Category Archives: Media

Recession + digital advertising = problem for commercial tv

tvs.jpg(That’s a long title, sorry about that.)
Would a recession be the nail in the coffin for tv advertising? In a recession we know that it’s better to keep spending on advertising to avoid being forgotten about, but if you had to choose between a medium that offered defined views, number of viewers, demographics, time spent on media, personal connection, geographic location (down to town level) etc and one that only offered estimated viewers and demographics which would you choose?

Of course, if you know that you want to reach people getting married and you are advertising on the wedding channel you are probably still onto a winner with tv, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.

Unsung hero

Maybe it’s the matter box, maybe it’s a couple of projects we have on the go at work, (probably both) but I think it’s time to big up Nokia game. In the late 90s and early 00s Nokia ran a series of what can realistically be described as ARGs to market new models. Starting before what is probably known as the first ARG The Beast they variously employed television/radio/flat plane ad space as narrative drivers, online gaming, community competitive gaming, mobile content and contact, share dealing environments and teams working together to solve storylines and puzzles for the ultimate prize….no not a new Nokia, a great time!

The last “game” was in 2004 and to be honest it wasn’t great because it was a broadband project ahead of it’s time and I couldn’t even play it on our work network the content was so video heavy. But it did have all the classic

What was so brilliant about it was that the product was so embedded in the experience that it didn’t feel like a marketing exercise where things like The Art of the Heist which Audi did in 2005 for the A3 just felt like it was designed to sell, sell, sell.

This is the kind of content that Nokia are producing now – – which is fun but…

We need to deliver more genuinely 360 projects as consumers move increasingly off broadcast media and into interactive environments. The medium is the message and in a multi-media environment we need multi-media messaging that actually reflects the type of experience users desire in those media, not simply messaging that tries to continue a broadcast identity in a conversational environment.

I’m not saying anything you don’t already know but you might not know of Nokia Game. You can’t play them any more (boo) but you can find out what made them so great. I advise you to do so.

Does it matter?*

So everyone is talking about matter box and I have now had the chance to look inside one in the flesh (and not just through Andy Piper’s blog as I had done until today!) Zeroinfluencer received one and I have first dibs on eating his cereal and PlayDoh, (or is that just cereal…)

Anyway, having poked around inside I can say that it’s cool and fun,  and some of these things are semi-useful (see cereal/ play doh)  but then it’s always cool and fun to receive surprises that are well-packaged and creative friendly which the things in this box mostly are. Just a couple of thoughts then…
Most of the objects in the box are on the creative side of marketing and most therefore have a link back the web which I ideally would be monitored carefully in order to determine the value of the exercise to the client – but there are a couple that have no website attached or have a campaign website attached rather than something bespoke. Sure it will be possible to measure response my matching up date of delivery with traffic on the sites/tools but if I was a client I wouldn’t be as happy with that.

How could this come into its own for brand owners?  This kind of contact would be perfect for experiential marketing projects, anything that is trying to reach a target market “in the know”, because a box of delights like this is the kind of place where you might suspend your every day and possibly engage with for instance ARG-type activities – your mind is already open to the creative and so you engage more carefully. That’s why the soap/crayon box from Nissan is appropriate in this box where it might be ignored in another context. My instinct is that recipients will properly engage with the content of these boxes and almost expect richness – I think that’s why I was disappointed with the Original Source sample. Must try harder.

So these boxes could be a creative person’s dream both from agency side and public side and that makes a client-side dream come true. But it does depend on that creativity. I’m interested to see the next one.

* oh come on that title was a gift!

Social reality

My most recent favourite deconstruction of an advert relates to the new First Choice Holidays ad.

This is an ad of our times in so many ways. It sets up expectations, then delights you by confounding them (romantic music but a meeting of a young boy and father); it really gives you time to think (the whole thing is in slow motion); though the tag line is “We understand family holidays” we aren’t looking at a nuclear family, a female is only present as a voice in this version or in another I have seen recently as a participant coming in from the side who may be a wife, could be a girlfriend, but essentially she isn’t part of the intense father-son relationship.

The whole feel reminded me of this Athena poster which was on everyone’s wall when I was 15…


which is no surpise. The ad, like the poster, appeals to women because biologically we are programmed to look for appropriate fathers for our children and who will provide love and security for them (ok all you feminists out there, we are certainly capable of rising above our biology!) both ad and poster use handsome men that appear to be responsible – golddust :-). And of course, it is mostly be women who organise and choose holidays and they are times when they dream of bonding, even better if their partner bonds with the children and gives them “quality time”.

What’s interesting to me is that the ad can also be read in a completely different way, a way that speaks to the single fathers out there who may only get 1-2 weeks per year to have this kind of “quality time” with their kids. The woman involved in the ad takes rather a back seat and could equally be a girlfriend as a wife.

So, I asked my divorced dad flatmate how the ad made him feel…he said, “confused”. He didn’t understand where the woman in the family was. I suspect that this is because he is still in the period of a divorce when being able to take your kids on holiday is just a pipe-dream. If his situation changes maybe I will bring it up again. But I would be interested to know if any single fathers responded to the ad positively.

PS For the sordid truth behind the man and baby poster check out…

Watching the boxWe all know that the advertising world is undergoing upheaval, digital seems to be taking away audiences from the mainstay of deliver, television; ad formats online don’t seem to be offering that holy grail of click throughs it promised; video pre-rolls, in-player and in-stream video are found “annoying” by a worrying 82% of the audience according to Forrester’s “Interactive Marketing Forecast 2007-2012” . I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

But part of me feels that perhaps we are just seeing how things truly are at last, the wool is being rudely ripped away from our eyes. Let me explain.

Working in digital you get used to knowing fairly accurately how many of your audience are paying attention to you and what they are doing. This is scarey. If you can measure a click through you can directly assess the effectiveness of your visuals. But digital figures rarely have the impact of TV figures, even now – eg 17,000 online vs 1 million viewers for a typical one off doc on Channel 4. Such figures and the fact that they can’t be measured have meant that essentially advertisers have had an easy ride – the number of people viewing an ad is extrapolated from the number of people watching a programme. 3 million for the opening of Big Brother this year? Lovely.

However, collecting audience figures for TV has always been an arcane art and I believe that it’s been done wrongly and that figures have been over-inflated, contributing to feelings that a) digital isn’t delivering and b) tv audiences are dropping off massively, when they are probably reducing more reasonably. Here’s how it works.

BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board) interview 52,000 people per year to determine various audience types and viewing behaviours. Of this 52,000, they then choose a number of respondents from different audience segments, 5,100 home to be exact representing 11,500 viewers, to receive a black box which connects to their tv and which records what they are doing, including what programmes are videoed, added to hard disk etc. All people in the household register their presence when they watch tv using a remote control. From the information that is collected BARB extrapolate total viewing figures. ie from a sample of 10,000 people they will extrapolate Millions of viewers. But there are 60 million people in the UK so this represents 0.0085% of the population….

Here’s a story I was told and was assured was true, though the cynical part of me thinks it is an urban myth. One programme regularly received high ratings but every 4th week they dropped to below 1 million. All sort of theories were put forward for this but in the end it transpired that every 4th week a long distance lorry driver on the BARB programme had to do a trip that took him away over night. He wasn’t around and his absence caused and extrapolated drop of about 2 million viewers.

All this goes to show two things –

1) digital works far better for advertisers than tv because it stops agencies from complacency about who is watching and why
2) get your measurements right or reap the reward.