A new survey commissioned by MGH, an integrated marketing communications agency, found that 32% of survey respondents change the channel as soon as a political advertisement airs and during political news coverage, and nearly half (47%) of viewers will change the channel or mute the TV during a negative political ad.
The Baltimore agency commissioned the survey to find if consumers change their viewing habits during election season.
As usual, the vast majority (88%) of respondents said they are turned off by negative political advertising. But as usual, the negative ads work.
Younger millennials aged 18-24, skewed higher in some measures:
- Forty-five percent change the channel during political news coverage.
- Thirty-nine percent change the channel as soon as they see a political advertisement.
- Twenty percent are more likely to watch programs online, and 19% are more likely to record programs they want to watch to avoid commercials.
"This year's election is gearing up to be a tight race, and with tens of millions of advertising dollars being put toward mudslinging political television ads, marketers need to pay attention to some of these statistics to make sure that their consumers aren't changing the channel on their clients," said MGH President, Andy Malis. "During election years, television advertising space is limited and more expensive, so advertisers need to get creative and integrated with their media campaigns to ensure their message is getting through the clutter."
The key takeaways, according to MGH, are that marketers have the potential to lose more than one-third of their potential audience if a political ad airs – and nearly half if a negative political ad airs – in the same commercial block as theirs. Additionally, marketers that target the younger millennials may have an even tougher time reaching this audience through TV ads.
Still the spending is high, and a report released in March from Borrell Associates forecasts that out of the $9.8 billion that will be spent on political advertising for this year’s election, $5.6 billion will go toward broadcast TV and $939 million toward cable TV advertising. The New York Times estimates that at least $50 million worth of ads will appear in swing states in the next several weeks, about five months out from the election.
Time will tell if these viewers actually do tune out as they claim. Viewership was very strong during the GOP debates. ABC claimed big ratings for its “Your Voice, Your Vote – Republican Presidential Debate in New Hampshire” broadcast. Nielsen tallied 6.25 million viewers, including 1.73 million Adults 25-54 and 1.40 million Adults 18-49. The ABC debate topped the Fox News Channel’s December 15 debate with 1.31 million viewers.
According to January figures from The Pew Research Center for The People & The press, it is true that fewer Americans are closely following the campaign than four years ago. Cable TV leads among sources at 36%, but the Internet is next to last at 25% and has not grown in significance since 2007. So, those younger-skewing voters who claim to get ad-free news online might be exaggerating, or simply disinterested. Just 20% of those younger than 30 claimed to follow the campaign closely, down from 31% in 2008. But because younger voters skew Democrat, they may prick up their ears as the conventions and election near.
Equation Research conducted the survey in April 2012 on behalf of MGH. Equation surveyed 1,000 adults aged 18+ who had seen at least one political advertisement recently, located in states where presidential primaries had taken place.
comScore, Inc. has released a report called “Surviving the Upfronts in a Cross-Media World,” which it says is an actionable guide for success in navigating the cross-media landscape during this said Judy Bahary, SVP, Marketing Solutions at comScore.comScore examines the maturation of the online video market as a supplement to traditional television advertising and the effectiveness of cross-media campaigns in television programming.
Rather than one robbing the other, “Our research shows an incredible synergy between TV and digital video formats when used together in cross-media campaigns, driving effectiveness levels higher than either medium used on its own,” said Judy Bahary, SVP, Marketing Solutions at comScore.” As the online video market continues to develop, we should see it evolve from its current supporting role to an essential part of media planning in the annual upfronts.”
The annual television upfronts are a familiar process for buyers and sellers of television advertising. Now in their second year, the digital upfronts are shaking up the industry in making the case for digital video advertising in long-form TV programming and short-form online video. But the concept of online TV audiences is relatively uncharted territory for most buyers, who are uncertain how to effectively allocate dollars across both TV and digital media.
In a simulation conducted using comScore’s cross-media databases, which contain media usage from multiple platforms for the same households, comScore discovered that the use of online video can build reach and effective reach when advertising dollars are invested in both TV and digital platforms. Reallocating 10% of an ad budget from TV to video boosted a campaign’s reach by 5%, and raised effective reach by 16%.
comScore also measured consumer response (e.g., a visit to the advertised brand’s website) following exposure to TV ads alone versus both TV and digital platforms. It found that consumers who were exposed to one ad on TV and one online were 28% more likely to visit the brand’s website than those exposed to one ad on TV alone. In fact, the impact of two exposures – one on TV and one digital – was almost as high as the impact of two exposures, both on TV. “This reinforces the wisdom of overlaying a digital plan on a TV campaign to boost reach without sacrificing persuasion—especially when one considers that digital is generally less costly than TV,” says the report.
Women’s lingerie maker Maidenform will use augmented reality (AR) to introduce its Comfort Devotion line of bras, panties and shapewear later this year, reports Marketing Daily. Maidenform will use technology from Aurasma, which provides image-recognition software.
Aurasma made news earlier this month with the June issue of Popular Science, the first monthly U.S. consumer magazine to “bring an editorial feature to life,” said Aurasma in a statement, by “[uniting] the physical and virtual worlds to deliver a unique and interactive experience for readers.” The June issue is the Popular Science annual Invention Awards issue, which profiles ten inventors of potentially world-changing technologies.
What Aurasma does differently from QR codes is that its image recognition software requires no code, tag or marketr at all. So the publisher can augment reality without sacrificing space or disrupting the reader. By aiming an iPad, iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet at certain pages in the magazine, readers can activate an "Aura" — an augmented reality action, such as a video or slideshow, overlaid on a static image. The reader can also use the in-app "screen capture" button to share the augmented reality experience via Facebook or Twitter, making it possible for others to see the digital overlay even without the magazine.
"Our June issue is already bursting with information, and this technology allows us to go ahead and overflow the riverbank," said Popular Science editor in chief Jake Ward. "It's for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to meet someone from our pages in real life. Aurasma has a very powerful effect on readers - it's like being able to step into the magazine's content and walk around."
Maidenform will use the Aurasma application for in-store displays and advertising to compare, for example, the racerback version of one bra versus the strapless version of another. The Maidenform product will not launch until December, but thus far, Popular Science is delighted with augemented reality. “The consumer wants more digital marketing,” Lucille DeHart, Maidenform’s CMO told Marketing Daily. “She’s very connected through all her devices. They empowers her to shop the way she wants to shop. So we need to be where she is, and give her that flexibility.”
Ace Metrix, which bills itself as “the new standard in television and video analytics,” has announced the completion of an $8 million round of financing from WPP, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Leapfrog Ventures, and Palomar Ventures. Ace Metrix will use the new funds to further accelerate its rapid growth, continue its focus on innovation and product development, and expand into new markets.
The company claims 25% of national television advertisers as clients, and is aggressively pursuing 100% growth through 2012. Just a week ago, Ace Metrix added Samsung to that client roster: Samsung has subscribed to the company’s Ace Metrix LIVE platform, which provides immediate delivery of Ace Scores and the 12,000+ associated data points for every ad in the competitive mobile devices category. Samsung also signed on to use the Ace Metrix PRE service to test ads prior to release, which gives Samsung the ability to adjust creative or media placement using detailed demographic, ethnographic, and psychographic data.
Just two weeks ago, Ace Metrix introduced Ace Metrix TARGET, which allows advertisers to identify specific key audiences and access creative ad performance data for their ads and their competitors. Ace Metrix TARGET adds a layer of granular intelligence to Ace Metrix LIVE. TARGET leverages the same methodology and scoring dimensions of Ace Metrix LIVE, but augments it with specific demographic, ethnographic, and psychographic profiles. As Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix described, TARGET provides “Exceptional detail and surprising degrees of comparability about how ads perform among critical targets such as technologists, automotive intenders, gamers, and business travelers– for their ads and their competitors’.”
“Ace Metrix continues to impress us with their ability to push the envelope on innovation,” said Pete Sinclair, Managing Director, Leapfrog Ventures, and Managing Director Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners remarked that “Ace Metrix delivers highly valuable and actionable analytics to the $71B TV advertising sector and the emerging video advertising segment. This is a substantial market opportunity and Ace Metrix has taken the leadership position.”
ur services by many of the most respected brands in the industry – a list that represents the top 25% of national television advertisers," said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. "We are on track to continue our 100% growth rate through 2012 and this new financing will allow us to further extend our portfolio of products and services to key adjacent markets while scaling our business infrastructure and sales and client services teams to meet the demands of our clients.”
Viacom has unveiled the results of a new study exploring the social TV phenomenon through the lens of the viewer. While fairly nascent, social TV and co-viewing trends represent a shift in TV viewing from what Viacom calls a “lean-back” to a “lean-forward” experience. If there is a takeaway for advertisers, it is that those “behind the scenes” streams, additional scenes and blooper reels that networks run on their websites are pretty valuable ad real estate.
Viacom finds that viewers engage in an average of seven different types of social TV activities – online or offline – on at least a weekly basis. The most common activities include watching TV with others (85%), searching for supplemental content (61%) and viewing TV show clips on social networks (58%). The new research reveals that consumers engaging in social TV activities "C's the moment" primarily by communicating, consuming content and checking comments.
The two-phase study involved 24 ethnographies in Boston and San Diego with VMN viewers aged 13-52 that engage in social TV activities on at least a weekly basis. National online surveys were conducted with over 1,500 VMN viewers aged 13-54. When asked what social TV means to them, the most commonly reported words were "interactive," "friends" and "Facebook "or "Twitter." The leading source of discovery of social TV services is through search (38%), followed by social networks (26%) and ads run on shows (22%).
"One of the main goals of this research was to understand how to inspire social TV activity among our audiences," said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks.
Content is king for social TV users. Viewers want something special from their social TV services rather than commoditized content that can be found through online searches. The number one request for content is full-length episodes (88%), followed by sneak peeks of new episodes (75%), and behind-the-scenes extras (71%) and highlight clips (71%).
The majority of TV socializers are interested in rewards with real value, like free merchandise or signed cast photos. When putting aside the material aspect, virtual rewards offer an emotional pay-off, described as being similar to the feeling when 'liked' on Facebook. Trivia and casual games related to a show are of greater interest if they offer some kind of reward. Real fans want to have their knowledge and skills tested, and expect the game to be challenging.
Communicating is a top priority for social TV users. Many respondents described cobbling together unique communication systems to interact with different social circles while watching a show. "When I'm watching Jersey Shore, I have Facebook chats with 10 friends and I'm texting a dozen people, and I can be on the phone to my best friend," said one participant.
There is no one-size-fits-all in terms of chat options. Of those interested in chat features, 56% prefer communicating through the social TV app/service, 53% through Facebook, 50% through individual or group texts and 38% through Skype or Apple FaceTime. For those that use check-in services, 71% check in to a show to let their friends know and 64% check in to let other fans of the show know. Check-in services are a unique way of communicating viewing activities while simultaneously encouraging others to tune-in and join a shared experience.
Smartphones dominate the use of social TV apps at 82%, trailed by tablets at 18%. For services that are delivered via HTML websites and associated apps, 52% of usage occurs on smartphones or tablets, followed closely by desktop or laptops at 48%.
Social TV users check comments about their favorite shows for a variety of reasons. Comments provide a different point of view, can pick up on something a viewer may have missed on their own and most importantly, create a direct connection between fan and show. "I love reading Daniel Tosh's tweets while watching Tosh.0. It gives the show a whole other dimension," said one survey respondent.
Not all sources of comments are equally valued. The number one source viewers want to hear from is a show's cast and crew, followed by the people they know. Audiences are sensitive to the quality of comments from a show's cast and crew – they look for authenticity and prefer the star(s) to be in character.
Social TV Users "C's the Moment" During Live Viewing
"Viewers C's the Moment" reveals that live TV show viewing unlocks the real value of social TV services and co-viewing activities. Features relating to communication, content and comments are twice as likely to be used during live than time-shifted viewing. Social TV enthusiasts reported feeling "left out" of the conversation if they missed a live airing.
One respondent said, "I'm most likely to engage with Social TV networking when it's live. So when a new show comes on, I'm very likely to check-in just before the show, see comments from other people, [and] make my own comments during the show as well."
Social TV activities also increase directly after a live show, when viewers can access exclusive content like sneak peeks without interrupting the live viewing experience. "I go to the website and watch the director's cut…after it airs as I like the extra scenes. I like to feel that I am getting something extra and it extends the show," said a participant.
Social TV can also help foster show discovery. Features like check-ins, viewer comments and shared video clips help viewers discover shows, incentivize them to watch and encourage them to join the live conversations.
ESPN presented its annual upfront yesterday, with a heavy emphasis on authentication, apps and delivering advertiser value. While the networks struggle to create social TV experience, CNN will likely be the first to make it a norm.
At the same time, ESPN Films announced that it will resurrect its 2010 hit series of sports-oriented films 30 for 30.
As Ad Age reports, Eric Johnson, ESPN's exec VP-multimedia sales, promised advertisers more targeted reach through its digital properties including the espnW platform for female sports fans; a new ESPN radio app for both the iPhone and iPad; ESPNFC, a global soccer destination; and a partnership with Twitter that will start with the NBA Finals.
Johnson claimed as well that with the Watch ESPN authenticated TV Everywhere app (introduced last year), ESPN now reaches 40 million homes, a number it expects to double before 2013.
Of course, few networks have the budget of ESPN, and "Modern Family" fans are hardly as rabid as NBA fans. But ESPN sets the bar for cross-media convergence.
30 for 30 Vol. II
ESPN Films has announced the return of the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning 30 for 30 film series. As with the first series, which included collaborations with acclaimed filmmakers such as Peter Berg (“Kings Ransom”), Barry Levinson (“The Band That Wouldn’t Die”), Ice Cube (“Straight Outta L.A.”) and Academy Award-winner Barbara Koppel (“The House of Steinbrenner”), ESPN Films will once again partner with a wide array of filmmakers to tell inspirational sports stories. 30 for 30 Vol. II is scheduled to premiere in October.
“30 for 30 was conceived as a finite collection and when the original series ended in December of 2010 with ‘Pony Excess,’ we had underestimated the strength of the connection fans had made between sports documentaries and the 30 for 30 brand,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We’re proud to have created a brand that has become synonymous with quality sports storytelling and we see value in bringing back a second collection of 30 films.”
In addition to a second slate of 30 feature-length documentaries, ESPN Films will broaden its scope to support a whole new crop of stories with the creation of 30 for 30 Shorts – a 30-part digital short film series. 30 for 30 Shorts will be similar to the feature-length films in that each piece will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and will be a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style. Beginning in September, a new short film will debut monthly on Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com. A 30 for 30 Short entitled “Here Now” about Pete Rose is currently online as preview of the series.
Volume II of 30 for 30 will have a much more defined multimedia component through closer integration with Grantland.com by featuring filmmaker podcasts with Bill Simmons, topical oral histories, in-depth features and more. Each feature-length film and digital short will be complemented with a long-form written piece on Grantland.com that deepens the experience with additional context.
Films scheduled to air as part of 30 for 30 Vol. II include:
- “Benji” about 17-year-old NBA prospect Ben Wilson whose life was tragically cut short;
- “Broke,” a documentary about pro athletes sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems;
- “Bo Knows,” another documentary about the marketing of pro athletes like legendary sports figure Bo Jackson;
- “The Season of Their Lives,” about the 1982-83 North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team.
Social TV Via Twitter
ESPN announced a strategic collaboration with Twitter that it believes offers fans and advertisers unique, interactive programs around major sporting events, beginning with the upcoming NBA Finals. The effort will be promoted across Twitter, ESPN networks, ABC and ESPN’s broad array of digital assets, including ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile.
Each program will be co-created by ESPN and Twitter, beginning with GameFace – the first effort, which will be focused on the NBA Finals. GameFace will be seamlessly integrated throughout the live ABC broadcasts and ESPN’s NBA Tonight programming with a dedicated Twitter hashtag #GameFace.
Fans will be encouraged to tweet photographs of their “game face” throughout the finals. At the conclusion of each game, NBA Tonight analysts will highlight the competition and reveal the best photographs on-air. The best photos will also be featured in a photo gallery on ESPN.com/NBA.
“Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports,” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy. “It’s the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN’s premier content across screens and where the conversation is happening on Twitter.”
Added Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales, “Advertisers and marketers have been asking for meaningful opportunities that tap into the power of social media. We know fans use ESPN and Twitter as their main source for content and connectivity. By taking that scale and combining it with the passion of sports fans, this program answers the value equation of social media while providing a new way for fans to engage with ESPN.”
On Twitter, #GameFace will be supported through Twitter’s Promoted Products suite (including a Promoted Trend during the Finals), and the experience will be plugged on the @NBAonESPN Twitter handle.
The latest version of the ESPN Radio app for iPhone, iPad and iTouch provides both live and on demand content, and includes a new feature that allows fans to build their own sports stations. Versions for Android and Windows 7 smartphones are slated to launch later this summer.
“This latest version of the ESPN Radio App builds on our promise to deliver the best sports audio content across any device,” said Marc Horine, Vice President, ESPN Digital and Print Media. “With this update, fans now have complete control over their listening experience as the app provides the functionality to customize specifically by sports, teams and athletes they care most about.”
Beginning today (May 16), fans can download the premium version of the app at no cost for a limited time. After that, for a one-time fee of $4.99, fans can access the full experience of the app, complete with the new personalization features and enhancements. The premium app will continue to give millions of ESPN Radio listeners access to live radio streams from more than 35 ESPN Radio stations, fan favorite shows like “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, “Waddle & Silvy” (Chicago) and “The Michael Kay Show” (New York), plus select play-by-play broadcasts, live scores and text messaging.
ESPN Radio launched its first app in September 2009 and has since been one of the top paid sports apps in the marketplace. Additionally, it was named Best Radio App by Radio Ink Magazine at the Digital Convergence Awards in May 2011. The ESPN Radio App is available from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.
Newspaper websites have been weak on the rich media content that attract visitors. But a select few are venturing into over-the-top broadcasting, producing video on par with their TV competitors, reports Diana Marszalek of TVNewsCheck. The websites for the Denver Post, Boston Globe, the Twin Cities’ StarTribune, SeattleTimes and Louisville’s Courier-Journal are all moving into in-house-produced video content. And they are attracting talented journalists, like DenverPost.com’s Anne Herbst, a national Edward R. Murrow award winner.
“The good news from my perspective is that content is king, not the medium any longer,” said Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Chairman Kevin Benz in an interview with TVNewsCheck. That enabled the StarTribune.com, a newspaper website, to win regional Emmy awards. A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was similarly up for a national Emmy.
And content drives traffic: StarTribune.com enjoyed a 297% increase in videos played from April 2011 to April 2012, though the paper did not detail how that translated into dollars. Presumably, it is a strong case-builder for display advertising.
Local papers will not have quite the budgets the manpower or budgets to become ersatz TV stations, but they can meet the trend halfway. Digital First Media last week announced that it would launch 12 new community newsroom projects, to build upon the success of the Newsroom Café launched by the Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn. The Café was an experiment that led to the Register Citizen being named the 2011 Innovator of the Year by the Associated Press Media Editors.
All of its Denver outlets, including The Daily Camera, dailycamera.com, BuffZone.com and BoCoPreps.com in Boulder, Colo., are planning a variety of community engagement approaches, including enabling local residents to upload video they shoot of sporting events, or of recording sessions for local bands in the “Camera Garage studio.”
That content will not have the quality of, for example, a story produced by Herbst for DenverPost.com; it will lean more toward the iReports on CNN.com. But in time, it should be a boon to newspapers that rely in display, search and targeted ads.
There is always that nagging doubt—just how accurate are those Nielsen ratings? The Council for Research Excellence (CRE), a think-tank of senior-level media and advertising professionals, intends to find out. CRE will conduct a three-market study of various audience-measurement methods. CRE’s objective is to improve diary-based TV-audience measurement and in turn improve ratings quality.
The three television markets to be included in the “SQ:L” (for “Sample Quality: Local”) Study are Dallas-Fort Worth, the fifth-largest TV market and a Nielsen local people-meter (LPM) market; Albuquerque-Santa Fe, the 45th-largest TV market and a standard Nielsen-meter market; and Paducah, Kentucky-Cape Girardeau, Missouri-Harrisburg, Illinois -- Nielsen market # 81 and a diary market.
The markets were selected due to varying measurement methodology; varying market size; and divergent characteristics, such as geographical coverage, ethnic make-up, number of over-the-air households and penetration levels of electronic devices. During the standard May 2012 diary measurement, a separate diary sample was selected for Dallas, while identified “non-TV homes” in all three markets will receive a modified diary.
Sampled homes in all markets will be mailed a short questionnaire seeking answers on media equipment ownership and general viewing patterns. Homes identified as not having a television set will be contacted and asked if they have any source of viewing television programming; those saying “yes” will be sent a modified diary in which they will be asked to record what they view and the device used for viewing.
The study, involving the CRE’s Sample Quality, Set-top Box, Local Measurement and Media-related Universe Estimates Committees, marks the CRE’s second study of audience measurement in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Data analysis from a 2009 Universe Estimates Committee study of the market revealed significant differences from the Nielsen sample in ownership of HD sets and DVD players, and an unexpectedly high percentage of non-TV households. That same year, Nielsen garnered considerable bad press when local affiliate stations dropped the services. As Broadcasting & Cable reported, New York-based WKBW Buffalo dropped Nielsen in favor of Media Audit. Sunbeam Television in Miami leveled a lawsuit, claiming Nielsen's Local People Meters "produced defective, wildly inaccurate ratings data which-literally overnight-created havoc in [Miami]." Nielsen responded that it was not unusual for stations to cycle in and out of its services.
“Some of our prior research has helped us realize we have many more questions that need to be answered in order to improve diary sampling,” said Ceril Shagrin, executive vice president of Univision Communications, who serves as chair of the CRE as well as its Sample Quality Committee. “We need to learn whether expanded media-related equipment ownership can be obtained from diary samples, whether return-path data can improve diary measurement, and how much ‘TV program’ viewing is now done – and on what devices -- in what are currently defined as ‘non-TV homes.’
“By making comparisons of diary-based measurement to meter-based measurement and set-top-box information – and conducting specific follow-up studies with non-responding as well as non-TV homes – this effort should provide new insights into responders and non-responders of the address-based sampling diary service,” Shagrin added.
This newest study also marks the second major effort for the CRE’s Sample Quality Committee, formerly known as the Non-Response Bias Committee. Its 2009 study, “Measuring the Unmeasured Viewer,” was the most comprehensive of its kind to determine the impact of non-response on ratings -- revealing more about unmeasured viewers than any prior effort.
Data collected from the new study, conducted with the assistance of Research Triangle Incorporated, will be compared with Nielsen LPM, metered and diary market data in an effort to determine, among other details, the impact on response bias of weighting, adjusting return path or set-meter data, geographic and demographic variables, and ownership of a traditional TV set as well as a land-line phone or cellphone only. Findings from the study are expected to be made available by first quarter 2013.
To date, the CRE has completed several major studies, including the Video Consumer Mapping Study, conducted in 2008, involving in-person, computer-assisted observation of media consumption; a Set-Top Box Study, examining the state of set-top box-based audience research; the landmark Non-Response Bias Study, exploring the impact and correlates of non-response to Nielsen surveys; a study of Media-related Universe Estimates; an initial phase of a Study of User Experience on multiple video screens and formats; and a study of Digital publishers’ handling of user data.
Three years ago, the Christian Science Monitor “began a jump-in-the-deep-end version of digital transformation,” describes the Poynter Organization. The daily newspaper went to a weekly print edition, maintaining daily news online. If that sounds like a surrender, guess again: The Monitor garners about 42 million page views a month and 8 to 10 million unique visitors, which is five times what it was before the transformation. Plus, ad revenue and content sales have grown more than 50% for the fiscal year closing April 30, “The best we’ve done financially since 1963,” writes editor John Yemma.
What the Monitor did which, for example, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have not, is to largely surrender its print edition—a gamble, but a strategy that has worked arguably as well as the NYT and WSJ strategies. And it placed more of an emphasis upon online advertising.
The challenge for the Monitor is somewhat like that of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: It is funded largely by endowments (The First Church of Christ, Scientist for the Monitor, government and corporate endowments for CPB). But endowments expand and contract, and have not held the Monitor above water any more than they hold up public broadcasting, else there would be no semiannual “pledge drives” on public television. “You might see the systematic decrease of our longstanding subsidy as similar to the erosion of print ad revenue at a locally based newspaper,” wrote Yemma.
And like newspapers, the Monitor is going digital, treading water until the digital strategy pays off. The Monitor has an operating budget of $18.6 million, and is down $4.5 million for this fiscal year, and budgeted for $3.3 million next: but it counts on the digital transformation to turn it around by 2017. (“Trading print dollars for digital dimes,” as Digiday describes the dilemma.) And those dimes are coming from high-end brands like Infiniti and Nokia.
Quit Crying Over Print
Digiday summed up the challenge by digital to print media: “$40 billion evaporated with little likelihood of return [but] rather than waste more time pointing fingers, publishers need to get on with figuring out what’s next.” For years, the news industry depended upon classified ads which Google, Facebook and Craigslist now own. “This market dynamic continues to move so quickly that its last owner, Yahoo, has already faltered into a lesser tier.”
The solution for publishers is, simply, to carve a niche and own the distribution. “A marketplace where buyers have multiple channels to reach the same audience only leads to a race to the bottom.”
The Monitor is somewhat like the Huffington Post—it is the demographic that differs. Both have a distinct audience, Scientologists (among others) for the Monitor, a younger-and-progressive skewing demo for HuffPo. Both endeavor to provide high-end first-hand content: Both have global and U.S. correspondents monitoring world events, the campaign trail, the Supreme Court, tech, science, and the environment. And the Monitor wins the occasional scoop: CSM on April 9 covered the reversal of immigration from Mexico, hitting the presses a week before a Pew report confirmed the trend. But HuffPo was a digital-only product that never had to throw off the shackles of a print edition and make the transition to digital.
Both Monitor and HuffPo skew to an educated late 30s-early 40s wage-earning demographic—a sweet-spot for digital reading. That’s what works for them: They meet the readers.
Similarly, Penton Media’s Technology Media Group in February announced that, in response to audience and marketer demand, it would transform all of its brands to all-digital beginning this month. “We conducted research amongst our audience and advertisers and found that they were really looking for an enhanced digital experience and were becoming less reliant on print magazines,” said Peg Miller, Penton technology market leader. Miller noted that the Penton audience is largely one of IT professionals and developers working in a digital environment. Penton had double-digit gains in digital edition subscriptions FY 2011-2012, and “We’re finding that our audience prefers to learn about technology through multiple channels – whether it be printed words, videos, audio, screencasts and in-person events.” Penton Technology Media Group brands include Windows IT Pro, SQL Server Pro, DevPro, System iNetwork and The VAR Guy, among other titles.
Penton is hardly stepping raiding Monitor or HuffPo’s readerships: but the lesson is the same. Successful publishers meet the readers where they are and with a unique value proposition. And that in turn means value for advertisers.
The 40-year-old National Advertising Review Council (NARC), founded in 1971, is now the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC). The rebranded organization has not missed a day of work, but its new identity is live at www.asrcreviews.org.
But “Do you now what NARC is and what it does?” asked Ad Age. “Don’t feel bad if the answer is no.” Ad Age described a “perennial lack of awareness” in Washington and on Madison Avenue, and the organization felt that the moniker Advertising Self-Regulatory Council would be far more clear.
Too bad: NARC was a pretty bold acronym to begin with (it is of course the shortened version of “narcotics officer”). But it was not one the NARC board necessarily liked. Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and an ASRC board member told Ad Age "It has the connotation of people undercover, spying on drug dealers—and that's not at all what we do.”
Still, “This strong, bold brand recognizes the industry's commitment to self-regulation and the comprehensive scope of self-regulatory activities – the growing number of programs and services, the broad reach of decisions and the expanded industry representation on the ASRC Board of Directors," said Eric Mower, Chairman of the ASRC Board of Directors and Chairman and CEO of Eric Mower and Associates.
The new brand was developed pro bono by Leo Burnett USA, and comes as the self-regulatory system marks a 40-year partnership between the advertising industry and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) to provide objective third-party oversight of advertising practices.
Still - What Does ASRC do?
"The notion that advertisers could or would self-regulate was greeted with some skepticism in 1971. Since that time, however, the industry has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the establishment and enforcement of strong, meaningful standards," said C. Lee Peeler, President and CEO of ASRC.
ASRC sets the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation programs. In 2009, the Board of Directors expanded beyond its founding partners – 4As, American Advertising Federation (AAF), Association of National Advertisers, (ANA), and CBBB – to include the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The CBBB serves as the third-party administrator of a self-regulatory system that now includes:
- National Advertising Division (NAD), 1971
- National Advertising Review Board (NARB), 1971
- The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), 1974
- The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), 2004
- The NAD/CRN Initiative, 2006
- The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, 2010
These programs examine the truth and accuracy of advertising claims, the appropriateness of children's advertising practices and, in the case of the Accountability Program, promote compliance with the advertising industry's self-regulatory standards.
Both the ERSP program and the NAD/CRN Initiative began at the request of a specific industry segment for ASRC-led oversight. ERSP was launched in partnership with the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and examines core advertising claims communicated through direct-response advertising. The NAD/CRN Initiative began at the request of the Council for Responsible Nutrition and examines the truth and accuracy of advertising claims made for dietary supplements.
The Accountability Program – the most recent self-regulatory program – was developed at the urging of a cross-industry coalition of trade associations. The Accountability Program reviews compliance with the industry-accepted principles for online behavioral advertising (OBA), focuses on transparency and consumer-control issues and monitors companies that may be engaged in OBA.
"Industry support is as critical now as it was in 1971," said Mr. Mower. "Our industry has always faced challenges – new technologies, societal and cultural sensitivities, legislative and regulatory scrutiny. And as we meet each challenge, we must demonstrate to consumers that we are focused on their concerns. The best demonstration is effective self-regulation."