Summary:  The Tribune Company just launched Tribune 365 (www.trb365.com) that claims to provide integrated marketing campaigns—that is, ads across multiple platforms available within the Tribune media—newspapers (e.g., The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times), other print outlets and television stations.  In fact—and probably more important—it represents integrated ad sales:  one team to sell ad inventory across all of their platforms (and, with hope, others, as well).  We think this is a brilliant step—and long, long overdue.

The Details.

It is pretty straightforward—and both astonishing and understandable (OK, OK, so it’s a contradiction:  Call it a paradox)—that a major, and heavily indebted, media company has finally figured out one of their biggest assets:  multiple platforms.  The Tribune Company’s initiative is called Tribune 365 (www.trb365.com).

Selling ads across these platforms to an advertiser in what the ad industry calls “integrated ad campaigns” becomes a lot more attractive.  More to the point, they overcame one of the biggest obstacles, which is the silo-like ad sales structures of newspaper ad teams selling their ads, TV station ad sales teams selling their inventory, and so on.  Media reports point to a recent campaign for Target, with ads in newspapers, on Tribune TV stations and Tribune websites.

So What?

“Integrated ad campaigns” are not that new but what is new is that they are now available where they count:  where the inventory resides.  This makes it likely that we will see them with more frequency.  Moreover, think about it for a bit:  What the Tribune is doing is a classic case of the model that like very much, which is “audience integration.”  That’s what diversified media companies do best.  They bring audiences to advertisers.  The more diversified they are then the more audiences they can aggregate.

Aggregation recognizes that audiences get their content from multiple sources.  While there may be some overlap (someone who reads “The Trib” and watches a Tribune TV station), there are many people who use one medium and not another.  If those media happen to be owned by one media company, why not place ads across all of them?  That’s audience aggregation.

It’s not always so simple.  We have often seen civil war break out in media companies among the ad sales teams.  The sales team responsible for TV ad sales rebels when the website sales team for the TV station calls on the same clients for their inventory.  It can get ugly.

And it is understandable, because you are dealing with the livelihood of salespeople.  Someone who has cultivated the ad agency (or internal ad buyer) of a large advertiser for years relies upon the sales commission to pay the mortgage .  Why should he or she let a competitor—even someone in the same corporate family—put the saleperson in financial jeopardy?

And (we hope) that’s what the Tribune Company has figured out.  We hope that the integrated sales team means that commissions are not limited to one medium because that is the only way that you can (and should) change the ad sales culture.  After all, ad revenues amount to the lifeblood of most media companies.  And selling ad inventory makes that lifeblood pump.  And earning those commissions is what enables the sale of that inventory.

Advertisements

Twitter on TV

July 2009

Summary:        Now we have a new form of convergence:  social networking and (cable) TV.  Not a bad move.  Verizon announced two new “products” in its “social TV” initiative.  One is a set of widgets that enable viewers to connect with other viewers through various social networks—while watching TV.  The second enables viewers to watch user-generated content from certain websites.  One more step in convergence.  Of course, it is a bit like the Zeno’s Paradox of digital convergence.  You could also say:  It’s about time.

Through its FIOS TV service Verizon is taking a few bold steps towards digital convergence.  First, Verizon will create an application store with widgets developed together with some notable social networks—Twitter, Facebook, Veoh and a few others.  So, a FIOS subscriber can follow tweets they select from a list—including the programming they are watching.  They can log into Facebook (but not yet Twitter) to update their profile as to what they are watching at that moment.  An SDK will be launched soon.

The second new product permits a subset of subscribers to start searching and viewing UGC from certain video sites, including Veoh and Blip.TV.

So What?

Well, it is another step closer to digital convergence.  Using TV programs to tweet is an obvious stimulus to that convergence, when you consider how often TV shows are the subject of tweets.  Tweeting about these programs is of course nothing new and these widgets do not (yet) enable tweeting through the TV.  What it does permit is to enable a viewer to see whose twitting what and when.

So that’s why it’s like Zeno’s Paradox.  Remember:  Walk halfway across the room, the half the remaining distance, then half the remaining distance—and so forth.  This is a little like that:  closer, closer, closer, but not quite there.

But the move is just the first and we can expect more.  The application store will propel developers to pay attention to crossing the chasm between the TV, the PC and the mobile phone.  Think about it:  Twitter is (largely) phone-based and Facebook is (largely) PC-based-platform.  This appeals to the developers.  FIOS competitors will figure out their own way to merge social networks with TV programming.

OK, now the gears are churning.  Think of characters using Twitter in the programs—and they are matched by Twitters available to FIOS users.  And so forth.

Stay tuned.

Summary:  Taking a page from websites, networks and cable channels have introduced “TV in Context,” with ads that are “contextual” in the sense that they are tailored to a particular moment or scene in a given show.

Cable channels and networks have expanded their program, “TV in Context,” of placing ads in TV shows and movies that play off a particular scene in a scripted series of a movie.  For example, just after a crash scene in the Bourne Supremacy, an ad for the in-car service OnStar said “Are you counting on your cellphone to be your lifeline in a car crash?”  (See the New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/business/media/20adco.html?fta=y.

What is surprising is that it has taken networks (and cable channels) so long to get here.  For decades, advertisers have made sure that their ads are not placed in the wrong place—e.g., an ad for a Chevrolet just after a fatal car accident occurs in a TV series in which a GM car is involved.  And this is innovation?

Summary:  CW will launch an ad campaign that encourages viewers to communicate with each other through social networking—texting, Twitter, Facebook and the like.  Now, at least someone recognizes the value of multiple platforms.

Among the more interesting approaches to respond to advertisers’ demands on networks, CW will launch an ad campaign that acknowledges and embraces the viewers’ use of other platforms.  Called “TV to talk about,” the tagline will change with each ad to things like “TV to text about,” “blog about,” “chat about” and “tweet about.”  The New York Times published an interesting article on this point at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/business/media/21adco.html?emc=eta1

CW is probably better positioned than other networks because its programming attracts younger audiences who already interact across digital programs.  What was interesting (according to the NYT article) was that CW had to send researchers to the homes of viewers to find out that viewers do this.  Now that’s funny.  What are they reading?

So here’s an idea:  Let viewers opt in to a scroller that shows the most popular Tweets (or other feeds of comments of other viewers) during the show.  Of course, the scroller will be sponsored by an advertiser. . . .

One more step towards true convergence:

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) has announced plans for 60+ stations in 20+ cities to start simulcasts of OTA programming by the end of 09. Cities scheduled thus far include New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, DC and Philadelphia.

This should boost sales of the iPhone and other devices with large screens. Imagine the opportunity now with WiMax being deployed—conversely, imagine the network overload.