Advertisers Get Creative to Reach Out to DVR Users

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) can be found in nearly 40 percent of American homes, and their ability to let viewers fast-forward through commercials has had advertisers worried. However, according to a recent Nielsen report, advertisers have several options for attracting DVR audiences.

Many major advertisers have started using contextual advertising to showcase products and companies within the context of the show. For example, a Toyota Corolla zooms to the rescue of characters on AMC’s The Walking Dead. The ad is part of the show so even DVR users see it.

The report also noted that advertisers may not have much to worry about when it comes to their traditional ads being skipped. The largest segment of DVR owners – 18 to 49 year olds – is actually less likely to skip through the commercials. The ratings for the commercials for prime-time shows rise by 44 percent when the playback within three days is counted. This indicates that the DVR users are actually watching more TV and commercials than they would otherwise.

About the Author: Peter Koeppel is Founder and President of Koeppel Direct, a leader in drtv media buying, marketing, campaign management and creative strategies.

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Google Wins Omnicom As Ally

Google has partnered with advertising company Omnicom Media for online display advertising. This will bolster Google’s entrance into the display ad space.

As the search giant expands its marketing and advertising revenue, it needs to make strategic alliances with established marketing firms with clientele who are already spending money in the space. Under this deal, Omnicom will be spending hundreds of millions in display ad purchases for its clients over the next few years. In return, Google is working with Omnicom on an application “trading desk” that allows Omnicom to more easily purchase display advertising on Google’s ad exchange.
Omnicom has already been using the ad exchange to bid on advertising spots throughout Google’s network, using its own technology. This new setup will allow easier access for Omnicom as well as better analytics to see how ads are performing.
Display advertising, while still controversial as a somewhat untested and unproven advertising market, will be worth over $5 billion this year. 2009 saw about $5 billion with steady growth over the previous three years and industry insiders expect that growth to continue.
Ad exchange systems, such as what Google promotes, allow marketers to choose more niche-based and focused sites to advertise with. These systems create genre-based website networks that the advertiser can then bid to use for their marketing. Advertising can be purchased for specific websites or pages or for suites of websites with similar themes and visitors. Site owners sign up with the ad exchange in hopes of getting more revenue from advertising with less effort spent looking for ad buyers.
Critics of deals such as this latest Google-Omnicom agreement, say that these types of deals raise conflicts of interest questions for the industry and especially for clients and potential clients of the firms in question. If, for instance, Microsoft were to be a client of Omnicom and see this deal with search rival Google (Microsoft owns the Bing search engine), might they question their investment?
Omnicom counters this by saying that the deal renders lower-cost advertising for its clients and does not require them to put specific clients onto Google’s networks. The deal allows Omnicom to focus on its expertise and leave technology to someone who knows it best.

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Are Cable Rebrands a Smart Idea?

What makes some rebrands so successful, and others fall flat?

Consider the following:

  • When NBCU’s USA Network rebranded itself, it turned into a $1.7 billion a year powerhouse.
  • ABC Family’s rebrand made for the network’s most-watched year.
  • Oxygen’s rebrand boosted its numbers 52% and 48% respectively in their top two target demographics.
  • AMC brought in above-average ad revenue immediately after its rebrand.
  • TruTV’s rebrand put it in cable’s Top 10.

One of the clearest paths to getting a rebrand right is continuing to appeal to marketers: If marketers are unclear on which target market the network is most likely to appeal to, they’re not going to have a lot of confidence that their ads will reach the right viewers.

Thankfully, rebrands are usually extremely friendly for niche marketing, since a successful rebrand will be as specific as possible in the kinds of viewers the network is hoping to draw.

Network rebrands often include dropping shows that don’t fit with the new image and aggressively pursuing new talent that exemplifies the brand. That said, one of the most powerful things any network can do is stick with a winning pattern. Instead of jumping on a popular new demographic, networks should only rebrand when it will actually strengthen their underlying base, instead of alienating it.

After all, a strong brand means a consistent target market, and that means confident ad buyers.

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Cornering the Market on Making Computer-to-TV Viewing Possible

As more and more videos and movies become available online, either through free sites like or through paid rental programs like Netflix, users are most frustrated by one thing: The small size of even the biggest laptop screen makes it difficult to enjoy a movie from across the room – or to share the experience with more than one person.

Many people are starting to hook up their computers to the TV so that they can watch their videos full-screen without having to sign up for cable or satellite subscriptions. This news is surely upsetting to cable networks that have been trying to figure out how to get more subscribers while the online media possibilities are changing what’s expected of them, but it’s good news for tech companies who can make that computer-to-TV conversion easy for the non-tech-savvy.

Intel has already come out with just such a product, working with Netgear. Intel’s system doesn’t work on Apple computers – or, indeed, on many laptops at all. There are three specific laptops that it works on, one each from Toshiba, Sony, and Dell and all of them available from Best Buy.

It works like a charm, though, so for users who really want the full-screen experience, it might be worth the purchase that supports those companies. It’s yet to be seen whether this is smart marketing or simply frustrating.

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Newspaper Salvation Through Aggregate Status

We all know that the newspaper industry has been taking a major hit, with declining subscriptions contributing to lower print ad revenues. Newspapers have tried to adapt by going online, but the ad revenue they receive there is nowhere near enough to keep the highly-trained investigative personnel they need to perform.

One of the strategies newspapers haven’t yet considered is a fundamental change in the way they use their online platforms. The most successful online businesses are easy-to-use compilations of information – Google, iTunes, Etsy, The strategy means that they can give consumers exactly the information they require in a single place.

Much of newspapers are similarly aggregators. They contain real estate ads, retail promotions, and classified sections selling everything from automobiles to new jobs. By using those naturally compiled sections of the paper, there may be a way to make newspapers valuable in a way that makes money for investigative journalism to continue and thrive.

Is it possible that by becoming an aggregate in select portions of the paper like classifieds, newspapers might just find their niche online – and that ad revenue they so desperately need?

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Economic Woes Means Flex Time for Networks

Most experts agree: this is the worst economic downturn in decades.

Predictions that things will get worse before getting better has some media buyers believing that the recession will work to their advantage. They will be looking for price rollbacks and much more flexible terms to keep the network time spots filled.

But others are not so sure.

Right now, the networks aren’t indicating plans to implement flex time or any other concession to buyers. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, however, is the only network executive at this point willing to discuss possible pricing changes for his network. He has also indicated that CBS will be selling fewer inventories upfront in 2009.

Sellers at other networks say they have no idea how pricing will turn out this year in the upfront market. They say things could remain uncertain even longer – especially if media buyers come with unrealistic expectations, it could take longer.

According to North American CEO Doug Checkeris, the big question many advertisers have is, “Why go long now?” The obvious answer seems to be more attractive pricing. Will the pricing issue become between Networks and media buyers become ugly? Checkeris’ response: “If it’s not ugly, then we haven’t done our jobs.”

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Black Friday: The Results Are In

Last year Black Friday managed to provide both online and in-store retailers some welcomed relief, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) report.


Turns out that 172 million shoppers visited stores; that’s up from147 billion last year. Total spending for Black Friday came in at around four billion dollars, averaging out to be about $327.57 per shopper. That is an increase of 7.2 percent from last year.


The driving force

So what’s behind the increases? “Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season’s hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend,” explained Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it’s encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again.”


Black Friday turned out to be the busiest of the weekend, resulting in 73.6 million shoppers at stores by early morning in an effort to snag the best deals. Beyond that weekend, American’s have slightly increased shopping for the holidays, up 3.3 percent from last year’s 36.4 percent.


Sales are up

Where are shoppers spending their money? Over half of Black Friday’s shoppers turned up at discount stores; 43 percent at department stores; 36 percent at specialty stores and 34 percent shopped online.


Even though the NRF report is encouraging, the overall forecast for this holiday is modest at best. NRF predicts holiday sales this year will rise 2.2 percent, making this the slowest season since 2002.

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2008 Olympic Games Record-Setting Viewership: What This Means for Advertisers

The 2008 Olympic Games is now officially the most watched television event in history.

“It’s been a cultural phenomenon,” said Alan Wurrtzel, president, research and media development of NBC Universal. “I can’t think of another instance where the country so universally gets behind an event and shares it like they have with Beijing, not with the widespread fragmentation we see today.”

Media buyers get a big surprise… NBC’s national prime-time ratings were through the roof. They exceeded the guaranteed ratings of 14.5 media experts were expecting by 10 percent. And it hasn’t stopped there. Even after the Games began on August 8, NBC was able to secure an additional $30 million in ad revenue, according to NBC Olympic President Gary Zenkel.

Internet as part of strategy. In addition to the television coverage, NBC included the Internet as part of its overall marketing strategy. The plan was to stream 2,200 hours of live footage on NBC Reports state the site received 46.2 million hits from unique users and represented eight million hours of online video viewing.

From a business standpoint, the NBC network and achieved Olympic success.

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DRTV: A Cost-Effective Advertising Solution

DRTV is quickly becoming one of the hottest options available for advertisers seeking affordable branding alternatives. The key to success using a DRTV campaign is to rely heavily on the promotion of a quality product.

Maybe it goes without saying, but promoting an inferior product will do much more harm than good.  DRTV remains an affordable advertising option for many companies during a looming recession. In fact, the low cost of creating a DRTV spot has even spurred mainstream companies to allocate advertising dollars for DRTV spots.

Successful DRTV campaigns artfully combine testimonials, product/technical descriptions and a call to action. Many infomercials receive thousands of orders within minutes of airing the ad.

Fortune 500 companies are running brand commercials and adding an 800 number and or website in order to purchase media time more cost effectively, which is why infomercials can be so effective for these type of advertisers.

It’s true. Both broadcast and cable networks are able to sell DRTV slots well below normal rates. Sometimes these spots can be bought for less than one-third of the regular rate – especially if the network is motivated to fill any unsold slots.

Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor, makes an interesting observation about the economic climate’s effect on DRTV: “It seems there’s a direct correlation…the worse the economy is, the more active DRTV becomes.”

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The New Face of Multi-Channel Retail Marketing

In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing retail environment, it’s more important than ever to utilize a multi-channel direct marketing program to maximize sales across retail platforms. There are several proven and evolving marketing models that are being employed by savvy retailers, who understand how to optimize retail sales through direct marketing. We will explore some of these strategies, so you can consider how they can fit into your marketing mix.
Many online retailers are utilizing a combination of offline media including, infomercials, direct response television, print and radio to drive online sales. This type of direct marketing campaign is often referred to as a drive to web campaign. Online retailers are finding that consumers, who initiate a search online, after being exposed to an offline ad, are converting into a sale at a much high rate than those who come to their site through an online media channel. Many online retailers are deploying a paid search campaign that runs simultaneously with a DRTV campaign, in order to capture consumers who initiate a search after viewing a DRTV ad. At the same time, they are also implementing an SEO campaign, to help move up their site organically in the search listings.
Hybrid Campaigns
Another multi-channel retail marketing approach is a hybrid drive to web/drive to retail campaign, to increase both online and store traffic. Frequently, a multi-channel direct response ad campaign is used with this approach. Various media channels need to be tested to find the ones that deliver the optimum ROI. Offline media and online advertising, including paid search, email marketing, affiliate programs, behavioral/contextual and demographic targeting, and rich media can all play a role in a successful multi-channel direct marketing campaign. Social networks and blog networks are newer online mediums being explored by more progressive retailers. Remember that messaging needs to be consistent throughout the various mediums to maximize the impact of the campaign.
Understanding the Target Customer
In today’s more competitive retail environment, it’s increasingly important to understand who is your target customer and to make their retail experience both online and at the store level memorable and enjoyable, in order to increase your sales conversion rate and customer retention. Try to create a retail shopping environment/experience that is easy to navigate, appeals to the target customer and engages all their senses. Remember that online the consumer is always one click away from leaving your site. Retailers also need to understand the lifetime value of their customers and employ customer retention strategies to create customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
Multi-channel retailing is much more complex today, since it often takes place on several retail platforms, in order to gain the optimum results. Direct marketing programs need to be customized to reach target customers in a range of mediums and the shopping experience needs to be tailored to appeal to the target audience. Employing these strategies in your retail-marketing plan will help ensure a more successful 2008 for your retail business.

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