Archive for June, 2008

Economic woes hit advertising in North America and Western Europe

Posted in Uncategorized on June 29, 2008 by southborough

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/media/article4237478.ece

In Game Advertising

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2008 by southborough

BACK IN THE DAY, VIDEO game consoles were hooked up to television sets, or played via floppy disks in school computer lounges (Oregon Trail anyone?). What if Super Mario and Luigi stopped mid-game and let products be schlepped to us en route to finding the princess? If it meant playing for free, of course we would have watched. Think about how addicting it was to make it to the next level. Today, marketers can leverage that engagement by taking their message to the casual gaming space.

Over 200 million people play casual games online every month around the world, according to the Casual Games Association. The rapid growth and the engaging environment of casual games present a gigantic and rare opportunity to marketers. However, because of its newness, many marketers are still learning how to effectively leverage it. Since my online video ad network has partnered with many of the largest gaming publishers, I wanted to share some tips on the space. To start, I will focus on the different ad units and the marketing opportunities associated with them.

In general, there are two forms of casual games. Browser-based games are played from the Web browser, while the other format is downloaded to and played from the desktop. Keep in mind, ads in downloaded games are dynamically served — just like browser-based games. Ad units found in both of these forms of casual games are as follows:

·    Pre-game & Inter-level — a video ad that is 15 to 30 seconds plays while the game is loading or in-between game levels. The video ad can be accompanied by a companion banner, usually 300×250. Both the video ad and the banner can be clickable.

·    During-game — these are video or static ads that are on the screen while the gamer is playing. In addition to pre- and inter-level, It is important to distinguish between the two, especially if engagement is an important metric to the advertiser. Generally, during-game ads have lower CTRs than pre- or inter-level ads since gamers are focused on play. Pre- and inter-level ads are more captivating, and can generate CTRs of 1% to 5%, because play is on hold. Consequently the engagement factor affects CPMs.

“One thing advertisers should consider is that gamers who have taken the time to download a game to their desktop are ultimately more invested in the games than those who play Web site to Web site,” said Craig Holland, marketing director for the Casual Games Association. “When you are playing a game on a Web site it is easier to leave the page, or not play as long. Naturally a more invested audience yields a higher CPM and higher worth to advertisers.”

Casual gaming’s popularity is growing so fast that marketers cannot ignore the space. A Parks Associates report  found that U.S. consumers play online games more often than they watch online videos or visit social networking sites. In response to this, new games are popping up like crazy.  The Casual Games 2007 Report found that the number of games being submitted to major online portals has doubled over the past two years. And that doesn’t even consider the popularity of casual games on social networks like Facebook. The rapid growth of the market has prompted companies to create more games for more audiences. The report further explains that the non-paying audience includes both women and men – each comprising about half of this large non-paying player universe.

So how can advertisers leverage the growth of the categories and the expanding demographics? One tactic is targeting ad campaigns based on the game’s content and demographic composition.   

Craig Holland brought up a tactic in our conversation that I found very compelling and noteworthy. Casual game publisher Real Arcade streamed an ad on its home page for the movie “Made of Honor.” The ad offered a free download of the game Wedding Dash (the game was promised as commercial-free). Gamers had to click to watch a lengthy video ad. One can assume the CMPs were high, as essentially that ad was the only money-maker for the game. Did it work? I don’t know, but If anyone has run an ad campaign on casual games, then please share the results in this forum.

Casual gaming is definitely a marketing force to be studied and tested. With a captive audience and exciting ad opportunities to be explored, we are only at level one…in the first version of “Super Mario Bros.” C’mon, Luigi. Let’s find the princess!

Streaming Video Becoming a Habit At All Age Levels

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2008 by southborough

Advertising.com, Inc., in their Bi-Annual Online VideoStudy, comparing the first half of 2007 with the last half of 2006, reports that 62 percent of survey respondents are viewing video online and are comprised mostly of those ages 35 and older viewing news clips. Analyzed by age group, 31 percent of 18 to 34 year olds watch streaming video, while 69 percent of consumers ages 35 and older view streaming video online.

Approximately 83 percent of consumers surveyed indicat­ed that their online video usage in 2007 has either stayed the same or increased since 2006. More specifically, 36 percent of consumers have increased their consumption of online video, with an even breakdown between men (36 percent) and women (37 percent).

The majority of consumers are streaming online video at home rather than work or school, with 45 percent of streaming activity taking place in the evening. 95% stream at home; 4% at work; 1% at school or university.

More than 62 percent of consumers said they are most likely to stream news clips, with movie trailers and music videos next in line. Compared to the second half of 2006, consumers are streaming fewer music videos and streaming more news clips, user-gen­erated videos and sports clips. However, these consumption behaviors vary dramatically by age.

Streaming Selections (% of respondents)
 

All

18-34 year olds

  1st Half ‘07 2 nd Half ‘06 1st Half ‘07 2nd Half ‘06
News clips

62%

49%

44%

34%

Movie trailers

38

33

40

35

Music videos

36

47

54

65

TV shows

33

26

51

33

User generated videos

29

21

42

26

Movies

25

20

32

19

Sports clips

21

11

14

10

Other

8

9

 

 

Source: Advertising.com, September 2007

Overall, 42 percent of consumers have forwarded a vid­eo clip to a friend. Consumers who view content more than once a week also forward more clips, with 55 percent forward­ing clips vs. 34 percent and 20 percent for those who view content once a week and once a month. Women (47 percent) forward more clips than men (36 percent).

Online Video Activity by Age Group (% of respondents)
  18-34 Age Group 35 + Age Group
  1st Half ‘07 2nd Half ‘06 1st Half ‘07 2nd Half ‘06
Forwarded video clip to friend

47%

49%

39%

31%

Created video content to post online

15

16

2

2

Missed a TV episode and watched online

63

57

46

42

Says Online video usage cuts into normal TV time

27

20

20

17

Source: Advertising.com, September 2007

Other highlights of the study include:

  • 80% of consumers say that online video usage does not cut into their TV time.
  • 29% of men say online video usage cuts into TV
  • 16% of women say online video usage cuts into TV
  • 12% of those who view content once a month claim that video usage cuts into their TV time
  • 94% of consumers indi­cate that they would prefer to view ads than pay a fee to watch video content online.
  • 63% of consumers would prefer online vid­eo ads that are shorter than TV ads
  • 65% of consumers say they watch online video ads through to completion
  • 72% of consumers who view streaming content more than once a week view video ads through to completion
  • Of those who view content only once a month, 49% view advertising through to completion.
  • Consumers are 8% more likely to view 15-second spots to completion than 30-second spots.
  • The 30-second pre-roll format slightly outperforms the 5- and 15-second ads when measured in terms of click-through rate.

In conclusion, the report summarizes by noting that consumers continue to incorporate streaming video into the online experience, but there remains a difference, however, among older and younger consumers.

Older consumers using streaming video in order to gain more information, which can be seen by their preference for online news clips, while younger consumers are streaming content for entertainment purposes, such as viewing movies, TV shows and user-generated videos online.

Consumers between the ages of 18 and 34, says the report, continue to assimilate streaming content more into their everyday media consumption habits. Sixty-nine percent of their online video streaming occurs more than once a week, while 47 percent of those ages 35 and older view streaming video multiple times a week

Contextually spot on!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2008 by southborough

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lX-2sP0JFw

Winning Widget Strategies

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2008 by southborough

Beyond the platform considerations, brands and marketers need to clearly understand their widget goals and the ROI potential for public and private widget networks.

 

Marketers are talking about widgets; a search of just iMedia Connection turns up 244 results, and comScore reports that during November 2007, nearly 148 million U.S. internet users viewed a widget, representing more than 80 percent of the total audience. There are a number of well-funded companies focusing on widget marketing implementations.

Marketers seem mostly to be looking at widgets as a new form of advertising media with a potentially large viral component, and  indeed there have been some highly successful viral widget campaigns. The Cloverfield movie widget was viewed more than 17 million times, with more than 25,000 consumer embeds.

Certainly placing a widget on a public blog or social media site can lead to a large number of viewers, depending on popularity. However, users are also placing widgets on their personal start pages and desktops. Many users are using social media platforms such as Facebook as personal information spaces, without a large “audience” of watchers.

While these sorts of users are not going to contribute significantly to the viral reach of a widget media campaign, they are highly valuable to brands as part of their relationship marketing strategy. As customers continue to shift their attention online, and as online customers shift their attention away from banner ads and monolithic websites, branded widget networks are becoming the new ground to engage customers in an ongoing dialogue.

Beyond acquisition: relationship marketing engagement
The retention and nurturing of existing customers has become increasingly important to brands and marketing agencies as the costs and difficulty of acquiring new customers continues to rise. The reasons for the rise of acquisition costs are various: declining clickthrough rates on banner ads, the difficulty of getting people to return to websites, and most of all the increasing costs of search marketing terms, particularly for highly competitive terms.

Given the costs of acquisition, brand marketers are shifting some resources to managing the lifetime value of their existing customers. By developing an ongoing relationship with their audience, brands can learn more about their customers both individually and as a group. This enables better targeting of content and offers and lowers the cost of conversion. By increasing the relevancy of ongoing brand interaction, more and longer-term relationships emerge, which keeps the brand top-of-mind and can even help drive desired behaviors. By progressively building a profile of their customers, brand marketers enable new opportunities for efficiently cross-selling and up-selling products to their existing audience.

A valuable side effect of establishing a deeper, richer relationship with your customers is that you enable them to share their brand enthusiasm within their social circle. While high-percentage viral campaigns are a wonderful jackpot to achieve, an ongoing 5-10 percent viral boost to your audience can add significant numbers over time.

Private and public facing widget platforms
There has been a tendency in the discussion of the evolving field of widget marketing to think of widgets as a single technology, and from a technical standpoint that is mostly true — with light modification a widget can be made to run on a large number of different platforms. However, despite the technical similarities, there are different classes of widgets that are used in quite divergent ways.

These classes are:

  1. Public widget platforms
  2. Private widget platforms
  3. Public/private social media platforms
  4. Branded desktop applications.

Understanding the differences will enable you to reach your audience in the best way.

Public widget platforms are blogs and personal websites, generally running on platforms such as WordPress, TypePad, Blogger and others. Each of these platforms has its own particular technical quirks and policies. For example, the current WordPress.com policy is that absolutely no commercial widgets are allowed to be installed on their platform. These public widget platforms tend to be the focus of the “write once run anywhere” business model used by providers such as ClearSpring.

Private widget platforms cover a wider variety of technologies and are used by consumers as elements of their own personal build-it-yourself information/entertainment spaces. Technologies include: personalized start pages such as Netvibes, iGoogle, Live.com and My Yahoo; desktop widgets such as Yahoo Widgets, Mac Dashboard, Vista Sidebar and Google Gadgets; and mobile widget applications such as Yahoo Mobile, Nokia Widsets, Zumobi and iPhone applications.

Public/private social media platforms are used as both a personal information/entertainment space and as a public-facing display platform with deeply embedded viral capabilities. The two most prominent of these are Facebook and MySpace, with others such as LinkedIn focusing on more defined niche audiences. Social media platforms support not only the same style of widget found in pubic and private platforms, but also a broader range of social media applications.

Branded desktop applications (BDAs) are a technology that pre-dates the widget era but partakes of many of the same features as other widget platforms. The chief differentiator is that since BDAs are stand-alone applications, they are much more powerful and can directly access system resources so they can support features like slide-up alerts, complex data management, desktop document delivery and windowless interactive animation.

Managing widget networks and widget meta-applications
The build-once-run-anywhere model is very attractive for media-style campaigns that are looking for a significant viral take-up of naturally attractive content such as movie campaigns. When developing a widget strategy for long-term relationship engagement, the goals and techniques are quite different and require more nuanced widget implementations tailored to the strengths, features and audience of each constituent platform

A branded widget network is a suite of related widgets, desktop applications and Web 2.0 social media applications deployed as a focused, brand-centric relationship engagement strategy. It differs from a syndicated set of widgets in that its constituent widget elements and the content channels that feed them are managed separately depending on the technical nature of each platform and that platform’s audience.

A widget meta-application is a branded widget network that is being driven by an over-arching application that manages the interaction between content channels, content management, user management and meta-application functionality. A user of a widget meta-application might use a desktop application to set parameters for their personal start pages, or remember purchase options selected on their mobile application when they order from their social media applications.
 
Beyond the platform considerations, brands and marketers need to clearly understand their business goals, and which parameters of a relationship marketing strategy will attain them. For example, a branded widget network may include authentication to enable more personalized content delivery and product ordering.

Private widget networks in the real world
While branded syndicated widgets have been in play for a while now, true branded widget networks and widget meta-applications are only now beginning to come on line. 

One application that has recently launched is for a national retail quick-serve food chain. They developed a branded widget network driven by a widget meta-application that makes it easy for the customer to order their favorite take-out meal from any node of their branded widget network. The network is authenticated and principally private-facing and displays offer content to the user based on their preferences and geographic location. For users who view the widget on someone’s page, such as their Facebook page, they can access their own account or download the application to their own page.

A multi-location resort that we work with has been at the forefront of the widget revolution, and has expanded its original desktop application into a multi-node widget network that includes a screenmate, Mac communicator, Mac Dashboard Widget, IE toolbar, Zumobi application, Facebook application, MySpace widget and web widget. This widget network has generated 18:1 positive ROI, with 85 percent of that revenue coming not from the offers, but from other widget network engagement tactics.

Outlook and conclusions
It is clear that the way consumers are interacting with news, entertainment and brands is rapidly changing. The rush to digital by traditional print media is accelerating, and the boundaries between radio, television, cable and mobile are becoming harder to find. For the time being, the only constant will be more change, with new media platforms continuing to debut, and formerly robust platforms collapsing in on themselves. It is imperative for brands to establish communication channels within these platforms just to keep up with their customers.

A key aspect to nearly all of these new technologies is the enablement of user control and communication, which means all marketing is going to become more like a dialogue and less like an eyeball hunt.

Understanding and leveraging the difference between pubic and private widgets is one way marketers and brands can maintain an ongoing dialogue with their audience. You must engage with your audience where they are.

Interesting Car

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2008 by southborough

http://gizmodo.com/5015266/shape+shifting-bmw-concept-car-is-made-of-cloth

Video On PCs Captures Share Of TV Screen Time

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2008 by southborough

Recent findings released by Ipsos MediaCT from MOTION shows that the percentage of video consumed on a TV among video downloaders and streamers declined from 75% in February 2007 to 70% in February 2008. A significant drop in overall ‘share of screen time’ with the growing contingent of digital video users, says the report.

In addition, the percentage of total screen time captured by movie theaters also declined significantly in the past year, mirroring an overall trend Ipsos MediaCT has witnessed in traditional video consumption.

Adam Wright, Director at Ipsos MediaCT, explains: “Streaming video online has become an activity many Americans aren’t just experimenting with, but enjoy on a regular basis. Today, about half of all Internet users aged 12 and up have streamed a video file online in the past 30 days… the ubiquity of high-speed Internet connections… (has) caused many to adopt the PC as a channel they rely on for video entertainment.”

Where All Video Content Watched (Among those who have streamed or downloaded video content. February, 2008)
Medium % of Viewers
Feb. 2008
% of Viewers
Feb. 2007
TV

70%

75%

Personal computer

19

11

Movie theater screen

5

7

Portable digital media player

2

1

Portable DVD player

2

3

In-vehicle DVD player

1

1

Mobile phone

1

0

Source: Ipsos MediaCT, June 2008

Overall screen time for the PC, which nearly doubled its overall share with digital video consumers since early in 2007. Among the 52% of American’s age 12+ whom have ever streamed or downloaded a digital video file online, about one out of every five hours spent watching movies, TV shows and/or other types of videos is done so on a PC.

In noting the relative lack of growth in the overall share of screen time being allocated to other, more portable video devices such as portable DVD players, digital media players and mobile phones, Wright explains that “While the number of device options are growing… what isn’t  changing is the location where we enjoy video content – our homes… combined with the growing demand for digital video content… we’re seeing the shift in share of screen time away from traditional video channels to the PC… ”

Watching video content on other portable devices is a niche activity for most adult digital video users, having invested in outfitting their living rooms with HDTVs and subscribe to cable or satellite television. Teens aged 12 to 17 are the only age group that is watching a greater percentage of their video content on portable devices.

Video Watching By Medium And Age Groups
 

% of Viewers by Age Group

Medium 12-17 18-24 25-34 35-54 55+
TV

55%

61%

69%

76%

74%

Personal computer

24

27

21

16

18

Movie theater screen

9

6

4

4

4

Portable digital media player

5

3

3

1

1

Portable DVD player

5

1

1

2

2

In-vehicle DVD player

2

1

1

1

1

Mobile phone

1

1

1

1

0

Source: Ipsos MediaCT, June 2008

Wright concludes, “… these share gains in non-traditional video channels (are) not simply an isolated, generation-driven market effect, but rather a large macro-trend in the way consumers want their video content delivered… “