Category Archives: Television

Hasbro: From Manufacturing to Media Powerhouse

Hasbro is no longer just about Mr. Potato Head. It is a company that has been able to unlock many brands from the vault. These brands have now become instrumental in transforming Hasbro into a media powerhouse – think Transformers, G.I. Joe and Star Wars. Movies. Very successful movies. Think Monopoly going mobile.

Hasbro will soon be launching hub, “a new TV channel for kids and families”. Here’s the point: in the past 5 years, Hasbro has delivered consistent growth in revenues, profit and stock growth. The proof is in the return on investment – just check Hasbro’s investor relations page: www.hasbro.com/corporate

Stay tuned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

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Media: The Sum of Its Parts or Something Else?

Reductionism says that a complex system is nothing but the sum of all of its parts and understanding those parts can tell us everything about the complex system that they belong to. This idea was supported Thales of Miletus, the first known philosopher of the western civilization circa 580 BC.

Shortly thereafter, in 2010, the ‘Galaxy of Media Choices’ (a term coined by The Boston Consulting Group) presents us with a complex system of communication with a series of moving parts.  There are some 70+ media choices, or parts if you will, including traditional (television, radio, outdoor, POS and print) and the Internet (digital,  mobile, geo-location, video, QR codes, SMS, social networking platforms etc.) – no need to list everything here.

The advent of Internet and digital technology in combination with the amount of time we spend on media is what makes the media system so fascinating and correspondingly difficult to grasp. Why? Because, like space, it is seemingly infinite.

How do the parts help us understand our complex media system?

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Advertisers and Consumers Like Television

I recently heard someone ask “If ROI is so important, why do brands still advertise & market on television?” Here is part of the answer to a very complex business issue.

According to the IAB – Interactive Advertising Bureau, Nielsen estimates that, for the fall 2010-11 broadcast season, there will be 115.9m US TV households, and 294.65m persons 2+ watching. To put this in perspective, that’s almost equal to the total number of both households and population of the United States. Nielsen also recently published some key media statistics:

> 114M US households have a least one television, almost 30% own 4 or more TVs; the average American watches 31.5 hours of TV per week; kids 6-11 watch 8 hours of live TV per week.

> almost 99% of video content is watched on traditional television; 100M+ are cable and satellite TV ready.

A complementary perspective is offered by comScore. In a piece written by comScore Co-Founder Gian Fulgoni, The Lure of TV Advertising for Internet Businesses, it’s clear that even companies that are significant Internet players, are attracted to the lure of television. Some of these companies include Yahoo, AOL, Autotrader.com, Google, Expedia, Monster.com, Priceline and eHarmony. Fulgoni points out that over the past decade, television ad spend share has increased from 38% to 46%…”confirming that despite the illusion created by some media pundits who would have us believe that TV is on the ropes…”

Even as the Internet continues to grow in appeal, brands prefer television as an advertising medium. While consumers are watching more television than ever and there is no let up in sight in terms of total time spent viewing there are two key drivers, as noted by comScore, driving advertiser appeal. The first is that a lot of people can be reached, during high-rated shows, in a very short amount of time. This is very appealing to advertisers, where time is indeed money – well spent. The other is related to risk. Almost all television advertising is copy tested,especially for major brands, before going on air in order to ensure that the intended message is hitting the mark with the target audience.

With viral advertising, notably on YouTube, campaign success is largely a role of the dice. For every campaign of note, such as the recent Old Spice series, there a thousands of videos that rarely get a mention, let alone reach the people they were meant for. While it is cheap to air an ad on one of the Freemium channels, it is very difficult to understand reach and frequency in relation to target audience. You cannot anticipate who will view what, when and how often before going on air unlike television advertising that is tied to a program’s intended viewing audience. Otherwise, it’s a bit like playing media planning roulette and risking loss of control of the brand. 

As Fulgoni aptly notes “The cost of being wrong becomes substantial”.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Management by Algorithm

In a recent post by Brian Solis “Influencing the Influencer” I was struck by the image showing a definition of leadership. Solis goes on to suggest how important people are in the marketing mix. Rightly so, he sets the context as the ‘attention economy’ as many who participate in social networks have an insatiable appetite for attention, notably those who see themselves as “authorities and tastemakers” or at that exalted level of self-actualisation, brands. Apparently, these are the folks that brands must recruit across the social media galaxy in order to truly lead, then connect with the broader audience – the ‘everyman’, in a most sincere and meaningful way.

So, like the days of television rabbit ears, brands need a shill: “A person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.” (via Dictionary.com)

This is the oldest game in the advertising playbook.  The difference is of course, that the brand is supposed to recruit people who come from a superior gene pool, that of the online reviewer or opinion leader. It’s real time, it’s from the heart and… it’s transparent. To reinforce this approach, a number of SaaS applications are mentioned such as Klout and PeerIndex that use ‘human’ algorithms to calculate one’s social currency (capital?). It’s so valuable, anyone can calculate their influence scores for free.

Has it occured to those who advocate this kind of approach to identifying influencers that some consumers have no interest is what others think? Rather, consumers prefer to try things themselves. In otherwords, they prefer to take the lead, thank you very much.

For marketing managers, understanding customer preferences and value drivers, is really the first place to start. Management by algorithms alone is a very dangerous thing to do as it places limits on the ability to learn, develop insight and understand consumer behaviour in context.

As in using spell check, your facility with language doesn’t improve over time.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Social Media Bubble: Roundup in the Cloud

Social Media Hype Cycle: Cloudy chance of showers

 There’s been a fair bit of discussion in the past couple of weeks about the topic “Social Media Bubble”. Like most bubbles, it rages as a fad, peaks, then crashes. In the Gartner vernacular, social media goes through a hype cycle – early adoption followed by high expectations of value delivery, then a crash into a trough of disillusionment. The idea or technology either dies or survives and moves on to being a real, viable business. Based on recent questioning, social media, as a tool for business, is losing some altitude. Here’s a roundup of some recent opinion from Umair Haque – Harvard Business Review, Rachel Happe – The Community Roundtable, Peter Autidore – The Social Customer and yours truly (previous 2 posts).      

This dialogue started with Haque’s piece in HBR. His main hypothesis is that social media produces a lot of thin relationships. He draws a metafor to ‘low quality’ as in those in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. This context implies that bankers didn’t take the time to get to know their borrowers. They relied on short cycle time approvals using only quantitative data. Ironic, given that real relationships are about getting to know people, not just seeing them on a data sheet or as a ‘follower/fan’ on a social media network. Haque goes on to outline the keys to real relationships – mainly trust, disintermediation, community and value. It’s not a beauty contest or about shouting out to be heard about the rest of the crowd. It’s about real relationships that have the equity required to build brands and extend a company’s customer franchise.     

Rachel Happe offers a perspective that builds on Haque’s by focusing on the value element of relationships. Rachel digs a bit deeper into the weeds by hightlighting the role that online communities play in the formation of relationships – people come together because of a mutual interest and build from there. There is an important point here in that online communities are something much different from Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter: “Social media is not going to be sufficient to build that kind of relationship.” Face time – that qualitative dimension, it key to building deep relationships, something that technology alone cannot accomplish and at most, falls short. This was a hard-learned lesson in pionner days of CRM of the early 2000’s.

Peter Auditore takes an opposing stance. He thinks Haque’s view is “myopic” though we’re not sure why. Auditore is also adamant that the sub prime metaphor is “bizarre”. Seems to me that in the old days, before loan approval processes were automated, your local bank manger got to know you and was an integral member of the lcoal community. People met face-to-face. Familiary and trust were built as a result. In the subprime case, bankers and borrowers alike had very thin relationships indeed that resulted in unbridled risk in the marketplace. Auditor also mixes Word-of-Mouth marketing with social media. To quote Andy Sernovitz, the founder of WOMMA, “WOM marketing is not about social media at all. Social media is just one WOM tool.” Andy goes on to say that WOM only works for good companies that make good products. This last point is core to Haque hypothesis and one that I fully support (see “My New Levis Jeans: Outside the Social Bubble”). Competitive advantage is gained by a specific core competency, not just by the use of social media tools – Kodak and Procter & Gamble had strong franchises pre-Internet.  

I think there needs to be a better balance overall between leading with technology and considering the importance of the brand’s overall value proposition. Many brands that are market leaders established solid consumer franchises well before the Internet and may or may not benefit to varying degrees from social media. Many enterprises are experimenting with various social media technologies and tools to channel content, engage consumers and build their brands at the tactical level. They also admit that while there’s a lot of beta testing going they’re not ready to declare mainstream adoption of social media tools. One proof point: most adspend goes to television; consumers are watching more TV than ever whether on a TV screen via computer (see Nielsen for the data). Large enterprises especially are approaching social media with a curiosity and critical eye. 

Let’s remember that Haque makes it clear that his view is a hypothesis and not the final word on social media. There’s plenty of room for constructive dialogue (one way of sharing and buidling mutual trust amongst people). What’s most important is to take a critical eye, be dispassionate about the issues and ask key business questions.    

Until such time as the business merits of social media are proven, we’re all still somewhere in the cloudy part of the Hype Cycle.   

(cross-posted at CloudAve)

-Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM   

The Media Prism: Earned, Paid and Owned

In a recent post by Brian Solis, “Why Brands are Becoming Media“, there was reference to a grid developed by Forrester that attempts to define a new way to segment media channels or ‘customer touchpoints’:

The above is a fine represention as it brings a high level order to this complex new media mix. As a CRM and Marketing Technology professional I believe in being focused on business process with a  view to implementation. Here is my ‘managerial’ grid:

Clearly the media landscape is changing continuously and many more iterations will develop as we move along the maturity curve. At this point, it’s not so much a matter of what is right or wrong, rather, what works best for each of us as we look through the multi-faceted media prism.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Media Slap Chop

As corporate managers seek to make some sense out of new media, it’s been interesting how the noise from advocate continues. Here are a few soundbites:

1) ROI. A few power bloggers have been consuming a lot of oxygen these days ranting about how there is little need to financially justify investment in social media. Social Media, unlike say, billboard advertising, is sacred because it’s all about trust and transparency. Besides, you’ve lost control of your brand to the consumer, so what the heck, just do it.
 
2) See, it works! Some folks are all agog about Dell generating some $6M worth of sales that were ‘influenced’ by the Twitter channel. The percentage sold, against total 2009 sales, was so small my calculator registered blank.
 

"You're Going to Have an Exciting Life Now."

3) Rage against the Expert. Enough already.  There are no experts, just people who speak loudly and have their musings (and picture) all over various social networks. None of these folks actually work for a Fortune 500, 1000 or 2000 company but they likely have a nice blog and written a giga-seller book or two or three. Let’s move on.
 
4) Case studies. Go back to item (2) as this is a about as good as it really gets. Most companies are in beta stage figuring out what works best for them. For example, Coke recently ditched private media in favour of social networking, which is just fine. 
 
5) Predictions. Newspapers are dead.  Advertising is a relic. Television is passe. Mobile is king. Facebook is the new Superpower. So many folks feel it necessary to make pronoucements on the future (which is here already since we are now moving faster than real time, according to some) that they get themselves worked into a voodoo-like trance. While in this somnambulant state, they feel their musings are fact while looking to pick up another 10,000 Twitter followers by the end of the day.
 
 6) Gushing over gadgets: Early adopters love to be the first to own the latest piece of technology such as an iPhone, iPod or iTablet, which is fine my me. However, some folks are over the moon about these new products to the point that they leave you wondering if they’re shills or stock promoters as they wax so enthusiastically. Mind you they’re also the first to wail away if something goes wrong such as poor smart phone connectivity (which was really a carrier issue).
 
7) Social Media is a must have. If you don’t you’re either stupid, in denial or you just plain don’t get it and the world will leave you in the nanodust of the cloud – especially if you’re a CMO. Rather than consider a firm’s CRM maturity level, those who have a knack for prescription pay little attention to the complexities inherent in the marketing and media mix. Makes me wonder – do social media evangelists have actual clients
 
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia