Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Changes Advertising
Nielsen TV Ratings Feeling Pain

It happened again! It happens so often in business. Superior performance by a competitor sets a new benchmark in our minds. Once we experience superior performance we don't want to give it up. Google has turned the world upside down for mass marketers ... and even for the companies that measure advertising performance.

Google has shown us that ads work better when they are contextually relevant to the customer's situation. Google is now garnering more advertising revenue than the TV networks. And the house of cards is beginning to fall. The dominos are tipping each other over.

Nielsen has just changed the way it will measure TV viewership, and it will begin to expose the inherent weakness of advertising.

Nielsen will now provide minute-by-minute ratings, but will not measure those precious minutes when the commercials are actually running. They could, but they won't. Why not? Isn't that what we as marketers really want to know? We don't really care that "Lost" is the top rated show on TV. What we want to know is if our commercials on "Lost" are getting viewed.

Anyone with an ounce of sense can see through Nielsen's measures. They could tell us what we want to know, but they won't tell us. Nielsen (like the rest of us) know that when the commercials come on we are talking, going to the bathroom, grabbing a beer or snack and that we only get back in front of the tube when the commercials have aired. They also know that if we as marketers saw these real performance numbers, we'd stop wasting our money on campaigns that no longer work cost effectively (and then Nielsen would no longer have a reason to measure TV and they'd be out of business). Sort of a catch-22 situation for Nielsen and the networks.

This old system of measurement really should be dumped and replaced with a system like Ad ID and other "marker" technology used by viral marketers to track viewership of viral video. The thing gets viewed, it gets counted. It doesn't get viewed, it doesn't get counted. That doesn't happen with Nielsen.

Putting messages in front of prospective customers works when the messages are relevant to our needs. This means the message must match up with individual data instead of demographic mass data. This means the message hits us when we are actually in the market to buy stuff ... how many car commercials pass before my eyes when I my current car lease has two more years to go.

Technology is getting close to its ability to match viewers with one-to-one commercial messages. Perhaps it will happen just in time to save our favorite TV programs from extinction.


At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Marie Lanier said...

It is ironic that I found this post. In my Advertising & Promotion Strategies marketing class, we have been discussing ratings in different media forms the last week or so.

Ratings and GNPs determine the price of an advertisement, the perceived value of the placement and are the basis of most decisions made by advertisers and marketers.

It's interesting that the technology is available to help advertisers spend their limited dollars more efficiently, yet the advertisers are not pressuring Nielsen or the media to provide the numbers they need.

The way the decisions are made sometimes seem odd. Some of the videos we watched in class gave no verifiable reasons or even concrete principles. It was just a few businessmen in an office deciding how particular shows were going to fare. Between those poor decisions and waste that occurs when viewers zip or zap, I think more contextually relevant ads are going to become popular.

Advertising is becoming so prominent everywhere that many consumers are beginning to ignore them. Sure, a commercial entertains them, but is it making the consumer use the product? For instance, I like the Burger King "king" commercials and the old Quizno's commercials with the furry Gremlin-looking animals. However, they haven't made me start going to BK or Quizno's.

I especially like No-Ad sunscreen, which is just as effective as Banana Boat or Coppertone, but prides itself in not advertising and still being competitive by keeping the prices lower. I wish more companies would try this.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Leigh Ann Merchant said...

I don't watch commercials because they annoy me and because I know they don't appeal to my current interests. I have TiVo, so I fly through every commercial. I can honestly say that in the past, I have never watched a commercial then ran out and bought the product that was being promoted. Like you said, watching car commercials when you have two years left on your lease is pointless. You have no reason to watch that because it doesn't apply to you and your current needs.

In one of my marketing classes we have been talking about how marketers can track your purchases and cater your shopping trip to what you are looking for. For example, when you walked in the door to a clothing store the store would be able to track your last purchase and show you where to find similar items and sales. I'm not saying this is a good or bad idea, but if it works while you are shopping, why can't it apply to ads on tv?

It seems obvious after reading this post that there needs to be a more efficient way of rating tv and ads. There should be a better way of deciding which shows are being watched and which shows are not doing so well. Ads would definitely be more successful if they related to their audience better.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Kelli said...

I too hate commercials and am one of those people who channel surf as soon as the show I am watching stops and ads start. I will save anything I need to do for time when commercials pop up. It doesn't surprise me that Google is getting more out of their advertising than television commercials because I feel as if more of my time is spent on the internet rather than in front of the television.

In one of my marketing classes we have been talking about how ads are becoming increasingly ineffective and now companies are aiming more towards product placement in TV shows rather than commercials. Now you will be watching your favorite sitcom and the main character will be drinking a Coke or eating Lays potato chips. An example my professor gave us was the popular show Friends and how easy advertising would be to have them all meet at Starbucks rather than an unknown coffee shop.

I definitely agree with Leigh Ann and think that there needs to be a more efficient way to measure ads and the effectiveness. I think that companies do a measurable job at choosing the right ads with the right television shows such as men's deodorant during a football game or a woman's razor during Sex and the City, but marketers and advertisers need to measure for real how much these ads are being absorbed.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Josh said...

Now I am not going to flat out say that I hate commercials. I like some of them, actually I probably like the majority of commercials. However, I think there is a huge problem here. I believe there needs to be a better way to measure ads because so many people have TiVos nad DVRs. I myself have a DVR, not because I want to skip commercials but because I am not around when my shows come on, that I have to record them. Then when I begin watching my shows whenever, I do fast-forward through the commercials. Every now and then though, I will watch a commercial if I think it is funny or my roommate has seen it before and tells me to watch it. So I do believe not all hope is lost for advertisers.

I believe it all starts out with the fact that advertisers must force someone, if not Neilsen, to give them numbers to see viewership. Advertisers pay for their commercial to run, I believe they have every right to see what their commercial is doing.

The plain out fact is this. People don't watch television for the commercials. When I am on the computer, I will pay attention more to an ad then I will on television for many reasons. The fact that it is hard for me to find out how to get rid of the pop-up and because it pops up right in my face. I do not have the answer on how to measure ads, but I think that it is a little unfair for advertisers. Figure something out!!!


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