Time will tell, but Patch, AOL’s platform of local news, information and engagement sites, yesterday announced that May of 2012 was its most successful traffic and revenue period in the company’s history.
Patch served a record 11.7 million users in May (comScore data), representing a 14% increase over April (10.3 million users) and an 11% increase over its previous traffic record (10.6 million users in August 2011). But 11.7 million users does not seem much, in terms of monthly internet traffic, and Patch has been a troublesome child for AOL. While it added 33 cities to its portfolio in May of 2011, but was burning through $40 million a quarter in October. Still, it endures, and news of Patch’s May performance follows the recent announcement by AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong that Patch will generate between $40 million and $50 million in revenue this year - quite a turnaround.And Patch has outlasted the Gannett Company’s hyperlocal offering, “Metromix,” which shuttered in January. Patch attracts national advertisers like Verizon and Walgreen’s, alongside local restaurants, realtors and law firms.
Some facts about Patch:
- This 14% month-over-month growth outpaced the comScore Regional/Local category as a whole, which grew only 3% over the same time period.
- Patch had a 12% increase in engagement (visits per unique visitor) from April to May. Within the top ten regional-local properties, this represents the highest increase in engagement month over month, and ranks Patch as the second highest in engagement among those properties.
- With an average site age of just over 18 months, Patch is now the #5 regional/local property on the web, from #10 when it first entered the rankings in December 2010.
- Patch’s total revenue was 14% higher than its previous record (November of 2011). This represents a 17% bump in revenue over April of 2012. Patch has already booked for 2012 130% of its total 2011 revenue.
- Patch also recently announced the launch of Patch Partners, a program to offer exclusive benefits to its local advertisers and resources for business owners at large.
“We are extremely gratified to see these measures of the traction we have gained in our communities and in our business since our launch just over 3 years ago,” commented Jon Brod, CEO & Co-Founder of Patch. “We are laser-focused on continuing to serve our users and advertisers with high-quality content and impactful products, and building upon our success to date in innovative and engaging ways.”
Launched in 2009, Patch is managed by professional local journalists, photographers, and salespeople who live in the regions they serve. The hyperlocal platform is designed as an online destination for residents to get involved in their communities. Patch is now in over 850 communities in 23 states plus Washington, D.C.
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.
With no fanfare at all, The New York Times has joined ABC News, NBC, Fox and The Wall Street Journal on Hulu. As the Niemen Journalism Lab describes, NYT has signed a content licensing agreement with the streaming video site.
Right now, there is just one Times offering: “Punched Out: The Life and Death of an N.H.L. Enforcer,” which NYT produced alongside a three-part series about hockey player Derek Boogaard. In-stream advertisers included State Farm and Verizon. But NYT generates plenty of video content to supplement each of its print categories (e.g., "The Future of Zoos" in its Environment category). The video.nytimes.com content sits behind the NYT paywall, but Hulu readers will be able to see the content for free on computers, with a Hulu Plus subscription on mobile devices.
By contrast, The Wall Street Journal has 57 titles on Hulu, many of them "Top 5 In Tech," but also content like its 31-minute special report, "Europe at the Brink" (with Citizens Bank advertised instream and in a display ad).
Newspaper video content is not “journalism lite”: A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was up for a national Emmy. (NYT has yet to be so nominated.)
Nor is Hulu “broadcasting lite.” ComScore in February revealed that Hulu is ninth among online video content properties, behind Google sites, VEVO and Viacom Digital among others; but first in video ad impressions. In April, Hulu delivered 1.6 of the 9.5 billion video ads, followed by Google Sites with 1.3 billion, BrightRoll Video Network with 943 million, Adap.tv with 881 million and TubeMogul Video Ad Platform with 831 million. And Hulu in April announced that it would guarantee 100% completion of its in-stream ad placements. (It already delivers 96%.)
NYT’s Ann Derry, who heads NYT’s video property, told Niemen that the Hulu channel will be for longer-form documentary treatments like “Punched Out.” It is a repackaging of a three-part series that ran on nytimes.com last December.
NBC Politics today launched a new app for iPad and iPhone that brings users inside the 2012 election with a collection of videos, reports, and interactive tools, graphics and games from the best team in politics.
NBC promises a seamless advertising experience through Zumobi’s new rich media mobile ad platform. Through the Zumobi Brand Integration (ZBi) platform, NBC Politics offers brands an immersive advertising experience that is "organic and complimentary to the app design." The NBC Politics App is sponsored by Nissan and Liberty Mutual Insurance. The app is available for free from the App Store.
The NBC Politics App "delivers the power of NBC News’ political reporting right to your fingertips – anytime, anywhere," NBC said in a statement, and from trusted journalists like David Gregory, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and the network’s deep bench of correspondents and contributors. NBC News
NBC Politics is now available on-air on NBC News, online at NBCPolitics.com and on mobile with iPad and iPhone, offering users a multi-platform experience of the political landscape. “With all eyes on the 2012 election, the NBC Politics App delivers the best political content and reporting – wherever you are. This all-access, easy-to-navigate resource puts the full power of NBC News in your hands, from the top headlines and stories to innovative features that allow serious political junkies to dig even deeper,” said David Gregory, moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
“We’re excited about offering this interactive, up-to-the minute experience for the depth of our political coverage this election season,” said Jennifer Sizemore, msnbc.com general manager and editor-in-chief. “The expertise of the NBC Politics team is the essential ingredient for this app, which is another entry in our strategy to give our audience what it needs, wherever and whenever it needs it.”
The NBC Politics App features Include:
- Video: Agenda-setting interviews and reports from “Meet the Press with David Gregory,” “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and NBC News’ entire line-up of trusted news broadcasts and platforms
- Battleground Map: an interactive map that gives users the tools to test potential electoral vote outcomes. How do different state election outcomes add up to 270 electoral votes needed for victory? Users can test out different scenarios, play along with NBC News political experts and create personalized outcomes with the chance to see their map on-air or online.
- Tip Sheet: A round-up of the day’s most memorable, must-know moments and headlines
- Live Election Results: Real-time results as they unfold.
- Candidates: Details about each presidential candidate through in-depth profiles and headlines related to each candidate
- Share: A feature to share articles on Facebook and Twitter and to follow @NBCPolitics for the latest updates and exclusive reports
When Baltimore, Md. city councilman William "Pete" Welch's proposed to fight Baltimore's budget crunch and keep the city's fire companies open by offering ad space on fire engines, he heard almost immediately from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.). PETA fired off a letter to Welch, asking to ads on one or more of the city's fire trucks.
PETA wrote Welch on Saturday the 20th, and PETA spokesperson Shakira Croce told us there was no response from Welch yet. There was from Adweek’s David Kiefaber, who wrote yesterday that "I'll give PETA this much: They reached out to the right guy if they're interested in keeping Baltimore citizens firing.” Kiefaber grumped that Welch is best known for living off of his mother’s name (she held the council seat before him), and firing a gun into the ground in an argument over $40.
The Baltimore Business Journal reports that three of the city’s 55 fire companies, to close a budget gap. "Cities in the future aren't going to be able to have these budgets alone," Welch said. "They are going to have to form partnerships with business."
PETA’s Ashley Byrne, director of campaigns, wrote the letter, and she describes the ad this way:
“Our ‘Vegans Are Hot! Free Smokin'-Hot Recipes: PETA.org’ advertisement, featuring a sexy woman showing off her vegan physique, will drive Baltimore residents to PETA's heart-healthy vegan recipes that will keep them firing on all cylinders…Our ad will help your city keep all of its fire departments up and running while passing along a lifesaving message: By going vegan, Baltimore residents can save animals, protect their health, and help themselves become ‘hot stuff’!”
“Stupid idea,” wrote Kiefaber, who lives in Baltimore. But However quirky Welch is, or overbearing PETA can be in its messaging, sponsorship and outdoor advertising have saved high school gymnasiums and school buses. The idea is worth considering, and will spare Baltimore's firefighters from having to pose for another of those "Firefighter Hunks" calendars to stay in operation.
NBC Owned Stations will begin selling national advertising for four Comcast SportsNets cable channels, reports the Washington Business Journal. Those channels include Comcast’s New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Philadelphia networks.
Comcast Sports Group test drove the model in a trial run at New England Cable News (part of the Comcast Sports Group), and “It worked so well that we decided to expand this relationship to more markets,” Ray Warren, executive VP and chief revenue officer for Comcast Sports Group told Broadcasting & Cable.
Warren went on to describe that Comcast’s regional sports networks “have delivered a lot of value to advertisers because of the hard-to-reach male demos we attract.” Through combining selected regional sports networks with the NBC Owned Stations, Warren sees Comcast as “able to create a complete local package with compelling cross-demo appeal for advertisers that is unprecedented in its reach."
Comcast Sports Group and NBC Owned Stations (there are 10 stations in the group, nationwide) will roll out the model over the next four months, beginning in New England.
Ad Age is offering a “Peek at Which Shows Get the Most Love Around the Country,” on both broadcast and cable. Ad Age conducted research with Experian Simmons and
Patchwork to create two maps detailing top network and cable shows by county. The maps incorporate data gathered from 25,000 households in Q4 2011, and describe those counties with demographic-skewing labels such as "Evangelical Epicenters," "Emptying Nest," "Campus and Careers."
Young and more affluent urbanites are 34% more likely to watch “America’s Top Model”
- “Empty-nest” communities of baby boomers are 20% more likely to watch “Mike & Molly” (with its older and overweight stars) than other groups
- “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart is most popular around campuses
- Nearly the entire Mormon population of Utah enjoys "Chuck"
Ad Age partnered with Patchwork Nation to “layer a ton of data through what is a demographic-segmentation tool with geo-targeting built in.” The value proposition is that the segments are more granular, as ratings tend to drill down to more inclusive, contiguous regions. These shows, therefore, can represent a cost-conscious way to target certain demographics. Whatever the show, be it “Daily Show” or “Bobby Jones Gospel,” Ad Age believes that these pinpoint demographics offer a “cost conscious way” for advertisers to target their key demos.
"Both Nielsen and AOL are pushing toward a more TV-like ad model," describes Adweek, hoping to go head-to-head with TV ad buyers and cull some of those mammoth TV budgets.
AOL has announced it will offer advertisers guaranteed audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties. This is the first time that online gross rating points (GRPs) – based on audience demographics, rather than clicks or impressions – are being used as the basis for advertiser guarantees on the Web. AOL will leverage Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reach, frequency and GRP measurement to determine how well it delivered ads to the desired target audience. As the digital content NewFronts (a digital upfront) approach, AOL is the first major publisher to use a TV-based guarantee model for its online video inventory. Online video ads are one of the fastest-growing formats: eMarketer predicted a 52% increase in online video ad spend for 2011.
“As marketers and advertisers increasingly shift dollars from traditional television advertising to the Web, partnering with Nielsen puts AOL in a unique position to offer a more cost effective mechanism for reaching targeted audiences and a better or equal brand lift, reach and recall,” said Ran Harnevo, Senior Vice President, AOL Video. “AOL has a significant volume of high-quality content valued by advertisers and we are excited to take the lead on showing marketers the value and differentiated results we can guarantee.”
“With online video increasingly playing a role in traditional TV Upfront buying and selling, consistent cross-platform metrics are becoming more and more critical to proving the true value of advertising on a site, in terms that are familiar to brand marketers,” said Steve Hasker, President, Media Products and Advertiser Solutions, Nielsen. “This is the first time that online GRPs – based on audience demographics, rather than clicks or impressions – are being used as the basis for advertiser guarantees on the Web. We are pleased that AOL, the first major publisher to use an audience demo-based guarantee model for its online video inventory, turned to Nielsen’s highly accurate reach, frequency and online GRP measurement to drive increased confidence in their platform as a brand medium. We look forward to working with them to demonstrate their ability to effectively deliver on their clients’ goals.”
AOL will host clients at its Digital Content NewFront presentation on April 24 in New York, NY, and will premier significant video opportunities on sale to marketers and advertisers. AOL offers a rich online video platform with original programs including “Sessions,” “Heidi Klum on AOL,” “Moviefone’s Unscripted” and “The Engadget Show.”
Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings launched in August 2011 providing the first-ever Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited GRP for online advertising campaigns of any size with metrics similar to those used for TV advertising, enabling cross-media planning and analysis. Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings is part of the Nielsen Campaign Ratings suite, which provides a full range of premiere advertising audience measurement.
Kantar Media has released its final tallies for 2011 ad spending across media, and the results are a mixed bag. They suggest that advertisers value TV, are losing faith in consumer magazines and newspapers (no news there), and are on the fence about digital advertising.
Surprisingly hard hit were Sunday magazines (like Parade, The Boston Globe Magazine and the New York Times Magazine). Presumably this is because print newspaper subscriberships are down, and readers tend to cut out the expensive Sunday editions to save money, before they cancel daily subscriptions.
Big winners: Spanish-language media, and TV syndication.
Spanish-language TV was up 8.3% year-over-year, versus 2.4% for TV overall. Spanish-language magazines were up 24.9% YoY, defying a 0.4% decline for all magazines.Syndicated TV was up 15.4% over that 2.4% for TV overall (due in part to the astounding success of “The Big Bang Theory” which hit syndication in Q3).
The Year Overall
Total advertising expenditures increased an unimpressive 0.8% in 2011 and finished the year at $144.0 billion. Ad spending during the fourth quarter of 2011 dropped 1.0% versus the year ago period, the first quarterly decline since the end of 2009. Since reaching a post-recession peak in Q3 2010, advertising growth rates have slowed sequentially for five consecutive quarters.
“The contrast of resilient TV spending and waning budget allocations to other traditional media was plainly evident at the end of 2011,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at Kantar Media Intelligence North America. “Some mature digital media formats were also touched by the year-end tide of reduced spending. Whether this is an isolated occurrence or an early sign of digital dollars moving more quickly towards emerging and unmeasured digital platforms bears watching as 2012 unfolds.”
Measured Ad Spending By Media
Television continued to lead the ad market in the fourth quarter. Network TV expenditures jumped 7.7% year-over-year and were helped by strong pricing for football, a baseball World Series that went the maximum seven games and the launch of “The X Factor” singing competition program. The rate of Cable growth eased during Q4, finishing at +2.4% as higher demand from restaurants and retailers was offset by reductions from consumer packaged goods. For the full year, Network TV decreased by 2.0% while Cable rose 7.7%.
Spanish language TV ad spending surged 19.1% in fourth quarter, paced by higher sell-out levels at over-the-air networks. For all of 2011, the segment increased 8.3%.
Syndication TV benefitted from higher spending by department stores and health & beauty brands and saw expenditures soar 11.0% in Q4. Full year spending advanced by 15.4%.
Spot TV expenditures fell 8.7% in the fourth quarter but the more significant indicator was that November and December spending were each down, despite easy comparisons against diminished, post-election spending volume of a year ago. Full year Spot TV spending dropped 4.5%.
Free Standing Inserts achieved healthy gains in the fourth quarter with spend rising 3.0%. Although manufacturers have been distributing fewer FSI coupons, retailer promotion pages have increased significantly and this contributed to the improvement.
Ad expenditures for measured digital media declined in the fourth quarter. Paid Search budgets were 6.4% lower versus a year ago with continuing reductions from financial, insurance and local service advertisers. Display investments decreased 5.9% in Q4, dragged down by smaller budgets from auto manufacturers, telecom providers and travel companies. For the entire year, Paid Search declined 2.8% and Display increased 5.5%.
Magazine ad spending eroded at year end. Consumer Magazines declined 5.2% in the fourth quarter due to deep cutbacks in auto, food and pharmaceutical advertising. Total year expenditures were level compared to prior year. Outlays in Sunday Magazines fell 9.8% in Q4, the sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines, and were down 7.2% for all of 2011.
Local Newspaper ad expenditures fell 3.9% during the fourth quarter, hurt by the reallocation of retailer advertising budgets to other media channels during the key holiday shopping season. Full year spending was 3.8% lower. The losses in Newspaper spending are consistent with reductions in the amount of space sold.
The pace of spending in Radio media also sagged. Local Radio expenditures were down 3.8% and National Spot Radio plummeted 13.9% in the fourth quarter. The telecom, financial service and automotive categories were prime contributors to these quarterly decreases.
Measured Ad Spending By Advertiser
Spending among the ten largest advertisers in 2011 reached $16,061.6 million, a 2.8% decline compared to a year ago. Among the Top 100 marketers, a diversified group that represents over two-fifths of all measured ad expenditures, full year budgets were down 0.2%.
For the ninth consecutive year, Procter & Gamble was the top advertiser with spending of $2,949.1 million down 5.4% compared to last year. While TV is still the foundation of its advertising media buys, P&G’s 2011 budget allocation saw share gains for magazines at the expense of TV.
AT&T was the second largest advertiser in 2011 with expenditures of $1,924.6 million, a decline of 11.7%. Media budgets were severely curtailed during the fourth quarter when the company abandoned its attempted acquisition of T-Mobile, triggering large breakup fees and a huge earnings loss. At Verizon Communications, full year ad spending was $1,636.9 million, a decrease of 11.8%. After a string of quarterly budget cuts dating to early 2010, Verizon sharply boosted its spending during the last quarter.
The largest growth rate among the Top Ten marketers was posted by Chrysler, up 36.2% to $1,193.0 for the full year. The increase was driven by marketing introductions for several new or redesigned models, coupled with the improved sales climate for new vehicles. In contrast, General Motors lowered its 2011 outlays by 16.1% to $1,784.1 million. Q4 media budgets dropped 24.7%. As factory support has been trimmed, GM dealers have been bearing a larger share of the overall marketing effort.
L’Oreal investments in 2011 rose 18.1% to $1,343.5 million as the company expanded marketing support for the L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Garnier brand lines. Comcast (+11.3%, to $1,577.2 million) and Time Warner (+5.8%, to $1,279.4 million) also posted full year spending gains.
Measured Ad Spending By Category
Expenditures for the ten largest categories grew 3.3% in 2011 and reached $81,629.2 million.
Automotive was the leading category in dollar volume and finished 2011 at $13,890.4 million, up 6.3%. Category spending growth became increasingly bifurcated during the year with Tier 2 and Tier 3 dealer budgets continuing to expand and Tier 1 manufacturer expenditures flattening.
Miscellaneous Retail, which is comprised of all retail segments except Department Stores and Home Improvement purveyors, was the second largest category with 2011 expenditures of $10,019.5 million, up 4.0%. Robust ad spending during the critical year-end holiday season bolstered results.
Insurance registered the largest growth rate among the Top Ten categories with a 13.5% gain to $5,519.0 million. Aggressive competition among auto insurers to gain market share continues to drive media budgets higher.
Financial Services totaled $9,059.9 million of spending, a 3.6% increase. Growth has been fueled by the credit card segment, offsetting continued weakness in ad budgets for investment products and retail banking.
The Telecom category lost ground as 2011 expenditures fell 5.8% to $8,649.0 million. Declines were most pronounced among the leading wireless service advertisers. Aggregates expenditures from TV service providers also slowed.
Top Spending Advertisers Within Select Media
The top ten TV advertisers spent $10,115.4 million in the medium during 2011, down 0.8% from a year ago. This group accounted for 14.9% of total TV expenditures by all advertisers.
The ten largest Internet advertisers invested a total of $2,360.6 million in paid search and display campaigns, up 10.0% versus a year ago. Despite fragmentation on the web, the group accounted for 10.9% share of all Internet ad dollars.
The top ten advertisers in Hispanic Media spent $1,403.6 million during 2011, an increase of 29.2%. This group accounted for 24.7% of all Hispanic Media expenditures, the largest Top Ten share concentration of any medium.
With this summer’s Olympic games, “digital technologies will break their own records for viewing,” reports Adweek. “With the emergence of high-def video and mobile apps giving people more ways than ever to watch the games, the number of viewers in the U.S. is likely to top the 211 million” who watched the 2008 Beijing games online, said Adweek citing Nielsen data.
Interclick from Yahoo joined forces with KN Dimestore to survey Americans about how they plan to watch the games this summer, which events they are most looking forward to, and what they plan to do online related to the games.
Interclick and KN Dimestore found that half of respondents say they will use the Internet to watch live events. “The speed and clarity that broadband delivers across mobile devices, tablets and computers now rivals television. That’s helped video grow and improve at dizzying rates. The 2012 Olympics offer marketers unprecedented opportunities to execute brand strategies across the Games.”
While 50% will watch live online, 46% will watch highlights, and 36% will read follow-ups and recaps.
Gymnastics will garner the highest viewership, with 32% of women surveyed and 12% of men; followed by swimming and diving, with 22% of women and 10% of men; though track and field will take a stronger male viewership, at 20% of those surveyed.
And nearly 1/3 of both men and women will follow the events equally throughout the day, versus watching just primetime—presumably across multiple devices at home and at work.