Archive for April, 2008

Warner Bros. to Revive WB as Online Video Site

April 29, 2008

Media Week

Published: April 28, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Hulu may be a singular name, but it isn’t such a singular media property anymore. Time Warner’s Warner Bros. studio unveiled plans today to revive the dormant WB broadcast-TV network as an online-video site, along with another site devoted to KidsWB, its kiddie-TV sibling.

The site, slated to beta launch in early May, will feature the re-release of some of the WB's most popular programs as well as shows created exclusively for the site.
The site, slated to beta launch in early May, will feature the re-release of some of the WB’s most popular programs as well as shows created exclusively for the site.

TheWB.com is slated to have a beta launch in early May, and could launch publicly by August, executives from Warner Bros. Television Group said. The site will target adults aged 16 to 34 and feature, among other things, the re-release of some of the WB’s most popular programs, in addition to other Warner Bros. content and shows created just for the site. Viewers will be able to see “Smallville,” “Roswell,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” as well as the only online showings of “Friends.”

Meanwhile, KidsWB.com will feature the studio’s library of animation, which includes characters from Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics.

Hulu launch
Warner’s effort to launch these two video portals comes just weeks after NBC Universal and News Corp. officially launched Hulu.com, a general-interest online-video site, to the public. That site, to which Warner Bros. contributes content, has gained notice not only for making available old programs like “Lou Grant,” but for attaching ads to TV-quality video in new and different ways. One Hulu method allows viewers to choose from among a few different commercials.

The number of people downloading or streaming video online at least once a month is set to rise to 190 million in 2012, according to eMarketer, up from 137.5 million in 2007. So it’s not surprising that a major media company would launch a site to nab its own sliver of that audience. But as the Warner effort shows, the web could eventually be filled with many different places for online video, each vying against several others for a share of the online-ad pie.

Like other media concerns, Warner is making sure its content is distributed in broad fashion, not just on its own site. Comcast will offer WB.com programming via its Fancast.com online-entertainment site as well as its video-on-demand service. Fancast.com will also distribute content from KidsWB.com. Time Warner’s AOL will feature a WB.com-branded broadband channel.

Sponsorship deals
Mattel, McDonald’s and Johnson & Johnson have already agreed to support the new initiatives, Warner said. Mattel, for example, will have rights to launch advertising and promotional partnerships for the DC HeroZone, a branded site within KidsWB.com that will feature a gallery of DC Comics content. Mattel produces a line of DC action figures and toys. McDonald’s will sponsor KidsWB as well.

The WB site will also have an intriguing alliance with Facebook.com, the popular social-networking site. Users of TheWB.com will be able to access their Facebook accounts while on the WB site and can share video and photos via their profile page.

Warner and Hulu find themselves in an odd dance. Warner continues to provide Hulu with programs such as “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Babylon 5” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” said a Hulu spokeswoman; Hulu expects to add more Warner content “throughout the summer.” At the same time, Warner is going to create a site that could be a Hulu rival.

“The digital landscape is giving us a lot of new opportunities to monetize content, and none of them is mutually exclusive,” said Bruce Rosenblum, president-Warner Bros. Television Group.

The Hulu spokeswoman said Warner’s efforts show the market for high-quality online video is growing more robust.

McDonald’s Happy Meals Go Digital!

April 2, 2008

AdRants

In conjunction with Fuel Industries, McDonald’s Europe is launching digital “toys” for Happy Meals through April and May.

The “Fairies and Dragons” universe (for girls and boys, respectively) can be accessed via CD-ROMs inside old-school McD’s Happy Meals. The campaign and associated characters are original creations by Fuel (for mommies who get moody about rampant product placement).

Once the disk is inserted in a computer, characters can be pursued and played-with across the desktop. Kids follow clues that grant them access to games in the make-believe universe.

Fairies and Dragons will also be easy to distribute worldwide because the characters communicate without language. At outset, the campaign will go live in 49 countries.

Hrm. That’s way better than plastic 101 Dalmatians drinking cups. Oh, what we’d give for a European Happy Meal right now.

Top 10 US Social-Network and Blog-Site Rankings Issued for Feb.

April 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

Though again atop the rankings of US social-networking sites, MySpace.com‘s audience grew just 4 percent in February from Feb. ’07.

Meanwhile, second-place Facebook‘s more than doubled, growing 102 percent year over year, according to custom lists compiled by Nielsen Online, MarketingCharts reports.

LinkedIn increased its unique audience 271 percent year over year, reaching 7.4 million in Feb., compared with 2.0 million a year earlier – and challenging fourth-place Windows Live Spaces.

nielsen-online-top-10-social-networking-sites-us-february-2008.jpgMySpace’s unique audience totaled 55.4 million in February, more than double Facebook’s 20.0 million.

Top Blogger Sites

Google‘s Blogger remained atop the blog site rankings with 37.2 million unique visitors, up from 23.6 million in Feb. ’07 – or a growth of 58 percent. nielsen-online-top-10-blog-sites-us-february-2008.jpgWordPress was up an impressive 209 percent year over year, increasing its unique audience to 16.5 million.

Fifth-place TheHuffingtonPost.com’s growth was also impressive: Its unique audience grew from 1.1 million in Feb. ’07 to more than 3.7 million – or 241 percent.

DoubleClick’s Self-Publishing Widget Ads May Monetize Social Networks

April 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

DoubleClick, now a Google property, is launching widget advertising into the self-publishing ad market.

Powered by Gigya Wildfire, the option enables advertisers to encourage viral dissemination of interactive ads across social media. Gigya will provide metrics for advertisers.

DoubleClick expects the medium to blossom into an effective way to monetize social networks.

Online Radio Reaches 33MM a Week, Listeners Tend to Be Social Networkers

April 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

33 million Americans age 12 or older listen to a radio station over the internet during an average week – up from 29 million listeners one year ago – estimates the annual “Infinite Dial 2008: Radio’s Digital Platforms” report by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, MarketingCharts writes.

There is also a strong connection between online radio listening and social networking sites, according to the study, which will be released in April.

Among the findings:

  • 13 percent of Americans age 12 or older (an estimated 33 million people) had listened to online radio in the previous week – an increase of two percentage points from January 2007.
  • Though nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of all Americans age 12 or older have a profile on a social-networking site such as MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of online radio listeners have a profile on such sites.
  • One-third of online radio listeners with a social network profile visit their social networking site nearly every day or several times per day.
  • The top social-networking sites among online radio listeners are MySpace and the business professional networking service LinkedIn:
    • 28 percent of online radio listeners have a MySpace page
    • Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) have a profile on LinkedIn.

“Social networking is clearly not about creating exclusive, self-enclosed communities,” said Diane Williams, senior analyst, custom research for Arbitron.

“We found that online radio listeners are more than one-and-one-half times more likely to have a profile on a social networking site as compared to average Americans and that they tend to be power-users, with one-third of online radio listeners logging on to their social networking site nearly every day or even multiple times per day.”

Average Search CPC Data by Category for February 2008

April 2, 2008

CLick Z

A look at the average cost-per-click in search by vertical in the U.S. for February 2008. Data and research are provided by Efficient Frontier. “Total finance” includes auto finance, banking, credit, financial information, insurance, lending, and mortgage. Each vertical contains data from multiple advertisers.

Average Search CPC by Category,
February 2008
Category CPC ($)
Total finance 2.43
Credit 2.65
Mortgage 2.05
Auto finance 1.47
Insurance 7.87
Travel 0.72
Automotive 0.50
Retail 0.37
Dating 0.37
Source: Efficient Frontier 2008

A roadmap to creative success

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Tiffany Young

Part of what makes a campaign work is appropriateness of media and message for each stage of the purchase process. Here’s how to map it out.

I recently judged an online advertising competition and I found a very clear distinction between the great work and the rest of the work. The great online ads were few and far between — even in a competition in which agencies submitted their best efforts — because doing great work is difficult (no surprise).

As I looked at the best ads, here’s what I noticed: The very best ads surprised me. And while they were unexpected, they were not irrelevant or unfocused. Most were inventive without being obtuse. They were approachable and appropriate for their target audience. And finally, the very best ads engaged consumers by putting them in control of interactivity.

So those are some simple tips, right? Easy peasy! Just go out there and invent a campaign that’s surprisingly relevant and approachable while being fun and engaging. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning.

The beauty of online advertising is that it encompasses so much. But this can also be the ugly part. Many media plans are presented with an emphasis on rich media. All the “other stuff” like newsletters, contextual content and keywords are often treated like value-adds, because they cost less or require less time to produce.

By emphasizing the most expensive online media, it’s easy to mistake the “other stuff” as unimportant. But each component of a comprehensive online media plan is an important piece of a puzzle that can help bring consumers from awareness to purchase. Taking time to map each piece to the purchase continuum can help your creative teams craft messaging that resonates with consumers right where they are, both emotionally and in terms of how much information they have about your brand.

It seems like common sense, but I don’t see it done that often. I imagine media plans as road maps for consumers. If I get each piece of communication right in a comprehensive online media campaign, I give consumers driving directions from where they are to where I want them to be.

So let’s start with the first turn on the map: awareness.

Run-of-site and run-of-network display ads can help build awareness of your brand through multiple impressions. These ads shouldn’t be complicated. If a consumer doesn’t know about you yet, he’s probably not going to drill down into multiple tabs of an expandable rich-media ad unit. Focus on a simple, compelling message that catches the attention of consumers and leaves them with a good impression of your brand.

Now as for relevance, section placements and e-newsletters place your brand in the context of something consumers choose to view. For instance, say they’re reading a home furnishings blog. You could serve a geo-targeted display or text ad for your brand that tells them “hey remember me? You just met me. Guess what, I’m in your area — funny huh? Yeah I’m totally relevant now.” This is also the point at which to share more of your brand with consumers. Splurge on the rich-media ads with more interactivity and information for these types of media placements wherever possible.

Moving along the purchase continuum, consumers eventually get to preference. They know you, they know you’re relevant to them and in their area now, but they have other options. When they search for products like yours, the search results they get should give them a reason to prefer your brand over the others. Are you better, cheaper, faster, more exclusive or more fun? Make sure your search results tell consumers why you’re the best option.

When consumers are interested in you and your brand, you’re in a great position. Unfortunately, many brands drop the ball at this point. A media plan doesn’t normally include what happens after consumers click, so it’s easy to get caught up in planning and forget to fulfill your end of the deal. Give consumers a compelling, relevant landing page to take the next step towards purchase. Make sure they’re glad they met you, and then make it easy for them to get what they want.

Lastly, once you’ve made it easy for consumers to purchase, utilize that success by putting measures in place to analyze your website. Make sure you’re set up to track results so you can garner the most learning for next time. Remember that a consumer’s first purchase can be the beginning of a long-term relationship, or it can also be her last purchase. Strong analysis is key to turning more first-time buyers into lasting, loyal customers.

By mapping creative executions and your media plan to the purchase continuum you can get the most out of every bit of your media budget while giving consumers a great online experience with your brand.

Facebook to Launch IM Service

April 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

The war continueth

Facebook is poised to launch its own instant messaging service as early as next week. The service will be built into Facebook profile pages.

Facebook’s plans may be bad news for third parties like Social.IM and FriendVox, which built IM apps on Facebook.

The announcement comes a week after Bebo, the third biggest social network, was purchased by AOL. AOL says the merger’s success hinges upon the successful integration of AIM into Bebo.

MySpace also offers a rather sporadic IM service, which debuted in 2004.

Early this month, Facebook announced a music partnership with iTunes, right on the heels of MySpace, which itself is developing a music service with the four major record companies.

Pepsi to Launch Summer Web Series

April 2, 2008

MediaWeek’s Digital Download

Gail Schiller, The Hollywood Reporter

Pepsi-Cola North America is launching an original online series in the summer.

The soda giant will serve as its own studio for a serialized action-adventure production from film writer-directors Shawn Papazian and Art Brown (“Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back”) that will be a branded-entertainment play for soft drink Mountain Dew. The untitled project will bow in June on Web sites still being determined.

But in a twist, viewers will able to alter the story line by selecting from a menu of options after each episode that take the series in different creative directions, akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book franchise.

“Putting this kind of interactivity in the story line allows the consumer to have some engagement with the brand,” Pepsi vp marketing Frank Cooper said.

The project will bow in the form of five shortform interlinked episodes, which will be followed up by a batch of more episodes at a date to be determined. Cooper didn’t rule out eventually migrating the property to TV or DVD.

“It will start online, but we think that it can evolve into a broader experience that can come offline,” he said.

Cooper declined to disclose budget figures but indicated it was far less than the traditional 30-second Pepsi spot.

The Mountain Dew brand is no stranger to unconventional promotions blurring the lines between digital entertainment and marketing. In November, Pepsi launched the casual game “Dewmocracy,” which allowed users to create a new flavor of the soft drink. Co-produced by Forest Whitaker, the game drew 600,000 unique visitors who averaged 28 minutes per session on the site.

11 reasons to extend your brand with games

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Mathew Georghiou and Mary Beth Schoening

Increasing popularity
The marketing process is really just a numbers and efficiency game — the more people in your target market that are open to hearing your brand message, the better. And the more effective you are at delivering your brand message to those folks, the higher your conversion rate. Online games and simulations have been booming in popularity because they deliver increased reach and effectiveness for brand messages.

According to PQ Media, advergaming and webisodes are the fastest growing branded entertainment segments, climbing at a 51.7 percent CAGR from 2002 to 2007.

Online games and simulations are great at educating prospects in both the consumer and B2B marketplaces across a broad range of industries — financial, health, lifestyle, technology, sports, retail, automotive and more.

Check out these reasons why you and your brand should start playing the game.

Reasons 1-2
The bottom line is we just want to have fun
According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, 35 percent of Americans rated video and computer games as “the most fun entertainment activity.” (TV was a distant second, at only 18 percent.) People are intrigued and open to trying something they think will be entertaining. This not only leaves them more open to hearing your brand message, but they may be more receptive to taking action as well.

The beauty of an online game is that it can be designed to reward specific behaviors that move your prospects along a qualification or buying spectrum.

Online games can be viral and ubiquitous
Online games are very portable and can be emailed in marketing campaigns, hosted on your website, syndicated to other high traffic websites and distributed out to mobile phones.

Traditional point of purchase materials can direct prospects to games on your website. From a viral marketing standpoint, game users can “rip” the games and put your branded games on their blogs, websites, MySpace and Facebook pages or send them to a friend via email.

Reasons 3-4
They deliver results
“By embedding a brand and/or product within a relevant activity or associating it with a lifestyle, advertising effectiveness increases significantly,” according to Fast Company. “America’s addiction to video and computer games is leading the way to a new advertising medium with astounding clickthrough rates, play times and peer-to-peer potential.”

Some say that advergaming offers retention rates 10 times higher than broadcast commercials; 15-45 percent of consumers who receive an advergame actually play it, and for an impressive average of 25 minutes. (Source: YaYa LLC.) These kinds of engagement metrics speak for themselves.

Games and simulations are a great way to educate your prospects and customers
Marketing is really just a two-part education process:

  1. Educate your prospects on how your product or service solves a pain-point or meets a need.
  2. Educate them as to why your solution is better than your competitors at meeting those needs or solving their pain-points.

Online games and simulations are a great branding tool because they are a powerful way to draw in your prospects. Educating prospects, or even your own sales reps, on complex concepts can be done very effectively in the framework of an online game or simulation.

Reasons 5-6
Online games create an impetus to interact with your brand
Online games create an impetus for your prospects to engage with your brand. Why is this? Online games appeal to our emotions — there is excitement, intrigue, hope of winning and an appeal to our competitiveness that creates a prospect “pull” toward your brand. It’s the start of a brand relationship. Then it’s up to you to continue to “work” the relationship.

Online games deliver greater brand recall
We’re more likely to remember the message from an experiential learning situation. Research has also shown that people remember more when involving all of the senses in the buying or education process.

Highly visual, interactive and engaging learning experiences, sophisticated artificial intelligence and vivid real-life graphics enable people to almost literally place themselves in real-life business and life interactions as if they were actually occurring. This can be helpful for reaching your prospects, training customer service and sales reps and synching up your workforce with respect to your brand messages.

Reasons 7-8
Provide greater customer insights
Online games allow brands to turn unknown prospects into known prospects. Customers are more willing to give contact information or personal/preference information in exchange for the ability to play a game. In fact, a well-designed game allows for personalization, enabling the player to be more emotionally invested. This gives you the ability to market to prospects one-on-one in the future and to personalize your message based on their preferences.

Games engage the emotion to reach the intellect
You can almost envision a hand reaching out from a computer screen to “grab” the prospect and draw them in. The emotional aspect really is the impetus for drawing a person in — the fun, the thrill, the challenge, the chance to win — but then you have the opportunity to appeal to the person’s intellect by delivering brand messages and information that appeal to the prospective buyer. It’s a one-two punch.

Reasons 9-10
Provide your prospect with an active (not passive) experience
People know that when they approach an online game they will be required to participate in an interactive experience. If your prospects are active participants with your brand, their experience is more likely to be what might be described as a “deep tissue experience,” whereas a passive experience is only “skin deep” and doesn’t sink in as far. Experiential learning trumps passive experience, no matter how you look at it.

Multiplayer games can be the glue to build community around your brand
Simulations, serious games and massively multiplayer online worlds are revolutionizing communications, learning and collaboration for people of all ages and cultures. Virtual worlds and multiplayer games add a level of socialization onto an already fun experience. We have seen a steep parallel trajectory in the social media world and the gaming world, but now we are seeing the points of intersection between the two.

Imagine that part of your training as a brand new account rep at a regional bank is to learn how to start and run a business using a business-simulation game. You will have to make decisions such as how to price your products, how much inventory to order, how many employees to hire, how much capital you need. You can see firsthand the impact of your decisions and understand the interrelationships in a way that would be too abstract otherwise. Multiplayer gaming allows multiple participants to interact together to conduct real business in virtual worlds and connect with a larger community.

Reason 11
Synchronize your brand vision across all touchpoints
Communicating your brand vision across multiple divisions, geographies, languages, job functions, industries, target markets and partner communities can be costly, time consuming and incredibly challenging. The Holy Grail is to have all the people touching your brand be synchronized on your brand vision and be consistent in the representation of it to others.

When the portability of online games is combined with a fun and entertaining activity, its reach can span far and wide — to every brand community and every brand touchpoint with the control of a consistent brand message. Experiencing the business brings a greater depth of understanding so that the people representing your brand are more authentic and can give specific examples and greater detail. You maximize every conversation about your brand at every touchpoint.