Friday, February 6, 2009

Power to the :30

Maybe the 30 second commercial isn't so bad after all. As advertising budgets shrink and scale and measurement matter, media buyers have grown disenchanted with the long tail on the web and banner ads that don't get clicked. Interactivity remains the buzzword, and the :30 may just have the power to not only inform the viewer about its brand but to allow them to engage and interact with the product as well. "For example, at Cablevision we’ve developed the Power: 30 (SM), which uses the 30-second unit as the entry point into video on demand (VOD) and interactive television (ITV) channels dedicated to a specific advertiser, and provides marketers and agencies with addressable advertising and telescoping functionality." It certainly appears that this interactivity provides added value. It allows the consumer to take their interest to the next level and explore the ad message in more detail.

As a viewer, the biggest challenge remains switching from the linear content, where you have invested your time to watch a show, to view this advertising content. Whether it would be possible to "bookmark" this message for later interaction could provide even more value as well as consumer friendliness. I may be willing to watch a Disney Park message, but let me wait till after Lost ends. The web enables multiple screens to open and allows me to review my history and my favorites; the TV screen is less flexible at the moment.

Interactivity with ads through the television screen seems the next frontier to conquer. How quickly the consumer embraces this new accessibility and interaction determines its viability. The added value that interactivity brings to a :30 spot should intrigue advertisers trying to measure interest and action. TV is no longer a passive screen and cable has the ability to enable and foster this interactivity. The timing might just be right.

Wall Street Journal To New York Times, Subscription Model Does Work

According to Rupert Murdoch, there is still a subscription business, and the New York Times should follow the Wall Street Journal's lead and put its content inside a gated wall. If the old adage is true, you get what you pay for, free content only gets you so much; the good stuff has more value and should be purchased. And while the NYT generated more advertising revenue than WSJ, The added subscription stream that WSJ gets boosted their total revenue above the NYT. As the NYT is facing financial problems, following the WSJ playbook may just be a viable solution for them.

"We've already noted that the Wall Street Journal has half as much traffic as the New York Times, despite having an $80/year pay wall. Why? Because the WSJ implemented its subscription fee brilliantly: offers some content for free, and the whole site is still fully searchable by Google. Readers can access pieces of Wall Street Journal content for free all across the Internet. They can also access some free stuff on If they want to read the Wall Street Journal, though, they need to pony up, and about 1 million of them do."

Those subscribers of the Wall Street Journal recognize the unique content that comes from its pages. And today, a million online customers seem to agree. The print edition will someday go away; but these customers are already being introduced to subscribing to a digital version; brand preference and value is being maintained as distribution models change. Perhaps the NYT should heed Murdoch's message.