Monday, January 30, 2006
In today’s cluttered world it is becoming more and more difficult for marketers to get their messages to standout. Here’s an idea and new product with potential for the Out of Home Advertising Industry. Sacramento, California based Smart Sign Media is a technology-based outdoor marketing & advertising firm specializing in electronically networked digital video signs. They have provided displays for the Las Vegas Convention Center, New York's Times Square and numerous others. They offer a product called “Smar Trak RMS” that enables outdoor advertisers to capture, real-time demographic information on motorists passing their signs. The sensors installed in their digital video advertising panels monitor the passive signals emitted by the FM radios and when the data is commingled with a separate Media Audit database, it provides detailed an instantaneous demographic and purchasing info.
Recently the company signed into a partnership with Simon Brand Ventures to provide outdoor digital signage to many of Simon Malls' 300 shopping centers across the United States. The deal will provide exterior signs strategically situated at major thoroughfares adjacent to the malls. The video and LED panels include the RMS technology and will adjust advertising messages to specific consumer demographics. In the near-term future Smart Sign states that the network will also enable consumers to interact with advertisers to receive promotional offers and coupons via mobile phones.
Rumors of a Thursday package have been circulating since the announcement of the new NFL packages with ESPN and NBC. Although it is a big move for the National Football League to pass up the rights fees for the eight game package it desperately needs to build up I own fledgling NFL Network. The 2-year-old cable network is seen in 40 million homes, but that will likely increase with more carriage deals, given the NFL's enormous popularity.
The inaugural game of the package is scheduled for Thanksgiving night (Nov. 23) as part of a new Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. “After discussing this new package of games with many potential partners, we decided it would be best presented on our own, high-quality NFL Network, which has developed so rapidly that the time had come to add live regular season games to the programming,” NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement. “In the end, we wanted these games on our Network, which is devoted 24/7 to the sport of football, and not on a multi-sport network.”
Comcast's Outdoor Life Network, which was hoping to add the NFL to its newly acquired National Hockey League deal, was said to be a strong suitor for the package, which insiders say could have commanded $400 million - $500 million dollars. Fox and TNT were among the other networks believed to have been bidding for the Thursday-Saturday package. Links: MediaWeek Jan 28, ’06 – NFL Hands off Thurs/Sat Late Game Season to its own Network, AdAge.com Jan 29, ’06 – NFL Selects Own Network for last Prime-Time TV Package, B&C - NFL Network to Air Eight-Game Package SM Past Musings – The End of an Era for ABC Let me know you enjoyed the post by Digg it
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The iTunes Music Store is now starting to add television shows before they have made their network television premieres. The first two shows to do this are from Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. It looks like downloadable television shows have a great future ahead as they result in more profits for networks than traditional advertising.
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Friday, January 27, 2006
It suggests that today’s media executives should opt for open-standards delivery platforms and engage in innovative pricing and distribution now to avoid losing market share in the future. Not surprisingly from a company with IBM in its name, the report paints a computer-heavy profile of a 2012 advanced-media user whose consumption, says the report, will go "far beyond traditional 'lean back' behavior and constrained content." Read the study for yourself at: IBM –The End of TV as we Know It, Link: BCBeat Jan 26, ’06 – Blue (tooth) Sky Predictions
Thursday, January 26, 2006
News Corp/Fox. operates nine O&O UPN stations in the nation's top TV markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Houston, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Baltimore and Orlando, Fla. With this weeks surprise news about the formation of the The CW Television Network they are left to fill the programming void. Although I’m sure that there are many station groups that are in a panic mode, for Fox I believe this is more of a blessing in disguise. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox Television division is producing shows that could air in primetime blocks and the news division of Fox Broadcasting Co. has a wealth of content. The development also could give News Corp. an opportunity to start its own Spanish-language network.
The jury is still out News Corp/Fox plans however one thing is certain and that is they have already begun the process of distancing themselves from the UPN brand. Insiders say Fox is, among other things, pulling UPN on-air promos, scratching February sweeps radio buys promoting UPN’s shows, and deleting UPN logos from station IDs. “We’d be crazy not to cut spending money on a network we’re no longer going to be affiliated with,” said News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher, adding that Fox normally takes similar measures when shows get cancelled. What are your thoughts?
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
As NATPE got under way in Las Vegas, a major announcement rocked the convention. The WB and UPN are merging to form a new network: The CW. “C” for CBS Corp. and “W” for Warner Bros. – each of which will own half of the new entity and contribute programs, assets and executives to the venture. The move seems to be inspired by CBS, which as a newly separate publicly traded company at the start of this year has made several significant deals.
The New CW will launch this fall and will be carried on the 11 stations owned by UPN (CBS Corp.), guaranteeing carriage in about 47% of the country (20 of the top 25 DMAs). The combination will trigger a shake-up of network affiliations in a number of cities. In the seven cities that have a Tribune-owned station and also one UPN-owned station, the companies have already divvied up which ones will carry the new network - Tribune stations in four markets, and CBS-owned ones in the other three.
In other cities that have both WB affiliates and UPN affiliates that are not owned by either CBS or Tribune, it's not yet clear what will happen or what financial arrangements will be made. CW executives stated that the network would be looking at each market individually. The deal also opens the question of what will happen to the nine UPN-affiliated stations that are owned by the Fox network's parent company, News Corp. Fox already has its own stations in most of those markets, and several of those cities also have stations that will become affiliates of The CW.
Among the Tribune stations that will join the new network are its flagship WGN in Chicago as well as WPIX in New York, and KTLA in Los Angeles. Links: TVWeek.com Jan 24 ’06 - Tribune Execs: All Eyes on Fox in Wake of UPN-WB Merger, Broadcasting & Cable Jan 24 ’06 - WB, UPN Fold Shocks NATPE in Vegas, UPDATED 01/25 - LATimes.com Jan 25, ’06 - CBS, Warner to Shut Down 2 Networks and Form Hybrid
Monday, January 23, 2006
I rarely comment on print advertising in my postings however this one has deep repercussions that could have an affect on many of your businesses. Turner Networks, Regional Sports Nets and The Golf Channel are just some of the networks that I am aware of that have openly accepted advertisements from the offshore gaming industry. News Flash!! According to the Justice Department, Sporting News, which is owned by Paul Allen's - Vulcan Ventures, agreed to a $7.2 million settlement with the feds over claims that it helped promote off-shore Internet gambling by running advertisements in its magazine, Web site and radio network between the spring of 2000 and December 2003. The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis, Mo. has been cracking down on the ads for the past several years an i June 2003, the JD ent a letter to the Magazine Publishers of America, as well as to many individual magazines, alerting publishers that the ads were illegal.
“The Sporting News was aware that its conduct and the fees it accepted in exchange for its conduct were proceeds of illegal gambling, which was aiding and promoting illegal conduct,” the government said in a statement. The Sporting News is believed to have been the first magazine to be fined although other media companies have also come under scrutiny. Links: ADLAW Jan 30, '06 - Sporting News fined for running Online and Telephone Gambling Ads and AdAge.com Jan 20,’06 Sporting News’ Fined $7.2 Million for Gambling Ads
Sunday, January 22, 2006
At last there are research products (real life vs. Focus Groups) that will help marketers determine how effective their television commercials are. Advertisers have expressed their desire for an accurate commercial measurement source for years, yet the requests seem to fall on deaf ears in the research community. In mid 2004 Nielsen Media announced it was developing a system that would help answer these questions and on Thursday they signed their first clients to the new minute-by-minute data service. Both The Weather Channel and Starcom MediaVest Group will now have access to national viewing information broken out by commercial minutes and delivered weekly.
Several other companies have also seen a viable business in providing new research. MediaCheck hopes to rollout its measurement boxes this early this summer. There launch plan places equipment in 35,000 homes covering 4 to 7 U.S. cities to see how viewers respond to ads for both live and (DVR) recorded programs. The tool will produce daily ratings of TV ads and will tally of how many people are watching or skipping, ultimately enabling advertisers to quickly determine whether spots should be pulled or switched to other time slots. Upstart firm IAG Research is able to determine which ads are watched most attentively (Based on daily Internet surveys). IAG CEO Alan Gould says, "The new currency is measuring engagement." Seems like television is on its way to becoming as accountable as the Internet.
Links: BusinessWeek Jan 16, 2006 – Television Counting the Eyeballs, Craigblog Apr 27, ’05 – A modest proposal: vote TV commercials out, MediaWeek Dec 15, ’05 – Nielsen signs First Minute by Minute Clients
Friday, January 20, 2006
According to a report by Reuters on Thursday, Disney is in talks to buy Pixar for $6.7 billion in stock. If the acquisition goes through, Steve Jobs could soon become the largest shareholder in the Mouse House, but interestingly enough, it's unclear whether The Walt Disney Company is wooing Pixar Animation Studios or visa versa.
Here’s a little background on Jobs and Pixar: It was a small animation company originally established by George Lucas to support his needs in the growing Star Wars movie franchise. Jobs purchased it in ‘86 for $10 Million (after he was ousted as Apple’s CEO). Based on the current offer on the table, the company is now worth about $7 billion. If Disney acquires Pixar in an all share deal, Jobs will hold 6.8% of Disney which makes him the largest shareholder and perhaps the next chairman. When Apple acquired Jobs' Next, it was like Apple paying Next to make Jobs the CEO of Apple. Could this repeat with Disney too?
The move could potentially have massive implications for Internet media, to which Disney and other media giants like News Corp and Time Warner, have recently turned their full attention. Such a move would give Jobs the power to break down the barriers between Disney and Pixar's content, and Apple's computer hardware and digital distribution through iTunes. Disney's long list of lucrative content partners includes Walt Disney Studios, ABC and ESPN. Analysts said the move could give Disney the edge over its competitors, which are also looking to sync online content with technology and digital distribution. This could be great for Disney, but also presents new challenges to ABC affiliates, who are already dissatisfied with the company selling its programming through new venues that go around the affiliates.
An announcement could come as soon as Monday. Links: Reuters Jan 19, 2006 – Pixar, Disney deal could change the digital landscape, NYTimes.com Jan 20, 2006 – Tomorrowland: Apple Chief Set for Disney Role
Thursday, January 19, 2006
By the time you’ve made it this far into my Blog, you have already judged this site according to a study by Canadian researchers. In just a brief (1/20th of a second) people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their experience with an Internet site. Rapid cognition or “thin slicing”, is the theory that the study is is based on and if the topic interests you I highly recommend that you read the book “Blink”, by Malcolm Gladwell (a very good business read).
The study identified that people could rate the visual appeal of sites after seeing them for just one-twentieth of a second. These judgments were not random, in fact sites that were flashed up twice were given similar ratings both times and the length of time viewed did not have any noticeable effect on the result. Link: Reuters Jan 17, 2006 – Internet Users judge Web Sites in less than a blink, More info about Blink – Gladwell.com/blink/
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
If there were any doubt that Google is primarily an advertising company, not a search company, that doubt is eliminated today with the news Google’s purchase of dMarc. dMarc provides an automated advertising solution that puts ad spots on radio. dMarc enables advertisers to pick stations, target demographics, and upload digital content. Sounds like a perfect match and a ready-made entry for Google into the radio industry. Will it form Radio’s future 800-lb. Gorilla? It’s possible that Executives inside the search engine powerhouse see radio as 14,000 candy stores and there is no reason to have a national sales organization like Interep or Katz when this could all be automated.
Many analysts regard see the acquisition as a logical step for Google because major corporate players usually prefer dealing with an ad firm that offers multiple channels such as TV, radio, print and the Internet. There is however, one small hitch - Google would be competing with some of its own biggest buyers.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Satellite mapping is growing in popularity these days. Google Maps leads the race with others in tow and I personally find the products to be semi useful in my travels. MIT Advertising Lab posted a piece about “advertisers discovering the value of Google Maps by placing large ads on their rooftops for those using Google Maps to see”. As an example they show the Target Store (pictured here – and which happens to be in the landing pattern for O’Hare), which has boldly painted the buildings entire roof with their well-recognized logo.
Considering a lot of the Google Maps satellite photos are over 1-2 years old, I think this is Target simply helping emergency services to locate their store and potentially doing a little branding to airline passengers rather than "discovering" the value of rooftop ads. Don’t get me wrong. I think as wireless and general usage for these products grow, this is and idea with solid legs. For now they are just way ahead of their time. Link: MIT Advertising Lab, Aug 23, 2005 - Advertising with Google Maps
Monday, January 16, 2006
LCD advertising displays have become ubiquitous in China's big cities. They light up subways, buses, mini marts, and even taxis. This type of bombardment might turn off western consumers but in China, where advertising has been around for only a couple of decades, the screens have considerable novelty value. Recently a media merger has gone down between two video companies that put out content that is pure, unadulterated commercials. The venue is a large number of liquid-crystal-display screens hung wherever there's a place to hang (a la Times square inside) especially in elevator lobbies in apartments and office buildings. According to Frederik Balfour a writer for BusinessWeek Online, Focus, a company with 35K such screens in 52 Chinese cities is buying it biggest competitor, Target (capitalism at its finest) that will take it to 60K screens in 75 cities. Some venues are even allowing screen hanging free of charge to upgrade a building's ambience (imagine that). In the US we have several growing companies that have been successful in this new expanding category. PRN (recently acquired by Thompson) and Gannett owned Captivate Network. Both have grown double digits financially in the past 5 years and much larger media companies have acquired both in the past 24 months. With technology continuing to advance and come down in price, this is a sector to pay close attention to during the next 2-3 years. Links: BusinessWeek Online, Jan 12, 2006 – The Elevator Pitch China-Style, and Forbes Jan, 08, 2006 – China’s Focus Media to acquire top rival
Sunday, January 15, 2006
AOL & Time Warner is on my radar because I spent a great many years of my career with the organization. Here’s an interesting analysis, from an insider perspective. Hindsight maybe 20-20, but former AOL executive Tom Grubisich says AOL's painful move from the top to the middle came long before its merger with Time Warner. In 1997 AOL founder Steve Case was so obsessed with growing AOL's subscriber base (which then represented about a third of all Internet users) that he neglected to focus on the thing that would ultimately make the Web the profitable place it is today: content. Years later, following a failed marriage to Time Warner, massive subscriber losses, and a distant fourth place position in revenues behind Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft's MSN, AOL is now trying to play catch-up. Grubisich blames Case for AOL's languishing position, saying essentially that it was Case himself who AOL needed to be liberated from, not Time Warner. Link: Online Journalism Review – Jan 12. 2006 – Who ‘shackled” AOL and when?
Saturday, January 14, 2006
At virtual sellout and with nervous feelings about Janet’s past “garment malfunction” I guess you too would be selective with the creative you place in the 2006 Super bowl broadcast. Go Daddy would like to advertise in the upcoming Super Bowl game, but has not been able to get any of its ads approved, according to CEO Bob Parsons. The domain registrar's controversial ad in the 2005 Super Bowl (see below for link to video) generated enormous media coverage and web traffic, and kicked off a year of huge growth for the company. "We still don’t know if we are going to advertise in next year’s Super Bowl," Parsons wrote in his weblog. "We’ve been busy working to get an ad approved by the censors at ABC and really haven’t had any luck." ABC has reportedly rejected 9 different proposals from GoDaddy.com for their Super bowl spot, calling them too racy. The two companies have a verbal agreement to air a spot during the Super Bowl, but no contract. (Pictured: A frame of last year's GoDaddy Super Bowl ad, which aired on Fox and was pulled for the remainder of the broadcast.) Link: MediaPost Jan 13, 2005 - ABC To GoDaddy: Go And Take Your Super Bowl Ad With You, Ok... ok for those of you who must see the 2005 spot - Watch the commercial at funnyhub.com
Friday, January 13, 2006
More of this year’s Super Bowl commercials will be shown in high-definition, ABC reports. “We expect more than half the ads to run in HD,” says Ed Erhardt, ABC head of sports ad sales. In 2005, 10 of the more than 30 minutes of ads were HD. As more consumers snap up HDTV sets, advertisers are quickly adopting to the technology as well. “When you’re watching a high-def broadcast, and you see a (standard) commercial come on, it looks like someone put a sheet over your television,” says commercial producer Dave Morrison. Considering advertisers are spending an average of $2.4 million for a 30-second avail and The Super Bowl is one of the few programming choices where people watch the commercials, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the higher quality look. Marketers taking advantage of the increasingly popular format for the first time include Anheuser-Busch and Federal Express. Link: USA Today – Jan 12, 2006 – More Super Bowl Marketers shoot High-Def Ads
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Google offers personal home page for mobile phones
Have you taken a test drive of the New Google Local for Mobile? The mapping, directions and bird’s eye view from the available Satellite imagery is quite slick and very handy. Well if you like that here’s another new product that you will soon find to be a useful tool. I’m certain that you will find various version will be offered by numerous web portals and services very soon however first to the market is of course Google.
Jan 12, 2006 Reuters – Google is now letting mobile phone users create a personalized version of the Google home page. The personalization feature, available to most phones developed within the last year, allows those users to conduct Web searches, check Gmail, news headlines, weather and stocks from a central page. Google says the new feature is optimized to work on smaller screens, and enhances the mobile experience by providing a lot of useful information on a single page, as mobile network connections are far slower than the high-speed connections on computers. Analysts say that giving users the ability to program relevant information is "hugely important" for increasing mobile Web usage.
Check it out for yourself at Google Personalized Home. My mind is still spinning with advertising opportunities – SM Link: Reuters - Google offers personal home page for mobile phones
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
DULLES, Virginia – Tuesday, January 10th, 2006 - AOL has closed a deal to purchase Truveo, a video search company, to provide better video search features on AOL.com, which recently launched a In2TV with companies like Warner Bros., which is a video service that will offer thousands of vintage TV episodes from old favorites. Truveo uses a technology called Visual Crawling, which automatically discovers video files and related info on web pages.
Links: Truveo Press Release Past SMM Posts: Dec 2, 2005 - Video Search, Nov 16, 2005 – AOL’s content deal with Warner Bros., Nov 1, 2005 - TVs Online Future
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Clear Channel to launch music VOD service
Clear Channel will begin testing a free, ad-supported music VOD service tomorrow with between 2,000 to 3,000 music videos from top artists at Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group featured on 17 of its radio station websites in 5 major markets. A third label is reportedly likely to join as well. The effort adds to CC Radio's podcasting service for some of its stations. Links: MediaWeek Jan 9, 2006 – Clear Channel Readies VOD, News.com Jan 6, 2006 – Clear Channel to launch video on demand
Friday, January 06, 2006
The 2006 Rose Bowl Game National Championship earned the highest-rated Rose Bowl Game ratings in 20 years. Although I’m a Trojan fan and alumni, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and must tip my hat to Vince Young and his Texas Long Horns.
Hot off the wire - PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The highly anticipated Rose Bowl Game National Championship presented by Citi -- which featured an exciting, down to the wire finish with Texas defeating USC 41-39 to earn the national title -- earned an outstanding national rating of 21.7.
Read the full press release: The 2006 Rose Bowl Game National Championship Additional Links: MediaPost Jan 6, 2005 - Big Winner In ABC's Rose Bowl Coverage Could be Fox, Past Post SMM Dec 13, 2005 – Roses for ABC
"We could not ask for a more exciting Rose Bowl Game National Championship than the one we had,"said 2006 Tournament of Roses President Libby Evans Wright. "We are delighted that more than 35 million football fans tuned in to ABC to catch the thrilling action and witness the crowning of college football's new national champion."
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Motorola has launched iRadio, a subscription music service that lets users download 435 commercial-free radio channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos. The new service begins to form a new rival to the functionality of handheld XM and Sirius units. Monthly subscription will run between 6-10 dollars a month, depending on the wireless phone service the subscriber uses. Consumers can subscribe to the service by tapping an icon on an iRadio-enabled mobile phone, available through wireless service providers later this year. Cingular and Verizon Wireless (01/06 - see Links) are also planning mobile music download services for this year to compete with the iPod. Sprint Nextel has already launched music download and streaming services. UPDATE 01/06/06 Links: NY Times Jan 6,2005 - Rising Competition in Cellphone Music
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Although corporate raider Carl Icahn may demand it, there's no need for Time Warner to break up, according to this column by Leo Hindery Jr., managing partner of InterMedia Partners, a media-industry private investment firm. But Hindery says Time Warner may want to spin off its cable assets. Read Leo’s perspective at: Business Week, Jan 01, 2006 – Time Warner: No Disassembly Required, Link to Past Post on this topic: SMM, Dec 12, 2005 – Case Makes Case