Commercial Ratings- The ultimate buggy whip

As the automobile became the primary transportation method for the nation, the buggy whip inventors created their best offerings. Too little, too late- and other than for collectors of buggy whips- totally valueless.

That’s our analogy for commercial ratings.

Nielsen has been ruling the roost with abstract data for decades- taking a percentage of the total viewers and making an educated, statistically based guess on how many viewers are watching a program. While this worked well with only 3 networks, in the days of cable tv, satellite tv, vcr’s and dvr’s it became less relevant- but the system was so well dug in, and the alternatives so few- that the advertising industry stuck with it.

With broadband sneaking into more homes, with DVR’s doing the same thing- and with Internet use skyrocketing- and the advent of Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) with products like AppleTV, we are seeing the last days for Nielsen- and no real use for rating TV spots.

Here is why: Advertising is expensive- and therefore, advertisers aren’t interested in reaching people via “broadcasting” anymore. Broadcast reaches “broad audiences” including those who aren’t eligible to buy your product. The web, IPTV, and hard-drive enabled TV systems (cable and satellite) are able to deliver content that is targeted and able to generate hard data back. The ultimate one-to-one marketing, where if an ad dollar is wasted- it will only be wasted one time. This is the future, and with the ad industry being a multi-billion dollar business, it won’t be long before marketers demand accountability more exact than if someone saw the commercial- as offered by Nielsen- or even if they liked the commercial- they want to know if you are a real business prospect- and what it would take to make you one.

Nielsen to Offer Commercial Ratings
NEW YORK Nielsen will begin supplying national commercial ratings starting in the fall, the company confirmed today.

If the networks and advertisers can agree on a standard, the commercial ratings could be used as currency to buy and sell ads by as early as the start of the 2007-08 TV season.

But for now, program ratings will continue to be the currency for ad transactions.

A Nielsen representative said it received requests from all five major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, CW, NBC and Fox) for commercial ratings based on live viewership plus seven days of recorded DVR playback viewing. Nielsen will begin delivering that data “sometime this fall,” the rep said. That will give the industry about a year to analyze the data before deciding whether or not to use it as currency in the following season.

The commercial ratings will provide the average audience for all paid national ads airing during each program transmitted by national broadcast and cable networks, the Nielsen rep said.

While the trade press, the buyers, and the networks talk about this “next big thing” they are just fiddling while Rome burns. The entire system of delivering advertising messages will be more like YouTube and GoogleVideo- with meta-tags driving ad choices with a rebate per-click to the viewer (that’s right- you will get paid for watching and interacting with advertising in the future) or similar to Amazon‘s suggestions with a profile built from information you have volunteered.

Soon content producers will take their programming direct, via online hubs like the iTunes store or Amazon- getting paid directly from the consumer for their content. Discounting your media bill will be accomplished by your willingness to watch targeted TV spots- that help build your profile.

If you accept more commercials than your media bill- the proceeds go to the media producers- not to the intermediaries. This levels the playing field- and allows capitalism to do its thing- the way it was meant to.

There are two articles in Ad Age- talking about “engagement” and how “YouTube isn’t getting it done” which are still based on the idea that TV is driven through the old school “Network as middle-man” model. Once you realize that the new middle man will be the one who delivers 2-way feedback and links to your product- you realize how stupid this whole commercial rating discussion is.

If Proctor and Gamble took their “Soap Operas” offline- and onto their site- and charged $1 per show for an enhanced program- with 2 way connections with the characters- and then offered the content for free- if you answered some questions about Pringles, Tide or Gillette- don’t you think they would find that infinitely more useful than a rating of the viewership during their commercial?

Commercial ratings- the best buggy whip for last centuries marketers. Get used to it.

If you have questions about how to navigate this new media landscape feel free to contact us. Surf at the next wave dot biz.

Note: in today’s Ad Age, an article called “Revenge of the nerds” talks about this very subject- it seems Backchannel media has the right idea- except the part about the delivery system still including the networks.

Mr. Kokernak’s vision is to implement long-sought dreams of fully interactive, individually addressable and accountable TV. Backchannel wants to become the software and technology backbone of a new era dawning in TV as it transitions from analog to digital broadcasting — one Mr. Kokernak likens to the broadband tipping point that ushered in the age of YouTube.

In this era, ads are served to people according to the blocks or households where they live. They respond to TV ads with a simple remote click on an icon to, say, get more information about a car they just saw advertised, buy a song they just heard on the Grammys or the book Oprah just touted, or reserve a table at a nearby restaurant. In this era, based on real-time analysis of who’s clicking on what offers and programs, media plans change continuously.

TV, like the internet, but better?
In Backchannel’s vision, TV is a direct medium a la the internet, only, as Mr. Kokernak sees it, much better — without click fraud, phishing scams and other security threats. It’s enough, he believes, to shift much of the money that’s been going into search and other direct media back into TV, replace eyeball counts with the harder currency of response, and ultimately eliminate most upfront deals as dollars gravitate daily in a continuous-improvement cycle toward programming proven to generate response.

Sounds like a pay for performance plan doesn’t it?

Procter & Gamble goes little league

A client forwarded me an e-mail, suggesting that the high and mighty brand managers at P&G now think “aspiring copywriters, commercial artists, videographers” working in the food service industry are their new best hope to sell their soap.

Maybe P&G should award paychecks to brand managers based on a “if we like you- we may pay you” basis too.

For the worlds largest advertiser to turn to this is bad enough, but to make the top prize a measly grand, is an insult.

Never mind the instructions (facts, guidelines, tips) read like a “See Spot run” book- instead of a creative brief.

If P&G is really this desperate for ideas, maybe they should reevaluate their crazy bureaucracy that makes doing business with them so difficult.
Here is the text to the invite followed by a link to their site with an excerpt from the intro:

Procter & Gamble Professional looking for a few good ads
Aspiring copywriters, commercial artists, videographers and others working in the foodservice industry now have the opportunity to cash in on an exciting new initiative from Procter & Gamble Professional, the away from home division of the nation’s largest advertiser.
The “Create Our Ad” contest challenges foodservice professionals to develop print or video advertisements focusing on the back-of-house cleaning and sanitation needs of their industry. The winner will receive $1,000, and his or her ad will become part of the company’s advertising campaign. Procter & Gamble Professional will award $500 and $250 to the second and third place winners, respectively. Winners also will receive an introductory case of each product in the Dawn Grease Fighting Arsenal.
Procter & Gamble Professional is accepting print and video ads in any format. Visit www.pgbrands.com/createourad for contest details, general guidelines and suggestions to help non-advertising professionals create ads. Contestants will also be asked to recommend the publication or Web site where their entry should run.
Procter & Gamble Professional will accept entries through October 16.
Winners will be announced on October 31, with the winning ad appearing in print and online later this year.
Create Our Ad
CREATE OUR AD CONTEST: INTRODUCTION
So, you think you have what it takes to create advertising for Procter & Gamble? We’re counting on it! After all, as someone who works in the foodservice industry – the industry we cater to – you’re the expert. Put that expertise to work, and the $1,000 first prize and bragging rights might be yours when your winning entry starts showing up in magazines or Web sites later this year. 

Yeah, we all work for “bragging rights”- instead of providing valuable expertise in marketing, promoting, advertising and selling products. 

Remind me not to buy P&G products anymore. If they can’t respect our profession- how can we respect their products? 

Procter & Gamble goes little league

A client forwarded me an e-mail, suggesting that the high and mighty brand managers at P&G now think “aspiring copywriters, commercial artists, videographers” working in the food service industry are their new best hope to sell their soap.

Maybe P&G should award paychecks to brand managers based on a “if we like you- we may pay you” basis too.

For the worlds largest advertiser to turn to this is bad enough, but to make the top prize a measly grand, is an insult.

Never mind the instructions (facts, guidelines, tips) read like a “See Spot run” book- instead of a creative brief.

If P&G is really this desperate for ideas, maybe they should reevaluate their crazy bureaucracy that makes doing business with them so difficult.
Here is the text to the invite followed by a link to their site with an excerpt from the intro:

Procter & Gamble Professional looking for a few good ads
Aspiring copywriters, commercial artists, videographers and others working in the foodservice industry now have the opportunity to cash in on an exciting new initiative from Procter & Gamble Professional, the away from home division of the nation’s largest advertiser.
The “Create Our Ad” contest challenges foodservice professionals to develop print or video advertisements focusing on the back-of-house cleaning and sanitation needs of their industry. The winner will receive $1,000, and his or her ad will become part of the company’s advertising campaign. Procter & Gamble Professional will award $500 and $250 to the second and third place winners, respectively. Winners also will receive an introductory case of each product in the Dawn Grease Fighting Arsenal.
Procter & Gamble Professional is accepting print and video ads in any format. Visit www.pgbrands.com/createourad for contest details, general guidelines and suggestions to help non-advertising professionals create ads. Contestants will also be asked to recommend the publication or Web site where their entry should run.
Procter & Gamble Professional will accept entries through October 16.
Winners will be announced on October 31, with the winning ad appearing in print and online later this year.
Create Our Ad
CREATE OUR AD CONTEST: INTRODUCTION
So, you think you have what it takes to create advertising for Procter & Gamble? We’re counting on it! After all, as someone who works in the foodservice industry – the industry we cater to – you’re the expert. Put that expertise to work, and the $1,000 first prize and bragging rights might be yours when your winning entry starts showing up in magazines or Web sites later this year. 

Yeah, we all work for “bragging rights”- instead of providing valuable expertise in marketing, promoting, advertising and selling products. 

Remind me not to buy P&G products anymore. If they can’t respect our profession- how can we respect their products? 

Your advertising isn’t about you

Next time you look at a campaign being presented by your agency, step back and pretend you are your biggest competitor. If you are selling HD video cameras and your name is Sony, pretend to be Canon, or Panasonic. If you are Dell, pretend to be HP, if you are Honda, think like Toyota- or if you are Miami Valley Hospital, pretend to be Kettering Medical Center.
On first glance- does the ad look like everything else they’ve done? If yes, then do I need to worry about any groundbreaking challenges to my position? If yes, what would I need to do to counter this ad? And all of a sudden you are looking at your own advertising and evaluating it in a whole new way. Proud of yourself, huh?
Problem is- your competitor isn’t your problem.
I’m not suggesting you work in a vacuum, but this is how you produce safe, boring ads that keep you in the status quo section of the market- and that is where you are most vulnerable to losing market share- even if you are the leader in your field.
Here is a secret- there is no such thing as “Market share.” While Procter & Gamble is comfortable with the idea of market share, and Coke and Pepsi slug it out over fractions of a percent shifts, consumers are not part of group, they are individuals making decisions as single entities. The moment you start lumping them into percentages or demographics, you loose sight of the part of marketing that is magical- what should be the goal of every creative toiling away on your account- and what makes a product into a brand- and that is making a connection one-on-one with that customer- where they identify themselves with you, not as your target.
Think of archery- we can shoot arrows at the target from far away, but if you really want to hit the bullseye- the heart- the easiest way is to be a part of that target and impale the arrow in yourself. Sounds gruesome- but that’s when your ads hit pay dirt.
So, instead of talking about yourself- try to give the consumer the tools to talk about their life with your product- in a way they don’t feel that they are owned by you- but that they own your brand. Nike accomplished this with “Just do it” – probably better than anyone, the question is- when you are looking at that next ad you are going to run- “Is is about us” or “Is it about our customer plus us.”
Makes all the difference in the world.

Just try it.
What do you think?

P&G is still searching

There has been a lot written in the trade press about Procter and Gamble, one of the worlds largest buyers of advertising, looking to improve their haul at creative awards shows. Quite frankly, this isn’t difficult to figure out. P&G is famous for testing- testing and committees introduce the CYA (cover your ass) factor that kills “award winning creative” instantly.
Now, while we have soldiers dying in Iraq, the idea of using Marines in an attempted comedic P&G TV spot for “Tide to go,” a stain removal pen is an insult to the military and to those who have sons and daughters overseas.
The spot goes something like this:
A Don Rickles type drill Sergeant is yelling at a line of five “Marines” and one has a red stain (metaphorical blood?) on his shirt- one Marine slips the other the pen- he eliminates the stain- which seems to confuse the DI- and the spot finishes with the DI yelling at the camera- in a pleading voice, for you to go to tidetogo.com to win a trip to the Martha Stewart Apprentice finale.
What is P&G thinking? The days of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” went away a long time ago.
As our young men and women are dying in Iraq, tying something as inane as a spot remover to people who are about to risk their life for their country, seems about as stupid as tying your product to a convicted felon (I don’t care if she has her own tv show). How this helps to engender trust and lust for this product, I don’t know. All it does is disturb me. Maybe it’s because I spent time in the military, maybe it’s because I believe that advertising should be interesting, stimulating, entertaining, intelligent. This is not.
It’s certainly not a “big idea” or an “award winner.”
As to the concept in general- it has no chance of having any kind of legs- this DI isn’t “Mr. Whipple” and even if he was, “Mr. Whipple’s “ day’s are long gone.
If P&G was smart, they’d pull this stain of an ad faster than their stain remover appears to work.

What do you think?

[note- update 20 Aug 08] The spot I saw is not available on YouTube- but a newer one is- where they identify the stain as catsup and eliminate the pleading at the end: