24 March 2015

Ad Spending: Pixels are Up, Ink & Paper are Down

U.S. ad spending went up slightly in 2014 because pixels increased more than ink & paper declined.

That's my analysis of fresh data from Kantar Media summarized in this chart:

The pixels were TV (+5.5%) and Internet Display (+0.9%).  Representing ink & paper were Magazines (-5.1%), Newspapers (-10%), Outdoor (-0.2%) and FSIs (-2.8%).  Radio was also down -3.9%.

Like everything in modern media, though, it's never this simple.

Two Questions to Think About

Please consider the environment
before printing this billboard
The "pixels" category above only seems to represent the "First Screen" (TV) and the "Second Screen" (personal computers).  We don't see the Third Screen (mobile devices) and Fourth Screen (digital out of home).  That leaves us with a couple of questions.

What is TV?  As posted recently, TV isn't dead, it's just morphing into a more personalized experience.  If anything is dying, it's Cable TV.  Now, Cable ad spend actually grew +6.8% last year, a big reason for TV growing +5.5% overall, thanks to sports and political campaigns.  But viewers are cutting the cord, or at least shaving it, in favor of new OTT options.  The thing is, it's harder to track the ad revenue, which is there if you're watching The Flash online at CWtv.com, but not if you're watching House of Cards on Netflix.  Kantar says their data doesn't track online and mobile video ad spend.

What is Outdoor?  The vast majority of OOH (Out of Home) inventory is still ink & paper, although many media companies continue investing in DOOH (Digital Out of Home) and Digital Place-based Media.  Kantar pointed out "digital outdoor ad spending has grown six times faster than the overall medium".  So it's reasonable to say that Outdoor's -0.2% decline is probably a mix of pixels being up and ink & paper being down.

04 February 2015

The State of TV Advertising Now That the Super Bowl Is Over

On Sunday, millions of people watched 4-1/2 hours of Live TV.

Today, millions of people will do the same.

As covered in my previous post, despite the popular reporting that TV is Dead, the medium is actually alive, well — and changing.  Live TV viewing is holding steady at 4-1/2 hours per day.  Much of that viewing happens on an actual TV.  At the same time, audiences are adopting new ways to watch TV, like DVRs, OTT, Online and Mobile.  It seems like we have video everywhere.

It's all TV

In the same way this blog says "it's all advertising" I'd say "it's all TV" when it comes to these new ways of delivering video.  Maybe we should say "it's all Video".  Either way, it's part of a trend as illustrated below in Twenty Years of TV Innovation.

What Social Media Taught Me on Super Bowl Sunday

My last post led to some enlightening discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn about the so-called Death of TV.  One insight was that when many people say "Death of TV" they actually mean "Death of Cable".  Much of the press on this subject talks about the cord cutters, and who can blame them?  Cable TV's delivery model forces you to buy up to 200 channels when most people watch no more than 17.

The Future of TV is Personalization

Which is a good reason to cheer for SlingTV, HBO Go, Google Chromecast and the other services starting to become available along with Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.  All of these allow audiences to choose exactly what they want, which is why we said the other day that the future of TV is Personalization.  There's one day a year when 114.5 million people all watch one event, but during the rest of the year they all watch various programs that interest or entertain them.

It's all TV.  As the chart below illustrates, technology is meeting the demand for new ways to see what we want, when we want it.  TV's not dead.  It's innovating, growing and continuing to be a part of our lives.

31 January 2015

The State of TV Advertising on the Eve of the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl has always symbolized the power of TV advertising.  Is that power waning?

Many business journalists seem to think the Super Bowl is the last bastion of TV advertising.  Just this morning as I was writing this post, The Economist daily news digest arrived, calling the Super Bowl "something increasingly rare in television: a programme that people watch live and in large numbers."

Surprise! Most TV Viewing is Still Done on a TV

Now let me explain
"Programmatic" to you
Actually, Live TV viewing is holding steady at about 4-1/2 hours per day.  Yes, 66.8% of Broadband Users Under 35 watch TV on a combination of these devices, but for all age groups most TV viewing is still done on a TV.  

This will shock Upper West Siders who binge-watch Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.  But regular people are watching live sports, NCIS, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, Judge Judy and Big Bang Theory.  Bazinga!  

But Fragmentation Will Continue

TV was never dying; it was just following audiences to new platforms.  Cable supplanted Broadcast and new devices emerged like DVRs, OTT, Online and Mobile.  There will always be big audiences, but they will continue fragmenting.  In Ye Olde Marketing buying and selling TV was relatively straightforward and audience delivery was measured by Nielsen.  But now audiences are fragmented and sometimes not even measured.  Only Netflix knows how big the audience for Orange or House of Cards really is.  (A Los Angeles Times reporter tried thinking it through.)

The Super Bowl doesn't have this problem.  The marquee advertising will air during NBC's broadcast, and people will see it on TVs, tablets and other places.  The audiences will be big enough that few advertisers will worry about under-delivery against their $4.5 million (unless they're spending that money in the 4th quarter of a one-sided blowout).

The Revolution May Not Be Televised, but TV Will Be Personalized

But even in a big event that almost everyone watches or knows about, we see the future of TV:  Personalization.  For the Super Bowl it takes the form of second- and third-screen programming, i.e. game analysis, ad analysis and social media traffic.  Little of this is driven from broadcaster to audience; it's more of a conversation where both participate.  The famous Oreo dunk-in-the-dark tweet generated very small response:  15,000 Retweets and 20,000 Likes.  (In fact they probably generated more blog posts than that, but I digress.)  But it's OK because they learned how be part of people's conversations.  

In the same way, Oreo's latest stunt -- yes, it's a stunt -- using programmatic methods to buy a :15 in the Erie (Pennsylvania) DMA is a harbinger of things to come.  "Programmatic" is one of those words that's taken on too many meanings, but it's generally associated with media buying, just like the online ad world from which it came.  Its real value will be as a pathway to addressable TV, a way for audiences to customize the programs they see -- and advertisers to customize the messages that make them possible.

Enjoy the game -- and the ads -- and know that you'll always have plenty of company watching that first screen.  Keep one eye on those other screens, too, because they're a window to the future.

01 November 2014

Automatic Advertising: We Take Spotomate for a Test Drive

Software can make your 30-second TV commercial.

You knew this would happen.  Not just because technology makes the software possible, but because newly-available media makes it necessary.

There's the first screen (TV), second screen (computer), third screen (mobile), fourth screen (digital signage) and all of them are hungry for content -- and advertising.

Technology has been busy democratizing the science of advertising.  Small business is able to do SEO, SEM and Social Media without an agency, as did my friend the garage door expert.  So why not video advertising creative?

Along comes Spotomate, which via its partner Shakr, offers a service allowing small- and medium-sized businesses to make "your own agency-quality video advertising spots".  They're targeting operators of digital signage networks (see industry coverage here and here), but I decided to experiment with it myself during a free trial open until Thursday.

VoilĂ … Ad Majorem's First Ads

How it works:  You pick one of their pre-set templates, it runs you through the places where you must write copy or provide a visual asset, and automatically sequences these with graphics and a music bed.  So here were two attempts using our masthead copy and experimenting with different visuals.



Here's What I Thought About Spotomate

Agencies, for the most part, shouldn't worry.  True, I did once have a colleague who believed in "campaign construction", i.e., every 30-second TV commercial for a brand had to have the same sequence of scenes, but most big advertisers want customized treatment.

Small- and Medium-sized businesses will love Spotomate, though.  In fact the templates may help inexperienced advertisers to organize their thoughts and force decisions as to what should or shouldn't go in the ad.

In other words, one still needs a smart brief, and I'm not sure that will ever be automatic.

What do you think of Spotomate?  What did you think of my, uh, "ads"?  Go ahead, hit me with your best shot in the comments section below.

07 October 2014

Mobile Devices Are a Way for Consumers to Reach Brands -- Not for Brands to Reach Consumers

Here's something advertisers and agencies seem slow to understand:  Mobile devices are not a way for brands to reach consumers; they're a way for consumers to reach brands.

Consider that the mobile device — the smartphone especially — is a very private zone in a person's life.  They don't necessarily want ads of any kind invading that personal space.

But the smartphone is wonderful tool for consumers to invade your space as a marketer.  Via Internet searches, shopping apps, social media and conversations with friends, they do it whether you invite them or not.

So why not invite them?

Use Mobile to Invite Customers and Prospects

Customers and prospects can contact you via certain smartphone apps.  The most-maligned is QR codes.  In the picture below is a QR code I saw this past weekend on the back of a service vehicle in Chicago.  I can't think of any better example of consumer-UNfriendly QR codes than this photo from WTF QR Codes which also sums up why I avoid them.

Not much of
an invitation
At the other end of the customer convenience spectrum is Messaging — SMS, MMS, P2P and other emerging tools.  Most of these are built in to a smartphone and very familiar, but there are also newer apps like Kik that would be handy reaching a younger audience (like Ad Majorem's teenage children).

There's also social media, of course, but only invite people to "Follow Us On Twitter!" if there's a darn good reason.

If you are extending an invitation to consumers at retail, it may be time to look again at NFC.  Could it be coming back thanks to the iPhone 6?  I've been bullish on NFC ever since my first project back in 2012 but it's been traveling a stubbornly slow adoption curve.

Ask for an R.S.V.P.

Sorry to torture the "invitation" metaphor a bit, but using "R.S.V.P." as an abbreviation, here are some principles to keep in mind:
  • Response is the goal.  You're not going to rack up millions of "impressions" via Mobile (you might) but you may invite millions of customer interactions.  In other words, the quality of your audience, not the quantity, is what matters.  Think app dowloads, not ads served.
  • Start with your consumer.  When and where might they be looking for something useful, informative or entertaining?  That's your chance to engage.  This Forrester video describes how American Airlines designed their mobile app around their customers' travel experience.
  • Voice must be …inviting.  This past year during a radio interview, a local political candidate invited people to text him for more information — which I did, only to get an auto-reply asking for donations.  Since when do you invite people over and then ask them to pay?

01 October 2014

Tablets Are Not "Mobile". They're "Portable"

This has been bugging me for a while.

Tablets — be it the iPad, the Kindle, the Galaxy or anything with a capacitive touchscreen larger than a Pop Tart — should not be considered mobile devices, like smartphones.

Consumer behavior proves it

All Mobile is Portable but
Not All Portable is Mobile
Sure, tablets and smartphones both run on the same "mobile" operating systems like iOS or Android, but people use them differently.  For example, people report accessing the Internet in their living rooms on both tablets (72%) and smartphones (67%), but in out of home situations, the numbers are quite different.  On the daily commute, for example, 49% use their smartphones and only 9% use their tablets.  In Stores, 75% use their smartphones and very few use their tablets.  (All of this research comes from a 2013 Forrester study; see a nice summary here.)

Why does this matter?  Follow the Money

Likewise, not all mobile ad spending is created equal.  When you hear things like "Mobile advertising spend will be about $18 Billion globally in 2014" you need to think beyond tiny, unreadable banner ads on a smartphone.  Those big numbers also include banner ads and video pre-roll that are better seen on a tablet.  That $18 Billion also includes a lot of Paid Search, which is a natural ad medium on the tablet, and a lot of Messaging, which is a natural ad medium on the smartphone.

Google Agrees:  Tablets Are Not "Mobile"  

In an SEC filing last January, Google admitted that as tablets became more ubiquitous, "their usage had much more in common with desktops than with handsets".  Going further, they said "the meaning of 'mobile' at Google has shifted dramatically to 'handset' from 'tablet + handset'."  Why tell the SEC?  Because it affects how they report their very considerable ad revenue.  It also affects how they might collect revenue in the future:  This was the same SEC filing that grabbed headlines like "Google Will Advertise on Thermostats".  So the definition of "Mobile" also matters to Google, but it goes way beyond tablets to the so-called Internet of Things, or in Google's case, the Internet of Things That Collect Ad Revenue.

God bless them.  As long as they start referring to tablets as "portable" devices.

16 September 2014

Why Signage Is a Modern Medium

Advertising may or may not be the second-oldest profession, but signage is surely its first-oldest form.  It all started with signage.

The History of Signage

It all continued with signage, too — literally for centuries.  Sure, the production of signs evolved from stone cutting to wood cutting to paint to ink and paper and eventually electric signs, but it was all the same thing:  a one-way message from advertiser to consumer.  Even if you check Wikipedia's definition of signs, that's about as far as it goes.

Signage Suddenly Evolved

Suddenly, in the past decade or so, signage evolved.  Screen technology made signage digitized, scalable and interactive.  After centuries of signs that featured only one-way messages, suddenly signs were really screens that offer two-way communications:  advertiser to consumer and vice versa.  As these technologies developed, signage became a way for consumers to reach advertisers.

Back to the Future

Blade Runner and Minority Report both had futuristic signage technology, but Blade Runner was made in 1982 when advertising still had a (mostly) one-way mentality (advertiser-to-audience), while Minority Report, made in 2004, featured interactive ads, probably because the advertising business had already started becoming interactive.  Similarly, this past year at Cannes there was a Grand Lion for Innovation awarded to an interactive billboard at Sochi.  Passers-by could take photos with their smartphones and project them as a 3-D image on the billboard.

Why Signage is a Modern Medium

Signage is not only ubiquitous, it's been modernized.  Here are some tips to make the most of it:
  • Elicit an immediate response.  In many cases it's sufficient to remind people to drink Diet Coke or tune in to tonight's reality TV show. But why stop at awareness?  If your message is compelling enough, the audience will respond to you via SMS, toll-free call, mobile Web, social media or an app download.  But you have to offer something useful, informative or entertaining.
  • Make it relevant.  Screens give signage the ability to increase relevance to the consumer.  The most basic example would be to rotate messages according to the time of day (a QSR client advertises breakfast until 9 a.m., switching to lunch messages after that), which isn't possible with ink and paper.  You can also place messages according to where the screen is located, e.g., in an elevator or a doctor's office waiting room.
  • Plan ahead.  Screens make signage flexible, but paradoxically that requires advance planning, not the least of which might be convincing a client to try something new and taking the time to develop creative that's relevant and elicits an immediate response.  Once you have a game plan, you're much more prepared to make adjustments.