens drugstore chain cut their limit down to a maximum of $20 cashback in the spring. Many small stores have minimum purchase amounts for credit card transactions to compensate for the cost. Some small businesses like independent doctors, dentists and restaurants are offering cash discounts for those who pay without using plastic.

The credit card intercharge fees can eat away at the profits for small business owners. Fees cost merchants $62.75 billion last year, according to the Nilson Report, a newsletter that tracks the payments industry. This was up 29% since 2005 and is due to both increasing fees and more merchants using credit cards and debit cards to pay.

In addition to encouraging less expensive spending behaviors from customers, merchants have changes in the law to look forward to. As part of the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law, debit card fees have dropped 75% starting just last month.

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Cable Networks Exploring Niche Shows, Rather than Reality Programming

By admin | October 10, 2011

Cable Networks like VH1, AMC, TVLand and BET used to be known for their reality programming and original programming repeats from other networks. Now, these networks and other smaller networks are offering opportunities for niche viewers to find what they want to watch and more opportunities for writers to create scripted shows.

Creating original shows on cable networks is nothing new. Broad appeal networks like TNT and TBS have created original dramas and comedies for years. Now smaller, more focused networks are following suit with niche programming and advertisers are listening. AMC’s success with both “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” in the past five years has set a blueprint that many other niche networks are following.

Viewers are tired of the massive amounts of repeats and reality television and are looking for something different. The success of original niche programming seems to indicate that networks have found a good strategy for attracting viewers.

For smaller cable networks, scripted shows like TVLand’s “Hot in Cleveland” and VH1’s forthcoming drama “Single Ladies” act as centerpieces to attract advertisers. This season’s upfront advertising period, which determines ad buying for the rest of the year, is being affected by this shift in programming. Ad spending is shifting from broadcast networks to cable networks more and more each year.

The original programming also presents new opportunities for television development professionals as well. If an idea or pilot is rejected by a major network, writers and producers have other avenues to pursue. This variety and need benefit writers particularly. Unlike reality programming, which is heavy on editing and producing, original programming requires detailed writing and plot development.

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Apple and Google Under Scrutiny for Collecting Personal Data via Smartphones

By admin | July 30, 2011

Many of the most powerful smartphone providers are collecting data about you as you carry your device around town and around the country.

The use of location data and other personal information by mobile service providers is in the spotlight once again as The Wall Street Journal reports. Both Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones regularly beam information back to their respective providers.

The smartphone service providers are collecting personal data in an attempt to create databases that can be used for marketing local services. Considering the fact that the location-based services market is expected to rise from $2.9 billion to $8.3 billion in the next two years, the providers have a strong motivation to create a usable database.

Your cell phone can pinpoint where you are based on the Wi-Fi hotspots you pass by while traveling, GPS and other technology in your smartphone. This location information is transmitted to Apple or Google with millions of other signals and then used by those companies to create maps of the hotspots. Your location is determined by your proximity to the hotspot.

Although location information can be useful for some smartphone applications, the collection of the personal information is what is coming under scrutiny. This form of tracking has caught attention from both government officials and privacy advocates.

This isn’t the first time that providers have come under fire for collecting sensitive personal information: Wi-Fi data beamed by Google’s Streetview cars accidentally collected email addresses, passwords and other personal information about local Wi-Fi users last year prompting the removal of the Streetview project. Apple recently received criticism for the revelation that it is using encrypted databases that track a user’s location for months at a time.

Now that the public and media are aware of this form of tracking, it is only a matter of time before the practice is regulated or stopped. Although with billions of potential advertising dollars at stake, it is almost certain that the tracking will continue in some form.

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Retailers Join Forces to Challenge Amazon For Shoppers

By admin | May 28, 2011

Amazon.com may be a large destination for online shopping, but several major retailers are joining forces to give the online giant a run for its money.

Several retailers have banded together to incorporate ShopRunner, a competing service to Amazon Prime, into their ordering process.

With Amazon Prime, customers can purchase a membership through Amazon and receive unlimited free shipping for their purchases. This has scored big for Amazon in the sales department. Retailers have felt the bite in their wallets.

In order to get some of those dollars back into their pockets, retailers such as Goldman Sachs, Borders, Barnes & Noble, GNC, Dick’s Sporting Goods and a host of others have decided to use the ShopRunner service. With ShopRunner, the retailers have something just as enticing as AmazonPrime to offer retailers.

Customers of any of these major retailers can purchase a membership to ShopRunner for $79.00. For that price they can receive unlimited two-day shipping on their purchases. They will also receive free return shipping of those purchases as well.

Retailers feel confident that this program will increase their sales and put them back into competition with Amazon. They are all hoping for a share of the $140 billion that is spent on ecommerce each year in the United States. With ShopRunner, they’ll be able to stay competitive in the online retail market.

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Customer Feedback from within Social Networking

By admin | January 8, 2011

Social networking seems to be the panacea these days as companies of all sizes look to be hooked into valuable customer feedback.

The world of Internet commerce is based on the power of the feedback placed by consumers for others to use as basis for their own purchases. And these days, knowing what others think of a particular product or service is proving to be an invaluable tool, one that big business is taking notice of. Amazon.com and Netflix are two big businesses that have invested large parts of their companies’ respective resources to find a way to make recommendations more relevant.

It seems that as web users become more comfortable with using the Internet for commerce they are also becoming savvier. People want to read recommendations that are relevant to them, which means that they want to know what their friends and family think of any particular product or service.

World of mouth is always a strong market influencer, and online is no different. In the online marketplace, a social network can steer shoppers toward and away from anything they happen to find online. From music to shoes, people are making buying decisions based on what they’re online social network is buying.

The trend is on the rise as people are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to poll their friends for information about prospective purchases. People feel that their friends are more likely to give honest feedback on something they bought rather than an anonymous review, which in many cases is provided by the business, or a paid reviewer.

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DirecTV Ads Play on Offense

By admin | October 15, 2010

DirecTV Inc. will be kicking off a $100 million marketing package for its NFL marquee, the NFL Sunday Ticket.

With pay-television competitors increasing their pressure on the satellite TV provider, DirecTV plans to blitz an elaborate marketing campaign through television, print, radio and the Internet.

The NFL Sunday Ticket offers subscribers every NFL game played for $300 year – all at once. DirectTV’s advertising will hit everything from Sports Illustrated to the iPhone with straight advertising, interactive football trivia and more.

Sunday Ticket has been offered since 1994, but this is the largest marketing push that DirecTV has put behind it since its inception. The move is likely due to the new four-year agreement the company has made with the National Football League (NFL) with a reported annual price tag of $1 billion.

DirecTV has direct competition from Dish Network with their RedZone channel, which highlights all Sunday games for $7 a month. The largest difference between the two offerings is that Sunday Ticket shows the entire game while RedZone shows only highlights. Both are available on mobile devices as well.

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Google and Government Regulators

By admin | August 5, 2010

Attorney Gary Reback made his name by taking on Microsoft in the 1990s and facilitating what became the story of the decade: Microsoft’s continuing battle against federal regulations meant to discourage and break up monopolies.

Now, Reback has his eyes on Google, who he says is the new dangerous monopolist of this decade.

His latest clients are the Adam and Shivaun Raff, the London-based husband-and-wife duo behind comparison shopping portal Foundem. The Raffs claim that their website was downgraded by Google and then became the subject of extortion as Google attempted to draw more money in order to give the couple’s site a higher ranking. They allege that Google then put the spotlight on its own shopping portal in their place.

Reback claims that “Google is the arbiter of every single thing on the Web, and it favors its properties over everyone else.” Google counters by saying that its aim is to provide the best search results possible for each user, contending with its rivals (like Microsoft’s Bing) in the process.

Many agree with Google. The Open Internet Coalition’s director, Markham C. Erickson, says that Google doesn’t want to be a “player” in Washington. It only wants to educate lawmakers on what they’re doing and be left alone to let users in the marketplace decide. “Once you’re big,” concedes Erickson, “you’re not cute anymore.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already begun looking into Google’s affairs, questioning its board-level relationships with other tech giants like Apple. Likewise, the FCC has also considered Google’s prominent advertising share online and in mobile venues, though with competition from Apple and Microsoft, that look seems to have diminished.

With “Net Neutrality” a hot topic in Washington, it’s no doubt that Google will continue to be the focus of many more looks and much consideration from lawmakers and regulators.

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Spending Increases – But Only In Some Sectors

By admin | June 30, 2010

Ad spending is expected to increase in 2010, as the economy recovers and companies attempt to lure consumers away from the bargain brands they’ve grown accustomed to during the recession.

Advertising for household products has already increased 15% in January and 11% in February. Advertising overall is expected to get a significant hike, with major consumer product makers saying they expect to spend an average of 9.7% on annual sales this year, up from 8.6% last year.

The major focus now is on new innovations. During a recession, consumers simply stop buying certain products that are considered luxuries only to be bought with “extra” income. They are less likely to make a major purchase like a car or a new appliance for the house, for example.

When it comes to necessities like household goods and food, however, consumers simply start buying cheaper brands. Companies are hoping that by showcasing new technology like more absorbent diapers, they can convince consumers to forget the cheaper brands and go back to more expensive ones.

P&G (Procter & Gamble) plans to introduce 30% more innovations in products this year, correlating with its 6.3% increase in ad spending. Colgate and Kimberly-Clark also plan to spend more on ads, many of which will showcase new innovations for their products.

Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct, a leading infomercial and (DRTV) direct response media buying firm.

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iPad Rivals Appear Before Market Does

By admin | April 30, 2010

It’s yet to be seen whether consumers will embrace the new Apple iPad, but for other computer makers in the industry, Steve Jobs’ conviction that the market is ready for a tablet is good enough for them.

Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell, Acer Inc. and Sony Corp. are popping up with their own rivals to the iPad even before the product’s launch in March. This move seems especially peculiar considering that H-P actually announced its own tablet a few months before Apple revealed the iPad. H-P held back and waited for Apple’s announcement before moving forward with getting its tablet, called the Slate, ready for sale.

The reason behind other computer companies allowing Apple to go first in this segment may simply be that consumers are accustomed to Apple’s status as a trailblazer and are willing to embrace new technology that they had trouble finding purpose for when it was presented by other sources. Several tablet products are already available, but they have been selling poorly.

Microsoft is also reportedly working on a two-screen tablet, though details have not yet been announced. As has become usual, perhaps the best rival to the iPad is whatever tablet is backed by Google, which in this case is the Dell Mini 5, which will go on the market this year using Google’s Android software.

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