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.
Ad research think tank Kantar Media has released some media-specific results for 2011 (for retailers, on out of home adverts), but has just released its all-media, all-verticals results.
Total advertising expenditures increased 0.8% in 2011 and finished the year at $144.0 billion in 2011. Ad spending during Q4 dipped 1.0% over Q4 2010, which was 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-and-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 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.
Out-of-home advertising revenue rose 4% in 2011 over 2010, to reach $6.4 billion, says the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). That increase was consistent for each quarter of the year with total growth up 3.0% in the fourth quarter.
This comes as a bit of a surprise. As Media Life observed, when media think tank Kantar Media releases its final tallies for 2011 in March, out-of-home “will probably be the fourth-fastest-growing category, behind Spanish-language media, cable TV and the internet.” Out-of-home or OOH advertising at 4% significantly outpaced the 1.5% growth pace of overall advertising through the first three quarters of the year. It is also well ahead of radio, the only other media to announce full-year results so far, and which was up 1% in 2011.
Out-of-home advertisements come in the categories of 1) billboards, which includes posters, 2) street furniture like bus benches and kiosks, 3) transit like bus exteriors, and 4) alternative, a catch-all category that encompasses skywriting, blimps, cartons and cups and dry cleaning bags, among others.
“Out-of-home performed well last year,” said OAAA President & CEO Nancy Fletcher. “More brands are recognizing the value out of home advertising can add to a strategic media plan.”
Several industry categories performed well all year, most notably the Schools, Camps & Seminars sector, which was up 22.4% for the year. Other notable growth categories were Media & Advertising; Financial; and Miscellaneous Services & Amusements, which is comprised mainly of local brands. The Communications category flattened in 2011 after a decrease in the fourth quarter.
Four of the top five advertisers increasing out-of-home media spend last year were financial brands; namely Chase, Prudential, JP Morgan, and Citi. Five of the top 20 advertisers increasing out of home spend were in the Media & Advertising category.
“Out-of-home advertising outpaced the overall ad business and other local media last year,” said Stephen Freitas, OAAA Chief Marketing Officer. “The industry has grown steadily for the past seven quarters, and that growth trend is expected to remain strong.”
OAAA issues full industry pro forma revenue estimates that include, but are not limited to, Miller Kaplan and Kantar Media (which is not adjusted to reflect changes in data sources), and member company affidavits. Revenue estimates include billboard, street furniture, transit, and alternative media, as well as digital platforms for advertising spend.
“We're looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We're looking for homes to turn into billboards,” goes the proposal from Los Angeles based marketing firm Brainiacs from Mars. “In exchange, we'll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted.”
Brainiacs prides itself on “Unconventional Marketing,” and as a Reuter’s story describes, plans to market itself on 1,000 homes across the U.S.
The Reuters story profiles a Los Angeles family who were one of 38,000 applicants (and counting) for 1,000 home/billboards. Brainiacs CEO Romeo Mendoza launched the scheme in April 2011, and has received applications from as far afield as Japan and Russia. Homeowners fill out a short application on the Brainiacs from Mars site, answering simply where the applicant heard of the offer, and “Why should we paint your house?”
The usual response is that the homeowner has money troubles, and Mendoza looks to accept the applicants who are “most deserving.’ The family profiled, named Hostetler, has an underwater mortgage and high credit card debt. Most U.S. applicants are from the hard-hit areas of California, Nevada and Florida. Applicants must agree to a one-month contract, which can be extended for up to a year, thus taking a one year holiday from mortgage payments. Forty four percent of homeowners are “underwater,” and in the Buena Park neighborhood covered in the Reuters story, one in 270 homes has been foreclosed upon.
The reaction from neighbors and the Buena Park city council run the gamut from amusement to fury. The city has no restrictions on colors, but according to a city councilman, does on advertising. Housing finance expert Charles Mclaughlin told Reuters the scheme is unlikely to take off; it will be perceived as graffiti, and will run into zoning challenges frequently.
For now, Brainiacs is achieving what it set out to do, which was gain publicity; the house/billboard scheme has been a homepage news story on CNN and MSNBC among other outlets, has been a feature story on Fox News, and the subject of a Jay Leno “Tonight Show” monologue. Mendoza claims $55 million in free advertising from the press.
Brainiacs has launched a similar campaign to in essence turn your chest into a billboard: applicants pay $25 for a Brainiacs t-shirt, then upload creative photos of themselves wearing the shirt to the Brainiacs Facebook page. "If we like what we see, we'll pay 3 months of your mortgage," goes the offer.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) has announced it will allow advertising on high school football fields, according to a Forbes story. NFHS released its 2012 rule changes for high school football, which dealt largely with preventing concussions. But buried deep within the press release was this language:
“The Football Rules Committee also cleared the way for state associations and their member schools to place corporate advertising and/or commercial markings on the field of play. These types of markings previously were only allowed in the end zones and outside the field. Rule 1-2-3l will state that while corporate advertising and/or commercial markings will be allowed, the markings may not obstruct the yard lines, hash marks or nine-yard marks.”
As Forbes sports blogger Bob Cook observes, school districts (and taxpayers) are increasingly targeting expensive extracurricular activities to trim strapped budgets. The Westerville City School district outside of Columbus, Ohio, eliminated all such programs as of January 24, to save itself $2.3 million dollars.
Perhaps advertising commercializes a sentimental sport (consider the craze for “Friday Night Lights” during its five-season run on NBC), but that complaint is common, and rarely stops the advertising. A few high-school stadiums have sold naming rights to their fields: in 2006, the Noblesville High School in Indiana changed the name of its stadium to Hare Chevrolet Field; the $125,000 the car dealer paid helped offset a $575,000 investment in artificial turf. Right now, members of the Glenbrook [Illinois] North and South high schools are considering advertising to fund artificial turf as well. Glenbrook High School will open bidding on advertising on February 15th, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Advertisers can expect some pushback, but not enough to scare them off. The public advocacy group “Commercial Alert” posted both the NHFS and Glenbrook stories on its website. Commercial Alert's mission is to “keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere,” and prevent advertisers rom “exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.” It has done so since 1989, and has taken its anti-commercialization-of-schools campaign onto NPR and the Huffington Post, among other high-profile venues, but has yet to stop a project.
Missouri’s Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is weighing advertising on school buses as a revenue generator. The move would require passing enabling legislation by the Missouri General Assembly, and Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, has filed that bill.
Keith Asel, a regional bank president and member of an education funding subcommittee, told the Lee’s Summit Journal that “Seventeen states currently permit advertising on school buses,” with a typical revenue of between $2,500 and $5,000 per bus per year. The Colorado Springs, Colo. school district generates $40,000 a year from bus ads, but Summit R-7 expects to generate $3,750 from each of 147 buses, for around $550,000 per year.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation a year ago, joining Arizona, Colorado, new Mexico, Tennessee and Texas, among other states that allow advertising. Alpha Media President Michael Beauchamp at the time told USA Today that his firm managed advertising on 3,000 school buses in 27 districts in Texas and Arizona. The firm and school districts generally avoided "beer, tobacco, politics, churches, anything sexual in nature." The Medford, N.J., school board policy prohibits bars, drug companies and religious organizations. As Asel observed, likely advertisers for Lee’s Summit are bank or insurance companies supporting education, with image ads.
Still, it’s a “lousy way to raise money,” complains Director Susan Linn of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood. Advertising in schools and on school property “undermines parents who are trying to limit commercialism” in a child’s life. And she points out that the $40,000 Colorado Springs pulls in amounts to less than $1 a student, and falls far short of expectations. Still—$40,000 is a bargain for outdoor advertisers and a boon to a school district.
About half of all smart phone users have, at least once, scanned a QR code, reports eMarketer. But are they effective as an advertising vehicle?
Perhaps. A full 41% of respondents in a survey by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey scanned a QR code to get more information about a company, product or event. Another 18% used it to find discounts, but only 6% used the code to buy something. The strongest purpose is that the smart phone user was simply curious what the QR code would do.
On the plus side, of those who regularly scan QR codes, 18% were moved to purchase. And consumer awareness of QR codes is on the rise, with eight out of 10 aware of them. Finally, consumers scan those QR codes from advertisements, most frequently from print advertisements in magazines, at 35%; billboards and signs at 11%, and direct mailers at another 11%.
“What does it mean that Coke has 36 million Facebook followers?” blogged Advertising Research Foundation CEO Bob Barocci on the AdAge site. Barocci described the oft-heard complaint that digital metrics are hard to quantify; but he called the simpler days of ad metrics a myth. Twenty years ago, “a brand looked bigger to the consumer if you were in two media.” A company then might enjoy a good score on 24-hour aided recall, but even then, major advertisers were reluctant to trace market share gains to that recall. “No cause and effect then…as now.”
Now the CMO is tasked with dividing ad spend among far more numerous platforms, and dealing with their complexities. The global research director of Kraft Foods described the dilemma to brand advertisers as this: which five of 100 or more touch points that influence consumers should he buy? Mobile phones promise more exposures, but are also driving discounting; should a CMO thus avoid the burgeoning platform? In social media, is recall more or less valuable than likability? “With all the data we have these days, I think we should be finding answers to some of these questions,” wrote Barocci, “But we're not.”
Barocci credits Google with putting significant resources toward analytics, with initiatives like its Advertising Format Impact project to measure the impact of multiple video formats on multiple platforms. Barocci described the Foundation’s multisponsor Arrowhead Project, with a mission to answer the question “What ideas do people get from digital/social media when making a purchase?” The project focuses upon three test categories which vary in length of the consumer purchase process; consumer packaged goods, which are short-term; smart phones, being mid-term; and automobiles, a long-term decision. ARF will present its findings at its March Re:think conference.
Offline channels still hold the reins in brand and product awareness, reports eMarketer, despite the talk of “viral marketing” and social media “influencers. eMarketer was quoting market research by AYTM, which found that 57.8% of US Facebook users had not any brand in a status updates as of October 2011. Similarly, 61.3% of Twitter users had never “tweeted” about a brand. Of those consumers who claimed to hear frequently about new brands, only 6.5% did so frequently, and 26% reported they never heard of new brands through social media.
Where they did hear about new brands, products and services: TV, radio, and offline print outlets. Sixteen percent did so “most frequently,” 34.9% did so often, 31.8% sometimes, 13% rarely, 4.2% never.
Media Life in its series on out-of-home venues compiled some compelling facts about advertising in parking facilities, which number around 7,000 in the U.S. Garages have attracted some heavyweight advertisers, including Fox, AAA, adidas, Johnson & Johnson and Transitions Optical. The venue favors automotives, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, restaurants, pharmaceuticals and electronics. Among other findings:
• 7,031 parking lot and garage owners in the U.S. service 250 million vehicles per year for $8.2 billion in revenue;
• Ads on parking gate arms yielded a 37% unaided recall rate after one exposure, according to independent research;
• Cost-per-thousand exposures (CPMs) range between $8.50 and $12.50;
• Demographics vary, but in Minneapolis, the audience is is 54 percent female with a median income between $55,000 and $75,000.
A strong value proposition is finding the right parking facility—for example, one attached to a hospital, or a movie theatre. “Let's say you're a pharma advertiser,” Abcon Media’s VP of Sales and Marketing told Media Life. “You could be at a clinic or hospital. Then you can really hone in and customize your campaign." Typical formats are pole wraps, static signage and adhesive strips on the floor, over parking-spot lines.