Thursday, May 24, 2018
  • Friday, Jun. 22, 2007
Confab Talk Tackles New Media Issues
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Advertising prospects in mobile video, the impact of digital video recorders (DVRs) and monetizing user-generated content were among the topics tackled during an Advertising Track session at the Digital Hollywood conference held last week in Santa Monica.
    On the DVR front, Tom Grayman, director, brand and consumer research for Spike, IFILM and Gaming, which are components of MTV Networks' Entertainment Group, cited a recent NBC study which found that households with DVRs skip commercials less often than households without DVRs (that skip via channel surfing, bathroom and snack breaks, etc.).
    "DVR households are fast forwarding through commercials--there's a difference between fast forwarding and skipping. Perhaps advertisers need to think about content that works at high speed," conjectured Grayman who noted that while ad effectiveness is diminished by fast forwarding, there are still opportunities within that context.
    Esther Franklin, senior VP/director of consumer context planning at media agency Starcom USA, noted the difference among demographic groups in DVR usage. For example, moms looking at DVR-recorded programs tend to watch it like TV and view everything, including ads. In sharp contrast, though, young adults are "very specific and focused bout what they want" and are "more likely to skip advertising," said Franklin.
    Davina Kent, VP, national advertising sales, for TiVo, said that 70 percent of TiVo users are in second speed, meaning they are generally not in the warp speed mode avoiding advertising altogether. They are instead zapping past but if they see something interesting, they can choose to stop.
    "My job," said Kent, "is working with advertisers to figure out how to get people to stop." This could entail the deployment of speed bumps and overlays, but no matter what the means, the content has to be engaging and relevant to viewers. Plus there needs to be added value if people elect to stop. "You need to take them to longer form content of value, to enable them to purchase something if they want, to interact with something, to get more information or to be able to request more information," related Kent.

User-generated content    The major question facing the user-generated content dynamic is how to properly monetize that phenomenon, said Dean Carignan, director, advertising business strategy of Microsoft's entertainment & devices division. The ad dollars, he noted, are going more toward premium primetime TV and movie download content on the web. And while user-generated content is booming, translating that traffic into ad dollars remains a bit of a quandary.
    Part of the problem said MTV Networks exec Grayman is the borderline, sometimes risque bent of user-generated fare. An advertiser, he said, doesn't want to be attached to a video of girls in bikinis wrestling in jello.. "There are different levels of risk tolerance with different advertisers."
    Adam Stewart, vertical director of Google's media & entertainment group, said that still the potential of user-generated video is enormous. Hundreds of thousands are uploaded daily, he said, with millions being watched on a daily basis. The reach of this is tremendous and advertisers will figure out a way to tap into that--but to be effective, you have to have respect for the users.
    Stewart added that professional content online is also expanding. He said that Google has 1,300 partners providing professional video.

Hard cell?
    While there is also untapped potential in mobile advertising content spanning cell phones and personal digital devices, the industry was advised to tread carefully. "There's not a huge hunger for mobile video," said Grayman, adding that it's a tricky proposition when a customer is paying a subscription fee for content and still has to watch ads.
    At the same time, another marketplace dynamic suggests a need for mobile fare. "Consumers more and more find themselves in waiting--at the airport, in the doctor's office," related Franklin. "During these states of wait, people are open to video content. But that content has to be based on a deep understanding of the medium, the platform and motivations."
    Hamet Watt, CEO of NextMedium, said that more blatant ad-driven content might be able to get by for the short term on mobile devices as a novelty. But over the long haul, you need intelligent integration and sponsorship.
    TiVo's Kent added that her company recently hosted an exec from Virgin Mobile who played up another, sometimes overlooked aspect of cell phones--not so much as a third screen but as a control device, enabling them to program their TiVo while on the run, setting up their home security. The handheld phone and other devices can be a control agent for other media and tasks.
    Franklin added a dose of physical reality. As we all get older, the eyes get weaker, meaning more of us won't be so anxious to keep our eyes glued to a tiny screen.

Convergence, creative
    Google's Stewart observed that convergence has long been defined as the coming together of TV and the computer. But that definition might be too confining given the reality of the evolving marketplace. He suggested that the most relevant convergence dynamic for the consumer is the coming together of his or her relevant information. No matter what the platform, wherever you are--using mobile devices, the computer, whatever medium is necessary--you want to be able to access the information you need.
    And in terms of keeping things simple, Kent noted that creativity is still king when it comes to developing creative content. She cited agency Crispin Porter+Bogusky as a great example of a place that's successful because it starts with the creative concept and from that the media evolves.