April 20, 2010

Optimizing the 4th Screen In the last quarter of 2009, 237 million Americans 18+ were exposed to video out of home. Basically half of the country caught some or all of a video message in a movie theater, a restaurant or bar, a hotel, an elevator, a health club or at the self-service gas pump. And that doesn’t count those of us exposed in doctor’s offices or airports. Out of home video is almost everywhere and it’s reach is significant. Now the number crunchers at Nielsen have collected, compared and normalized data from these networks to produce a “Fourth Screen Network Audience Report” that not only puts out-of-home video on the map but creates a metric for media buyers to compare it with video delivered by broadcast, cable, mobile device or Internet. For example, you can compare viewers at the movies (84 million in Q4 2009) with the average audience for a primetime broadcast network TV spot (3 million in October 2009) and figure out that it would take 20 primetime ads to achieve the same reach as a month-long campaign in movies. These new metrics enable planners to translate the data and essentially compare apples-to-oranges. Comparing data should help build demand since these OOH media are much cheaper than other video delivery formats. The size of the audiences gets me thinking about the media in strategy and creative ways to craft messages and influence people in the course of their lifestyle flow. The big numbers imply that consumers expect to see video almost everywhere. OOH video is no longer an annoyance, an interstitial or ignored. Out-of-home digital video can be a reach extender and can play an increasingly diverse or flexible role in integrated advertising campaigns. Consider the properties of the individual place-based media: Elevators. The average exposure time is probably 60 to 90 seconds. Everybody looks at the screen though only a small percentage pays serious attention. It’s a great way to reinforce a brand name or logo or add frequency to a slogan or an offer. Nobody will write anything down so the creative burden is to grab 10 seconds of attention and implant a memorable idea. Seems like a perfect place to add frequency to a launch campaign or to burn in a competitive offer or claim. I can imagine coordinating it with a coupon drop or a promotion game (e.g. McDonald’s “Monoploy”). Hotels. These are a mixed bag of convention-oriented channels, local and cable re-distribution and dedicated hotel channels. Everybody flips through this stuff. Very few people pay close attention. Time spent with this media is probably measured in seconds. This feels like an image play solely to support event or convention activity or a pure low cost frequency extender. Bars & Restaurants. Often at or behind the bar, only a small portion of the overall audience sees or even notices the video. And while some clubs use re-distributed video or tune to select video channels to create ambiance or to set the mood, the amount of attention available for commercial messages is slim. The biggest value here is to present images of food or beverages available at the point of sale. It’s an opportunity to influence market share at the point of consumption and/or to target or reinforce lifestyle images with constituent audiences. Movie Theaters. Consumers are a captive audience. They have nothing to do but watch the screen in the semi-dark theater for at least five minutes before the previews roll as people jockey for seats or load up on popcorn and soda. Coke, with a huge vested interest in fountain share, has used this medium to great affect. Frequency and category exclusivity allow people to remember offers, 800 numbers and URLs. Local merchants have used this slides and static images to make walk-in, discount and ticket stub redemption offers. The simplest use, often adopted by TV networks, is to run the TV or cable tune-in promo in the theater. It’s a cheap reach and frequency extender and can be demographically targeted by movie. Similarly I can imagine creating a longer spot (2 minutes) to flesh out product details, attributes or benefits in coordination with regional or national TV, Cable or Internet buy. I’d try integrating mobile and movie delivery of the same spot to drive traffic for local businesses or to drive tune-in or voting for reality TV shows. Health Clubs. You’re on the bike, the Stairmaster or the treadmill watching the screen. You’re not going anywhere. And you are open to almost anything to distract...
Radio Redux When I was a kid everybody listened to baseball and rock and roll on portable radios. From the time I was 12 till I went away to college I fell every night asleep listening to the radio tucked under my pillow. I had favorite stations and personal relationships with disc jockeys. Years later as a radio network and radio industry executive, I sold radio as a highly personal, targetable, mobile, local medium that was eclipsed but not killed by TV and cable. I argued that radio has a unique psychological connection with its listeners that other media can’t duplicate. Now in the digital age, radio’s exclusivity on mobility is gone and its place as the launching platform for bands and musical artists has been steadily diminishing, but radio continues to morph and survive. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at recent national telephone survey of 1753 people (12+) conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron. Where 78% of respondents agreed that people will listen to as much AM/FM radio as they do now and where 27% or 70 million people admitted to listening to radio online in the last month. Other salient and life-affirming (at least for radio) facts that emerged are … 40% of young people (12-24) would listen to more FM radio if their cell phones had an FM tuner. More than half said they’d be very disappointed if their favorite station went off the air. Radio listening is done primarily over the air (74%) versus 23% online via computer audio streams. A third of respondents had heard of HD(high definition) radio and 3 out of 4 were familiar with SiriusXM satellite radio. 39% still expect radio to introduce them to new sounds, new artists and new musical genres, though the Internet with 31% is closing fast. Pandora is a big factor. 43 million people listened to online radio in the last week. Yours truly is one of them. Evidently listeners like me, who tune in on their computers at work, can cherry pick the best stations in their favorite format from across the dial and across the globe. It’s about control, variety and fewer commercials. Online radio is attracting 15% more listeners than AM/FM listeners combined. Cars, MP3 players and cell or smartphones are the preferred reception devices. Not surprising, big radio listeners listen more over the air and online than the average listener. Yet only 1 in 3 have ever visited a radio station web site. The online radio audience is worth selling to. More than half of online listeners (55%) are college-educated men and two-thirds are 25-54 and employed full-time with almost 1 in 5 earning $100K+ HH Incomes. As a guy with a face made for radio, there’s goodness here. Nothing has ever killed off the radio star because the audio medium has a distinctive psychology which pushes buttons and provokes memories and stirs emotions in ways other media don’t. Radio has a unique and personal “method of action” which is its hedge against invention, fads and technology.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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