The Week In Review: Mobile Cable… A Contradiction In Terms?

April 2, 2012 – 12:03 am

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'Mobile Cable' – A Contradiction In Terms?

With all the talk of portable electronic devices serving as the television's complementary "second screen" and how cable companies are rushing to develop "TV Everywhere" apps that let subscribers watch what they want, when they want, Verizon's proposal of "mobile cable" would easily engender cheers from the tech press, right?

Well, not from GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham, who counts the ways Verizon's idea warrants cries of foul instead of high fives.

Jumping off from a WSJ piece detailing Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams' plan to have an "integrated" mobile video service for pay TV subscribers in place by the end of the year, Higginbotham questions the consumer benefits of such an offering. So far, Verizon will have to jump through a number of regulatory hoops and will need to purchase spectrum licenses from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.

The key feature of the service is that it might have some kind of a la carte model, where consumers just purchase individual channels or programs, instead of the traditional cable bundle. Entertainment companies and smaller networks have tended to resist that sort of pricing, since it would naturally under cut their current businesses.

Anyway, for consumers, the prospect of more video on their phones sounds terrific at first blush – but the rub appears to be that consumers would have to pay more – and more. Currently, most TV Everywhere services are tied to wi-fi supplied by a cable company in the home. The HBO Go app is an exception, though it does let viewers block the app when they're not tethered to wi-fi. After all, phone companies are starting to hit subscribers with higher data plan fees, and video eats up a ton of bandwidth.

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TRA: TV Branding Efforts And Ads Touting ‘Lower Prices’ Are Not Enemies

March 29, 2012 – 5:46 pm

traThere is a longstanding idea that if a consumer packaged goods marketer is trying to build brand affinity around a message of "quality," it's a bad idea to run an ad elsewhere highlighting that same product as having a "new low price." The thinking is that the messages naturally cancel each other out: either consumers are looking for "the best in class" of a product, or, they're watching their wallets.

While that may be true in a general sense, better targeting can erase that disconnect significantly, according to a joint study presented at this week's Advertising Research Foundation annual convention by TV ad data company company TRA and in-store analytics specialist Dunnhumby.

"The common sense of the last 10-, 20 years about doing a simultaneous branding campaign and one centered on temporary lower prices was wrong," said Bill Harvey, TRA vice chair and chief research officer, in an interview with TVExchanger. "We've been able to overturn that thinking because targeted advertising and granular data about shopping habits give us a closer picture of how to attune those two messages together in a coherent way. General market research gives you a best-dressed guest, it doesn’t give you details. It has often said that if you’re doing a price discount, don’t do TV advertising. If you’re trying to motivate a buy because the price is lower, while TV ads say that the product is better, it creates confusion. But that's not necessarily the case."

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INVIDI Patent Intended To Help Interactive TV Advertisers Avoid The Postal Service

March 27, 2012 – 8:21 pm

invidiAddressable TV tech provider INVIDI has earned a patent that is designed to let consumers request information from interactive TV marketers via e-mail, texting or other direct electronic communication channels instead of physical mail.

While being able to use e-mail instead of snail mail may seem like a fairly mundane accomplishment at this point in time, as interactive/addressable TV becomes more common, this tool could prove to be important to INVIDI's revenues and presence in this developing space.

The interactive television patent, U.S. Patent 8,146,126, entitled “Request for Information (RFI) Related to Broadcast Network Content,” builds on INVIDI’s existing addressable and interactive-television advertising system. Essentially, cable, satellite, telco and IPTV operators can ask to receive a request for information from a viewer without any interruption to their viewing with a click of the remote control.

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Viacom’s CMT Turns To ‘Personalized’ Online Promos With Eyeview, Adobe To Boost Tune-In

March 27, 2012 – 6:45 pm

MTV Networks' country-culture channel CMT will be extending promotions for two new series to the web with a targeted twist thanks to a deal with Adobe and ad tech firm Eyeview.

When ads for the CMT shows, Bayou Billionaires and My Big Redneck Vacation, are presented to someone while online, the video spots will play with information that reflects the location that person is watching, such as providing them a listing of the specific cable channel they can see CMT on. The online ads are updated to also reflect the changing times the shows are on in repeats.

In an interview with TVexchanger, Tal Riesenfeld, Eyeview co-founder and VP of Business Development, claimed that tests of the company's "personalization"  technology drove a 40 percent increase in click through rates compared to a non-personalized tune-in creative.  He also pointed to a brand awareness study the company commissioned from  Vizu brand that said the promos boosted "expressed viewing intent" by 21 percent when the creative featured specific local details on show times and channels. The notion of targeting driving more awareness sounds reasonable -- if you focus on the right audience and offer a detailed call to action, such as "call this number," it's natural that an advertiser will generally see some sort of lift in awareness.

And it's coming at a time when some TV networks are seeing sharp ratings declines -- not a good thing for sellers in the weeks before the upfront negotiations start. The WSJ's  Sam Schechner pointed to Nielsen numbers that showed that Viacom's flagship MTV saw the number of viewers 12 to 34 years old for prime-time shows drop 24 percent, as reality hit Jersey Shore appears to be waning.

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Videology: Clickthroughs Vs. Completion Rates? Advertisers Need Both

March 26, 2012 – 10:44 am

Videology CTR IndexWhile advertisers often complain about the lack of a single measurement for determining the value of their online ads, particularly when it comes to the fast-growing video category, ultimately, they really just want to know whether their placements drove awareness, favorability, consideration, purchase intent, or actual sales.

Often, the arguments tend to focus on a specific method of measurement -- say, clickthrough rates or completion rates -- as the most thorough answer. A new Videology study (see the white paper here) looks to sidestep the choosing of sides in favor of showing how those two metrics are best used in concert, suggesting it's time to end either/or viewpoints.

The main point: if a viewer doesn’t click on a spot before the halfway point, that viewer is less likely to click at all. The study found that clickthrough rates reach their highest point once a video has been seen halfway through. Videology says that viewers are almost 3x more likely to click on a video advertisement at the 25- to 50 percent viewing mark compared to the baseline of completion. Similarly, if a viewer does not click by the 75 percent viewing mark, they are likely to complete the entire ad.

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Privacy Battles Come To TV Ads

March 26, 2012 – 12:03 am

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Privacy Battles Come To TV Ads

Although consumers are expected to buy more connected TVs over the next few years – about 500 million by the end of 2015, according previous estimates from DisplaySearch – the privacy issues that have hung over the internet the last few years is already coming to wifi-enabled sets.

And while Sony, LG, Vizio and other manufacturers have been pushing the envelope in getting the TV to reflect the digital abilities of the internet, Samsung has shown particular aggressiveness in this area. Earlier this month, the Korea electronics giant offered more details about its fifth generation line of “smart TVs,” which are not only “smarter,” but more social as well.

In a much-cited piece last week, DH Guru warned that the new TVs may not be intelligent enough to out-smart hackers and other entities who could conceivably steal consumers’ information just as they would on the PC.

While the danger of a malicious virus or activity with regards to users’ privacy on the connected TV is remote, Samsung’s statements were hardly comforting, issuing a tone-deaf announcement that it “assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable” in the event that a product or service is not “appropriate,” according to HD Guru.

Hasn’t Samsung learned anything from the internet industry’s headaches the past five years? The company doesn’t even have a disclosed privacy policy. And with face recognition technology and cloud storage, that raises a number of issues of concern, including what sort of data Samsung collects and whether it is shared with outside parties. Also, are the third party apps – including one from Facebook that will be embedded on the sets -- that appear on the sets able to collect user data on their own.

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Kline Out As Cablevision’s Ad Sales Head; AT&T’s McCastle Tapped To Succeed Him

March 20, 2012 – 4:15 pm

CablevisionCablevision's massive shakeup is continuing, as David Kline, who most recently led the company's Media Sales, is stepping down and is being replaced by Greg McCastle, an SVP at AT&T Services and the head of the telco's Advertising Solutions unit.

The news was first broken by BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, in a post surveying the recent upheaval at Cablevision's executive ranks, including the departure this past December of resigned in December to become CEO of rival MSO Charter Communications. Greenfield writes that the six top executives have left since the summer as part of a wholesale housecleaning by Cablevision president and CEO Jim Dolan to re-energize the company's competitive strategy.

Like other major cable companies, Cablevision has had to deal with subscriber loss -- the challenge from Verizon in the Bethpage company's footprint has had an impact. But it has also gotten generally high marks for its aggressively pursuit of addressable TV and interactive advertising.

But those advances haven't generated much growth in actual ad dollars yet. In its earnings report last month, Cablevision said ad revenue in the fourth quarter was flat compared with the same period the year before. Ad sales in the east declined about 7 percent, though the company cited the higher political advertising market in the fourth quarter of 2010, implying that this year's expected ad spending from local and national races will put its sales on the plus side again. The ad picture of the fourth quarter wasn't all bad, as non-political ad sales were up a solid 8 percent.

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Nielsen Upgrades Cross Platform Insights — But Look To Upfront 2013 For Full Use

March 19, 2012 – 12:08 pm

Nielsen and GroupMCross platform advertising has been a factor in the TV upfronts for several years now, but actionable data that connects consumers on all screens has remained murky and vague.

Nielsen's joint announcement with ad holding company WPP Group on a new service that claims to better track total TV and internet usage with overlapped reach and frequency for ad campaigns is the latest in a long line of steps the audience measurement agency has taken over the years. (Read the release.)

But Nielsen in no way suggests that this is the final step in tying all the screens together. In a conversation last week about Nielsen's plans for the coming upfront -- and the internet industry-wide digital "Newfront" -- Dounia Turrill, the company's SVP for client insights, told TVExchanger that the company is in the attempting to formalize its upfront efforts to include insights on tablet usage and social media.

The Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings is currently being beta tested with a number of Nielsen clients, who will be able to use it for the upfront if they choose. So for most companies out there, they'll have to wait until the 2013 upfront to access that full data.  In the meantime, Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings is very much ready for 2012 upfront use and will be in the mix.

While complaints about Nielsen's ratings and methodology come from all quarters of the media industry, at the end of the day, the company's numbers are agreed upon as the common industry standard for TV. The online ad industry has long hoped for a single standard everyone can agree on as well. But as the lines between media blur -- is ABC's GCB series still a TV show when its seen on Hulu? Or does it become just an online video? -- the need for metrics that more fully reflect consumers' actual media habits is in greater demand than yet another format-specific measurement.

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