Conagra, Social TV and Online Video

There is a clear correlation between social media buzz and television ratings. The social TV phenomenon has been fueled by the explosive use of other screens-notably phones and tablets.

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
Sponsored by
online video, webtv, webisodic series, video advertising, consumers, eyeballs, brands, display advertising, ana, association of national advertisers, iab, 4as

Fernando Arriola, VP Media and Integration, Conagra Foods, recently participated in a panel discussion at the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) TV & Everything Video Forum in NYC. The panel was on Social TV.

There is a clear correlation between social media buzz and television ratings. The social TV phenomenon has been fueled by the explosive use of other screens-notably phones and tablets. Consumers are no longer simply passively watching television. Rather, they are connecting with other fans to chat about their favorite shows. This has important implications for marketers as brands now are also able to become involved in the conversation. The panel focused on opportunities provided by social TV for brands.

I sat down with Fernando to talk about the panel and Conagra’s digital and online video strategy. Everyone on the panel made it clear that we’re still in a learning phase when it comes to social TV. There is a lot of opportunity for those who gain insights into social TV to exploit the insights on behalf of their brands.

TV & Online Video Upfronts

Conagra is moving a lot of marketing dollars to digital. A fair amount of Conagra’s upfront spending is moving towards online and mobile video, in addition to broadcast and cable. Conagra wants its brand managers to think of video as one ecosystem, rather than broadcast, cable and online silos. This point is echoed by Alan Wurtzel, Head of Research for NBC (will publish that interview shortly).

Content Marketing

Conagra is also moving beyond the 15 – 30 second spot towards “brand as content producer”. Conagra wants to distribute its owned media through multiple channels and platforms such as Youtube and Facebook, portal partners such as Yahoo and MSN, mobile and Web. Distribution is one of Conagra’s biggest challenges for original content creation. How does the brand get the content it has invested in producing in front of a million people, rather than fifty people? While the company will still run banner ads and do traditional online advertising, Fernando is excited to create and distribute content directly to its target audience and brand fans.

Metrics of Success and Key Performance Indicators

Fernando likes to look at completion rates for both the creative and the distribution channel as a good indicator of how involved the audience is. The brand tries to run attribution models around how the actual content tracks to sales. Fernando acknowledges this is a bit more difficult given that most sales are in grocery stores.

Scale vs. Targeting

Online video creates opportunities for brands to hyper-target very granular audiences. However, the more a brand targets, the less audience there is to reach. So brands have to balance broad reach versus hyper-targeting. A brand such as Orville Redenbacher, which has broad consumer appeal, will do a network media buy and supplement the buy with some online video targeting. Slim Jim, on the other hand, has a pretty narrow target demographic. The company will buy small cable networks such as G4, Fuel, and MTV2, and spend online to reach consumers on niche gaming Web sites.

Brand Safety

Fernando responds with a question: Does your agency have the culture and infrastructure to really know what they are doing? What are your partner trading desks strengths and weaknesses in terms of execution?

Balance Transparency, Information, and Life On Twitter

EXPRESS CMO outlines the fashion brand’s digital strategy for 2011.

The above video interview is from the ANA Brand Conference in NYC.                               
Sponsored by
brands, webtv, webisodic series, content marketing, consumers, eyeballs, display advertising, ana, association of national advertisers, iab, 4as

Lisa Gavales, Chief Marketing Officer at EXPRESS, aka @ExpressLisaG, spoke at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Brand Conference in NYC this week.

Lisa made a conscious decision in 2008 to join the Twitter-Sphere as the voice of EXPRESS. Lisa talks directly with her consumers to provide ‘behind the scene’ content and access to a real person inside EXPRESS. Lisa shares fun and interesting information to make her followers feel great about the Express brand. “Follow our CMO on Twitter at ExpressLisaG” can be found on most of EXPRESS marketing communication including the bottom of their store receipts!

In her presentation, Lisa focused on how EXPRESS successfully leveraged their CMO’s professional and personal tweets to build their brand through direct and honest dialogue with their consumers. Lisa also shared tips on how she attempts to balance her professional and personal life while representing the EXPRESS brand.

In our conversation, Lisa talks about EXPRESS’ marketing mix and media plan across digital and offline channels. Online, EXPRESS wants to be where its customers are – facebook, twitter, music web sites, fashion blogs – as well as traditional channels such as TV and print.

Increasingly, brands are becoming content producers. EXPRESS films and takes photos at fashion shows, music festivals and other events and features that content through social channels and on the EXPRESS.com Web site so that fans can access the content online.

In 2011 EXPRESS will focus on making that content more discoverable so that content continues to be viewed long after the initial pop and high viewership that accompanies a new video that the company publishes on Youtube after the requisite tweet and facebook post. She acknowledges that EXPRESS spends a lot of money on content production, so it is important that the content works hard for the brand long after it is first featured online.

Lisa also wants to explore branded Webisodic TV series in the near future. The goal is to produce great story lines that leave people anticipating the next episode – build an audience and a fan base that grows over time and keep the audience hooked though engaging stories.

Is Your Brand Cuddly?

David Carr, the cuddliest of NY Times columnists, wants to know.

The above video interview is from the ANA Brand Conference in NYC.                               
Sponsored by
brands, webtv, webisodic series, content marketing, consumers, eyeballs, display advertising, ana, association of national advertisers, iab, 4as

“Brands have to get cuddlier. They have to get friendlier. They have to be more willing to make mistakes. They can’t speak with a single voice…It’s a rolling organic conversation that’s not going to always go out perfectly.” So says NY Times Business Columnist and Culture Reporter David Carr in the above video interview.

Many brands and the humans who conjure them see social media as one more marketing platform. But the smart players in digital realms have learned that the megaphone goes both ways. There is an expectation of a conversation, of an honest and direct relationship, which may have nothing to do with the product or service you are promoting. Letting people know who you are, what your values are, what you find funny or significant, may be just as important as looping them in on your next big thing.

Relevance in the Post-Advertising Age

Bob Garfield on the death and resurrection of the advertising industry.

The above video interview is from the ANA Brand Conference in NYC.                               
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brands, content marketing, seo, search engine marketing, consumers, eyeballs, display advertising, ana, association of national advertisers, iab, 4as, dsp, ad network

For six years, Bob Garfield has been telling us the sky is falling. Some of us laughed. Some of us rolled our eyes. Some of us called him names. Now we are knee-deep in the calamity he foretold, and nobody is eye-rolling anymore. But we forget that even as Bob Garfield peddled gloom and doom, he was also offering a prescription for relevance in the post-advertising age.

Bob gave a presentation at the ANA Brand conference earlier this week in which he surveyed the damage, and then blazed a trail he calls Listenomics and what others call The Relationship Era, a new world order in which people control conversations about brands rather than submit to one way brand advertising messages.

Bob first talked about the concept in 2005 in AdAge. Some choice nuggets:

“Hear that? In the distance? It’s a crowd forming-a crowd of what you used to call your “audience.” They’re still an audience, but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you. And they’re using your products, your brand names, your iconography, your slogans, your trademarks, your designs, your goodwill, all of it as if it belonged to them-which, in a way, it all does, because, after all, haven’t you spent decades, and trillions, to convince them of just that? ”

A bit further down the article, “Everywhere, on the go, in real time,” says [Yale Law’s Yochai] Benkler, a specialist in open-source approaches to management. “Perhaps the role of marketers becomes more of intermediaries to the community of users, to engage the users more in the design process and the distribution process, treating their users as co-producers of value.”

And near the end, Bob asks the question, “What’s left for agencies? If the conversation is dominated by consumers themselves, and they’re paying scant attention to the self-interested blather of the marketer, who needs ads – offline, online or otherwise? This raises the question of what agencies are left to do.”

In a 1991 presentation to the Communications Research Council titled “Knowledge Communities: The New Relationship Between Marketers and Customers”, Steve Rappaport, currently Knowledge Solutions Director at the Advertising Research Foundation, said,

Online networks are now – and increasingly so – undergirding change in the consumer information culture. Not only are they becoming an important source of consumer information, persuasion and satisfaction: They are ushering in an era of increased consumer interaction with marketers that is occurring within an expanding community of knowledge.

Some of these networks will develop commercially, some not. But the activity, whatever it is, is occurring in parallel to all the traditional advertising and marketing we do – and will affect those programs. We have a golden opportunity now to understand and exploit these systems for competitive advantage. Our job is to think of how.

Steve has written a few books on listening, most recently “Listen First! Turning Social Media Conversations Into Business Advantage“. I asked Steve to give me his take on listening 20 years later, and he said, “Today’s world is one of enmeshed brands and people, where connections exponentially multiply, are global, mobile and always with us. Certainty and predictability are quaint notions fondly remembered of a simpler time. Brands and people co-evolve with each other and the broader environment. Successfully adapting requires constantly monitoring signals of change, interpreting them and acting on them to harmonize brands and people with the world at large. Listening provides that signal advantage; it is a must have for companies that want to create lasting business advantage and enterprise value.”

In the above interview, I talked to Bob about the new, more democratic relationship that exists between brands and people. We also talked about brands as content producers and what they can learn from news organizations and media companies.

On that topic, Bob recently moderated a panel at SXSW on brand journalism. He summed up the session as a conversation about “the role of brands as brokers of content about themselves: blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, videos, whether created in house or harvested from the Great Everywhere Else. It was a lively discussion about everything you’d expect: telling brand stories, employing journalistic tools, establishing relationships, building trust, ceding control, measuring results.”

He noted an example of a brand that wasn’t quite comfortable ceding control and letting its hair down a bit. Just as the conference started news broke about Chrysler firing social media agency NMS over its employee Scott Bartosiewicz accidentally tweeting, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fuckking drive” from the corporate Chrysler account rather than his personal account, which was his intent.

As Bob noted, “Fired him for being funny. Fired him for being spontaneous. Fired him for being relevant. Fired him for alighting ever so gently, like a canary taking its perch, on a dowel of human truth. You know — the way social media is supposed to be, because the whole point of it is to discard archaic and abrasive concepts of messaging in favor of actual conversations. “

ConAgra Online Video Advertising Strategy

Reaching new viewers online and the power (and cost) of targeting.

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
Sponsored by
online video, webtv, webisodic series, video advertising, consumers, eyeballs, brands, display advertising, ana, association of national advertisers, iab, 4as

Brett Groom, VP Media, Digital & Social Marketing, sat down with me to talk about Online Video at the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) TV & Everything Video Forum in NYC.

ConAgra is changing its terminology to talk more about video rather than TV. While TV is still the medium through which most video about ConAgra’s brands takes place, ConAgra doesn’t really care where people see ConAgra brand videos, as long as the message gets through to the consumer in an impactful way.

One thing that has slowed ConAgra’s adoption of online video is the fact that to do online video successfully, a brand needs a wider range of content, both in terms of length of time and formats. To really take advantage of the targeting online video can offer, a brand ideally would create different versions of content for different demographics, which increases the content costs.

Like a lot of marketers, ConAgra is excited about the potential of addressable TV. Addressable TV allows marketers to deliver a car ad only to car owners or a cat food ad only to cat owners through set-top box technology provided by cable and satellite operators (Google is also getting into the game). The goal is to make TV ad targeting a bit more like online ad targeting.

Interestingly, Brett initially thought that addressable TV and online video were competitors, but he now sees one helping to drive the adoption of the other. For both, the imperative becomes to create a variety of content assets for different targeted audiences. Since that adds cost, the cost can now be shared across both mediums.

For a large brand like ConAgra, in a traditional TV plan at some point the brand maxes out on reach and is really just buying frequency. At a certain point, any incremental spend is increasing reach in a negligible amount, and mostly increasing frequency to the same consumers. The top quintile TV viewers tend to be low quintile online video viewers, whereas top quintile online video viewers tend to not watch very much TV.

ConAgra is starting to take some of its TV budget and move it online to simultaneously scale down the frequency it reaches its top quintile TV viewers while reaching new viewers online who may not watch much TV. For ConAgra, that is the real opportunity for online video.

While most consumer packaged goods companies are currently spending maybe 10% of their video budget online, Brett sees that number scaling to 50% in the next few years.

In terms of where ConAgra has spent online video dollars, the brand has run pre-roll ads against Hulu style content, produced rich media (video) side of site display ads, and produced videos for distribution on sites such as Youtube.

Google and Next New Networks

Acquiring talent is not that expensive after all.

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
Sponsored by

A few weeks ago, while rumors were swirling about Youtube possibly acquiring Next New Networks, I sat down with Diane DeCordova, SVP Brand Sales at Next New Networks, at the ANA TV and Everything Video Forum in NYC (sponsored by Youtube).

A week later the acquisition became official.

Next New Networks had raised $26 million at the time of the acquisition. The sale price was about double that ($50 million). If Next New Networks has 200 million views on a monthly basis (50 million uniques), that translates to a sale price of 2 cents per 2011 view, never mind 2012 – 2015 views which, one would assume, will continue to grow from the current 200 million monthly run rate.

I always viewed Next New Networks as one of the juggernauts of episodic online video. So it’s sort of disheartening that the company they built sold for….$50 million. It seems that Youtube is mainly acquiring the talent (shout out to Tom Small and Ben Relles), and that the projected revenue from 200 million monthly views for premium online video content is, well, negligible. Not to mention the value of 6 million Youtube subscribers.

If video is the next hot new thing, along with mobile and group shopping, what does it say when the poster child for online video production is acquired for 2x what it raised in outside financing?

It leaves me sort of, well…sad.

Next thing you know, the leading Online Video Platform (OVP), Brightcove will sell for 2x money raised to date. Oh, wait, we can all see that one coming already…

Ad Identification Registries

Managing and tracking your advertising assets across multiple mediums and devices.

At the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) TV and Everything Video Forum in NYC I sat down with Harold Geller, Managing Director of Ad-ID and Senior Vice President, Cross Industry Workflow, 4A’s, to talk about the challenges facing brands, their agencies, and media companies when it comes to managing and tracking content assets.

As brands slice and prime the same piece of creative content for distribution across multiple platforms – from HD and SD TV to Mobile to Web – and want to track and measure the success of their campaigns across channels, ad identification registries will grow in importance. In addition to creating a standard way of identifying and describing content assets, another goal of the Ad-ID initiative is cost savings. Harold talks about the cost savings in the above video.

Currently, about 20% of advertising carries an ad id.

I also sat down with David Kohl, Advertising Sector Lead, Ernst & Young, at the IAB annual conference in California to talk about the emergence of Ad Identification Registries.

Below are some ad identification organizations of note.

From the Ad-ID Web site

Ad-ID is a Web-based system accessible 24/7 worldwide that generates a unique identifying code for each advertising asset, creating a capability to identify them across all media. Using Ad-ID, and promoting the use of its webservices, greatly improves workflow between agency, advertiser, distributor and medium.

Developed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Ad-ID upgrades the previous ISCI commercial coding system and replaces other methods used to identify advertising assets. Ad-ID is the industry standard identifier for all forms of media.

From the CIMM Web site:

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) is a group of buyers and sellers of advertising supported media formed to promote innovation and explore new high quality ways to measure audiences across traditional and new media in the United States. To facilitate this ongoing effort CIMM intends to initiate, fund, and evaluate a small number of pilots with measurement companies and publish research findings.

The media landscape is changing dramatically, and the television marketplace is changing with it. There has been a significant shift from a TV landscape to a multi-platform, multi-screen media environment. These changes are driving the need for content providers, media agencies and advertisers to understand and measure the impact of their content as it is consumed across multiple screens. CIMM is about ensuring that effective media measurement keeps pace with the rapidly changing media environment. The media research initiatives funded by CIMM will identify innovative solutions for media measurement.

CIMM’s initial media research projects will include 1) understanding the value and application of set top box data and 2) developing cross-media measurement of video content that moves from TV to the internet and mobile media channels.

From the EIDR (Entertainment Identifier Registry) Web site:

The emergence of digital technologies has transformed every aspect of the professional audiovisual supply chain from content creation and post-production to distribution and consumption and created new opportunities for all stakeholders. With these opportunities also come challenges, such as more complex value chain interactions and an explosion in the number of assets relevant to commerce.

Effective monetization of these assets through an increasing number of distribution channels requires a widely adopted industry standard universal identifier registry that supports the full range of asset types and relationships between assets. EIDR provides this foundational service to all industry participants at low cost.

Creativity In Video Media

BBDO Chairman David Lubars talks about all things video.

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
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David Lubars, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO North America, the creative leader behind BMW Films, HBO Voyeur, GE’s One Second Theater, M&M’s Inner M, Ram Challenge and the ground-breaking HBO Imagine, gave a presentation at the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum on creativity in video media.

I sat down with David to talk about video across screens, platforms and devices.

While he is best known for some of his digital work, David believes brands should take advantage of multiple screens, including TV, which is still an important part of a good marketing mix.

During our conversation, David also talked about two recent transmedia projects he worked on for HBO and Starbucks. Transmedia requires brands and agencies to be open to “messy sloppiness” as they explore new frontiers.

Regardless of the platform the goal remains the same, to delight the audience. Creative is a theme that has been reinforced at a few conferences I’ve been to in the past two weeks. At The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Conference in California two weeks ago, an event that attracts the ecosystem of technology solutions providers to the advertising industry, a lot of industry leaders confirmed that no matter how ingenious the ad targeting technology, good technology that delivers uninspiring creative to an audience is not going to create any sort of impactful brand lift.

At the PaidContent 2011 conference here in NYC, during the Ad Targeting: Gaining Steam—And Scrutiny panel discussion, Michael Walrath, founder of Right Media (since acquired by Yahoo), said, “optimization of really shitty creative is still shitty creative. Good targeting + bad ads is still bad advertising. If it’s a bad ad it’s a bad ad. We’ve fallen in love with the algorithm. We’ve stopped trying to solve really important problems like how do you scalably build, analyze and direct great creative so that you can understand where your next big bump comes from.” Great creative can give you a 100% or even 200% lift, whereas ad tech solution providers talk about the 10% lift they can help a brand achieve. It’s important to put systems in place to determine why some ads work and some ads don’t work.

Best Buy does the Super Bowl Shuffle

Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge talks about the companies cross-platform marketing strategy

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
Sponsored by

Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy, spoke at the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) TV & Everything Video Forum about the company’s first ever Super Bowl Ad campaign.

As Barry wrote about his ANA presentation, his goal was, “to take the audience behind the scenes of the making of a Super Bowl commercial, and share all the incredibly valuable lessons we learned…and show the audience how that sausage got made “. He felt intimidated by his speaking slot immediately after Al Gore and right before NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Sadly, Barry was not intimidated by his interview with me right after his presentation. But we did talk shop, about everything from live big event ad campaigns to online video advertising and Best Buy’s adventures as a media company.

A lot of brands use a large stage such as the Super Bowl to announce something big or new. Best Buy was no different, announcing a Buy Back program, whereby a consumer can buy a phone or TV at a Best Buy, and the company will buy it back at a later date for a percentage of the purchase price.

Or, as Barry puts it in his slides, which I just noticed:

Hopefully Barry is appreciating all the earned media I’m sending his way!

The Buy Back Program allows people who fear buying a technology product, only to see it outdated 6 months later as newer models arrive in stores, to turn in the recently outdated model and receive store credit towards an upgrade to the new model.

The TV ad campaign, which features Ozzy Osbourne and Justin “I’ve had the same hair cut for the entire span of my Pop career” Bieber, aired during the Super Bowl to favorable consumer and industry reaction. You can watch the extended version here:

Best Buy isn’t stopping with TV. It realizes, as Judge explains, that, “video across platforms is extremely effective. Video on the Web is incredibly important.”

Best Buy does a lot of online video advertising, but not by just slapping an existing 30 second TV commercial as a pre-roll in front of online video. The company creates shorter 10 – 15 second ads for the online medium.

In addition to advertising against video programming on the Web, Best Buy recently launched Best Buy On, a media network of Best Buy produced programming that can be found both online and on screens placed around Best Buy stores. Look out Oprah.

Best Buy advertises on TV, online and produces in-house programming that it pushes out to the 500 million consumers who visit stores and the Best Buy Web site each year. It’s marketing strategy is to reach and engage consumers where they spend their time, across platforms and mediums – from TV to online, mobile, out-of-home and in-store.

The Role of Research in Advertising

Research is about generating insights that lead us to better decisions.

Research is about generating insights that lead us to better decisions. Bob Liodice, President, Association of National Advertisers (ANA) talks about the relationship between the research and creative teams when it comes to developing new products or rolling out marketing campaigns.