Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving TV Talk

The inevitable media/entertainment portion of Thanksgiving dinner conversation this year was less about the shows and more about the devices we use to watch them on/through. 

One cousin raved about his new $35 Chromecast, another still swears by his $99 Apple TV.  Yet another, a TV Luddite, was mocked for still accessing Netflix through his kid's Wii.  (A TV Luddite when I was growing up was someone who couldn't program the time on their VCR. )  

The parents in the room shared teen iPad overdose stories and some of the preteens mentioned they only watch video content on their phones, and only then when they're not playing mobile games.

Is it any wonder TW Cable is for sale?

We are in the midst of an epic free-for-all where all previous formats of programming and models of distribution and advertising will be challenged and in many cases, cast aside.

A.O Scott summed it up nicely in a story in last Sunday's NY Times.
Equally hard to refute is the idea that we are approaching a horizon of video convergence, in which all those screens will be equal and interchangeable and the distinctions between the stuff that’s shown on each one won’t seem as consequential as it does now. We still tend to take for granted that a cable drama, a network sitcom, a feature film, a web video and a first-person combat game are fundamentally different creatures, but they might really be diverse species within a single genus, their variations ultimately less important than what they have in common. They are all moving pictures, after all, and as our means of access to them proliferate and recombine, those old categories are likely to feel increasingly arbitrary and obsolete.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Plugin Drug

Wow is it getting easier and easier to access the web on TV.  My $39 Google chromecast arrived last week in a slick little Apple-style box.  The size of a thumb drive, it plugs into the TV's HDMI port. Up pops a big screen inviting you to start "casting" video content from your smart phone, tablet or laptop.

A lot easier than Google's previous attempt at Internet TV, the Logitech console and keyboard circa 2012, shown here as I prepare to wrap it up and throw in into the bin of misfit toys

The chromecast has been getting a lot of press as it appears to be yet another important product that is going to help usher in the great TV disruption that still seems to be much more bark then bite.

But I will point to some more compelling research, highlighted in All Things Digital a few weeks back, that indicates, devices like Apple TV and now chromecast, are truly gateway drugs to chord cutting.
Broadband users with “connected TVs” — that is, anything from a “smart TV” to a TV with an Apple TV or Roku, or even a TV connected to a laptop with a cable — say they are twice as likely to cut the cord as broadband users who don’t connect their TV to the Internet.
 And you know what happens when drugs get really cheap!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Home Run

Home runs are much less frequent in marketing than they are in baseball.  Some might say it is difficult to even classify a marketing home run.  But I think it would be hard to argue this one.

                                                            "The Blessing of the Bikes"
                              Pope Francis Blesses Thousands of Harley Bikers at the Vatican

With so many media and promotion options, so much data, so many channels and platforms, so much of everything to be thinking about, some times it is just about a big freaking idea.

A popular new Pope looking to show he is cool and different, a brand not afraid to try anything .... millions in free media exposure later.

I want to know who thought of this and what tips they can share on creativity.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Standing Out In The Chaos

Digital media is one cluttered, frenzied, assaulting market.  Sometimes it feels like thousands of general contractors are all working independently on building the same skyscraper.   Some great ideas, approaches and products, but overall ... total pandemonium.

One media property that stands out in it's ability to leverage all the tools and technologies, and create an engaging environment for visitors and advertisers alike is The Bleacher Report.  (Their purchase by Turner also represents one of the smarter new media company acquisitions by a traditional media company in recent years - millions of new visitors come from ever present links on the CNN.com home page.)

Seamlessly bringing together professional sports reporting, user generated commentary via social media apps, online video feeds and contextually relevant and perfectly targeted advertising, Bleacher makes it all easy on the eyes.  They also quite effectively lead visitors to become subscribers through a variety of frequency-capped sign up tools.

Here's my experience this morning as I was taken to a Bleacher story from CNN:

Perfect tie-in for Dewars and their "For The Man Who Deserves More Than a gift"campaign.  (I was actually sipping a Scotch last night during the game.)

Multiple video clips through out the story with pre-roll ads from Dewars

Tweets from fans, ESPN reporters and NBA players also embedded in the story to add more color.

Frequency capped pop-ups to convert visitors to subscribers.

The only lost opportunity as I see it, was the addition of a highly shareable piece of branded video content for Dewars supporting their Father's Day campaign and deepening the brand integration experience.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Online Video Television Time

The average American watches 170 hours of TV each month, resulting in a $70 billion per year advertising business.  Depending on which research source you reference, this viewership, on the biggest screen in the house, is either shrinking slightly, growing slightly, or staying the same.  And no matter how vehemently and often we portend the death of traditional TV based on our kid's emerging viewing habits and other anecdotal evidence, the more indestructible the "single most profitable big business in America" appears to be. (Another record-breaking upfront is in the works.)

I am in a sector of the media business that is growing faster than any other, online video, yet is surprisingly (based on all the hype) insignificant compared to TV.  Viewership is 7 hours per month and annualized ad revenue in the $3 billion range - 4% of television for both metrics.

This dose of reality was the topic of a recent Beet.TV clip titled "Online Video Slow To Take On TV." The exec featured in the clip, from Gannet, makes a great point -  one of the reasons that television continues to boom over online video is that television’s place has been primarily in the home while online video’s place has been primarily at work.  "We need to get into the home before we can see massive growth," he says.

We recently launched a new online video venture that is growing quickly, albeit in online video terms.  It features amazing content from one of the top producers of this type of content in the world.  I asked my kids to take a look and give me feedback.  Before we could gather around the iMac in our den, my 12 year old had it loaded on our connected TV in the living room where we watched MaxAnimal clips for a good hour or so.

Television time!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

YouTube's Amazon Strategy

More often than not, I will see this "Skip Ad" icon  pop up when I am browsing YouTube, if I even see an ad at all.  Quite different from the 120-second commerical breaks on many of the network TV video sites.  Seriously ...  I tried watching a much-hyped recent episode of the Jimmy Kimmel show on ABC's online video portal.  Within minutes of being told that the show would be presented "with limited commercial interruption", a commerical break of four consecutive 30-second commercials interrupted the action; an eternity when viewing in lean-forward mode on a small screen.

Seems You Tube is going the route of Amazon, forgoing profits and easy money in exchange for customer growth and loyalty.  They are running lots of ads, but the sheer volume of content and traffic on YouTube dilutes the impact, resulting in a very pleasant, and addictive viewing experience.  No company has been as successful as Amazon with this approach.  As reported in the Times last week,  "Amazon has had plenty of opportunities to raise its margins in the past, but instead routinely has chosen to reward its customers."

Certainly Google doesn't have the unique "profits will come later" flexibilty Amazon enjoys with the markets, so we will see.  They also haven't been chained to enormous content production budgets like the networks, but that is also changing quickly.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Is Cable Television Really Dying?

Great piece last month in the NY Times Magazine on cable television's extraordinary business model.  A must read for anyone who wonders why so much junk, along with a handful or truly great programming jewels, can continue to generate such enormous revenue year after year, despite the endless prediction of a collapse.

After describing "cable's ascendance in to arguably America's single most-profitable big business" and why demographic and technological factors are already very slowly killing it, the author paints his picture of the future:
Perhaps we’ll get a truly free digital marketplace, one in which each program competes on its own without any outsize monopoly profits for whoever owns the wires and the channels. In many ways, that would be a much better system. Cable providers behave like OPEC, a cartel that keeps prices high and limits innovation. With little or no barrier to entry, better ideas and programs would win, while old, monopolistic conglomerates would crumble. If entertainment becomes anything like more competitive markets — cellphones, say — there should more variety and lower cost. 
Ironically, as the author notes, there may be much less gambling on big budget shows like Game of Thrones,  Mad Men and Breaking Bad.