- Clear Channel will today announce its acquisition of a minority stake in Ryan Seacrest Productions. As the New York Times reports, this cements an already tight bond, as Seacrest, is a host, producer and spokesman for Clear Channel. No word yet as to the sum of Clear Channel’s investment in Seacrest, but he is expected to produce scripted and unscripted TV shows and other content. . Ryan Seacrest Productions currently produces “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” for E! and is producing new reality shows for Bravo and CMT.
- Why did Priceline.com kill off William Shatner and its “Priceline Negotiator” after 14 years? Priceline.com says launched the ad because the company is moving toward fixed-price discounts, whereas Shatner and the Negotiator had become to heavily identified with negotiating a price, reports Yahoo Finance.
- Former New York governor and CNN anchor Eliot Spizer will host “Countdown” this week, covering for an ailing Keith Olbermann, reports TVNewser. Spitzer will co-host “Countdown” with Bill Press for tonight’s Florida primary coverage. This will be Spitzer’s first hosting job since he left CNN in July, 2011. TVNewser speculates that this is a test-drive for a more permanent gig. Interestingly, CurrentTV took out a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times promoting its political coverage, with pictures of hosts Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm—sams Olbermann, with whom the network has had fractious relations.
- Simon Cowell has canned “The X Factor” judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul as well as host Steve Jones, reports New York Daily News. Cowell produces the performance competition show for The Fox Network, and is purportedly miffed over lower-than-expected ratings. No word yet as to replacements, though Mariah Carey is a likely candidate; Cowell supposedly wanted Carey as a judge in Season One, but declined as she was pregnant at the time.
Dining continues to be a powerful web driver, reports Access Intelligence, which has just released data for October/November 2011 traffic to food-oriented websites. Food sites expect a bump surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the bump this year meant a gain of 1.7 million unique visits to epicurious.com.
Among the winners: Time Inc. Lifestyle Group’s MyRecipes.com, which gathers recipes from the group's line of magazine sites, alongside new content. MyRecipes.com enjoyed 62% year-over-year (YOY) growth in the fourth quarter.
Some, but not all of the top 10 gainers were digital editions of magazines, including Saveur, and not all are entirely food-oriented; GoodHousekeeping.com was third in unique-visitor gains YOY, for a total gain of 1,242,636 visits.
Not all unique visitors looked for recipes. FineCooking.com gained 47.03% YOY, driven in part by its iPad MenuMaker app, which it claims has been downloaded 42,000 times, and has a 4.5 star rating from Apple App store customers.
Beginning with this week’s issue, The Economist will run a section devoted entirely to China. This is only the third time in 170 years that the magazine has created a country-specific section. But as Editor in Chief John Micklethwait told Audience Development, “China is getting so large that trying to constrain it in a section like geo-politics was difficult.”
China is a broadly-interesting topic, Micklethwait believes, affecting the magazine’s entire global readership. The British-born magazine took the same stance during WWII with its still-existing U.S. section.
Circulation of The Economist within China is a miniscule 3,740, and Micklethwait is not counting on it growing; rather, he is counting on it increasing readership long-term in the U.S., among “That group [that] wants to know more about China than what they’re being told.”
In addition to mainstream business and politics, The Economist has reporters on the ground to cover rural life, social changes and emerging trends.
The Economist claims a 2011 circulation of 1,486,838, and a modest year-over-year growth of 3.03%. But Omniture clocked the digital edition with a swift 7,610,593 unique visitors in December 2011, and 34,124,539 page views.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said yesterday that while the company is tempted to pursue e-commerce and brand-sentiment analytics, it is focused near-term on its ad products, reports Ad Age.
Costolo was speaking at All Things D's media conference on Monday night. As tempting as it is to produce a slew of related products, Costolo said the company does not need to add more components to its business. Rather, “We just need to scale it up" he said, referring to the ad business. He went on to describe the company’s strategy of increasing the number of advertisers, and expansion into geographic markets.
At present, Twitter offers a streamlined ad inventory, which has most of that functionality. The portfolio includes:
- Promoted tweets that appear in search results, and in target geographies
- Promoted trends, currently in beta, placing advertisers alongside discussion strings
- Promoted accounts, which appear at a premium in Twitter’s “Who To Follow” suggestions
- Enhanced profile pages, visible without logging into Twitter; in use by just a few invited companies (like Coca-Cola and Virgin Atlantic, depicted below), but reportedly available to all brands as of February 1
- And Advertiser Analytics, three dashboards depicting campaign metrics like total impressions, retweets, replies and follows.
Costolo ducked the question about the Enhanced Profile price—is it truly $25,000? But with prompting by a reporter/interviewer, Costolo described the price as seeming “Perfectly reasonable.” Enhanced profiles enable rich background graphics, embedded video and guided promotions, versus the simple 140-word "micro-blogs" available at no cost.
Today’s Nielsen ratings for Sunday will cement Fox News Channel’s 10th-straight year as the most-watched cable news network, reports New York Daily News.
FNC in 2011 averaged 1.86 million viewers in prime time; rival MSNBC averaged 775,000 and CNN, 689,000. For January 2012 prime time, FNC has averaged 1.98 million, CNN 875,000 and MSNBC 817,000. Finally, FNC is posting 1.11 million on a total-day basis, versus 454,000 for MSNBC and 449,000 for CNN.
The figures are even more impressive, surrounding GOP Primary Coverage. As Multichannel News reported, FNC averaged 2.63 million viewers between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Jan. 22, covering the South Carolina Primary. That is more than double the viewership of CNN (1.21 million watchers) and MSNBC (985,000). Further, it took an average 703,000 viewers 25-54, versus 417,000 for CNN and 240,000 for MSNBC, respectively.
FNC launched 15 years ago, and quickly took heat for its “bend to the right.” No matter, Fordham University Professor of Communication and Media Paul Levinson told the News. “What’s often overlooked when people talk about Fox News is they…focus on the politically conservative commentary (but) miss how it’s been as an overall news organization.” Fox News chairman Roger Ailes banked on vivid commentary, said Levinson, and a commitment to round-the-clock news.
In the wake of last year’s FCC ruling that Comcast (the U.S.’s largest cable provider) had discriminated against the small and independent Tennis Channel, Comcast was forced to carry Tennis on the same tier as Versus and Golf Channel, two Comcast properties. Now Current TV, NFL Network and Bloomberg TV are following suit, reports TVNewser.
In the spirit of competition, Bloomberg is seeking a position alongside CNBC and Fox Business Network; NFL Network wants to be placed near ESPN; and Current TV nearby MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.
As part of its deal to acquire NBCUniversal in 2011, Comcast agreed with the FCC to a “neighborhooding” clause, batching similar channels (e.g., children’s programming, sports) in subsequent channels; and not to discriminate in those groupings based on who owns the channels. Bloomberg TV complains that in Washington DC, for example, it occupies Comcast’s Channel 103 while NBCU-owned rivals (including MSNBC and CNBC) occupy channels 35-39.
Comcast pushed back against Bloomberg TV that if Comcast was forced to rework its lineup, “Millions of customers would be subject to disruption and confusion required by massive channel realignments across the country all to benefit an already thriving $30 billion media company.”
Old ads may find new life on tablets, suggests new research from GfK MRI. The market research firm surveyed its iPanel, composed exclusively of Tablet and eReader owners. Among other findings: male tablet computer owners are particularly interested in reading digital magazines, and that tablets generate readership of back issues of publications (meaning more exposures for long-ago ad purchases).
According to the GfK MRI iPanel, almost three-quarters (71%) of Tablet owners say they are interested in reading magazines on their devices. Men, in particular, are open to digital magazine reading: 77% of male tablet owners expressed interest in reading magazines on their device versus 68% of female owners. Among younger male Tablet owners, ages 18 to 34, 85% expressed interest in reading magazines on their device.
Moreover, digital magazines seem to be sparking new reading behavior among consumers. For instance, almost one-fifth (19%) of tablet owners who read a magazine on their device in the last 30 days also took the opportunity to read back issues of a title during their reading session. In this instance, there was little difference between genders, with 20% of males having read back issues compared to 19% of females.
"The fact that younger men who own tablets are interested in reading digital magazines bodes well for digital magazine advertisers, since this demographic has been historically hard to reach," said Risa Becker, SVP Research at GfK MRI.
The most popular way in which tablet owners read a magazine or magazine-related content is with an App. Almost two-thirds (65%) of tablet owners who read a magazine on their device in the last 30 days did so via an App; 47% of tablet owners accessed magazine content on their devices by visiting a magazine's website; and 37% read a digital reproduction of a magazine, which includes both print content and advertisements.
- Twitter will launch its enhanced brand ads on February 1, according to Business Insider. The Facebook-like functionality has been available to a few select brands, including Coca-Cola, but now will be generally available—at a pricetag of $25,000.
- ESPN and Jeep caught heat from Digiday, which named the network and automaker in its Bad Ad of the Week.”ESPN covered the memorial service of former Penn State head football Joe Paterno. A rich-media ad for Jeep had a Jeep Wrangler “crash through” the computer screen, as well as Paterno’s casket, which sat dead center.
- The Sundance Film Festival and YouTube have cut a deal to rent out Sundance titles, reports Streaming Media. Most Sundance titles will rent for $2.99 to $3.99 for a 48-hour rental--$1 or more cheaper than from Comcast. The Sundance Film Festival wrapped over the weekend.
- Consumer-goods maker Procter & Gamble will “throw caution to the digital wind,” reports AdExchanger. Chairman and CEO Bob McDonald in an earnings conference call said the company would eliminate 1,600 non-manufacturing jobs, and invest heavily in its digital marketing. "In the digital space, with things like Facebook and Google and others, we find that return on investment of the advertising when properly designed, when the big idea is there, can be much more efficient."
- Angry consumers used Facebook to storm the gates of clothing retailer H&M last week. They accused the company of lifting a designer’s ad idea, reports Adweek. The company has begun marketing goods with the simple tagline “You look nice today,” with a red heart shape. Atlanta artist Tori LaConsay created the tagline—complete with red heart—for a sign in her neighborhood, in 2008. She was unpaid for the sign. Supporters have since deluged H&M’s Facebook site with hate messages. H&M at first attempted to dismiss the similarities as a “coincidence,” but is now seeking a resolution with LaConsay.
- CNN wants to trademark its “Magic Wall,” the interactive touch screen that it introduced during the 2008 primaries. As TVNewser reports, the multi-touch display is now used by practically ever television news outlet and in sports broadcasting. ABC, ESPN and CNBC can keep their magic walls, they just can’t call them magic walls.
- Lowe’s has joined the list of advertisers jumping ship from TLC’s “All-American Muslim.” This after pressure from groups like the Florida Family Association which labeled the show "propaganda" that presents a "clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." The show follows five Muslim families living in Dearborn, Michigan, and has become a “lightning rod,” as Lowe’s described it in a statement on Facebook. Despite the company’s “commitment to diversity and inclusion,” it called itself “sincerely sorry…we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy.”
- Rumors abound of a spinoff to “The Office,” with Dwight as the central character. But “The Office” is certain to be renewed rather than replaced. The TVByTheNumbers “Bubble Watch “ predicts that all of NBC’s comedies, even the lagging “Community,” will be renewed in 2012.
- HBO led the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, taking five out of nine TV awards. “Boardwalk Empire” won for outstanding ensemble in a drama series, and lead actor Steve Buscemi for outstanding male actor in a drama series. Broadcast TV took only two awards—“Modern Family” (ABC) for outstanding ensemble in a comedy series, and Alec Baldwin (again) for outstanding male actor in a comedy series.
Advertisers use Facebook Likes as a kind of social media “Nielsen rating,” but the ratings are disappointing. Only slightly more than 1% of Facebook users who “Like” brands like Procter & Gamble or Coca-Cola actually engage with the brands, finds marketing researchers Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. Engagement can include viral marketing, like posting a clever ad from YouTube.
As AdAge describes, the Institute used one of Facebook’s metrics, “People Talking About This,” to track likes, posts, comments and so forth about the brands. The Institute tracked the metric for 200 top brands over six weeks. What they found is that 1.3% of those who like a brand bother to discuss, share or otherwise engage with the brand. They click the Like button for the brand, then largely forget it.
The numbers get worse. Subtract new Likes from the figures, and only .45% of those who Like a brand actively engage with it.
The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute concluded that Facebook engagement preaches to the choir; those users who do engage were largely sold on a brand to begin with. Facebook branding is poor at converting light buyers into loyal fans. The Institute cautions against "putting a disproportionate amount of effort into engagement and strategies to get people to talk about a brand, when you should be spending more time getting more light buyers."
Perhaps a better use of Facebook is its "Featured" advertisements, that sit above the right-column ticker. The ads use polls, videos and so forth for immediate, opt-in engagement.
Interestingly, eMarketer reported today that 97% of marketers agree that social media provide value and benefits to their businesses. “We’re trying to get people out of the mindset that social media is just for pushing your messages out," said a spokesperson, "It is about communicating, but it’s also about listening.” With financial services, a Charles Schwab engagement is far more high-touch than is a retail engagement. In sharp contrast to the Ehrenberg-Bass findings, 44% of marketers in the eMarketer report find Facebook fans valuable in recruiting other customers, and 18% said Facebook fans have higher conversion rates and make more frequent purchases.