Tag Archives: Inventory

Tread Upon Our Content? We Won’t Take It! Or, Will We?

Last night, I caught the premiere of NBC’s new game show, TAKE IT ALL, hosted by Howie Mandell and had a little fun with it. While I absolutely enjoy narrative shows – sitcoms and dramas – more than game shows, it seemed that the bells and whistles were more reserved and made more sense with the context of the game show than they do on the other content I watch on broadcast and cable. Those bells and whistles I’m referring to are the incessant promotional graphics that come up in the lower-third, upper-third, corner or even full screen.  They are sadly more invasive than ever – partially due to DVRs, but seemingly more due to the lack of consideration for the content. How much will viewers stand to suffer as content is tread upon by messaging?

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

David Goetzl wrote about the intrusiveness of networks over programming as a response to DVRs in his MediaPost entry this morning.  While focusing on the encroachment of promotional messaging within a network’s shows, he posits that actually selling overlay advertising inventory may be right around the corner. I shutter to think how much that will diminish the actual content that provides the platform advertising relies on.

Back at the turn of the century – remember 2000? – product placement for television was not effectively seen in Primetime. At that point, it consisted of a bottle of Mountain Dew given to the winner of a SURVIVOR challenge. There was a debate between networks and producers while trying to figure out who would make the money from those “promotional considerations.”  Since that point, the integration of products with shows has reached – and perhaps exceeded – the high science of product placement in motion pictures. Back then, it was still reasonable to assume that the network could make their bucks through commercial inventory sales.  But, is that opportunity window closing to the networks with the growing penetration of DVRs?

The line marking who profited (network/producer) from what type of integration has certainly blurred, but profit participation becomes secondary when when weighed against diminished content by distracting overlays.  An argument could be made that promotions are a different beast with the belief that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” and all shows benefit from the promotion of other shows on a network. But as Goetzl writes, our time-shifting sort of makes that argument moot. Either way, if overlay inventory is actually sold and an item is distractingly pitched over important narrative content, the network might have the short gain of a sale, but the long-term risk to the actual content (and its viewership) being greatly diminished.

Going back to TAKE IT ALL, the ability to DVR proof promotional items within a game show is certainly a solution – but not something everyone can do. We saw how devastating game-show-full schedules can be to viewership in general (check that same turn of the century period) so a solution for narrative programming is required.  Is that solution a widespread jump to running advertisements on top of narrative content?  Absolutely not. That would lead even more viewers to stop watching or switch to the pay-TV programming that has gained ground on Showtime, HBO and Starz or shift to streaming options – definitely not good for broadcast and basic cable networks.

Whatever the winning decision is, my hope is that they don’t tread on the content and destroy the television programs that have been the height of storytelling in the past few years.  Enjoy the show, TAKE IT ALL, but don’t encroach on the content and Take It All away.

 

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Some Quick Bites: Media and Entertainment

 

Media

As more and more people are surfing the internet through their smartphones or tablets, the optimal serving of assets specific to that platform becomes more important.  There are some who default to a mobile version and some who just provide the website as you would see it through a computer browser.  Others provide the option of viewing through a web browser or an App. What should be done is predicated on what type of content you are providing.  In many cases, the best solution could be a mixture of solutions.

What should definitely NOT be done is try to make the media come through as if the user was viewing the content on their desktop. Unfortunately, some publishers try to push pop-overs or pop-unders to the mobile device – which causes latency issues and frustration.

Perhaps the worst offender I come across is from my beloved hometown newspaper, the Miami Herald.  To provide context of how much of a bad predicament it has become, here’s some back story… Before the internet, I had to go to a specific news stand in Los Angeles to get the Sunday edition of the newspaper a few days after it was published.  Sometimes I was lucky if I could read about Miami Sports teams’ games before they played their next one.  Obviously, I was happy when I was then able to read articles online from 3000 miles away before the physical newspaper was placed on my parent’s doorstep.

Sadly, The Herald has worked themselves into a bad situation both on computers and mobile.  Below, you can see a recent page with MANY different advertisers on one page – and this doesn’t even show the pop-unders that are so annoying with every page load.

Forgetting that all of the ads being served and the pop-under makes the load time on my mobile longer than any other website, the Herald sales team would probably do better by booking multiple units on a page to one advertiser to have a stronger impact.  Their multiple units are so cluttered and disparate that I would feel that I am wasting client’s money if I were to book their advertising on such a site.

The Herald has come up with some decent solutions for providing inventory above the fold, but the lack of consistency makes the media too disruptive and annoying. That annoying factor has gotten so great on the mobile web that I am contemplating the move entirely away from the Herald and to their competitors.  Mind you, this is the newspaper brand that I grew up on and read every day leading to a huge love and affinity to a product. For me to be ready to leave the writers I enjoy reading because their inventory causes such a problem is a bad sign.

Entertainment

The editors of iMedia published a nice survey about social marketing by a number of entertainment entities in advance of their entertainment summit later this month. It’s a good quick read if you are not up to speed on some of the successful campaigns and tools of recent film and television campaigns.

They do tip their hat to the vendors in a couple of examples.  It would be interesting to see a more detailed accounting of how pieces came together because it is always a solid mix of brand and vendor integration that brings along success.

My How Things Change – Innovation or Desperation?

An AllThingsD blog report came out today about a partnership announced at a dinner the other night by AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo.  I guess it depends on which side of the dinner table you’re on to determine whether it is a genius form of innovation or a sad bit of desperation from companies struggling to maintain market share. Their plan is to group together to sell each other’s “Class 2 Display” inventory centrally and share the revenues.  By doing this, they can make more money as they don’t need to be served by ad networks and therefore pay the middle men.  In theory, it seems to be ho-hum at best – especially when they are supposedly allowing ad networks to continue selling the same inventory.

In human terms, it wasn’t long ago that all of these companies were at the absolute top of the world and in control.  In technology, that time was forever ago.  Google has certainly taken the throne from an ad perspective and everyone else is trying to catch up.  Bing didn’t work as well as Microsoft hoped. Yahoo is still trying to figure things out in the hopes of being somewhat relevant (small disclaimer that I still appreciate a bit of what Yahoo is offering if only because my personal email is a Yahoo account) and I wouldn’t even think of AOL in terms of being relevant after what happened to that Time Warner empire they owned.  Sure, these are still three large players in the scheme of things, but it is amazing how quickly fortunes can change.  I definitely heard grumblings of how those three were invincible in the same way I hear about Facebook and Google today.

It certainly seems like a desperate attempt to maintain revenue margins if not share of market.  I guess I would have been more impressed if they had used their powers to develop something truly innovative – not just a reshaping of something that already exists – to enable stronger targeting across their sites, easier planning interfaces across the three or some other media benefit. A bigger fear is that advertising on any of those becomes more challenging than it sometimes is on Hulu with multiple owner/players.  At this point, it leaves a bunch of media buyers asking “what’s in it for me?”  I hope the dinner was good…