70 posts categorized "television advertising"

May 21, 2010

Googlevision: Coming to a Best Buy Near You

A "who's who" partnership of innovation, Google, Sony and Intel is launching a new television platform that promises to change the way we watch TV by allowing people to access the rich utility of the Internet through their television screens.

"Google was able to conduct a series of Internet searches in a drop-down box that appears at the top of television programs. The search results pointed to Internet videos and other content related to the television program on the screen."

"A telecast of a sporting event can be shrunk into a small "picture-in-picture" box so a viewer can look at statistics or other material about the game on TV."

"Viewers can also make search requests by speaking into a remote that runs on Google's Android operating system."

"Google CEO Eric Schmidt described the potential of the Internet TVs as mind-boggling, although he acknowledged it might be difficult for some consumers to grasp at first. That's one reason he said Google decided to team up with Best Buy, which offers a "geek squad" to deal with complex technology."

It reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2007, "How to Save TV":

"This isn't a competition between TV and the Internet. The Internet is richer because of TV, and it's becoming increasingly clear that programs are richer because of the utility of the Internet. That interdependence needs to be embraced -- even harvested."

"As such, the way to save television is to discard the interruption advertising model on which is based -- that is, to make it more like what is good about the Internet. Rich interactive programs (Choose Your Own Adventure, anyone?), on-demand content that remains free and non-intrusive, and effective, accountable advertising."

"The Internet, simply, needs more bandwidth to support better quality content, higher adoption rates, and better usability. I know Cuban doesn't think much of this can be done, but I'm staking my future on the idea that it can."

"What will we call this integrated system? It's hard to predict. I suppose it depends on the primary path the innovation takes -- whether we're getting the combination of TV and Internet through AppleTV 10.0 or if we're getting it through Comcast Cable. If it's the former, perhaps our children will be asking if we can watch the Internet tonight. If it's the latter, maybe they'll ask if they can play on the TV."

First of all, you're welcome, Google. Your bill is in the mail.

Second, I have to raise an objection to this gross simplification used by the AP in their article:

"Google wants to turn televisions into giant monitors for Web surfing so it can make more money selling ads."

I'm not a fan in all the ways they want to do it, but Google wants to change the world. Selling ads is simply how they are able to fund new adventures, but it's also how they provide these paradigm changes for free.

The utilities they've developed in their relatively short life as a company have already changed the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we do research, the way we invest, the way we advertise and the way we build websites,

Not everything they've developed is exclusively (or even remotely) their idea, but any way you look at it, they've fostered widespread adoption of many of their useful technologies because they've developed a sustainable business model that allows them to offer it at no cost to the user.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Google, Schmidt, or any other Google employee doesn't care about the money. As Ronald Reagan said, it can't buy happiness, but it certainly can buy a better class of memories.

But money is a means as well as an end. Google could have been anything. They chose the type of business they would be, the applications they would develop and the work they would do.

I'm sure the money is nice. But you cannot sell a product like they're proposing to sell unless it has value to the buyer commensurate with the amount they will pay for it. If Google started out with the question, "How do I sell more advertising," they would have folded long ago. - Cam Beck

April 07, 2009

Magazines vs. TV vs. Online

Which medium is the most effective? It's a question that every type of marketing agency is asking every day. Many people, media publishers and agencies default to the medium they have the most experience in.

One of the most recent studies getting coverage from McPheters & Company gets what will be a controversial heading "TV and Magazine Ads More Effective Than Ads on Internet". The study, commissioned by Condé Nast and CBS Vision, a major publisher and a major television network (insert red flag of potential bias) concludes that:

Within a half hour, magazines effectively delivered more than twice the number of ad impressions as TV and more than 6 times those delivered on-line.

Among web users, 63% of banner ads were not seen. Respondents' eyes passed over 37% of the Internet ads and stopped on slightly less than a third.

Though TV doesn't deliver as many ads per half hour as do magazines, net recall of TV ads was almost twice that of magazine ads; magazines in turn had ad recall almost three times that of Internet banner ads.

I don't question these results. I do believe that many Internet users have trained themselves to ignore banner ads. Also, I do believe that both television and magazines can be an effective advertising medium. However, I think the study doesn't consider a number of things, including:

Cost - What's the cost per impression for each of the three scenarios. Sure, maybe my banner ad only gets noticed say 1/3 of the time. However, if my banner ad cost is 1/20 of a television or print advertisement, then which is the better investment?

Placements and technology - These days, anyone who buys on-line media will not buy just banner ads. Typically there are sponsorship, custome placements in certain sections of sites and on-line promotions. In addition there are a number of different types of networks that can use technology that's not available offline to serve the ad to the right audience at the right time.

Rich media and video - Not all banner ads are created equal. Rich media ads and video ads tend, in general, to get a much higher response rate than regular banner ads and sometimes higher than their offline counterparts.

Optimization - If your on-line media buy isn't working, you can modify and optimize your buy on a periodic basis, even monthly. You can't do that with a print and television ad nearly as quickly if at all.

Maybe the problem here is that we're asking the wrong question. Maybe it shouldn't be which medium is most effective. We should take a look at the brand and product we're trying to promote and customize an approach based on our customer. With a budget large enough to do TV ads or even print ads, an integrated campaign using all three components together should be considered. Its just not a simple matter of plugging and playing into the "most effective media".

- Paul Herring

April 02, 2009

News flash - engagement = attention!

News%20flash Not sure if you heard this or not but there's a new study just release from Tivo and third party researcher, Interscope. Get on the edge of your seat, here it comes. People tend to pay more attention to engaging ads, even if they record shows and fast forward through advertisements.

Shocking! So in the end, creativity wins? So if I really make my 30 second spot stand out, it will get noticed?

OK, I won't be too snarky about the study. It does show that a commercial spot should get attention within the first few seconds in order not to be skipped. That should change the way that some 30 second spots are put together.

It does remind us, though, how very important creativity is in producing engagement. You can have all the technical parts correct, have done the research but if whatever you produce doesn't reach the consumers emotions, it's incomplete.

- Paul Herring

February 12, 2009

Authentic Suffering ... and Salvation

Recently I was honored to take part in redesigning the website for The Salvation Army's adult rehabilitation centers. Take a look for yourself and see how you like it.

The challenge was to effectively communicate the idea that when you donate clothing, cars, appliances, etc., to The Salvation Army, the sale of those items helps people in need of recovery.

This requires two things to make a compelling story:

  1. People in need
  2. People who were helped

Oh, and their stories needed to be real.

Happily, The Salvation Army has lots of stories that meet that criteria, and now they're posting them on YouTube. Be warned, though. It may be difficult to keep your composure as you watch them. Here's one of them:

Feed readers click through.

Sometime soon, these types of videos -- and other stories -- will find their way to their website as a means of communicating their message of hope -- hope they're able to deliver because of the people who donate items they're not using anymore, as well as those who buy these same goods.

If you need a reminder, just watch and listen to the stories of those who have recovered from some of the most difficult challenges anyone has had to endure.


I think we can all be glad organizations like The Salvation Army are out there fighting the good fight on the front lines of this personal turmoil.

But beyond that, I think we have to do our best to achieve our mission, in our own contexts and on our customers' terms, as successfully as The Salvation Army has for these people.

It isn't about whether we make commercials (funny or not) about overachieving horses or people throwing snow globes at other peoples' crotches. It's about truly helping others -- in whatever way that applies to you.

You want a way out of the economic mess? That -- not gimmicks -- is the way to do it. - Cam Beck

January 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Teams

Polamalu-si-cover Troy Polamalu is one of the most versatile safeties in pro football. A deeply humble and religious man, he's just as likely to pray for his opponent's health as he is to knock the snot out of them or return an interception for a touchdown -- and attribute it to "luck." Historically, he has played more like a linebacker with the range of a safety, but this year, he's played more like a safety who can hit like a linebacker. When asked if he prefers playing this way more than he enjoys playing as he did in previous seasons, in what can only be described as vintage Polamalu, the Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro safety said, "I prefer winning."

The result? Partly as a result of Polamalu's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the AFC Championship game against the stout Baltimore Ravens, the 14-4 AFC north and conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers are heading for their 7th Super Bowl, and their 2nd in 4 years.

A Texas Ranger throws a tantrum

Michael Young is a gifted baseball player for the Texas Rangers. He's also well-paid. He makes over $6 million per year.

I don't watch baseball, but I've heard on ESPN Radio that he was a phenomenal 2nd baseman who acquiesced to being moved to shortstop, where he also played very well.

But when the Rangers asked he move to 3rd base, to make room for an up-and-coming shortstop team management might help the team win, Young had enough. He asked to be traded rather than move to a position he didn't think he could thrive in.

In what I doubt is a coincidence, the Rangers finished the 2008 season with more losses than wins. Young reluctantly agreed to move, but reports say he isn't happy about it.

Are you Michael Young or Troy Polamalu?

Are you married to your tactics, or would you rather you (or your clients) simply win? 

There is no panacea of marketing. A lot of marketers in this space -- who read this and other blogs in our blogroll -- believe in what they do. They look at the landscape of traditional marketing and witness  account executives and brand creatives who go on exotic "business" trips on the client's dime and put out tv ads (sometimes even entertaining, award-winning work) that simply don't solve the client's problems.

They resist pushing the client over to another tactic or medium because that's not what they do. That is handled by a different department, and pushing it off will mean fewer exotic business trips, or less money for their team's expense account.

Maybe the right solution is being handled by a different agency altogether, and they're too worried about their own survival to countenance the loss of revenue to a rival agency.

The same can be said of more "progressive" marketers, too -- those who so fanatically believe in Internet advertising or social media and modern Internet technologies that they eschew all traditional methods of communication.

The right solution is the one that helps your company and your clients succeed. If you haven't considered alternatives to the tactics you offer simply because you don't offer them, then hire someone who can. You can decide what to do about it later.

Your clients will appreciate (and reward) your dedication to their well-being. - Cam Beck

October 10, 2008

70s Advertisers

There were only three networks. It was the era of the three martini lunch, and creepy advertising.

Someone sent me a clip of a Southwest Airlines commercial from the 70s.

The scenes in the airplane creep me out a bit. Look at related videos, I found another for Eastern Airlines that creeped me out even more:

Wow. After getting lost in the woods like that, a trip to a therapist may be a better idea than Disney World.

It's always easy to look back and make fun of the past. What were these advertisers thinking?

- Paul Herring

September 22, 2008

Microsoft is Bringing Geeky Back

In the midst of a meeting with a client last week, two of the participants -- our chief point of contact and one of our business analysts -- broke out into a sidebar about some mind-mapping software. Several others in the room were sort of bewildered by this discussion and poked some fun at them.

"I fully admit," our client said. "I'm a nerd."

"But," he defended, "I do use a Mac at home."

Perhaps he should have waited a day to see that Microsoft was bringing geeky back. Their new ad embraces the caricature Apple made famous in their "I'm a Mac" campaign, but they take it out of the surreal and into the familiar. (Feed readers click through)

As far as advertisements go, it's pretty shrewd. Apple never intended to turn PC into a villain with its campaign. That would be an unwise way to address 95% of the market.

PC was always sort of a lovable nerd in Apple's commercials.

But Microsoft realized something important. A lot of people see themselves as geeks, and in the last 15 or so years, being seen as a geek has become a badge of honor.

At the same time, Microsoft took the wind out of the sails of the caricature Apple invented.

Not all geeks are of the pocket-protector variety. But realizing the entertainment value of Apple's version, Microsoft led off with a look-alike so that it could be recognized, but then introduced an army of new characters -- celebrities and everymen -- most having pretty cool jobs -- who don't claim to OWN a PC, but who claim to BE a PC.

It's a pretty smart move, but I have to wonder what motivated the effort. After all, in the personal computing market, Apple and Microsoft aren't even in the same category. Is Microsoft worried? Or is this just preventative? - Cam Beck

August 20, 2008

Online Olympics coverage and Silverlight


Like a lot of people I'm becoming an Olympic junkie. I have my favorite teams that are either not covered on television or that I want to see live, despite of the time difference.

I wasn't surprised that NBC is using Silverlight  to broadcast on MSNBC. OK, I'll download your plug-in to see what I want to see. It's from Microsoft, right? It should work fine because they make the FRICK'N OPERATING SYSTEM AND BROWSER. We'll it doesn't. I'm not able to see what I'd like to see. However, I am able to watch the 30 second commercials each time I try to bring up the games, which pisses me off even more.

Maybe it is a problem with my Internet Connection. However, how come I can see the 30 second spot in all of its bloated ad agency ego glory?

Once again Microsoft has proven that they can release products without really testing them. You'd think that they realize they could capture the market and create a brand that would chase out competition due to their roots as the creator of Windows and Internet Explorer. Not so. It seems like Microsoft hasn't been able to release a trusted version of any of it's products since the 90's. With all the anti-trust pressure on them, just making it part of what's installed on a PC won't work anymore. Nothing substitutes doing it right the first time.

- Paul Herring

August 14, 2008

Advertisers Suck

If you're a parent, maybe you understand how frustrating it can be when you are watching a fairly innocuous program and need to explain to an 11 year old how dangerous and stupid something like this is for anyone - young and old. You do it, because you're trying to make sure he's smarter than these two idiots whose circumstance the commercial glamorizes. (Feed readers click through)

Next 2 lines:

"I have herpes."

"That's okay. I have AIDS."


Good Advertising?
It is the creation of BBH London, but Levis of course pays the bill, so while I excuse neither, Levis bears the ultimate responsibility.

I found this, by the way, at BestAdsOnTV.com.

Best. Ads. On. TV.

Effective? Maybe. I have no idea.

Good? Not so much.

But to be "fair" to Levis, they aren't the only company that does it. And when they run it or anything that tacitly endorses this type of behavior in the middle of Spiderman 2 (which I've noticed happens quite a bit on FX), it's just difficult to be charitable to the network, the advertiser, or the agency.

Thank goodness for DVRs. I have no sympathy for the networks who hate them. - Cam Beck

August 13, 2008

Advertising as Content

Coke Please answer the following questions as quickly and as honestly as you can.

If you could watch TV without commercials, would you do it?

Would your answer change if you found out that, in lieu of advertising, advertisers strategically placed products throughout the show hoping that it would subtly influence what you buy?

Would your answer change if you found out that this technique was 100% more effective than traditional TV commercials in influencing consumer behavior? 1000% more effective?

Based on the answers to those questions, here's the big one:

What's the purpose of advertising?

Of course the example is bogus. I have no illusions about product placement within the content of a show being 100 times as effective as television commercials -- even if the product is the "hero" of the show.

The point is to get us all to think about the nature of advertising, where we draw our limits for acceptability, and why.

There are a lot of people who equate advertising as an attempt to manipulate people -- which is of course exactly true. We are social beings, after all, and we cannot escape the nature in which people interact and try to influence each other.

Advertising reflects our social nature. It did not cause it.

But the problem is that they see any form of manipulation as exploitation, which is false. Sometimes.

It depends on the end to which people are being manipulated. Are they being encouraged to do something good (e.g., brush their teeth twice a day with cavity-fighting toothpaste) or something bad (e.g. run up credit card debt in pursuit of social status).

Is Exploitation Really So Bad?
It seems like such a silly question that it shouldn't even need to be asked. But when you consider that not all people agree on where to draw the line between what is good and what is bad, you realize a fundamental dilemma: One person's exploitation is another's informed consent.

And when you consider that people and advertisements are diverse enough to please and offend equal portions of both, you can begin to see why people distrust advertising in general.

Conscience is a Minefield

This is one of the principle reasons advertisers desperately covet the ability to communicate:

  • the exact right message at
  • the exact right time to
  • the exact right person in
  • the exact right way

In the same order, to deliver that it requires:

  • knowledge of an individual's social and psychological makeup
  • knowledge of or access to his schedule
  • knowledge of his identity and location
  • knowledge of his moral scruples

Most people are uneasy about anyone having all of this information about them, because they already fear the prospect of someone manipulating them. They distrust advertisers.

So maintaining a healthy respect for privacy and to maintain effectiveness, it seems advertising must be framed as something else. However, not all efforts to navigate this landscape have been welcomed with open arms.

Here are some of the tactics in use today:

Product placement is just one example of this. Some groups strenuously object to this practice, calling it deceptive. In any event, those engaging in product placements will need to determine if the rewards justify the cost and if it can be reliably predicted and duplicated.

Search engine marketing is also an example of advertising as content, but with SEM, at least the user has expressed an intent to be exposed to something that might answer his question, and the advertisements are clearly marked. Plus, it's easier to track the immediate effects in real time.

PayPerPost is an attempt to frame advertising as content, but since blogger backlash forced them to require bloggers identify their endorsements as advertising (and some other issues regarding compensation), I tend to be skeptical about its long-term viability.

Blogger outreaches are efforts to marry bloggers to the right opportunities, in the hopes that they may speak favorably of whatever it is the marketing effort is promoting. This is a dangerous game, too, if it is done wrong. Some companies have been skewered by a segment of the community for the slightest hint of impropriety.

Of these efforts, the common characteristics people tend to appreciate most are transparency and authenticity. Of course, with product placement in fictional television shows or movies, this is a bit trickier. Working through that maze is a post in itself.

Where Does This Leave Us?
There is no panacea of marketing. All approaches we've discussed have their difficulties. They risk effectiveness, capital, or by virtue of the PR effects of wrongheaded planning or execution, both.

What's important to remember is our responsibility to serve our audience and the common good as a whole -- insofar as the common good can be objectively identified. With that principle in mind, we can fearlessly proceed with our best understanding, even knowing we'll make some mistakes. We'll be certain to be listening the entire way so that when we do make a wrong turn, our audience will be sure to tell us which way we need to go.

If we've been treating them right all along and continue to treat them with respect throughout our recovery, they'll not hold our mistakes against us for long. - Cam Beck

Disclosure: The coke can was unopened in the photo above.

Related Posts
Part 1: Give Them Ads You Want Them To See
Part 2: Give Them Ads They've Asked To See   
Part 3: Build Relationships
Part 4: Adopt Their Goals as Your Own