Viewpoint: Rating TV Programs in Today’s Media World

(appeared in Ad Age May 18, 2011)

Media executives are deeply ensconced in the TV upfronts this week, the networks’ annual round of presentations and parties that have come to resemble their own reality shows on air, as pitches are followed by media buyers’ votes — in the form of ad buys.

This used to be just a game of anticipating ratings. Higher ratings meant higher reach among consumers, which was very attractive to big brands looking to create awareness for their products and services. While shows with big audiences still have big value, the average rating of a top 10 prime-time show is almost a third of what it was 25 years ago. And that has implications for the way advertisers should evaluate TV and how networks should develop their schedules.

Optimedia Content Power Ratings chart

Optimedia’s Content Power Ratings values programs using three key criteria:

  • Audience Delivery — including average audience impressions across TV, web and mobile platforms.
  • Involvement — overall awareness of and loyalty to program; including index of Google search volume and effort made to watch the show.
  • Advocacy — overall levels of conversation and PR activity — including press mentions, recommendations and general “buzz,” in addition to personal recommendations.

Optimedia’s Content Power Ratings use data sourced from the agency’s own primary research as well as Nielsen Media Research’s NTI database, Nielsen Online Video Census, ComScore’s Media Metrix, Video Metrix and Mobile Metrix, Facebook, Klout, Twitalyzer, Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics, E-Poll’s ProgramPulse, Google Trends and Dow Jones Factiva. Content Power Ratings 4.0 evaluate all network and cable TV shows during the 2010 calendar year.

We want TV to deliver more than eyeballs. We want it to generate, among other things, greater involvement with consumers. Studies consistently point out that when viewers are more engaged with a show, its advertising and branded content proves significantly more persuasive as well. In the Content Power Ratings study we at Optimedia released last week, shows such as “Family Guy,” “Glee” and “The Office” come out on top in terms of viewer involvement.

Marketers are also trying to make their TV campaigns more social, driving conversations both online and off through more active sponsorships and brand integrations. We’d argue that shows with high “viewer advocacy” provide enhanced platforms for brands that want to create more buzz. “Glee” was the top show for viewer advocacy last year, according to our Content Power Ratings study. Other shows that completed our top five ranking in terms of viewer advocacy were “American Idol,” “Lost,” “Modern Family” and “Dancing with the Stars.”

But viewership, of course, is simultaneously shifting to other screens. According to Nielsen, online video viewing is up 48% just in the past 12 months. With the second generation of the iPad flying off the shelves, tablets are becoming a genuine third screen in the home. So it’s important for advertisers to understand where certain shows are being watched and what that means for their marketing plans. Online viewers are likely to be younger, harder to reach by traditional means, and certainly well connected digitally. In many cases they may be more open to new brands. The top five shows viewed online were “South Park,” “The Bachelorette,” “Big Brother,” “Glee” and “The Secret Life of an American Teenager.”

So what are the overall implications to the networks’ programming and scheduling strategy?

  • Comedy is back. While in the past seen as a riskier proposition to pilot, this genre has the potential to create a more involved and influential viewer. There are at least 16 new comedies being piloted in prime time, with USA planning five new comedies in its 2011-12 schedule.
  • Shows able to establish active fan bases offer attractive value to advertisers. A strong presence in social media doesn’t just reflect a show’s popularity among passive viewers, but also how current it is and how well it’s penetrating popular culture.
  • The more participation in a show the better, whether it’s interacting with content online, voting for contestants or discussing it with friends. We have seen strong evidence of this with one-off events such as the Super Bowl and MTV’s Video Music Awards, where tweeting a show has amplified it. According to Content Power Ratings, this pattern has shifted to regular weekly shows. And there appears to be plenty of appetite remaining for singing and talent competitions.
  • The networks will want to consider how well a show performs online, where they can command ad rates on par or even at a premium to prime-time TV prices.

TV and marketing are evolving to reflect the changing cultural and digitally shaped landscape. We buyers are looking for multiple things from the networks: large audiences, engaged audiences and active audience


What Do the Best Media Strategies and Executions in the World Look Like?

By Antony Young, posted on, May 10 2011

Last weekend I sat on the judging panel of the International Festival of Media awards. Some 800 entries from 50 countries were submitted by every global media agency network as well as some first-rate creative and digital shops in a World Cup-style playoff of the best of the best.

The competition was incredibly democratic. It didn’t matter how big the budget had been or whether the work originated from Stockholm or Sydney. The finest ideas and most inventive media implementation won the day.

The media game has changed massively from even three or four years ago. The category with the largest number of entries, for example, was Best Use of Content. Media has transformed from a delivery system for ad creative to a place where the primary content can embody marketing messages.

I loved a campaign for Pampers in the Philippines that sparked a widespread movement behind “Baby Yoga.” The media agency created a daily morning TV program that invited celebrity moms to do exercises with their infant child. The stretching exercises and product integration helped P&G diapers with “stretchy sides” overtake its top competitor in that market, Huggies.

Moving from owned media to earned media, I absolutely loved CoppaFeel!, a U.K. campaign to promote young women’s awareness of breast cancer that cost just $16,000 to promote. The campaign, founded by 23-year-old cancer survivor Kristin Hallenga, engaged volunteers during Breast Cancer Awareness month with the goal to “hijack every pair of boobs in the U.K.” Promotional stickers and images encouraging women to self-check their breasts wound up on students, celebrities, professional athletes, shop mannequins, statues, posters and social media sites. The campaign grabbed the country’s attention, creating a movement that spread like wildfire.

The campaigns that impressed most, however, were sparked with a genuine consumer insight. Whiskas cat food in Australia did exactly that. Its insight was that in a dog-dominated country (50% of Australian households own a dog while less than 25% of households own a cat) most cat owners were embarrassed to talk about their pets in public. The agency planners discovered that cat owners were yearning for a ‘safe haven’ for cat talk where they could share stories, tips and celebrate their feline friends. They created an online community for owners to talk about their cats and connect with other cat lovers. They created Facebook-type profiles on a Whiskas site to show off their cats. They then asked consumers to vote for the cat that should appear on the front of Whiskas packs. Owners developed their own campaigns in social media to promote voting.

My personal award for the most resourceful campaign went to an agency trying to promote car insurance in Poland by helping drivers realize the effects of reckless driving. They partnered up with the local police in Warsaw! When a police officer stopped a driver for a traffic offence, drivers were given a choice: They could either accept the ticket or enter a special car-crash simulator. These simulators were branded by Aviva; drivers received information on Aviva’s services and how they would support them in the claim process. A smashing piece of work!

There were some disappointments. Too many media buzz words used with alarming regularity. Papers that included phrases like “this innovative multi-platform, fully integrated 360-degree program provided a highly engaging holistic campaign that surrounded the consumer whilst delivering amazing ROI” got rightfully marked down by the judges. So too were campaigns that didn’t attempt to connect media to a sales or business outcome. Interestingly, the Best Use of Digital category now almost seems a bit quaint, as I could barely remember a single entry in any category that did not have digital well and truly embedded, if not leading the campaigns.

Fellow judge MillerCoors’ media director Stevie Benjamin made a great summation when she remarked, “media’s role has to advance the message.” The winners all demonstrated this in spades.

I encourage you to check out the Cream Global site that has all the entries here.

Antony Young is the CEO of Optimedia U.S., a Publicis Groupe media-strategy and -buying agency headquartered in New York. He recently published his second book, “Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in a Digital Era,” a Palgrave-MacMillan and Advertising Age publication.

10 Biggest Social Media Mistakes

Drew Neisser, CEO and Founder of Renegade, a social media agency wrote this superb and very current piece for MediaPost Marketing Daily …  the full article can be found on this link.

Here is a summary of the 10 key points.  All of them are spot on.

#1 Thinking of social as just another media channel
Media channels like TV, cable or otherwise, deliver a monologue, in which advertisers shout with the hope of being heard. Social media is a conversation in which the brand must first listen and then offer something of value in order to gain an invitation to interact. It’s about listening really carefully and responding with equal regard.

#2 Leaving social media to the “twinterns”
“When did it become okay to just give anyone off the street the keys to one of the most important assets you have … your brand!”
The risks of this approach have become readily apparent. Nestle, a brand that has come under repeated attack by activist groups like Greenpeace, only made matters worse when junior staffers responded flippantly to negative posts on its Facebook Wall.
#3 Ready, fire, aim
Like boxing, social media looks pretty simple to the untrained eye, but who among you would dare jump into the ring without a lot of preparation and, better yet, a real plan of attack? In social media, preparation is essential to avoiding an accidental knockout. Brands must commit significant resources, and equally important, have a process in place for managing customer interactions, establishing an escalation policy when complaints arise.

#4 Don’t define success
Ironically, defining success in social media isn’t all that hard, especially when put into the context of the overall business goals. Boiling this down to basics, every business needs to do two things to survive, acquire customers and retain them. And typically, the better you are at retaining customers, the easier it is to acquire new ones. Well, sure enough, social media can do both of these things in highly measurable ways. (These are not the only uses for social, but these are the ones the c-suite cares about the most.)

#5 Isolate in one department
Bonin Bough of PepsiCo explained at a recent conference, “It’s not about ownership, it’s about leadership.” To be successful, social media initiatives need to be led by an individual or team of individuals that can rise above a particular department and then tap into all the requisite disciplines, including IT.
Twelpforce, the groundbreaking Twitter-based help desk from Best Buy, provides a great example of how these cross-disciplined programs can come into being. Originated in the marketing department, the Twelpforce application was coded by an internal IT team. The Twelpforce itself is made up of 2,600 Best Buy employees from all over the company, including customer service. In its first year, the Twelpforce responded to over 42,000 customer inquiries at a remarkably low cost-per-interaction and remarkably high c-sat rate.
#6 Ignore social media
Ignoring social media for whatever reason simply won’t cut it. Doing so means the conversation is happening without you, eliminating your opportunity to respond to the negative, reinforce the positive and or close the door to a competitor who is more socially adept. If you are afraid your customers will say bad things, you’re probably right but rather than turning a blind eye, engage your detractors with honesty and fix the problems.

#7 Limit employee access at work
The simple truth is that companies that want to make the most of social media need to have a lot of social people across just about every department. The benefits of this open approach are far reaching, allowing the organization as a whole to cast a broader net to catch fresh ideas, important trends, hidden prospects and even future employees.
One company that has benefited from this open approach is the behemoth IBM. Realizing a few years ago that their clients hire IBM because of IBMers, they made an all-out push to become a social business. Presently, IBM has over 30,000 employees on Twitter, over 200,000 on Facebook, over 200,000 on LinkedIn and over 35,000 bloggers. Add these to internal networks and a 75,000 strong community of ex-IBMers and you’ve got a massive community that creates and shares content with unrivaled speed and agility.
#8 Selling too hard
Keep in mind that 50% of the people who “like” or “follow” a brand, do so because they hope to get beneficial information or offers. Curate your content carefully, a bit like you might on a first or second date. Once the friendship is secure, feel free to put forth relevant offers. Skittles, in particular, has benefited immensely from an entirely soft sell approach, amassing over 15 million fans on Facebook in the process.
#9 Multiple voices
Perhaps because it is so easy to create content, some marketers feel it is okay to present completely different brand voices even on the same channel. A smarter approach is to establish your brand point-of-view upfront and to employ the various channels like instruments in an orchestra, creating a harmonious and synergistic effect. Defining what you are for and what you are against, will not only give you direction for execution but also it will give you permission to engage with your consumer on your subjects of mutual interest.

#10 Misalignment of platforms and goals
Dell has been particularly adept at aligning the platforms with specific business goals. Dell’s gathers customer feedback and crowd-sources new product ideas. Recognizing various uses for Twitter, Dell has a variety of accounts including @DellOutlet for deals on refurbished computers and @DellCares for customer support. Dell’s Investor Relations team was among the first to use, a presentation-sharing site, to present quarterly earnings. And their 24/7 “Social Media Command Center” ensures that customer complaints are heard and addressed regardless of the channel.

DigiDay Interview 5Q’s on Social Media, Online Advertising and Media Buying

Will strategy transform message creation and management?

Panel from 4A’s Transformation 2011 in Austin includes:

– Scott Hagedorn Chief Executive Officer Annalect Group
– Jacki Kelly Global Chief Executive Officer UM
– Joshua Spanier Director of Communication Strategy Goodby Silverstein & Partners
– Paul Woolmington Founding Partner Naked Communications

Moderator: Antony Young CEO Optimedia US

Link to the video of the panel.

Five Social Trends To Get Excited About Today

Great piece in Social Media Insider by David Berkowitz that gives a sample of the more current social media channels that are getting some traction.

The trends include:

1) Group Buying

e.g. the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial.

2) Social Shopping

Consumers making a purchase and solicit instant feedback via social platforms on mobile devices and online.   e.g.  Go Try It On

3) Crowdsourcing

Latest phenom includes  Quirky where participants can contribute to various stages of product development and get rewarded accordingly.

4) Social Optimization

Why does it matter? New technologies optimize marketers’ paid and earned media campaigns so they can be more strategic with the approach and content.

Who it impacts: Here’s a trend that will affect anyone doing any kind of social marketing.

Interesting new players include SocialFlow which times posts to when your audience should be most responsive and Taykey which aims to find more people who are especially likely to become fans or followers.

5) Check-ins

Foursquare had 380 million check-ins in 2010. Estimates for Facebook Places are in the tens of millions of users.

I’m still looking for a scalable brand marketer model.

Check out the full article.

5 Questions for Optimedia’s Antony Young

Into the brand breach armed with Young’s new book Brand Media Strategy

To read full article, click on: