By DINESH RAMDE
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Watch an advertisement on a video screen in a mall, health club or grocery store and there’s a slim – but growing – chance the ad is watching you too.
Small cameras can now be embedded in the screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long. The makers of the tracking systems say the software can determine the viewer’s gender, approximate age range and, in some cases, ethnicity – and can change the ads accordingly.
That could mean razor ads for men, cosmetics ads for women and video-game ads for teens.
And even if the ads don’t shift based on which people are watching, the technology’s ability to determine the viewers’ demographics is golden for advertisers who want to know how effectively they’re reaching their target audience.
While the technology remains in limited use for now, advertising industry analysts say it is finally beginning to live up to its promise. The manufacturers say their systems can accurately determine gender 85 to 90 percent of the time, while accuracy for the other measures continues to be refined.
The concept is reminiscent of the science-fiction movie “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise’s character enters a mall and finds that retinal scanners identify him and prompt personalized ads that greet him by name.
But this technology doesn’t go nearly that far. It doesn’t identify people individually – it simply categorizes them by outward appearances.
So a video screen might show a motorcycle ad for a group of men, but switch to a minivan ad when women and children join them, said Vicki Rabenou, the chief measurement officer of Tampa, Fla.-based TruMedia Technologies Inc., one of the leaders in developing the technology.
“This is proactive merchandising,” Rabenou said. “You’re targeting people with smart ads.”
We spent the better part of October working on a real nice 16 page catalog for our client, Comcast. Below are two of the inside spreads.
Thanks to Cindy Perman for a great article about the supposed “King” of TV sales.
How long is this recession going to last? That’s the $6 million question.
Well, look no further than your television for the answer.
Infomercial guru Billy Mays, known for his signature yelling and, um, beard, used to hawk the Ding King, the “body-shop secret” that would help you bang out the dents in your vehicle like a pro.
Then everybody stopped buying cars.
Mays pitched the miracle of Oxiclean: This 2 ½-pound tub will do 75 loads of laundry!
Then everybody lost their jobs and suddenly, no one gave a $#!+ about the red-wine stain on their shirt.
Then, this summer, the clouds rolled in and the Billy Mays indicator seemed to hit rock bottom: There he was on TV, trying to sell me low-cost health insurance.
I was never completely comfortable with Mays’s transition from my tub to my doctor’s office.
That was right before the bottom fell out of the market and the economy started hemorrhaging jobs at the rate of half a million per month.
But, wait! Don’t answer yet.
You also get—not one—
But THREE cans of hope!
Check him now: Mays is hawking Mighty Mend It, a fabric glue that can hem your pants, reaffix the pocket on your jeans … even repair your torn American flag!
“Just apply. Gently touch … and mend it!” Mays cheers as the flag is restored just before the big finish: Mays and the flag in a wind tunnel.
“It has the strength to withstand storm-force winds!” Mays brags of Mighty Mend It, but we all know what he really means: the economy. Mays will help us hold it together until the storm passes.
And the economy’s red glare!
The flag rippling in air!
Gave proof on this infomercial
That our economy is still there
Oh say does tha-at star spangled pro-du-uct ye-et wa-ave …
O’er the la-and of the free
And all for just $19.95.
Call now. And when Billy starts offering you things you don’t need again, you’ll know the economy is back on track.
If you have a cool $3 or $4 million, you can pick up one of the remaining 3 or 4 Super Bowl spots out there. I can’t remember the last time that the Super Bowl wasn’t sold out so close to the game….that being said, NBC will still probably set a record for total cash brought in by the spots.
A MarketSense study during the 1989-91 recession demonstrated that brands such as Jif Peanut Butter and Kraft Salad Dressing increased their advertising and experienced sales growth of 57% to 70%. During this same period, most of the beer industry made cuts to their ad budgets, but Coors Light and Bud Light increased their budgets and saw sales jump 15% to 16%. Among fast food companies, Pizza Hut sales rose 61% and Taco Bell’s 40% due to strong advertising support, reducing McDonald’s sales by as much as 28%. MarketSense concluded the study by reporting. “The best strategy for coping with a recession is balanced exploitation of ad spending for long-term consumer motivation, plus promotion for short term sales boosts.”
Strategies to help your business thrive in this economy.
• Don’t cut your ad budget, increase it. Let your competition cut their budgets. When you increase your spending, you increase your share of voice. If your competitors cut back, your message grows even stronger.
• Have a strategic marketing plan that is well thought out, so you don’t waste money advertising the wrong message in the wrong place to the wrong audience.
• Keep your loyal customers by keeping in touch with them and letting them know what you have to offer.
• Maintain your brand awareness. Advertising works cumulatively so you have to remind people frequently about your brand or they’ll forget you.
• Achieve greater media efficiency by taking advantage of more negotiable rates and special promotions.
• Don’t degrade your advertising by trying to save a few dollars on creative or production costs. Your customers will notice and will perceive lower quality not just in your advertising, but in your products and services.
This is one time to stress quality—and value. “All great enterprises move forward in a recession, and the weaklings move backward. The dumbbells cut back on advertising. The smart people don’t.” -Ed McCabe, founding partner of Scali, McCabe, Stoves advertising agency, a legendary Madison Avenue agency of years past.