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Can CNN Guarantee Away-From-Home Deliveries?

This upfront season, we’re seeing CNN plant the seeds of a new strategy that may or may not bear fruit.

Greg D’Alba, EVP and COO of CNN ad sales, is putting forward a new stripped-down video pitch that shows off the true power of CNN’s 24/7 news-gathering approach – while also telling them he can guarantee away-from-home deliveries.

No one has ever attempted the away-from-home guarantee before, mostly because it’s incredibly difficult to prove and therefore very hard to convince ad buyers to pay for. The idea is that networks will tailor their news to the viewership in restaurants and bars, hotels and other third-party viewing channels, including away-from-home residences.

Part of the strategy is to begin appealing to younger viewers, who traditionally don’t often watch TV to get their news, though CNN says that studies prove that they’re the TV channel the younger generation prefers when they do tune in.

This strategy also draws the focus away from prime time, preferring to guarantee viewership on a 24-hour schedule. Previously, viewing outside of prime time netted only 10% of CNN’s total revenue – with their new strategy; it looks like CNN is hoping to shift that number upwards.

That is, if media buyers take the bait.

Digital Media Isn’t Necessarily Smooth Sailing

Marketing across the board has been seeing budget cutbacks, but digital media has seemed like a bright spot in an otherwise bleak advertising environment.

Social media, search, video, and mobile were the most popular and cost-effective new advertising techniques that appears to actually be gathering strength in spite of the recession.

Unfortunately, that mindset may me a little hyped-up. eMarketer just cut its growth forecast for the medium to 4.5%, down from their previous optimistic number of 9%. Online advertising may not even increase from 2009 to 2010, seeing as 2009 failed to meet the predictions of continual growth.

It’s not all bad; 2010 will see more effort put into extended digital media campaigns. While many companies in 2009 were still catching up to the digital revolution and needing serious persuasion from their ad buyers to invest money into digital media, there’s a lot of evidence that shows 2010 won’t have those same setbacks. Companies are planning more extended campaigns with more research and planning put in, which may actually turn around the problems with digital media we saw in 2009.

Video advertising is another bright spot, especially with the rise of websites like YouTube and Hulu, where there are long-form advertising options in a medium that companies are well used to utilizing – video commercials. Mobile is another advertising medium that may see an uptick in 2010, with more companies looking into advertising on smartphones using apps tailored to their target demographic. Finally, display advertising is expected to increase slightly, from $4.6 billion to $4.8 billion.

Digital media may not be the sanctuary it’s been touted as, but it isn’t worth turning your back on it. It’s still one of the best ROIs in the business.

Tweens and Twitter Don’t Mix

Is the younger generation really driving social media as much as we give it credit for?

Twitter is just one of the social media sites that finds the tween demographic (ages 13-17) isn’t all it’s hyped up to be when it comes to determining the longevity of any given service. MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and similar social networking sites all might have initially been picked up by younger demographics, but as they age, they see the ages of the majority of their users trend upward.

One of the reasons for such a shift is that as more adults get involved in any given social media, there start to be more “adult” uses for the service. MySpace, for example, became a way for musicians and singers to market themselves on a free platform. Facebook is certainly still used by youngsters taking the latest quiz about what Hogwarts house they belong to, but it is also used by adults who promote their services and engage in adult conversations and interactions with their peers.

Twitter is especially sensitive for the younger demographic because of its public nature. The whole point of Twitter is that anyone can see – and follow – your Tweets, which makes it a much more public medium than Facebook or Friendster. Adults are usually quite comfortable with controlling the information they put out there, and are more focused on creating interesting conversation.

Tweens, on the other hand, may well be smart to give Twitter a bye until they feel more secure with the world knowing their whereabouts.

Studios See Red

The Redbox Automated Retail LLC seemed like a pretty brilliant idea, capitalizing on a concept made popular by Netflix.

Get your movies at a convenient place for a low cost…With Netflix, they came to your home. With Redbox, you got them at the same place you got another essential – your groceries.

The video-rental boxes are under some scrutiny from studios, however. Though originally there were claims that Redbox was cutting into their sales margins, some studies are beginning to change their tune. This may have something to do with the fact that studio revenue from disc sales to retailers and rental stores is going to fall by about $850 million this year. Meanwhile, kiosk sales are slated to grow by $125 million. Studios are taking notice.

The difference between video stores and Redbox seems pretty minimal, much like the difference between buying a candy bar from a vending machine vs. buying one from a gas station service person. Either way, you get the candy bar and the candy company gets a chunk of the revenue.

That’s how it works with video rental stores: Every time they rent a movie, they give a piece of the profits to the studios. With Redbox, that isn’t the case – and studio giants are trying to make it so. If they succeed in cutting a deal with Redbox, they might just manage to make up some of their lost sales. That cheap $1 rental price might not survive the transition, though.

The Internet Hasn’t Won Yet: TV Viewing is Up

Cable networks in particular have been panicking about more video than ever being available online. This new research from Nielsen may be comforting to them; apparently Americans are watching more TV – on their TVs, no less – than ever before.

The average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, which is up 1.2% from last year’s hourly count. By contrast, Americans watch an average of only 3 hours of video online each month, and that number only includes the average of all Americans who watch video on the Internet at all. If you factor in the fact that many more Americans own and watch a TV than watch video online, it’s a little surprising that networks have gotten so panicky about the possibility of losing their cable subscribers.

Of course, 35% of those who both have a cable connection and watch video online said they might consider dropping their subscription. However, that demographic isn’t necessarily large enough to be concerned about. Many of the 131 million Americans who watch video online have never had a cable subscription, as the majority of them are younger viewers who are only just beginning to choose to pay for certain services.

That still leaves the question of whether cable will survive as the generations shift, but the improved numbers on television watching may soothe cable company’s fears a little bit.

Are Tide Thursdays the New Marlboro Fridays?

In 1993, tobacco giant Philip Morris held a meeting to say that Marlboro would be cutting its cigarette prices significantly in an attempt to hold on to their market.

The 20% cut did more than that – it launched a new phase of marketing for Philip Morris and began a series of techniques that other companies ultimately copied and continue to use today.

In a move whose initial phases look remarkably similar, Proctor and Gamble is going to be holding a meeting to discuss Tide detergents, and the anticipation is that a similar change is about to take place in P&G’s marketing strategy. Whether it will be enough to pull them out of increasingly lagging consumer spending is yet to be seen.

The economy and laundry detergent
In a down economy, women who normally are brand-loyal to a particular detergent may choose cheaper alternatives temporarily, a finding P&G confirmed with surveys. They’ve lost about 19% of the market to discount brands, though 80% of those surveyed say they’ll be back to buying Tide when their budgets aren’t quite so tight.

If P&G is planning a price cut on the level of Marlboro’s, those women may be back to their favorite brands quicker than they thought.

Big Pharma Jumps in the Social Media Marketing

Everybody these days is using social media as a marketing tool. So who cares if big pharma gets in on the action? It’s actually a much bigger deal than you may think.

Big pharma is late to the online game largely because it’s an industry prone to huge regulation mistakes. Misleading ads can result in huge lawsuits relating to customer’s health and wellbeing, and that means the pharmaceutical industry treads softly on uncertain ground.

That said, big pharmas doing well online. Johnson & Johnson has a widely-read blog, and many pharmaceutical companies are enjoying the opportunity to connect directly with the communities built around various diseases and ailments that their products treat. People are enjoying the opportunity to get the one-on-one transparency that social media affords from the pharmaceutical industry.

Social media marketing, and the online world in general, remain to play themselves out. There are few regulations over what you can and cannot say online, especially when it comes to such social media tools as Twitter or Facebook. Big pharma has been cautious for good reason, and their arrival on the scene may mean we’ll see internet regulations on online advertising much sooner than previous anticipated.

DVR Usage to Grow 70%

In order to make your advertising successful, you have to get people to watch it. So is the recent upswing in DVR usage a good or a bad thing for marketers? Seen in the right light, it can be an opportunity.

MediaPost recently reported that digital video recorder use is going to increase by 70% in the next five years. That’s 51.1 million people that no longer have to watch your ad spot – they can just fast-forward and get on with their show. A few more terrifying stats in the same vein – 43% of all U.S. consumers with TVs will use DVRs by 2014, and 56% of them will be using video-on demand.

So what’s an ad buyer to do? Product placement is on the rise. If the consumers are only watching the show, then make the ads a part of the show. Product placement and ad placements on the lower third of the screen while the rest of the show plays are two options for bringing TV advertising into the DVR age.

As Seen on TV – Our love for infomercials

Consumers are rediscovering their love for infomercials as the recession tightens budgets and brings more jobless people home at odd hours to get asked questions like “How much would you pay for – ?” Remy Stern knows how they feel – he’s been watching infomercials all of his life and been persuaded to buy quite a few of the products they’re shilling.

His new book on the infomercial industry, “But Wait . . . There’s More!” tries to uncover the appeal of infomercials, why people are often aware that something too good to be true probably is, but still reach for the phone to dial an 800 number. Maybe this time, it’s too good not to be true. In a dark time for everyone’s paycheck, we all need a little hope.

Stern deconstructs the infomercial down to its base parts with motives and methods clearly outlined down to their surprisingly simple bare bones. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone interested in drtv marketing techniques, especially those who know that the infomercial may be one of the most effective ways to reach an audience that’s down and out.

Alternative Media Spending to Grow in 2009

It’s no surprise that drtv agencies and brand clients plan to spend more on alternative media elements in their 2009 media and marketing plans.

Media Life Magazine released the results of an industry survey which included planners, buyers and marketers discussing their interest in expanding into alternative media.

The survey findings revealed:
• 70 percent of survey participants believe alternative media spending will increase in 2009.

• About 80 percent of agency respondents said their clients responded positively to suggestions that they should include alternative media to their marketing budgets.

• Agency respondents stated that “the risky clutter” found in “more traditional media,” and the “ability of alternative media to deliver highly targeted messages” as reasons driving them to include alternative media.

Zeroing in on your target audience gets results. “The results of this important and highly timely study by Media Life Magazine mirror our experience in the marketplace,” said Ken Williams, Health Club Media Network’s (HCMN) CEO.

“While 2009 is shaping up to be a challenging year for business and industries across the county, a sizable portion of our existing client base is continuing and even increasing their business with us while a number of new clients are running substantial campaigns as well.

“We attribute this partly to the quality target ability of our network and audience combined with our ability to offer meaningful and effective methods for evaluating the effectiveness of HCMN campaigns.”

HCMN is the largest provider of advertising panels and other marketing opportunities for the top health clubs in the U.S. Williams believes alternative media choices, including digital media, will make it much easier to connect with active health club members.

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