3D Advertising Meets TV – Will Brands Benefit ?

September 27, 2010

“Wow, dad, that was way cool!”

That was the reaction of one of my kids after seeing Toy Story 3 in 3D at our local movie theater. What if your TV ads could get the same reaction? And more to the point, with 3D TV’s imminent arrival, could they? 

3D TV: A Reality?

3D TV – What We Know

Consumers are very familiar with 3D, based primarily on their experiences at theme parks and the movie theater. However, in-home penetration of 3D TV’s is still nascent, and if you’re like me, you’ve yet to meet the friend who has actually shelled out money for one. 

Yet, we do know something about how consumers think about 3D TV. In a recent joint Nielsen / Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing research study (disclosure: I work for Nielsen), we learned the following about consumers’ views of 3D TV: 

  • 48% said they were more engaged in a show when watching 3D programming
  • 42% said they would watch more TV if they had 3D
  • 77% said 3D TV is well suited for specialty programming like sports and movies

3D TV: Sports Programming

3D Adoption Barriers

All of this sounds great, but the study also uncovered barriers to adoption. Not surprisingly, barriers included the cost of a 3D TV set, the special glasses required, and the current lack of 3D programming. Cost and content will likely be addressed over time as scale production brings down cost and increased penetration drives more 3D programming. 

But the glasses? A real issue. Specifically, fully 89% of consumers said they didn’t like the glasses because they impede their ability to multi-task while watching TV. 

Glasses: 3D TV Adoption Barrier?

3D Ads

Ads in 3D have been around for a few years, although few people have actually seen them. 

Sobe Lifewater and Dreamworks‘ Monsters vs. Aliens both aired 3D ads in the 2009 SuperBowl. And, more recently, ESPN convinced Gillette, Sony and Pixar to produce 3D ads for the new ESPN 3D network

But, I’m not aware of any 3D ad testing that would tell us anything meaningful about how 3D ads perform versus their 2D counterparts. 

Potential 3D Ad Impact

Having said this, here are a few first thoughts about the potential of 3D advertising: 

1.  3D ads will deliver more impact than 2D ads. This is because: 

  • 3D programming is more immersive and engaging. The Nielsen research outlined above shows that many people find 3D programming much more engaging. Also, real world experience shows that the same ad scores better in cinema than it does on a home TV set. The size and scale of the cinema experience makes it more immersive, and therefore, the ads are also more effective. The same will likely be true of 3D ads.
  • There will be fewer distractions. 3D requires special glasses (at least in its current form). And special glasses reduce consumer’s ability to multi-task while watching TV and your ads. We already know that the same ad scores better in on-line video than on TV in the current environment. At least part of the reason for this, in my opinion, is that people watch on-line programming in a “lean forward” manner while watching TV in a “lean back” mode—with all of the inherent distractions therein (e.g. kids, dogs, spouses, etc.). 3D glasses will reduce multi-tasking, increase attentiveness, and improve ad performance.

2. Ad performance differences by genre will increase. If consumers watch 3D TV disproportionately for special programming like Sports and Movies, these genres will outperform other genres for TV ad performance, all things being equal. We already know that ad performance for a given category and brand can and usually does differ by genre. 3D TV has the potential to further amplify these genre effects. 

3. Emotion and Action Driven Ads will be Stand-Outs. Neural research has shown that TV is better for communicating emotion than PC or Mobile mediums. 3D promises to take this a step further thru its immersive nature. Brands with strong emotional benefit messaging are likely to play especially well. The same will be true for brands which can deliver action based benefits—cars, sports products and other action driven categories are likely to be winners in the 3D world of ads. 

3D TV: Emotional Ad Brand Communication

3D TV Ads – My Take

At the risk of being labeled a Luddite, I’m still skeptical about the adoption of 3D TV. The glasses are a real barrier. But who knows—new technologies are already promising 3D without them, although they are not without their own limitations. But, all manner of things that people have been skeptical about, including Facebook and YouTube, turned out to be huge. 

3D is yet another potential factor in an array of factors—e.g. program content, placement, form factors (TV vs. PC vs. Mobile, etc.), and now 3D—that will likely impact your brand building and communications effectiveness. 

Marketers can look at this panoply of choices as complicated and bewildering, or as I would prefer–the future golden age of advertising. Or, to put it in my son’s lingo: 

Wow, those ads are way cool!

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Is Free Media Good for Your Brand?

September 20, 2010

In a recent global consumer survey, 8 of 10 consumers told Nielsen that they would stop using a website if it begins charging for content (disclosure: I work at Nielsen). Most consumers believe they can get the content they want for free—so why pay? Is free content good for Marketers—or not?  

Is Free Media Good for Your Brand?


Will All Digital Content be Free?  

The death knell for paid media content is everywhere– web-based content and services are moving toward “free.” Chris Anderson wrote about it eloquently in his book “Free,” arguing that consumers have become conditioned to free stuff, and that the future of the web is free, free and more free. 

Of course, consumers expect “free” content based on linear TV, which was free of everything except commercials long before the web arrived. 

Yet, cable TV has made in-roads into the traditional “free” TV space, consumers pay for content on iTunes, and the last time I checked, people were still going to see movies. So, while free is in our future, and there’s certainly a lot of it on-line (including this blog), whether all digital content will be free is  uncertain. 

Free vs. Paid Content: Uncertainty for TV & Digital


 What Consumers Really Want   

Let’s go back to the Nielsen study above. What consumers were really saying is that they don’t want to pay for a site because they can get the same content for free elsewhere. Consumers have and will continue to pay for content under one of two conditions:  

  • If they have to. That is, they can only get the content from a web site or distribution channel that charges for it—and not for free somewhere else.
  • If the quality is worth it and there’s no good substitute. If I can only watch the NY Giants for a fee, and I’m a big fan, there’s no other option.

And let’s not forget the other 20%. That is, 20% of the surveyed people were willing to pay to access a web site. So, even in today’s digital world where much quality content isn’t walled off in a paid “garden,” 1 in 5 people are still willing to pay for it.  


Too Much Content — An Economic Issue 

The challenge is this: the web has democratized content creation, and this in turn has created massively more content, which has driven down ad prices. And, with lower ad prices, advertising alone won’t support some web sites. These sites don’t have a viable business model without charging for content. 

Content quality and distribution will differentiate free versus paid models. Higher quality content, or content with limited distribution, will generate revenue thru consumer fees. Lower quality content and/or content that is distributed broad-scale will be free. 

3 Trends Marketers Should Watch For 

1.  The digital media eco-system will continue to fragment. This means that web sites will increasingly fragment into free, paid and hybrid models. This is already happening. Some sites, like Yahoo News, are completely free. Others, such as Angie’s List, make you pay. And still others, like Consumer Reports, will charge for some, but not all, content.  

Paid Content: Angie's List


This fragmentation will make media planning more complex and challenging. Ad inventories—particularly on the paid side—will change and this will impact media costs. Building broad reach quickly via digital will continue to be a challenge, but targeting opportunities will increase. 

2.  Advertising performance will differ by model. As the quality gap widens, advertisers will need to understand how quality of content, and consumers willingness to pay for it, impacts ad effectiveness. Does higher quality paid for content increase consumer engagement and ad performance? Does the increased ad clutter associated with free models reduce ad performance? These are important questions that Marketers will need to answer. 

3.  Advertising forms will continue to evolve. At one extreme, paid for content may have no traditional advertising at all, but may increasingly rely on product placements and hybrid ads that appear to be part of the show. The line between advertising and content will continue to blur. On the other extreme will be free content that continues to have a relatively high traditional advertising load. Viewers will be less attentive due to commercial pod interruptions, ads will compete with other ads, and ad breakthrough will be more challenged.  

Traditional TV Advertising: Continuing to Evolve


Paid or Free – Too Soon To Call  

Whether digital content moves inexorably toward free or paid, or some combination of the two (most likely in my opinion), Marketers will need to be increasingly adept at advertising models that work best in each environment. 

Every B-School grad learns the 80/20 rule. The question is how it applies to the paid/free media model world. Will the 20% of consumers who are willing to pay for content deliver 80% of the impact to advertisers? Or vice versa? The only thing that’s certain is this:  you can check back here soon to learn more – for free. 

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In-Store as Advertising: A Fresh Look

September 13, 2010

In-store communications, long the backwater of advertising, is getting a fresh look. Increasingly, Marketers are realizing that the in-store environment is a critical marketing communications touchpoint, and one that they need to get right to succeed. 

Leveraging the Store as Advertising

In-Store Communications — Why It’s Important

The in-store environment has always been important. For most categories, research has consistently shown that the majority of purchase decisions are made at the shelf. This isn’t changing anytime soon. 

In addition, the advent of in-store apps (see “Digitizing the 1st Moment of Truth”) are adding to the urgency for brands to become much more strategic about how they communicate with consumers in-store. Why? Consumers now have the ability to access product information, ratings and their social networks opinions about brands—right at the point of sale. 

Finally, if this weren’t enough, retailers are becoming much more sophisticated in their use of video networks and other in-store communication vehicles, and non store brands are at risk of falling behind. For example, many retailers routinely measure in-store video impact by location, category, time of day, etc. And much of this advertising is for their store brands—or said differently, your competitor. 

In-Store Video Networks: Increasingly Important

Traditional In-Store Drivers – Features, Displays & Pricing

One major reason for Marketers historical lack of attention to in-store communications was their focus on in-store “fundamentals.” For 25+ years, companies have used scanner data to measure the impact of features, displays and pricing on their volume and share. And, in many categories, the impact of these factors is huge. So large, that the role of in-store communications has been largely drowned out. 

Another reason for the lack of focus on in-store communications is that CPG companies took a very simplistic view of the “path to purchase” — e.g. there was none—or almost none. Conventional wisdom said this:  get your basic equity advertising and in-store conditions right, and volume and share would follow. Increasingly, however, CPG Marketers are realizing that the in-store message is important—and also different from their equity message. 

Finally, another factor in the inattention to in-store communications is lack of measurement. As a brand manager, I measured the impact of all kinds of in-store conditions—but communicating my message? Forget it. Marketers didn’t focus on in-store communications, in part, because there were no viable tools to measure and track it over time. 

What’s Different About In-Store Communications

It’s important at this point to note the obvious:  in-store communication is very different from other advertising mediums like TV, Print and the Web. How? 

In-Store Communication

  • In-store communications are not linear.  Unlike TV, for example, where you are (usually) tuned to a single channel and see ads sequentially, the in-store experience is non-linear. Hundreds, if not thousands, of brands compete for your attention–all at the same time. Think break-thru is tough in TV? Think about in-store.

  • In-store communications cut across multiple mediums.  It’s possible for a single brand to communicate via 3, 4 or more different mediums in store—e.g. packaging, in-store video, displays, etc.  — and all can be used to communicate the same message to the same consumer on the same shopping trip.
  • In-store communications are not usually about equity messaging.  Marketers are focused on building brands, and communicating the key owenership equities for their brand. But many brands have learned that equity messaging is not the most appropriate message on the last stop in the path to purchase.

So, the in-store communications challenge is very different from other communication touch-points. 

What’s Needed For Effective In-Store Communications

What's Needed for Effective In-Store Communications

  1. Message Strategy — Marketers need to define the in-store messaging that maximizes purchase. This sounds so simple, yet in my experience, the vast majority of Marketers do virtually no research on the path to purchase and what in-store messaging motivates purchase.
  2. Message Qualification — Even if they have the right strategic message defined, Marketers need to qualify in-store messaging, and not just assume they have the right execution. What’s the in-store equivalent to copy testing? Most organizations don’t have one.
  3. In-Store Media Mix – As noted earlier, the in-store environment offers a multitude of media touch points. Which ones are most effective for your brand? Which combinations of touch points work best? And, do they play different roles in stopping, engaging and activating consumers?
  4. Campaign Integration – Even if the messaging in-store is different from your overall equity messaging, it’s still important to connect your messaging to your core equities and “pay rent” to the parent equity message.
  5. On-Going Assessment – Once in-market, tracking messaging effectiveness is key. There’s a big gap in the market today for doing so. Marketers need to work with measurement partners to measure performance in market to be sure that their messaging is working as intended.

CMO’s and their Marketing teams need to think of the store as a Marketing communication touch point–and one that’s becoming increasingly important. Optimizing and integrating this  touch point into the overall Marketing programs is an important opportunity that more brands should capitalize on. 

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How Your Brand Can Benefit From “Ownership” Media

September 6, 2010
What do Bose, HSBC and Boeing all have in common? On the surface, not much, but all three brands “own” a slice of media. Not just any media, but a specific media touch point over an extended period of time. Should your brand do the same?


3 Examples of “Ownership” Media

Bose / Parade — If you’ve read the Sunday Parade magazine over the years, you’ve no doubt seen the full page Bose ad on the back inside cover. Bose has “owned” this space for years; if you were reading the magazine, you could almost predict with the turn of the last page that you would find—presto—the Bose ad. 

Bose in Parade -- An Example of Ownership Media

Hong Kong Shanghai Bank / Jet Way — HSBC took a different track, deciding to “own” the jet ways that passengers use to board planes. They started this approach with the original perspectives campaign, which juxtaposed two very different points of view about the same topic or item. More recently, they moved to a new campaign, but what remains the same is their ownership of the jet way. 

HSBC -- "Ownership" Media via Jetways

Boeing / Meet The Press — Boeing found its slice of media ownership in the on-line version of “Meet the Press.” If you miss the show in linear TV as I often do, check out David Gregory on-line, and before you meet the press, you meet the corporate Boeing ad. Different week, different ads, different guest. But the one constant on “Meet the Press” is the Boeing brand. 

"Ownership" Media: "Meet The Press" & Boeing

So, what gives? Does it really make sense for a brand to stake out a media touch point, and single-mindedly “own” it over an extended period of time? And should your brand get into ownership media? 

4 Truths about Ownership Media

For ownership media to work, four things should be true. 

1. The media touch point engages your target. 

The starting point for any media ownership discussion is whether or not your target consumer engages with the touch point. Brands need to focus on media touchpoints with high target group usage. HSBC is going after an upscale, affluent group who flies frequently. Where to find these people? Jet ways. Yes, jet ways are an excellent place for HSBC to be. In fact, I saw their jet way ad just before boarding a plane and writing this post. 

2. The content amplifies your advertising message. 

Marshall McLuhan once famously said, “the medium is the message.” Well, it’s not quite the full message, but we know thru research that content greatly influences the effectiveness of the ad that it sits within. Thus, it’s important to identify media that can positively impact your ads performance, before selecting a given media platform. 

If you’re thinking of TV, make sure to consider how your ad performs by genre, or which shows are most engaging, before choosing an ownership program. Outside of TV, consider using Market Contact Audit or a similar service to identify a compelling touch point for your ownership media. 

3. The equity of the media matches the equity of your brand. 

I’m a big believer in advertising/programming synergy. SlimFast ads are likely to work better in The Biggest Loser than elsewhere. Nike golf ads are likely more effective in PGA events. Cosmetic ads almost certainly break-thru better in Project Runway. 

Ownership media works best when the equity of the media fits tightly with the equity of your brand. Making a commitment to ownership media is no small decision. Make sure that the media you commit to actually helps build your key brand equities. 

4. The media platform is enduring. 

How long has Bose been in Parade? I don’t know for sure, but I know it’s a long time. Nielsen IAG research shows that product placement and brand integrations work better the longer you do them in a show; it’s highly likely that ownership media works in much the same way. 

If you’ve gone to the trouble of identifying a media property that amplifies your message and reinforces the equity of your brand, then really own it—not just once or twice, but for the long-term.

Ownership Media – Is it For Your Brand?

Owning your own slice of the media pie is a smart approach for many brands. Bose, HSBC and Boeing, all very different brands, have all made a similar decision to grab a piece of the media eco-system and own it. 

If you’re thinking of doing the same, just make sure to consider targeting, programming, equity synergy and longevity as key criteria in making this important choice. And then, add ownership media to your portfolio of approaches to building your brand. 

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