Olympics Gives the Gold to Networks

By admin | March 30, 2010

It turns out viewers are still willing to tune into prime time network television over their favorite ad-supported cable shows, just so long as by doing so they can watch the best athletes of their generation going toe-to-toe in international competition.

NBC covered the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and averaged 24.4 million viewers, a 21% increase from the Torino games. Perhaps even more interestingly, the top 40 cable networks saw their viewership drop by 7.2% overall during the time the Olympics were being covered.

CNBC managed to increase its viewership despite the lousy cable climate by covering the Olympics themselves, carrying a number of niche events like curling, which sparked a bizarre media interest this year. With just over 100 hours devoted to Olympic coverage, CNBC avoided the fate granted to networks like CNN, which fell a whopping 54% during prime time.

Other channels that took a major hit during the Olympic coverage include the Discovery Channel, the Hallmark Channel, TV Land, Spike TV, VH1, Comedy Central, Travel Channel, Bravo and Lifetime.

One of the outliers was the USA Network, which, though it did not gain a lift from its 41 hours of Olympic coverage over 17 days, managed to win the month with 2.95 million viewers in prime, thanks in part to their popular shows on WWE wrestling and NCIS repeats.

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Online Video Decoded

By admin | March 9, 2010

More than 75% of all U.S. internet users watch online videos occasionally, with 45% watching every week and 12% watching daily.

However, the numbers don’t necessarily break down as you might expect: While naturally the digitally-savvy youth demographic, particularly males 18-to-24, make up the bulk of viewers, a whopping third of all 55-to-64 year olds are also tuning in on their computers instead of their television sets.

Perhaps even more notable is that these viewers aren’t always watching their favorite full-length network television shows. In fact, 80% of the most-popular video genres are short form. This may mean that network execs don’t have to worry about the uptick in online viewing as much as they once thought; though numbers of online viewers are indeed increasing, they’re not watching what advertisers thought they were watching.

Shorter-length videos can be equally compelling. More than a third of short-form video viewers said they thought the short form was equally or more entertaining than full-length shows. Here’s the kicker: they said the short form was equally or more entertaining than full-length shows on their televisions.

Network execs used to be concerned that their television viewers were watching the same shows online, thus losing advertising dollars from television ad buyers. Perhaps instead they ought to be concerned those short-form videos, and their accompanying ads, might actually be getting a bigger audience than the long-form shows they invest millions in.

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YouTube Learns to Profit from Ads

By admin | February 15, 2010

YouTube has been a notorious money-losing proposition for years, so much so that many people thought Google was nuts for acquiring it.

And they weren’t far wrong – Google has been losing money on the video viewing website ever since that acquisition. They’re hoping their new ad policy turns that revenue stream around.

Salar Kamangar is the brains behind the new ad-revenue emphasis on YouTube, the same man behind the AdWords system that has been so successful for the search engine itself. He has been pressing YouTube to put more online ads on their videos and to promote more content from media companies, as opposed to allowing users to upload (usually illegal and bootlegged) copies of the same videos and TV shows.

The new ads are coming from such media giants as Time Warner Inc., including CNN and the Cartoon Network. They’re also bringing in Disney’s ABC and ESPN and many other studios are waiting in line to get involved in the new ad emphasis on YouTube as well.

Putting more professional shows online, sponsored by their parent companies and backed by ads, allows the users to get what they want (full-length shows and videos) while the studios get revenue from the new ad streams. The set-up is similar to already-established systems such as Hulu, which only hosts media that has been bought from the parent companies.

YouTube will still host that homemade video of the cat playing piano, but you might just be able to get a full-length episode of your favorite TV show – in better quality, with a 30-second commercial spot at the start.

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How John Malone Intends to Get Consumers to Pony Up

By admin | November 30, 2009

John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media Corp. and Liberty Global Inc., has some idea about what to do with the problem of cable TV and the Internet.

Cable networks are frantically trying to find a solution to consumer’s increasing expectation of instant, play-anywhere shows – without losing the precious fees that they get from cable subscribers.

If you can get cable for free online, why would you pay for cable on your TV?

Malone has some ideas. And he might just be the man to do it, considering he’s also the guy who came up with the concept of paying for television in the first place.

After all, there are still plenty of channels that are available for free, and yet thousands of people across the U.S. pay a monthly bill for extra channels. That concept was completely foreign when Malone first showed up on the scene – but he sold them with the idea of better content being available on cable TV. You want a better product, you pay a better price.

So what to do about getting consumers to pay for cable TV now that it seems shows are heading right back into free-for-all territory? Malone thinks the key might be in how consumers get to view their videos, which is to say through the Internet connection itself.

Online video is only worth viewing if you have a fast enough connection to keep it from freezing every five seconds – which may be where the money starts to be spent and earned. The other idea is pay-per-view, or a subscription, perhaps using Hulu as an aggregate.

If Malone can get consumers to pay for TV they get for free a second time around, it’ll be one of the most impressive accomplishments in media for anyone’s lifetime.

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Ad Spending at a Decade Low

By admin | November 9, 2009

Marketing budgets are being slashed across the board, and media markets are definitely taking the hit.

Media spending, including TV, print and online ads fell by 14% overall, with some far more significant hits in the auto and financial services industries. The worst off are car dealers, whose ad spending dropped nearly 50%, as compared to automotive spending overall at 28% – still twice the overall average.

Though online ads were decreasing, overall spending online actually improved, particularly in online display advertising. This is a small bright spot when online ad spending fell 5% in the first quarter, and major financial firms don’t think it will improve in the following ones.

Media executives are still trumpeting their optimism though.
It may be simply attempting to boost confidence in the industry, but the spending decreases are being explained away by other phenomenon and many execs are holding firm to their beliefs that the industry will still see improvement this year, if not next.

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Making Social Media Work

By admin | October 9, 2009

If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably had quite a few clients by now asking about social media. Selling social media has been a big challenge until recently, but now that clients are starting to bite, the bigger challenge may be getting them to use it properly so they can see results.

Using social media is difficult to explain to someone who has never set foot in an online community of any kind. Trying to demonstrate to your client the value of taking a few minutes every hour to post a 140-character message on Twitter can seem nearly impossible: Why am I doing it? Can’t I just tell them about our products? Why do I have to talk to these people?

One of the best strategies for helping your clients understand how social media works – and getting them to use it properly – is by setting up social media channels of your own. If your client is considering starting a blog or going on a networking site, interact with them through your own social media and let them learn the ropes before they try to use it as a marketing strategy.

It’ll make you look good as a marketer, and it will save them a lot of wasted time, effort, and budget money – which makes you look even better.

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Infomercials Rising In Popularity

By admin | September 29, 2009

Direct-response television (DRTV) may be one of the few advertising outlets that’s actually been boosted by the recession. Infomercials are rising in popularity among marketers and becoming viewed as a more “legitimate” marketing opportunity. The jokes about as-seen-on-TV may be a thing of the past.

Part of the rise in infomercials has to do with the decrease in ad costs. Many Fortune 500 companies are cutting their budgets big-time, and TV is one of the most expensive marketing options out there. With fewer companies buying ad time, networks are getting rid of those time slots for much lower prices than usual, which opens the door for more infomercials.

Marketers getting into DRTV can also enjoy the bonus of being able to see the effects of their spot in real time. Customers respond through toll-free numbers and web addresses, allowing marketers to track what works and what doesn’t. They can easily replace their ad if the current one isn’t working, minimizing wasted budget money.

Maybe those Fortune 500s should look into getting back on TV with more easily-trackable infomercials instead of ads.

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Newspapers: The New Endangered Species

By | June 4, 2009

Currently 21 newspapers are on a steady decline. After 20 years only four publications have increased their paid circulation. Two are national papers with well known marketing hooks: USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Post and Arizona Republic are also up around nine percent.

An explanation of growth. Much of Arizona’s growth can be attributed to the population growth. Look closely at the numbers and you’ll see in recent years circulation had slipped. But looking at the Arizona Republic today and you’ll find that it is working on the circulation numbers as hard as it can. Keeping those numbers up just isn’t as easy as it used to be.

It’s all about the Sunday edition. Papers focus their efforts on the Sunday edition – which is where the majority of ad revenue comes from.

“Every Sunday in the paper, in this Super Sunday timeframe that we’ve been working on, we’ve made it special – to give the customer something different, whether it’s a special package from the news  content side, or whether is was a special promotion we worked on with an advertiser,” said John Zidich, president and publisher of the Arizona Republic.

“Were basically looking at the cost-analysis of every unit of circulation.”

So the Republic has managed to squeeze out a narrow circulation increase as other publications continue to struggle.

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Belt Tightening Boomers Could Affect Consumption for Everyone

By | May 3, 2009

These economic conditions are new (and scary, too) for most Americans who have no real memories of the Great Depression.

For the last quarter of a century, America and Americans have not experienced significant financial hardship. When it comes to answering questions about how long or how bad this economic turbulence will be, there are no real answers.

Boomers worry about the future
Confidence in financial institutions has all but withered away. The focus for many is on thrifty consumerism, coupon clipping and cutting back on excess spending. One big segment of the population, the Baby Boomers, are experiencing retirement at a rather precarious time in history. They are wondering whether or not they can actually live off their savings or social security for the rest of their lives.

Survival of the fittest
Many boomers are shifting into survival mode. They are pinching pennies, carefully watching their credit and avoiding unnecessary financial risks at all costs. They are more concerned with preserving the status quo than taking risks for financial gain.

Will these changes be permanent?
Gallup chief economist Dennis Jocobe agrees that “a fundamental change is taking place” in American consumerism.

Right now it’s too early to tell how long it will last. Marketers are challenged by this change toward conservative boomer behavior. They will need to focus on the value of a product and the need of core customers more than ever before. It’s very doable, but it requires a recognition of the reality and a willingness and ability to change approaches to match the reality.

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Indie Publishers: Can Niche Publications Survive the Economy?

By | April 19, 2009

It’s no secret that the 2008 economy was rough on the magazine industry.

Several big chain publications began shutting down titles with no real guarantee of making it in the end. Cottage Living, an At Time, Inc. publication folded, Conde Nast closed down Golf for Women and Men’s Vogue is now a twice-a-year supplement to Vogue rather than being sold as a stand-alone publication. As well, Hearst Magazines said goodbye to the Cosmo Girl, Quick & Simple and O at Home publications.

Why independent publications have it hard
If the big publications have it tough, the smaller, independent publications must really be feeling the heat. And in 2009, indie publications could have a much harder time making it.

“They’re going to have more difficulty than the multitude companies because they don’t have [the resources] to do all the integrated and added value programs for advertisers, and they don’t have as much ability to cut costs,” explained Martin Walker, a magazine consultant.

Times have changed
In more plentiful times, publishing chains or private-equity money could toss a lifeline to these struggling independent publications. But since the credit markets have tightened up, consumer magazine deals fell by 95 percent in dollar value and newspaper deals fell 93 percent according to reports.

No doubt that independent publications serving a narrowly focused audience need to work harder and smarter to be profitable at the same time be flexible, open for negotiation with print media buyers and “make it.” It’s doable, but the playing field has changed.

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