Proving that The Los Angeles Times has a sense of humor, LAT and Nerdist Industries have announced creation of “Hero Complex: The Show” an original entertainment news program for the new Nerdist Channel on YouTube.
Nerdist Channel debuted on Monday (April 2, 2012), and is the latest venture of Nerdist Industries, a multi-platform creator of genre and popular culture content. Nerdist “Has emerged as one of the most respected tastemakers in genre entertainment,” said Times Director of Entertainment Advertiser Marketing and Hero Complex General Manager Jeff Dellinger. “’Hero Complex,’” an LAT blog, “is one of the leading sources of all things geek, and creating a show for their new channel presents exciting opportunities to extend our brand with the audience that matters most.”
If a YouTube channel seems—well—well, unfitting for the LAT, a quick check of the Nerdist channel reveals targeted local ads (e.g. for a Jeep dealer within 10 miles), plus banner and video ads for the upcoming film release “Battleship” and the small business website provider Getyour.net.
Set to debut the week of April 9, “Hero Complex: The Show” fittingly brings The Times pop culture writer Geoff Boucher together with a who’s-who of fanboy superstar talent on the channel, including the Nerdist himself Chris Hardwick, Neil Patrick Harris, the Kids in the Hall, Harry Knowles, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Rob Zombie.
"No one gets the kind of nerd culture coverage that Geoff Boucher is able to get, nor at his level of quality, which one could only describe as amazetastic," said Hardwick. “Were I smaller, I would stow away in his pocket so that I could be present for his one-on-one interviews with the actors, directors and writers that I idolize. Since I'm not, I've somehow tricked him into doing the next best thing: capturing it on video. I am incredibly lucky that Geoff has decided to port the genius of Hero Complex over to Nerdist Channel." (Among Hardwick’s offering: a countrified song about mucus membranes called “Holes.” “Tubes connect your holes to your holes to your body/Makin’ sure of what comes out and where.”)
The first of 15 planned episodes of “Hero Complex” will feature a one-on-one interview with legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott, who created much of the visual language of contemporary science fiction with "Blade Runner" and "Alien" and this summer returns to the genre with "Prometheus." The director of "Gladiator," "Thelma & Louise" and "Black Hawk Down" will discuss his past, present and future in cinema, from his painting studies with David Hockney to his intriguing thoughts on another "Blade Runner." The second and third episodes will feature "Star Trek" icon Leonard Nimoy and Eisner Award-winning comic book writer and cartoonist Ed Brubaker ("Captain America," "Criminal") respectively. Available on both Nerdist Channel and Hero Complex, each show will offer Boucher’s unique perspective and voice on a broad range of topics, from the newest nerd crazes to films with massive cult followings to the most appropriate way to swing a cape while wielding a pen.
“Living in Los Angeles and watching the explosive growth of Hero Complex and appreciating what it has come to mean to genre fans, fanboys and fangirls everywhere, it gives us tremendous pleasure to announce this joint effort with Geoff Boucher, Hero Complex and the Los Angeles Times. A common thread throughout our Nerdist Channel lineup is the authenticity of the people and properties we are collaborating with; Geoff and Hero Complex set the standard in that arena,” said Peter Levin, Chief Executive Officer of Nerdist Industries.
Hero Complex debuted in 2008 as the first major mainstream news site dedicated to the increasingly influential realm of science fiction, fantasy and superheroes. It has rapidly become one of latimes.com’s most popular offerings and won numerous awards. Hero Complex stories are now regularly published in The Times print edition and its ongoing expansion includes the Hero Complex Film Festival and screenings of fan favorites and upcoming releases with artist Q&A’s throughout the year. It also anchors a dedicated area for comics and graphic novels at the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (April 21-22), which continues to grow in scope and distributes special glossy magazines at San Diego & New York Comic-Cons and WonderCon.
More evidence of confidence in digital—but not in digital advertising. As eMarketer reports, a February report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) that surveyed digital advertisers worldwide found they are investing a greater portion of their total marketing budgets online in 2012. Fully one third expects to invest 60% or more of their ad budgets digitally.
But while paid digital and traditional media are still important investments, 25% of respondents planned to significantly increase their digital owned and earned media spend, compared to just 8% who planned to do the same for paid digital media and 4% for traditional media.
One factor in the shift is the explosion of social media and its significance in the marketing mix for both traditional and digital media. “For a lot of advertisers, social is actually the bridge of their understanding between the traditional world and the digital space,” Michael McVeigh, senior vice president of strategic services at Zeta Interactive, told eMarketer. “Social is where brands start to see how many people they have reached throughout their network, much like those big, overarching air powers of TV and radio.”
The social media significance goes beyond shifting budgets, and is affecting organizational structures. Almost 73% of client-side marketers surveyed are transforming the structure of their marketing departments. Of those, 45.8% have created cross-departmental groups to leverage social media monitoring and other socially obtained insights throughout the company. In addition, roughly a third is specifically integrating “social listening” with its traditional research departments.
Incorporating earned and owned media (like social media) into the marketing mix can also reduce overall advertising costs. A February 2012 study from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 84% of US advertisers said they currently face challenges in identifying cost savings and reductions for their 2012 marketing efforts. This number was up from 77% last year.
ANA found as well that B2B and B2C organizations have trimmed costs through savings on travel and departmental expenses as well as agency costs, and apparently view advertising as a similar expense. Fifty three percent of B2B marketers planned to reduce campaign ad budgets, and 44% of B2C marketers plan to do the same. That’s less than their B2B counterparts, but a greater number of B2C marketers (45%) looked to alter the marketing channel mix to reduce costs.
B2B marketers reported being less likely to reallocate their marketing mix: just 31% planned to do so in order to reduce marketing expenses.
comScore has released an analysis of mobile and Wi-Fi Internet usage on smartphones in the United States and United Kingdom. Based on census-level behavioral data from comScore Device Essentials, the report studied the share of unique smartphones connecting to operator and Wi-Fi networks to provide insight into Internet connection patterns across markets. Among its findings, the analysis shows a significantly higher percentage of iPhones than Android phones connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi networks.
“With the rise in adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, network operators have seen a surge in mobile web activity and face new challenges in keeping up with data demands while maintaining their quality of service,” said Serge Matta, comScore President of Operator and Mobile Solutions. “As bandwidth usage increases and the spectrum becomes more scarce, operators, OEMs, and others in the mobile ecosystem should understand the different dynamics between the use of mobile and Wi-Fi networks to develop strategies to optimize resources and provide their customers with continued high-quality network service.”
iPhone Users Significantly More Likely to Use Wi-Fi than Android Users
A U.S. analysis of Wi-Fi and mobile Internet usage across unique smartphones on the iOS and Android platforms reveals that 71% of all unique iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Internet, while only 32% of unique Android mobile phones used both types of connections. A further analysis of this pattern of behavior in the U.K. shows consistent results, as 87% of unique iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks for web access compared to a lower 57% of Android phones.
U.K. Smartphones Show Higher Incidence of Wi-Fi Use Compared to U.S.
The comScore analysis also revealed that 69% of total unique smartphones in the U.K. browsed the Internet via both mobile and Wi-Fi network connections, compared to just 38% of U.S unique smartphones. U.S. smartphones on the AT&T network were more likely to use Wi-Fi than those on other major operator networks, likely due to AT&T having both a greater iPhone market share and the largest Wi-Fi hotspot network in America. In the U.K., smartphones on the Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange networks were more likely to use Wi-Fi than were others on other U.K. operators.
“The difference in mobile and Wi-Fi network usage across the U.S. and U.K. suggests that there are a few factors at play affecting Wi-Fi utilization rates,” said Matta. “In the U.K., the scarcity of unlimited data plans and higher incidence of smartphone pre-paid contracts with a pay-as-you-go data model likely contributes to data offloading among users wanting to economize their mobile usage. In addition, the current lack of high-speed data networks in the U.K. might also lead users to seek out higher bandwidth capacity on Wi-Fi networks. In the U.S., the increased availability of LTE, 4G and other high-speed data networks currently make it less necessary for smartphone users to offload, but it’s also possible that the diminishing availability of unlimited cellular data plans will eventually push more usage to Wi-Fi.”
Advertising research firm BIA/Kelsey projects that U.S. companies will spend $136.2 billion on local advertising, between traditional, online and mobile ads, in 2012, reports eMarketer. That number will climb toward $151.3 billion by the end of 2016.
As we reported yesterday, BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik told Media Life that digital with its lower cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs) makes sense for smaller businesses, as well as with its more targeted reach: a print ad in a local paper, or broadcast ad on a local news station, cannot target the 12-mile radius that a plumber may wish to reach, but targeted digital ads can.
Traditional spends will grow but in the low single digits, versus in the teens for digital. Still, with its lower percentage of overall spend, the overall spends will grow annually between 1 and 4%.
Though total U.S. local ad spending should grow slowly over the next four years, digital ad spending will grow by double digits, driven largely by social, mobile and video advertising. By 2016, the firm projects that local digital ad spending will tip the scales at $38.5 billion, more than 25% of total local ad spending, up from 16% in 2012.
“From 2010 to 2011, we saw a 2.4% decline in local ad spending,” said BIA/Kelsey CEO Tom Buono at the ILM-East conference in Boston on March 26. “We were projecting a decline originally, but it’s a lot more severe than we expected because of the economy. Therefore, in our projections moving forward, we’re less bullish than we were.”
Local TV stations are integrating with advertisers, and extending their coverage and conversations with viewers, through social media, reports Ad Age. The magazine was reporting from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) Transformation Conference in LA, and on a panel called “Socializing Local TV.”
As an example, President Valari Staab of NBC Owned Television Stations described how Facebook helped a local NBC affiliate dominate coverage of Hurricane Irene in its market. Viewers engaged about the hurricane on the affiliate’s Facebook page, which provided enough content and interest that the station’s news broadcast went on-air live at 3 P.M. versus 6 P.M. “We slaughtered our competition on the coverage,” as Staab described.
Local advertisers can benefit from a station’s social extensions, remarked panelist Dunia Shive (president-CEO of Belo Corp., a Dallas-based owner of 20 broadcast stations and two cable stations). Still, Shive believes the connection between advertising and breaking news is tenuous. Belo plans to introduce a mobile streaming product later this year in 32 U.S. markets. " We'll have to see how consumers react to that launch and how content is used, and then build digital-ad opportunities,” said Shive.
Local advertisers will likely latch on, for the lower cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions alone. Local ad spending fell 2.4% in 2012, according to analyst group BIA/Kelsey. The group expects local advertising to bounce back this year, and continue through 2016 with a compound annual growth of 2.6%. BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik told Media Life that “Online/interactive/digital probably wasn't hit as much [in 2011] because it's new and exciting and it tends to be lower-priced CPMs…There's sort of a movement from higher-priced media to lower-priced media.”
The good news, according to Fratrik, is that smaller and medium-sized local businesses can now afford digital and interactive ad vehicles. He raised the example of a plumber in the suburbs who can taret paid search in a 12-mile radius, which newspapers find difficult to do and local TV finds impossible.
Forbes Media announced the relaunch of its lifestyle title ForbesLife last November, and has just released its April issue. While for 22 years it was polybagged to 800,000 of Forbes' 900,000 subscribers, it will now be offered on newsstand, and available in replica form for Nooks, Kindles and iPads, providing cross-platform access to what Forbes calles “the best in luxury journalism.”
It will have to be, to stand out. As Women's Wear Daily observes, "It’s only March and four luxury titles have revealed they will launch (or relaunch) to tell the tales of billionaire bachelors, fine Parisian restaurants and the latest antiaging skin procedures." February saw the launch of Bloomberg Pursuits, aimed at its Bloomberg Terminal clientele with their median household income of $452,000, 90% male. Jason Binn, founder of Niche Mediam, will publish Du Jour magazine in September, targeting readers with a net worth of more than $5 million and an average home value of $1.5 million. And Time has resurrected its Time Style & Design after a three-year hiatus. Advertisers include Harry Winston and Bulgari, and the magazine is delivered to 500,000 affluent subscribers.
ForbesLife and Time Style & Design of course share strong journalistic parentage. Forbes has easy access to the world's luminaries, which is the value proposition of ForbesLife. “With personality-driven covers, the new ForbesLife offers personal connections to the world’s tastemakers, with a focus on putting power in the hands of the consumer,” said the company in a release. “The magazine was re-imagined for the social world we live in." The April issue boasts a new modern look, photo-driven editorial content, first-person storytelling, and “unprecedented access to the most important people in the world...focused on giving candid glimpses into the biggest names in business, showing how the rich and ambitious really live."
“In integrating ForbesLife with its parent and introducing a dazzling design courtesy of the great Robert Preist and his associate, Grace Lee, we are amplifying our nearly 22-year-old founding mission of celebrating the rewards of success with flair and style,” said Robert Forbes, President of ForbesLife. ForbesLife readers represent elite influencers, spending more on travel, apparel and accessories, fine watches and jewelry, consumer electronics, home furnishings, and luxury vehicles than readers of any other business publication.
In the newest issue, Warren Buffett writes about his decision to invest on his own at age twenty five, a choice that ended up netting him over $50 billion dollars. The cover story takes readers inside the home of bachelor billionaire Elon Musk, South African tech-genius responsible for PayPal, Tesla, Space X, and supposedly was the inspiration behind Iron Man. (A dubious claim: the first “Iron Man” comic was released in 1963, Musk born in 1971, but perhaps ForbesLife is talking about the films.) John Paul DeJoria, cofounder of Patrón and Paul Mitchell hair products, takes ForbesLife for a ride on luxurious private train car, The Patrón Tequila Express. Jay Leno gives a tour of his $20 million garage, equipped with the most sought-after vehicles in the world. Also showcased in the issue are the lives of philanthropist Susan Dell and car magnate Charles Royce; a wine tour of Paris by world renowned wine writer Robert Parker Jr.; and a satire by P.J. O’Rourke.
Additional highlights of the new ForbesLife include sections on the best in travel, auctions, charities, high-end sporting events and luxury goods as well as party pictures from exclusive Forbes branded events.
Is now the time to launch a luxury title? Absolutely, observes WWD, which observes that year-to-date, luxury title W is up 63 ad pages (20%), and Departures kicked off 2012 with a 22% rise in revenue and 10% hike in paging during Q1.
Like rival social media giant Facebook, Twitter is improving its ad platform, says eConsultancy, including rolling out its Promoted Tweets to mobile. Twitter made that announcement last Wednesday.
With the mobile option, says Twitter, “Brands can target their campaigns specifically to desktop computers and laptops, iOS, Android, and other mobile devices. Or, the default setting simply targets campaigns to users across all devices.”
The advantage? Mobile device targeting reaches particular types of mobile users, for example, mobile game and app sellers can now pinpoint users who are likely to purchase their products.
“Given that 55% of the more than 100 million users who log in to Twitter every month do so at least once via mobile, this expanded roll out of Promoted Tweets in mobile is a great opportunity for brands to connect with more users, more of the time,” says Twitter on its blog.
eConsultancy provided this explanatory infographic, from social ad platform Alchemy Social.
Advertisers are still learning the social ad game, but as eMarketer reports, they are gaining confidence in buying display ads on social networks.
An Advertiser Perceptions survey revealed that fully 59% U.S.marketers and agencies plan to increase social media display ad spends (e.g., on Facebook, Twitter) over the next 12 months. In comparison, less than a third (31%) plan to raise display ad spending on ad networks and exchanges, while just 29% expected to do so on publisher sites.
Also true, the number of U.S. marketers and agencies that foresee spending more on social media advertising was more than double that for demand-side platforms (DSPs). As eMarketer describes, the complexity of purchasing inventory through DSPs and the inability to ensure brand-safe content placements are two contributing factors behind the could projected 14% of respondents that plan to decrease DSP budgets.
eMarketer estimates that U.S. online display ad spending will grow 24.1% in 2012 to $15.4 billion. This estimate includes banners, rich media, sponsorships and video purchased across publisher sites, networks, exchanges, DSPs, social networks and mobile.
Investment in paid advertising across social network sites, games and applications is expected to climb 43% this year, with mobile display ad spending jumping 80%. Still, overall spend in social and mobile display ads will be relatively low versus general display ad spending, so social and mobile have ample room for growth.
So, says David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer, “Social display advertising’s relative underutilization compared to the rest of the web is encouraging marketers to ramp up their spending. Advertiser Perceptions found that marketers are eager to make social display ad spending a larger slice of the display ad pie. The company estimates that over the next 12 months, display ad spending on social networks will merit a greater share (27%) of total display ad budgets than traditional channels like publisher sites (26%), ad networks and exchanges (20%).
Where do consumers get their news (and see the ads)? New research suggests that advertisers are better off advertising in a tablet edition of a newspaper, than in the newspaper itself. Also that those advertisers are guaranteed exposures on television, but perhaps wasting their ad spends on Facebook.
Just-released findings by the Pew Research Center suggest that mobile technology fueling news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism. But, technology companies are strengthening their grip on who profits, according to the 2012 State of the News Media report by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
More than a quarter of Americans (27%) now get news on mobile devices, and for the vast majority, this is increasing news consumption, the report finds. More than 80% of smartphone and tablet news consumers still get news on laptop or desktop computers. On mobile devices, news consumers also are more likely to go directly to a news site or use an app, rather than to rely on search — strengthening the bond with traditional news brands.
While technology may be adding to the appeal of traditional news, technology intermediaries are capturing even more of the digital revenue pie. In 2011, five technology giants generated 68% of all digital ad revenue, according to the market research firm eMarketer — and that does not include Amazon and Apple, which make their money from devices and downloads. By 2015, roughly one out of every five display ad dollars is expected to go to Facebook, according to the same source.
“Our analysis suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives,” PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said. “But it remains unclear who will benefit economically from this growing appetite for news.”
Social media platforms, meanwhile, grew substantially over the last year, but still play a limited role in daily news consumption. Only about a third as many news consumers follow stories via Facebook as do so by going directly to news websites or apps or by using search, according to new PEJ survey data released here. For Twitter, the proportion drops to less than a sixth as many.
“News organizations have a big opportunity in the social and mobile realms,” PEJ Deputy Director Amy Mitchell said. “But they will need to do a better job than they did in the desktop realm of understanding audience behavior and developing effective technology and revenue models.”
These are some of the conclusions in the ninth edition of PEJ’s annual State of the News Mediareport. The report is a comprehensive analysis of the major trends in news over the last year and includes detailed chapters on eight major media sectors — digital, newspapers, cable news, network TV, local TV news, audio, magazines and ethnic media. This year’s study also includes two new national surveys examining how news is consumed on different devices and the impact of social media on news, a special report on the state of community media and an examination of Native American media.
Among the study’s findings:
- Americans are far more likely to get digital news by going directly to a news organization’s website or app than by following social media links. Just 9% of U.S. adults say they follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter “very often” on any digital device — compared with 36% who say the same about directly going to a news organization’s site or app; 32% who access news through search; and 29% who use news organizing sites like Topix or Flipboard.
- Even so, social media are an increasingly important driver of news, according to traffic data. According to PEJ’s analysis of traffic data from Hitwise, 9% of traffic to news sites now comes from Facebook, Twitter and smaller social media sites. That is up by more than half since 2009. The percentage coming from search engines, meanwhile, has dropped to 21% of news site traffic, from 23% in 2009.
- Facebook users follow news links shared by family and friends; Twitter users follow links from a range of sources. Fully 70% of Facebook news consumers get most of their story links from friends and family. Just 13% say most links that they follow come from news organizations. On Twitter, however, the mix is more even: 36% say most of the links they follow come from friends and family, 27% say most come from news organizations, and 18% mostly follow links from non-news entities such as think tanks. And most feel that the news they get on either network is news they would have seen elsewhere without that platform.
- Most media sectors saw audience growth in 2011 — with the exception of print publications. News websites saw the greatest audience growth (17%) for the year. In addition, thanks in part to the drama of events overseas, every sector of television news gained in 2011. Network news audiences grew 5%, the first uptick in a decade. Local news audiences grew in both morning and late evening, the first growth in five years. Cable news audiences also grew, by 1%, after falling the year before; in particular, MSNBC and CNN audiences grew in 2011, while Fox declined. Print newspapers, meanwhile, stood out for their continued decline, which nearly matched the previous year’s 5% drop. Magazines were flat.
- Despite audience gains, only the web and cable news enjoyed ad revenue growth in 2011. Online advertising increased 23%, and cable ads grew 9%. Most media sectors, however, saw ad revenues decline — network TV was down 3.7%; magazines ad pages, 5.6%; local news, 6.7%; and newspapers, 7.6%.
- As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model. In part, newspapers are making this move after witnessing the success of The New York Times, which now has roughly 390,000 online subscribers. The move is also driven by steep drops in ad revenue. Newspaper industry revenue — circulation and advertising combined — has shrunk 43% since 2000. In 2011, newspapers overall lost roughly $10 in print ad revenue for every new $1 gained online. (That suggests no improvement from what a separate PEJ study of 38 papers found regarding 2010, when the print losses to digital gains in the sample were a $7-to-$1 ratio.)
- The emerging landscape of community news sites is reaching a new level of maturity — and facing new challenges. As some seed grants begin to sunset, a shakeout in community news sites is beginning, along with a clearer model for success. NewWest.net and Chicago News Cooperative are among the prominent community news sites that ceased publishing in 2011 or early 2012. The model for success, epitomized by Texas Tribune and MinnPost, is to diversify funding sources and spend more resources on business—not just journalism.
How to reach the same viewer across multiple screens? Who better to ask than ESPN? eMarketer has published a Q&A with ESPN’s Ed Erhardt, president of the network’s global customer marketing and sales.
The company is one of the recognized masters of multiscreen viewership. Earlier this month the network claimed its most-watched men’s college basketball season, both on cable and online. Throughout the regular season, college basketball content across ESPN.com, the ESPN mobile Web and ScoreCenter delivered 1.6 billion total minutes and 283 million visits, up 16% and 5% respectively compared to the previous season. Also true, college basketball regular season games on its digital properties ESPN3 and WatchESPN logged 455.9 million minutes across computers, smartphones and tablets.
Some of the advantages that ESPN delivers advertisers, says Erhardt:
- Brand, and a consistent one across both cable and digital properties. “Brand as navigator and brand as curator matters,” and viewers trust ESPN to curate content.
- A live experience, by which he means real-time. “When you turn on your phone to see what a score is, that’s a live experience,” whether or not it is a live game. Sports fans are used to living “in the moment,” thus expect real-time information.
- Hands-on advertiser management. The network works with advertisers closely to “help them understand how their advertising works within sports.” For example, ESPN steers advertisers toward contextual ads with a sports theme, which it finds have a higher brand recall and better ROI. ESPN also encourages variety. “If you’re going to play in the cross-media environment, you have to have a lot of different creative,” Erhardt told eMarketer. Viewers tend to ignore an ad they’ve seen more than once, so advertisers must provide numerous forms, for example, a 10-, 15- and 30-second version of the same ad, plus perhaps display ads.
ESPN of course has a wealth of resources. It is 80% owned by The Walt Disney Company, and 20% owned by Hearst Corporation; thus it has access to the Disney Media Ad Lab where it tests advertising on 1,000 consumers per week (for which it charges and receives hefty premiums).
Erhardt said the company will focus upon personalization over the next year, the highest and hardest-to-reach ideal of multiscreen viewership.