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US Media Research Coalition ‘Not About Competing with Nielsen’

In the US, the newly formed Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) has attempted to clarify its goals in a conference call, stressing that rather than creating a competitor for Nielsen Media Research, it wants to fund new research into cross-platform and TV set-top box measurement.

The coalition consists of 14 TV networks, major advertisers and media agencies including the likes of AT&T, CBS, NBC, P&G, News Corporation, Time Warner and Walt Disney. NBC Universal Research Head Alan Wurtzel, a key member of the steering group, stressed that the idea is not to go head-to-head with Nielsen or establish a new currency: ‘there are many companies that are providing set-top box data... [and] many companies trying to figure out cross-platform... The organization's goal and objective is much, much broader than dealing with Nielsen... It's about establishing technology and methodology that can be helpful to everyone.’

The fourteen are each said to have commited at least $1m dollars to fund research initiatives. Next, the coalition will look next to hire an executive director, and to send out RFPs to vendors for set-top box measurement and cross-platform media measurement, for action in the fourth quarter of the year. Nielsen will be free to respond to its RFPs, and to apply for membership of the coalition.

Previous statements by the coalition, whose establishment was first reported last month, have been seen as critical of Nielsen, the major provider of TV ratings services in the US and much of the world, and the latest statements will leave some still unclear as to the motivation behind it. Earlier this week as it announced its formal establishment, the group said current methods lacked innovation and Laura Desmond, Global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group said the industry ‘relied on old media metrics’. Nielsen has a number of major programs in place to address the problem of cross-platform measurement, and last month responded to rumours of the coalition’s formation by underlining that three screen measurement was ‘at the center of its strategy’.

Web site: www.nielsen.com .


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Daily Research News Online
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4750

US Bans Phone 'Robocalls' Effective September 1 2009

Beginning September 1, 2009, prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers – commonly known as robocalls – will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.

Where the US leads, other nations usually follow, especially on consumer protection issues. Watch for similar legislation in other developed countries.

“American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Starting September 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.”

The new requirement is part of amendments to the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that were announced a year ago. After September 1, sellers and telemarketers who transmit prerecorded messages to consumers who have not agreed in writing to accept such messages will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.

The rule amendments going into effect on September 1 do not prohibit calls that deliver purely “informational” recorded messages – those that notify recipients, for example, that their flight has been cancelled, an appliance they ordered will be delivered at a certain time, or that their child’s school opening is delayed. Such calls are not covered by the TSR, as long as they do not attempt to interest consumers in the sale of any goods or services. For the same reason, the rule amendments also do not apply to calls concerning collection of debts where the calls do not seek to promote the sale of any goods or services.

In addition, calls not covered by the TSR – including those from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations – are not covered by the new prohibition. The new prohibition on prerecorded messages does not apply to certain healthcare messages. The new rule prohibits telemarketing robocalls to consumers whether or not they previously have done business with the seller.

Under a previous rule that took effect on December 1, 2008, telemarketing robocall messages by businesses covered by the TSR must tell consumers how to opt-out of further calls at the start of the message, and provide an automated opt-out mechanism that is voice or keypress-activated. Prerecorded messages left on answering machines must also provide a toll-free number that connects to the automated opt-out mechanism.

After September 1, consumers who receive prerecorded telemarketing calls but have not agreed to get them should file a complaint with the Commission, either on the ftc.gov Web site or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The Commission’s 2008 press release announcing the changes to the TSR’s prerecorded telemarketing provisions and a link to the related Federal Register notice can be found on the FTC’s Web site at:http://www2.ftc.gov/opa/2008/08/tsr.shtm.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

 


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Federal Trade Commission
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4688

Videogames Have Marketing Potential

I was reading about the recent decline in videogame industry sales--down 17% in March from a year ago, according to NPD. An analyst with JAG Advisors stated that "with prolonged continued economic weakness ... it's going to be hard for the growth rates to avoid falling." What had been viewed as a recession-proof bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic story, was hitting its own rough patch.Is the game industry going away? Of course, not. It hit a record $5 billion in sales in December. The "hit-based" console game business will rebound. As videogame companies love to point out, the cost of a game/entertainment hour is the lowest of all entertainment alternatives--except, perhaps, reading a book.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-onward]

The importance of gaming has moved beyond the marketplace to become a mainstream social phenomenon. The game culture supersedes games, consoles and accessories. It now influences diverse fields from education, training and medical therapy to motivating consumer behavior. The point of gaming is interactivity. Static, single-dimensional communications are less effective, particularly in traditional media. These changes are both profound and irreversible. It is a one-way street, and many industries are struggling to catch up to the consumer shift that has already occurred.

This temporary decline in video game revenues might actually highlight an underlying shift toward alternatives to game consoles: Consumers are increasingly using Web-based games that cost less yet are equally engaging.

Take Pogo.com, Electronic Art´s leading casual gaming site. Monthly unique visitors have steadily grown and now exceed 10.5 million. What is even more impressive is that visitors frequented the site an average of 66 times in a month, and Pogo´s heaviest users visit almost nine times per day. Another surprise: Women age 35 and over are the biggest users. And Pogo is just one game site.

Gaming is pervasive, motivating and addictive across all demographics. But, it is not the game content that drives people to visit at least twice a day, every day. It is the unique game mechanics--the "meta game"--that drives people to continue to play. People like to play the games, but they like the challenges and competitive aspects of the games. Simple mechanics include earning a trophy or a badge to display in your profile, seeing trophies that you have not yet achieved, having challenges or seeing your name on a leaderboard. These simple mechanics have a profound impact on consumer behavior. Increasingly, the content is generated by the users themselves, and it is becoming secondary to the "earn, reward, gift, redeem" meta-game culture.

The ability to earn points or a currency and then redeem the currency to purchase virtual goods is also generating significant usage and revenue streams for publishers. Take the DunderMifflinInfinity.com site, which was created by NBC for fans of The Office. Visitors to the site contribute most of the content, participate in weekly tasks and vote to earn virtual currency called "Shrutebucks," named after Dwight Shrute, a character in the show. The site generates word-of-mouth buzz among influencers, creating continuous excitement for the show when it is in reruns or off-season. It also generates sponsorship revenues for NBC.

If game mechanics are so powerful, why don´t we use them to address other consumer challenges? In its purest sense, the purpose of consumer marketing is to get consumers to take notice and motivate them into action. As Leo Burnett once said, "Fun without sell gets nowhere, but sell without fun is obnoxious." And, let´s face it: Games are fun. Increasingly, companies of all kinds are integrating game mechanics into their sites so that they can take immediate action based on a consumers´ behavior to reward and build loyalty. Easy to say, difficult to execute.

The results are compelling. For instance, Bunchball´s Nitro customers are routinely seeing upward of 55% increases in desired behaviors, such as time on site, uploads, downloads, ad pages consumed and so on. There are also significant increases in traditional brand metrics such as "intent to purchase," "brand favorability" and the like.

These results are particularly impressive, given the declining performance of traditional advertising. Consumers are tired of being bombarded with irrelevant commercial messages. Game methods, even without a game per se, are more impactful because they are more respectful and more emotionally relevant for a consumer.

Peter Daboll is CEO of Bunchball, a Granite Ventures and Adobe-backed company that helps brands and publishers drive consumer attention, visits and loyalty through game mechanics. He was also president and CEO of comScore Media Metrix and chief of insights at Yahoo!


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Forbes.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3950

TiVo Promotes Ads It Hopes You’ll Talk To, Not Zap

TiVo, which allows viewers to digitally record programs and fast-forward through ads, is trying to sell ad spaces on its screens. It is in a footrace with other companies, including Cablevision, Cox Communications and DirecTV, to offer interactive alternatives to the zapped-through television spots. The ads are called interactive because they ask the viewer to do something — enter in a new channel number, press a button on the remote — to get more information.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-2012]

TiVo, the company that attacked television advertising, is trying to resuscitate it.

“In the last 18 months, the momentum has just lifted,” said Jacqueline Corbelli, the chief executive of BrightLine iTV, which designs interactive ads. “It’s started to become a staple of very large advertisers.”

In December, TiVo began offering ads that appear as a small piece of text when viewers pause a show. Advertisers can choose the specific show or genre they want their pause ad to appear on — Mercedes-Benz USA used it to promote a new car during football games earlier this year. TiVo also offers ads that appear when viewers fast-forward through shows. Advertisers that run regular 30- or 60-second spots can buy these, and when the viewer presses fast-forward, a static box appears. One for Tourism Australia shows a photograph of a girl on a beach with the text, exclaiming, “Don’t tell me I just skipped the Australia ad!” TiVo viewers are instructed to press the Thumbs Up button to see the ad and get more information.

Once a viewer interacts with its ads, TiVo can show them a video about the product, let them request more information or a coupon, or even let them configure a car with different colors and options. TiVo also sells ad space on TiVo Central, its home screen.

“By catching them at a time when they’re pausing the program, when they’ve finished with a program,” said Tara Maitra, vice president and general manager of content and advertising at TiVo, “the viewer’s main reason for being there isn’t being interrupted.”

TiVo is not the only company devising a solution to commercial-skipping. Cable and satellite companies, and technology providers like Microsoft’s Navic Networks, are also working on interactive ads.

The cable offerings vary by market. In Tucson, Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas, Cox Communications sells interactive spots, with graphics on top of commercials that direct viewers to vote or ask for more information using their remotes. In the New York metro area, Cablevision sells special video-on-demand channels to companies like Disney, which runs videos about its amusement parks and stars and a “talk to agent” button that is associated with the viewer’s phone number, provided by Cablevision; selecting it results in an immediate phone call from a Disney representative.

Time Warner offers some interactivity, too. Last September, the media company MPG ran a test for the insurance company American International Group with about 180,000 Time Warner subscribers in Hawaii. MPG, a unit of Havas, used Navic technology to send different ads to households with different demographics, and a banner sat on top of the ad as it ran, telling viewers to click a button on their remote for more information. Only 566 of the households interacted with the ad, said Mitch Oscar, executive vice president of televisual applications at MPG. But, he said, that number was promising.

“We’re doing branding spots anyway,” he said. “If advertisers are going to run commercials one way or the other, and we can add this element to it.”

For now, the cable company’s interactive offerings are largely limited to the two minutes of advertising an hour that each local operator sells. But Canoe Ventures, the consortium of the nation’s six largest cable companies, has announced it will make interactive request-for-information ads available by the end of 2009, and those will be available nationally.

The satellite providers, DirecTV and Dish Network, also offer interactive ads that can run nationwide — a recent Nike ad on Dish Network allowed viewers to zoom in to see a shoe, among other features.

Unilever, the consumer products company, which owns brands like Bertolli and Dove, has been aggressive in the interactive television space for the last couple of years, so much so that it held an “upfront” in the winter to book and negotiate for interactive television slots.

“What we love about it is, if you think about it, the remote control and DVRs have really been a marketer’s worst nightmare,” said Anne Jensen, brand-building director at Unilever. “What we’re doing with ITV is we’re actually making the remote control our friend.”

Last week, Unilever introduced an interactive campaign for Axe on DirecTV that had new interactive features. The campaign promoted Axe’s body washes for men, which come in four varieties, like “Shock,” to wake you up, and the exfoliating “Snake Peel,” so “if you’ve had a very questionable hookup you can scrub away the shame,” Ms. Jensen said.

The idea with this campaign was that “guys don’t really talk to each other about personal hygiene,” Ms. Jensen said. The interactive piece, designed by BrightLine, comes when the commercial’s host points to a space on the screen, and a button pops up that viewers can select for more information. Then, there are clips where Axe diagnoses what variety is appropriate for the viewer, and suggests pranks the viewers can play on friends.

Axe receives reports on how many people responded to the ads, what sections of the extra video they watched, and how much time they spent with the Axe material. “What’s nice is that this medium can be quite flexible in terms of how we optimize our campaigns and improve it as we go along,” Ms. Jensen said.

For all of the data and features that interactive ads offer, the fragmentation of the industry tended to scare off advertisers, said Craig Woerz, managing partner of Media Storm, an agency based in Norwalk, Conn., that has run interactive ads for clients like Magnolia Pictures and the Food Network.

“Advertisers and agencies love to take the easy way out, which is, I’m not going to look at this interactive stuff until I’ve got 90 million households, 60 million households,” Mr. Woerz said. “There’s a heck of a base out there. But you’re not going to do it with one phone call.”


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: NYTimes.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3931



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