broadcasting, buying, planning, realtiming

Going Live: Observations from the forefront of RealTime planning, via The Olympics, the Superbowl and Harold Macmillan

Seth-wescott-visa-ad Seth Westcott, who performed in RealTime ad placements for Visa

courtesy of WARC, via Andy, comes a great article on the RealTime activation.  whilst there was a fair degree of coverage of the efforts at the time, new commentary seems to show the extent to which the companies involved have deemed the initiatives a success.

commenting on broadcasting a TV spot minutes after one of their athletes – snowboarder Seth Westcott – won his second gold medal, Michael Lynch, Visa's head of global sponsorships, said "Our research has proven out that [these ads] are one of the best connections between Visa and the Olympics we have … We know the opportunity in the moment when we're sharing with Seth his accomplishments is special, and it's worked extremely well for us."

Drew-brees_Dove Drew Brees, Dove Men+Care's Most Valuable Player

a similar approach was adopted by Unilever's Dove Men+Care, who's ad featuring New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees landed on US screens hours after his team won the Super Bowl.  being named MVP didn't do any harm either; "It just ended up perfectly" observed Rob Master, director of media for Unilever's North American operations.

whilst underpinned by technology, and the willingness (and / or necessity) of media companies to accommodate such media buys, the above ad placements mark three interesting observations for those of us negotiating the future of media and communications.

one, that there's an interesting and clear direction of travel emerging, and it's called convergence into RealTime.  so far so whatever – this we know and I've written some thoughts on that before.  but the second observation – the infiltration of RealTime into the broadcast stream – shows just how far the trend is now pushing…

it's not unrealistic to assume that continued fragmentation of channels and viewing will only increase the opportunities to place more customised and relevant content in front of people in RealTime.  and there's a fascinating insight into how this could be deployed in the below video, showing how Slate’s Seth Stevenson bought an ad in a low-rating spot.  via Google.

it only takes a small leap to imagine how Google data could be combined with this technology to deploy a significant proportion of a schedule in RealTime, based on whatever factors a planner deems appropriate…  run ads when only it's raining, or whenever a sports team wins, or when interest rate decreases are announced.  to name but three – the possibilities become kind of endless…

but the final observation takes a lesson from Politics.  when Harold Macmillan was asked what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, he replied: "Events, my dear boy, events"  …both the Visa and Dove examples above resonated above and beyond delivering pure awareness because, and only because, of events.

I can't help but suspect that the future of media implementation may have events very much at it's heart.  from mass events like the Olympics or the Superbowl, to macro events like interest rate changes, thru to the micro events of re-targeting someone who visited a website.  politics' greatest challenge may be media implementation's greatest

broadcasting, converging, social media-ising, social networking, television

Building Social Shells: the trap and the opportunity of NBC’s ‘fan it’ initiative

Nbc_fan_it NBC's 'fan it', which launches today

thanks to Lauren for the heads up that NBC is today launching 'fan it', a initiative that the company describes as a "win-win opportunity that broaden's [our] shows' visibility" … "What better way to spread the word about our shows than with the help of our loyal fans" asks Adam Stotsky, president of NBC entertainment marketing.  quite right.

essentially viewers interact with shows and they're rewarded with fan points, and points mean prizes; be they exclusive early access to shows, merchandise, or discounts.  you can even win 'big-ticket sweepstakes items', like props from the Office.

there's much to be lauded about NBC's effort.  its rewarding fans of shows for being fans of shows, which generates that most potent and valuable of comms properties: word of mouth.  but rather than having a WOM strategy that at best involves an occasional email and at worst involves crossing fingers and hoping for the best, NBC are investing in WOM that they can consistently stimulate, interact with, and measure.

but I wonder if it goes far enough, and fear that its doesn't…  there's a danger that this is seen as the newest and shiniest way to promote programmes…  a bit like this…

Tv_social_oldold school TV marketing trap, with Social as added-on component

but Social is a different and much more potent beast than conventional advertising…  for one, its intrinsically part of the shows that stimulate it.  there's no filtering or polishing, no Photoshopping up the best bits; what people generate based on what stimulates then is what gets created and deployed.

for another, there's less control over how much gets created and what the sentiment of it is…  conversations and word of mouth can go both ways.  NBC would never create an ad saying "this show isn't as good as we thought it was going to be, but stick with it cos its got a great team and some legs yet", but that could easily be the nature of a conversation around one of it's shows in the social space.

and finally – unlike advertising – when social media talks back you can hear it.  the many whoops and sighs, cheers and jibes that echo around online conversations (and beyond) as a result of TV shows that we know and sometimes love are there for the social network and broadcast network to hear.  what the broadcast network chooses to do with that social networked conversation, with that collateral, is up to them…

I'd suggest that for all these reasons, Social is better seen as a 'shell' which surrounds TV product.  a shell which is intrinsically part of the TV product; reflecting, amplifying, and sometimes influencing the content that stimulates it.

Tv_social_new new school TV marketing opportunity, with Social as shell which is amplified out

this is the real role of Social Media for TV.  NBC have taken a glorious step with 'fan-it', but social is not a block on a schedule to be added on, rather its the prism thru which shows are advertised.  and moreover, its the collateral that's there to be deployed online and – increasingly – on-air…

'fan-it' can be a broadcast network-out initiative or it can be social network-in conversation.  the choice – and the challenge – may be NBC's, but 'fan-it' remains a brilliant next step – for both networks – towards a new TV media ecology.

planning, printing

Of Editors and Marketers: media planning lessons from the New News ecology

a legacy of the past?  Sydney Morning Herald's Ad from earlier this year (shot at Harbourside Open Air Cinema Feb 2010)

so I was fortunate enough this week to enjoy breakfast with the editor of an online news portal, and during our discussions it occurred to me that online news editors have more than a little in common with contemporary marketers.

the audience-centricity of online news editing was clear, from how stories are aggregated and published thru to the future platforms being considered and developed for content deployment.  the predominance of this centricity in the reader was clear when the editor talked about 'owning the reader at every point in the day'…

all this is in stark contrast to the heritage of the print newspaper, the monopoly of whom lasted for so long that it institutionalised a product-centricity which is, in some part, I believe firmly responsible for the current challenges facing the print publishing industry.  the newspaper industry 'didn't have to try for so long', was one observation made over the course of the discussion.

it occurred to me that marketers and media planners have three big things to learn from how news editors go about doing what they do…

the first is around content vs platform, and which is most important in gaining share of attention with people you want to reach.  on one hand its crucial to create appropriate and stimulating content for an audience.  this one from LG for example, which Oldham sent me this morning.

but platform is and will increasingly become the most important element.  I was never going to see this ad on TV…  I'm a light viewer at best, and now pretty much see every ad on YouTube or Facebook as and when they're recommended by friends.  the fact is that if you're aim is to gain audience share of attention you have to be platform-centric…  deploying content on those, rather than on the content's, terms.

the second learning is the old chestnut of doing not saying.  news organisations are increasingly defined not by what they say (see the Sydney Morning Herald effort above) but by what they do.  actions increasingly resonate louder then words, as any flick thru Contagious demonstrates.  this doesn't negate the need for the broadcast model – it just makes you re-evaluate its role on a schedule.

but the final lesson – and perhaps the most important – is around audience migrations.  you have an online space (Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Microsite (really?), website, etc) around which you want to aggregate an audience.  so you produce content an use search to direct them where you want to go right?  well yes, but…

…our editor was explaining that Facebook is increasingly more important than search in audience-flow to their site.  and that this traffic is dwarfed by the volume that comes direct from email links and browser bookmarks.

the lesson?  the most valuable way to aggregate an audience is to give it reason to stay connected.  book-marking, liking, registering for more, linking are all more important – in volume terms – than clicking thru search.  efforts to build long-term audiences that you encourage to keep coming back for more become significantly more valuable than one-off 'come see this' efforts.  one more nail in the coffin then for the idea of 'the campaign'.

big thanks to Rob for organising the session, brilliant stuff…