Archives For Advertising

showtime-itaas-interactive-tv-advertising-application

I’ve been following the evolution of advertising on TV and the Web and have come up with three tenets that seem to fit the new model for companies looking to promote and sell their wares using a video platform.

  1. Make it easy to impulse buy
  2. Give away content
  3. Get viewers involved, or “engaged”

Now that the 30-second spot is on its way out, advertisers are scrambling to find the next commercial standard. No one’s settled on a single format yet, but there are commonalities among the different experiments taking place. To compare, consider the work being done by Overlay.TV online and Showtime (via Itaas and Biap) on cable TV. I spoke to Overlay.TV’s Ben Watson last month and saw Showtime’s latest demo at The Cable Show.

Overlay.TV was founded in 2007 and is putting much of its focus now on advertising solutions that link to purchasing options, add pop-up content, and slice and dice video for customizable playlists and ad insertion. For example, links embedded in Sarah McLaughlin music videos powered by Overlay.TV replicate the MTV pop-up video experience and provide viewers with direct links to buy the latest McLaughlin album. On the Jonas Brothers site, visitors can use Overlay.TV’s technology to record their own video karaoke performances. And the company has opened up its API to let people integrate the Overlay.TV solutions with their own analytics and customer information management systems. Developers seem to be responding well. According to Overlay.TV, requests for API keys have come in every day since the API was made available two months ago.

Meanwhile, the rebirth of the interactive standard EBIF for cable is leading to a wave of new advertising apps like the latest Showtime marketing tool. Built by Itaas, the application lets viewers surf through a menu of options, watch free episodes of top shows, and purchase the premium channel with a click of the remote control. Simple, but compelling. I’ve never been a Showtime subscriber, but give me free shows on a night when my DVR is looking empty, and I just might impulse buy.

There’s always a price to pay for good content, even in a new media world, but if advertising starts making my life easier and more entertaining, I’m willing to pay the piper.

pausemenu

TiVo’s newest form of advertising, which debuted a few months back on Series 2 units, has now begun to encroach on the Series 3/TiVoHD platform. As TiVo proclaimed in December:

Using the TiVo Pause Menu, advertisers can, for the first time, reach audiences with targeted product messages displayed within the pause screen of a Live or Timeshifted program. The feature provides an original solution for advertisers seeking to capture the fast-forwarding viewer. It’s another example of how TiVo offers unique and different solutions for advertisers looking to get viewers to watch advertisements

Software version 11.0c, which seems to consist solely of this “feature,” is currently being deployed to high-def TiVo boxes. I haven’t yet received an “upgrade,” but the initial community response has been mixed.

moxi-vs-tivo

Two months after meeting with Digeo at CES, I’ve yet to receive a Moxi HD DVR ($800) loaner. In fact, three months after initial retail availability, there hasn’t been a single review. And the AVS silence is unprecedented: “Seems pretty sad that no one on an A/V enthusiast forum like this will admit to taking a chance on this unit.” I’ve never seen a flagship product launch go down like this. Although, given Diego’s long history of under-achievement and broken promises, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Over the weekend I surfed on by the Moxi website to learn what, if anything, is going on. And discovered a redesign that spends a lot of time talking TiVo. A Moxi-TiVo comparison is quite natural given TiVo’s status as the incumbent and really the only other retail cable DVR competitor. However, Google reports over 20 pages of TiVo mentions… which seems a bit excessive. Why not stand on your own merits? Some samples:

  • The MOXI HD DVR beats TiVo in so many areas
  • TiVo tries the same thing, but fails in the effortless department
  • TiVo strikes out by putting their fuzzy, elderly menu right on top of the program you’re (trying) to watch
  • TiVo serves ads in their pause feature. Moxi’s is free.
  • Then there’s TiVo, brazenly asking you for as much as $12.95 a month for the privilege of using something you already bought

As you might expect, Digeo doesn’t point out Moxi’s (current?) video on-demand shortcomings compared to TiVo’s Amazon VOD (soon in HD) and Netflix streaming. But several of Digeo’s jabs are valid. TiVo’s aging UI still isn’t really optimized for 16:9 HDTVs and various tacked on (HME) apps employ (slow) inconsistent interfaces. I’d also appreciate the eye candy of picture-in-guide (PiG).

Of course, Digeo’s key Moxi differentiation is bundling service versus TiVo’s additional fees (monthly or pre-paid) and ad-serving. As far as the total cost of ownership (TCO), Moxi has put together a chart illustrating that Moxi is less expensive over a four year period. However, they point to the TiVo HD XL… with double Moxi’s storage and cite the MSRP versus the street price. (Currently ~$100 less for TiVo; MSRP=street for Moxi.) So, in reality, the costs are comparable for what you get over this time period. As long as Digeo remains in business to serve guide data.

Regarding the advertising, for many of us, one of TiVo’s initial value props was the ability to bypass commercials. Yet, we’re now confronted by ads all over the UI. However, Digeo’s ad-free sales pitch rings a bit hollow… as they’ve hedged their bets with this fine print found in the footer of every relevant page: “Certain current and/or future features/services provided by third parties may contain advertising.” And even the fee-less nature of the Moxi HD DVR may be finite: “Certain future services may be offered at additional cost.” Continue Reading…

verizon-hub-radio6

I swung by the Verizon mall kiosk today to play a bit with the Verizon Hub ($200). Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone with me and wasn’t able to take stellar photographs. But it should be clear (enough) that the promised streaming Internet radio has arrived. Verizon’s initial music source/partner is iheartradio.com, a Clear Channel property. I was able to easily and quickly fire up DC101 for low fidelity music, emanating from the single vertical speaker seen on the right. (Of course, a loud location like this doesn’t make for the best test environment.)

While poking around Verizon’s VoIP & widget station, I also noticed a banner ad (below) for the UPS store. Not sure if this is a one off, maybe a way to integrate package tracking, or if this is what you can expect regularly from a $35/month subscription.

verizon-hub-radio1

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The Superbowl Ad Aftermath

Dave Zatz —  February 2, 2009 — 10 Comments

Ah, the day after the Super Bowl. Time to reflect on the advertising hits and misses. But how do you quantify success? (Or failure.) USA Today provided about 300 select viewers in Oregon and Virginia “ad meters” for rating commercials in real time. Of course, we also saw  a wide variety of web-based polls open to all. Annually, TiVo takes the unique approach of analyzing ad success based on a sampling of DVR interaction – pauses, replays, etc. In addition to providing a top ten list of commercials, they’ve identified the top five moments per half:

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After speaking with TiVo today, I’ve gotten a bit more insight into their second-by-second analysis from Todd Juenger, VP of the Audience Research and Measurement unit. The line above charts viewership in TiVo terms, and is cumulative based on how many times video is watched – taking into account those rewinds, on top of straight up viewing. The spikes clearly indicate areas of interest and total viewership seemed to have increased as the game progressed. We surprised Todd by actually focusing on the football towards the end as Cards staged a comeback: “Historically, the commercials always get highest viewership spikes, from rewinding and multiple views. The fact that the 5 highest viewership moments in the 2nd half were all game related, not commercials, is remarkable.” So, was the game that good or were the commercials that lame?

Me, I can’t say I loved any of the commercials. However, the pair I immediately recalled today, beyond the movie trailers, were the Doritos and Cheetos spots. I’ve been known to consume more than my fair share of junk food, although both ads were memorable for other reasons. The Cheetos ad was both amusing and somewhat creepy – think the Burger King. Not to mention I haven’t seen Chester the Cheetah in over a decade. (“It’s not easy being cheesy.”) And who doesn’t want to smash things at work? Which is why I found the Doritos Crystal Ball ad entertaining. As it turns out, the commercial wasn’t even developed by a pricey advertising firm. As far as misfires, the Sobe Lizard football ballet was a nonsensical disaster. And there’s probably a large contingent of television owners that Vizio didn’t connect with utilizing a condescending ‘you spent to much’ pitch.

In the recycling of tech category, DreamWork’s Monsters vs Aliens commercial and Sobe’s ballet were both presented in 3D. We don’t feel like we got much of a return on investment, given the time spent tracking down glasses and then cutting them out. In fact, while the movie looks cute, I’d rather catch it unencumbered by cardboard glasses and 3D effects that really didn’t seem to add much to our enjoyment. For compelling 3-D experiences, I’ll continue to stick with the Orlando theme parks. Continue Reading…

The big day has arrived. And while many will be watching football, the advertising industry (and their clients) hope we’ll tune in for NBC’s big pay day ($206 million). Although much of the advertising action will be simulcast online… NewTeeVee’s put together a roundup of web destinations to catch Superbowl commercials. And, if 80s action figures, cartoons, and comics were your thing, the Transformers and G.I. Joe movie trailers have already landed on YouTube. (Thanks, Gizmodo!) Also online, startup Thummit will be tallying our feedback via Twitter: During the game, drop @thummit a message with an ad name and your micro-review. Back on the boob tube, we’ll see the reintroduction of some classic 3D tech for a pair of commercials tonight. Assuming you managed to find some glasses.

While catching up on Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and inspired by Engadget’s periodic Screen Grabs column, a few bits of tech caught my eye last night. Season 2 is just getting started (in the US, anyway), and the first thing that struck me is the opening sequence resembling the (former?) Zune desktop software – colors and swirls. Episode 2 also pretty prominently features a Nokia phone and a Macbook Air.

Along with Engadget, I caught the OQO mini notebook on Lie to Me this week. However, with all spottings like these, it’s safe to assume a certain percent are paid placements of one sort or another. For example, we know OQO has worked with television and film marketing firm Eclipse in the past to get their wares on TV. (This is the kind of advertising I can tolerate!)

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