Tag Archives: Television

The Digital & Social Era: Unlocking Brand Value in a Nanosecond

 

Monopoly, Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Nerf, Little Pony, Transformers.  These are only a few of the brands we are all growing old with, and are also seeing our children grow up with. They are all household names that have an extensive legacy and franchise around the world. They’re all Hasbro brands.

While many brand managers often think of extending a brand in terms of new product in the physical sense, the digital and social era offers the opportunity to transform brands into new media properties in ways that unlock the brand’s legacy. The age of new media offers up the chance to pull brands literally “out of the vault” and make them fresh again by relaunching them in an entirely new format.

Hasbro is a company that not only manufactures and distributes toys and games; it is an entertainment company that now competes with the likes of Disney. For example, one of the largest and most successful movie franchises is Transformers. Introduced in the mid-1980s, Transformers was a toy line that featured parts that can be shifted to change from a vehicle into a robot action figure and back again. A number of spin-offs followed, including an animated television series.

In 2007, a live-action movie, under sponsorship of Steven Spielberg, was released, with the latest installment to be released this summer. Around the brand is a vast array of media, including video games, a website, online games, TV commercials, a Facebook community, books, gear and all sorts of toys. Yes, there are apps for iPhone – in 3D no less – that include puzzles.

Not only has Hasbro become a force in the movie industry, it also is a direct investor in television having recently launched The Hub channel in the U.S. in partnership with Discovery Channel whereby the Discovery Kids platform was renamed The Hub. In Canada, Corus Entertainment and Hasbro Studios have come together to distribute Hasbro brands across the various Corus kids television platforms, such as Treehouse, the TV home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (with HD episodes available on iTunes).

What makes the discussion even more compelling is how Hasbro has been able to artfully blend instinct with formal management process. I say this because the toy business, like fashion, has for many years been built on having a nose for what’s hot and what’s not. In the age of digital, so much is in the moment that risk and reward take on much shorter cycles, thereby requiring a balance between management discipline and entrepreneurial behaviour. As Michael Hogg, President of Hasbro Canada, says: “The toy business is like packaged goods with your hair on fire,” in that much of the action is in the moment, about today. This makes me think of the phrase Carpe Diem – on steroids.

Underlying this “360 degree” approach to defining the media mix is the foundational belief that there is also a value chain with regard to the media platforms. In Hasbro’s case, TV is the anchor to build brand awareness in key segments, whereby other media take on a supporting promotional role to augment consumer engagement.

In the days of traditional media, there was much talk about unlocking ‘incremental brand value’ by building out line extensions and adding ancillary products. In the era of digital and social media, brand value can be unlocked in an exponential way by developing the optimal media mix and devising the right formats for each brand.

It also means sticking to the fundamental questions: what are the demographics, who are the buyers, what are the right media choices and how do we build the trust factor into everything we do? The latter is most important especially when engaging audiences of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have valuable opinions about product safety, play value and ideas for innovation.

It also requires a change in mindset since metrics are not always conveniently at hand. In fact, it may be advantageous by allowing managers to take risk by investing in more trials, seeing what works through iteration and then building metrics that support additional investments for a calculated payoff.

For Hasbro, one formula that continues to prove itself in effect leads the consumer through the channels. Television is the anchor for certain target segments for brand building; websites are ideal for promotional activity and driving consumers to the retail store.

So let me end with a few more Hasbro brands that you may well recognize: Twister, Battleship, Yahtzee, Risk, Tinker Toy, Play-Doh, Sorry! and Easy Bake. And yes, there are and will be more apps.

– 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

Customer-Centric Media: Paid, Owned, Earned

Sean Corcoran, Forrester analyst, recently posted a commentary on the relationship between earned and paid media. He makes some good points to which I have added my 2 cents in italics:

“…there are still many social media “experts” who believe that paid media has no role in social media marketing. This is also wrong.  Absolutely. It also underscores why one should avoid such “experts”. True experts take the agnostic approach and provide a balanced perspective of the choices available to managers in the appropriate business context.

In fact, paid and earned media can have a very close relationship and should be leveraged together (along with owned media) for the best results. Here are some ways in which paid and earned media can work together: 

  • Brands use advertising to scale participation for their social assets (this has been especially leveraged by brands on Facebook)
  • Advertising content can become viral (e.g. Old Spice campaign)
  • Advertising creative can be co-created with the community
  • Listening platforms can provide real-time assessments of campaign success (like a mirror to word-of-mouth, or maybe like a fun house mirror)
  • Earned media can become advertising content (often happens with ratings and reviews)
  • Social media data can be used to target audiences through online media (see Media6Degrees or 33Across)

This makes so much sense as companies are looking to form bonds with their consumers via conversations. The best marketing campaigns leverage multiple media whether it be broadcast to create brand awareness or POS or print/local radio for promotion and social for generating Word-of-Mouth brand mentions & buzz.

> Social Media content creation is very hard to scale. Viral growth is open-ended and unpredictable. It depends on several factors notably creative, the social  platform and timing. Television reach & frequency is largely a matter of adspend and targeting since the medium is rich in normative audience data.

> Co-created advertising is media that can be re-used, repurposed and leveraged to drive on-going audience engagement. It also has the advantage of providing almost immediate feedback and new ideas for near real-time message refinement.

> Listening platforms, at their best can monitor all media formats. The main advantage is that they provide intelligence much faster than traditional marketing/media research.

> Earned media is the currency that acts like a ‘credit’ attributed to the brand by its constituents, whether they be advocates, influencers or a more general audience with a brand experience.

What’s the point? Social media marketing is very important but it can’t be done alone. While advertising, though on the ropes and lessening in its importance, will continue to play a role in providing scale and immediacy. Interactive marketers need to start balancing their media together for optimal results.

Not sure that I agree that advertising is on the ropes. Adspend budgets are up in 2010 while social media accounts for a fraction of the total adspend (as separate from digital adspend). In summary the keyword, as Corcoran says, is balance. Since the “Galaxy of media choices“, to paraphrase the Boston Consulting Group, is extensive and complex, it’s a matter of making the right choices in context of the brand, the measurable objectives and target audience, as the best way to optimize adspend and results.

-Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia