And Now, Another Opinion. Americans Spend Eight Hours a Day on Screens.

Posted by truecreek on March 28, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

Adult Americans spend an average of more than eight hours a day in front of screens — televisions, computer monitors, cellphones or other devices, according to a new study.

The study also found that live television in the home continues to attract the greatest amount of viewing time with the average American spending slightly more than five hours a day in front of the tube.

The figure drops to 210 minutes a day of average TV viewing time among 18-24 year olds but rises to 420 minutes a day among those aged 65 and older.

The “Video Consumer Mapping” study was conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD) and Sequent Partners for the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence (CRE).

For the year-long study, observers recorded the exposure of 350 subjects to four categories of screens: traditional television, computers, mobile devices and other screens such as store displays, movie screens and even GPS navigation units.

The study found the average amount of screen time for all age groups was “strikingly similar” at more than eight-and-a-half hours although the type of devices and duration used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.

It found that people aged 45 to 54 averaged the most daily screen time at just over nine-and-a-half hours.

The study did not include anyone under the age of 18.

Among other finds:

— computer video consumption tends to be quite small with an average time of just over two minutes a day.

— Adults spend an average of 6.5 minutes a day with videogame consoles with the number rising to 26 minutes a day among those aged 18-24

— Adults spend an average 142 minutes a day in front of computer screens

— Adults spend an average 20 minutes a day engaged with mobile devices with the highest usage — 43 minutes a day — among the 18-24 age group

“What differentiates this study from all other attempts to measure video exposure at the consumer level is its scale, the range of media covered and the fact that it is focused on consumers first and the media second,” said Mike Bloxham, director of insight and research for Ball State’s CMD.

“It’s not a study about TV or the Web or any other medium — it’s about how, where, how often and for how long consumers are exposed to all media.”

Study: Video Viewing Hasn’t Usurped TV Watching.

Posted by truecreek on March 27, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Well, it’s in.  TV watching is still KING, by a long shot.

Plasma TVBy Gary Levin, USA TODAY

Despite the quick spread of video to computers, cellphones and iPods, their use is more hype than reality, and TV watching hasn’t suffered.

Those are among the findings of a new $3.5 million study out today from the Council for Research Excellence, a group of top media researchers, funded by Nielsen. The study confirms similar findings in earlier reports but uses a more statistically reliable method of observation in which researchers followed 476 people for two 14-hour days and recorded all of their media usage and daily activities.

“If you ask people how much time they spent online yesterday, they’re going to give you a wrong answer; they don’t remember,” says Steve Sternberg, chief analyst at Magna Global, a major ad firm, and a member of the Council. “The idea of doing a study where you actually observe the user and keep track of all the media they’re using is compelling.”

The research, conducted in five cities last year by a team from Ball State University, showed adults ages 45 to 54 were the heaviest users of all electronic media, spending an average of 9.5 hours a day. All other adults spent about 8.5 hours on a combination of TV, computers, mobile devices and other screens.

That same crowd of Baby Boomers also spent more time on e-mail, instant messaging and DVR playback than other age groups.

But while 43% of TV viewers in the study watched some form of online video, they spent only a few minutes a day doing so.

Adults 65 and older spent seven hours a day watching live TV, by far the highest amount for any age group, though they were far less likely to use computers or cellphones. That TV usage is double the time spent by the youngest adults, ages 18 to 24, who conversely were the heaviest users of online video, cellphones, console video games and computer software.

Yet even that younger crowd spent just 5.5 minutes a day watching computer video.

Michael Bloxham, a Ball State researcher, says that since the study was conducted last spring and fall, “you might slowly be seeing growth in online video,” especially after sites such as Hulu began aggressive promotional campaigns. BlackBerrys, iPhones, DVRs and social-networking sites also have increased in popularity.

Those under 55 spent 27% of their time with media multitasking, researchers found, though TV was more frequently viewed by itself than computers. Adults were exposed to about 72 minutes of advertising a day across all media.

Do Some Good: Create Newspaper Ads.

Posted by truecreek on March 26, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

newspaperI love newspaper.  Always have.  It’s just a wonderful creative medium that allows clients to not only project their brand image in a tasteful manner, but it allows for the communication of additional points of importance without destroying the creative at hand.  It’s artwork.  And it can really work for the client.  Martin’s Mike Hughes thinks the same.

By Mike Hughes

It’s time the advertising industry did something important.

For our own self-interest — and for the common good — we need to start paying attention to newspapers again.

To begin with, it would be good for our business. For our own selfish reasons, we need a medium that targets the well-informed. We need a medium that lets us tell our whole story — and not just the 30-second version. With each passing month, we need more media that target people where they live. We need more media that let marketers build a brand and ask for the business. We need more media that let writers, art directors, photographers and illustrators practice their crafts.

We need a medium with the immediacy and importance of newspapers. Lee Clow says, “Newspaper is a special medium. It’s urgent, not yesterday or tomorrow but today. Sitting with a newspaper and a cup of coffee in the morning will always be one of the most intimate media experiences there is.”

Online or in print, we need newspapers. There are no substitutes. Magazines, TV channels and websites don’t do the same things. Not even close.

Our industry needs newspapers — but just as important, so does humankind. The world needs the kind of journalism practiced by newspapers when they’re at their best. The local investigative pieces. The foreign correspondence. The war reporting. Without them, news goes unreported. Viewpoints are narrowed. Governments can run amok.

That kind of reporting is expensive, and right now no one knows how it will get paid for in the coming years. With newspapers cutting costs every day, who will pay to man a substantial bureau in Baghdad? Who will spend the money to report the atrocities in Africa? Who will find the resources to blow the whistle on the next Watergate?

Even at their best, magazines, TV channels and websites don’t come close to giving us that kind of reporting.

Of course, humankind’s problem isn’t necessarily the advertising industry’s problem. If online and print newspapers weren’t proven effective, no one would say our industry needs to address this important problem.

But decades worth of evidence — including evidence gathered in 2009 — points to the uncommon efficacy of newspaper advertising. You know how excited our industry gets about the Super Bowl? Well, every single day of the year, more American adults read a printed newspaper than watch the big game once a year. And in 22 of the top 25 markets, the local-newspaper site is the No. 1 local site in town. And the newspaper-website audience has grown 80% in the past five years.

So why aren’t we creating more newspaper advertising? Part of the answer is undoubtedly fashion. Twenty-five years ago, an advertising campaign usually meant “TV and some print. Maybe radio.” That was the fashion then. Say “campaign” to ad people today, and their minds leap to “TV and digital.” We say we’re media-agnostic, but our behavior often says something else entirely. How many agencies aren’t selling newspaper advertising to their clients as hard as they should? How many advertisers are overlooking the medium that still has unsurpassed credibility with its audience? It’s time for a wake-up call.

No less an authority than Jeff Goodby reminds us that far from being out-of-fashion, a good newspaper ad is actual art. “The art is the part that gets people to look. Show outrageous things that don’t belong there. Shock people with a new logic,” he says. “If we all do this, it will become very difficult to find which newspaper page we want to wrap the fish in.

“I will like that day.”

Let me be clear here. I don’t think the newspaper industry is going to die anytime soon. With some well-publicized exceptions, most papers are surviving the economy’s near collapse. They might be holding on by their fingernails, but at least they’re holding on.

But if the newspaper business is going to give us the content our industry feeds on — and if it’s going to give us the journalism the world needs — newspapers need to be robust.

If we don’t give them a fair shot at our budgets, they might never be healthy enough to do the job we want them to do.

And we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Three-Quarters of the World’s Messages Sent by Mobile.

Posted by truecreek on March 24, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

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eMarketer

Worldwide communication in the future will be done through mobile devices.

According to TNS Global, 74% of the world’s digital messages were sent through a mobile device in January 2009, a 15% increase over the previous year.

In emerging markets, the trend is even more dramatic; nine out of 10 messages are sent via mobile.

Some of the growth can be attributed to mobile instant messaging. Thirteen percent of all mobile subscribers used the feature, but 41% of smartphone users did so.

Other increases in mobile usage can be attributed to the abandonment of fixed-line telephones.

“As mobile devices slowly take away usage share from fixed services in developed markets, in emerging markets consumers are more likely to by-pass fixed communications altogether and go straight to mobiles,” said Sam Curtis of TNS.

As for developed countries, the PC e-mail remains the most popular message method, but its use is waning.

In Japan, 40 out of 100 e-mails sent are from a mobile device. In North America, 69% of those using e-mail on their mobile phone use it daily, high compared with 43% worldwide.

The trend will increase, TNS says, as smartphones such as the popular iPhone enter the marketplace and gain share.

Warner Brothers Launches ‘On Demand’ DVD Sales.

Posted by truecreek on March 23, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Thomas K. Arnold, Special for USA TODAY.

One of Hollywood’s biggest movie vaults is about to be opened wide.

Warner Bros. is launching an innovative “on demand” DVD initiative in which fans eventually will be able to order any of the 6,800 theatrical features in the studio’s library not available on disc and receive a custom-made DVD within a week for $20.

Only about 1,200 films in the Warner library have been released on DVD, large part because of space constraints at retail. “This news is going to make a lot of people really happy,” says George Feltenstein, senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video.

The Warner Archive Collection launches today (warnerarchive.com) with an initial slate of 150 films that have never been on DVD, such as 1943’s Mr. Lucky, with Cary Grant and Laraine Day, and 1962’s All Fall Down with Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint. The oldest film in this first wave is the 1923 silent scorcher Souls for Sale; the newest is 1986’s Wisdom, with Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez.

Plans call for 20 or more classic films and TV shows to be added each month, Feltenstein says. To order films, consumers go to the website, select titles and place orders, which are manufactured and shipped in shrink-wrapped plastic cases identical to those of commercial DVDs. Consumers also will be able to order films digitally, downloaded directly to their computers, for $15.

“Our goal is to eventually open up our entire vault,” Feltenstein says. “We’ve been working on this for three years. I’ve always said it would be great if people could buy anything in our library, and now the time has come, because the technology finally exists.”

As a general rule, films considered for release are evaluated by how well they did in the VHS era, which saw about 4,100 movies from Warner’s library released on videocassette over a span of more than 20 years. Other factors include the availability of good-quality prints, consumer requests and interest on the black market.

“Some films that are not available on DVD have gotten a lot of bootlegging,” Feltenstein says. “We track that on the Internet.”

Initially, special features will be limited to original theatrical trailers, but down the road additional extras might be added, Feltenstein says. “Right now, our focus is to get some of these movies that have been sitting in the vaults for years out there to the public, so that by Christmas we’ll have at least 350 films available,” Feltenstein says.

That’s music to the ears of film aficionados such as Mike Weldon, 64, of Costa Mesa, Calif. “I think it’s great, because there are a lot of movies out there we just don’t get exposure to anymore,” he says. “There are films I’d like to own and see every few months, but I just can’t find them anywhere.”

Scanning the initial list of titles, Weldon points to Homecoming, a 1948 romantic drama from MGM starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner. “Here’s one right now,” he says. “I’ve been looking for that everywhere.”

At-Home Entertainment and Family Bonding Booms.

Posted by truecreek on March 21, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

(CNN) — When Christopher Moore isn’t jumping rope, shooting baskets or playing the board game Chutes and Ladders, the 8-year-old can often be found at home using his ninja fighting skills, protecting the world from would-be enemies.

“I’m trying to save the other people from being hurt,” he said of his Avatar video game adventures. “And I be beating him bad,” he added with a coy smile and a nod toward his 15-year-old brother.

The Moore household, in Birmingham, Alabama, enjoys a good blend of at-home entertainment, something the foursome is doing more and more during these precarious financial times, explains the boys’ mother, Lisa Moore.

They grill, play outdoors or whip out traditional games that may be decades old, and although she doesn’t plop down at the video console with them, the boys and her husband often duke it out virtually.

“They’re always in competition,” she said with a laugh. “It keeps them busy. It keeps them occupied.” iReport.com: Show us how you’re entertaining yourself on the cheap

Numbers show that at-home entertainment is doing better than ever, flying in the financial face of so many industries that are struggling in this recession.

Netflix, a DVD rental service, has had a record quarter and now boasts 10 million subscribers. With no late fees, a selection of 100,000 titles (outdoing typical video stores by about 97,000), free postage, nine price plans and now the ability to stream 12,000 movies, Netflix’s offerings are resonating loudly with concerned consumers, spokesman Steve Swasey says. VideoWatch Candy Crowley’s report on how lifestyles are changing »

“Netflix has always provided unprecedented convenience and value … [and] has been a growth company for the past 10 years,” Swasey explained. “There’s something for everybody. … Right now we think [the surge in success] is because the value argument is stronger. People aren’t buying DVDs, and they’re not going out as much.”

Bang for the buck and “affordable escapism” is what people want, agrees Scott Steinberg, publisher of DigitalTrends.com. That shows, too, in the gaming industry, which has become a $22 billion business, the Entertainment Software Association reported this year.

A movie, concert or sporting event gives several hours of entertainment. But a video game, even if it seems pricey at $60, can offer 40 hours of fun, Steinberg says, and can amount to a “much sounder investment.” And many games can be downloaded cheaply or for free online, from the comfort of one’s home.

“It’s all about instant gratification,” he said, adding that iTunes and streaming video services are two other examples of booming businesses. “You can sit there in your boxers with Cheetos on your chest and have a grand old time.”

The gaming experience, too, has changed with the years.

Five years ago, online gaming was considered a solitary activity, says David Williams, who heads up the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Group. And although games can still be played alone, the social component is burgeoning.

“Over a third of families will play games together online,” Williams said. They’re staying home more, and they’re “using games to connect with one another.”

Addicting Games, a Nickelodeon free online brand that caters to teens and tweens, counted 40 million visits from 11 million individuals last month alone, Williams says. Another Nickelodeon brand, Shockwave, has also grown. The free offerings have boomed, but hesaid the subscription business, too, has continued to grow “more than 20 percent year after year.”

When it comes to the games children and adolescents play, many parents such as Lisa Moore may choose to sit it out. But Christina Vercelletto, a senior editor at Parenting magazine, says that engaging in the games with them can do a family good.

“It can be an opportunity to bond with your kids,” she said. If parents express interest, kids “will probably be thrilled. And you’ll get a little window into what has them so excited.”

Plus, by playing the games, parents can determine how comfortable they are with what their kids are doing.

For those who want to get the opinions of others, she points out that the Entertainment Software Rating Board provides feedback and that parents are always learning from one another on, for instance, discussion boards.

Beyond traditional entertainment, people watching their wallets can watch out for themselves while staying home. Take, for instance, the practice of yoga.

Rodney Yee, a nationally recognized instructor, says video and DVD sales are up. Also thriving is the Gaiam Yoga Club, his and his wife’s first of its kind online 12-week yoga practice, which costs $5 a week.

“I really believe that this is an opportunity for all of us to re-evaluate the way we live in the world,” Yee said. “Even though they seem like hard times, they’re reflective times. We can look at our lives and question what we value by what we’re doing.”

Study Probes Online Power of Hispanic Consumers.

Posted by truecreek on March 20, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Read the First Comment

COM2-spreads.2.inddBy Mark Dolliver.

NEW YORK Not so long ago, a report on Hispanic Americans’ Internet usage would likely have been focusing on a “digital divide,” with Hispanic and other minorities lagging far behind the general population in online access and activity. The title of a Scarborough Research report released today, “The Power of the Hispanic Consumer Online,” gives a quick hint at how times have changed. The report finds Hispanic Internet users to be “avid downloaders of digital content,” thanks in part to a broadband adoption rate mirroring that of the nation’s overall online population.

Scarborough says 54 percent of Hispanic adults are online, vs. 69 percent of total U.S. adults. (If anything, the gap is likely to be narrower now, as the national data for the report were gathered between February 2007 and March 2008.) Among Hispanics who are online, 68 percent have a broadband connection in their household, as do 71 percent of U.S. Internet users in general.

In Scarborough’s polling, 42 percent of Hispanic Internet users (vs. 35 percent of Internet users in general) reported downloading some sort of digital content in the 30 days before being questioned. And what have they been downloading? As with the total online population, Hispanic Internet users are most likely to be latching onto music. Thirty-two percent of wired Hispanics reported having done so in the previous 30 days, vs. 24 percent of Internet users in general. Seventeen percent of online Hispanics (and 14 percent of all wired respondents) reported downloading something in the catchall “other video” category within that period.

Fewer Hispanic respondents said they’d downloaded audio clips (11 percent), movies (9 percent), TV programs (8 percent), video games (6 percent) or podcasts (3 percent) within that 30-day period. Aside from podcasts, the incidence of downloading in each category was slightly lower among Internet users in general than it was for the study’s Hispanic respondents. Scarborough (a joint venture between Arbitron and AdweekMedia parent The Nielsen Co.) notes that younger Hispanic adults were, as you’d expect, more likely than their elders to have downloaded digital content in the previous 30 days, with 51 percent of the 18-34-year-olds saying they’d done so.

Another section of the report notes that mobile devices are “an important point of Internet entry” for Hispanic adults. Among Hispanic cell-phone subscribers, 55 percent use it for text messaging, 28 percent for picture messaging, 22 percent for instant messaging, 15 percent for downloading video games, 15 percent for e-mail and 11 percent for “other” Internet usage. Here again, the polling finds Hispanic respondents more likely than cell-phone users in general to use the device in these ways.

When it comes to buying online, Scarborough found Hispanic Internet users lagging behind the total online population — but not by much. Sixty-two percent of online Hispanic adults reported having made at least one online purchase in the previous 12 months, vs. 70 percent of Internet users in general. Among those who did make such purchases, the average spent in the previous 12 months was $762 for Hispanic respondents and $861 for Internet users generally.

The report also took a look at some metro areas that have disproportionate numbers of Hispanic adults. Among the findings about these markets: The incidence of broadband access among online Hispanics was particularly high in Miami (76 percent), San Francisco (75 percent) and New York (72 percent). The incidence of past-30-day downloading among Hispanic Internet users was highest in Phoenix (60 percent). The average amount of online spending, among Hispanics who’d made any online purchase in the prior 12 months, was highest in New York (at $883), San Francisco ($879) and Phoenix ($831).

Time for a Data Diet? Deciding What Customer Information to Keep — and What to Toss

Posted by truecreek on March 19, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

From Knowledge@Wharton:

Heartland Payment Systems, a credit card processor, may have had up to 100 million records exposed to malicious hackers. Payment processors CheckFree and RBS Worldpay, and employment site Monster.com have all reported data breaches in recent months, as have universities and government agencies. Experts at Wharton say that personal data is increasingly a liability for companies, and suggest that part of the solution may be minimizing the customer information these companies keep.

Indeed, according to Wharton marketing professors Eric Bradlow and Peter Fader companies should deploy a technique called “data minimization.” The concept: Keep the customer data a company needs for competitive advantage and purge the rest. “I think there is a fear and paranoia among companies that … if they don’t keep every little piece of information on a customer, they [can’t function],” says Bradlow. “Companies continue to squirrel away data for a rainy day. We’re not saying throw data away meaninglessly, but use what you need for forecasting and get rid of the rest.”

The problem with the data hoarding approach is that companies can’t use most of the information they keep, adds Fader. Meanwhile, they become data pack rats, chasing an illusory dream of one-to-one marketing, which he says “is a myth. The best thing to do is aggregate information so companies can predict something like, ‘Among all people who bought five times or more, how many times are they likely to buy in the next year?'”

Fader and Bradlow discussed data minimization concepts when they presented papers at the recent Wharton Information Security Best Practices Conference. Their papers illustrate how companies can still predict customer behavior even if they minimize the customer data they keep.

However, data minimization isn’t a panacea, argues Wharton operations and information management professor Eric Clemons. Some industries — such as insurance or credit card companies — may need to collect detailed customer data for competitive advantage. Meanwhile, companies that serve as pack rats for customer data are focusing on installing better defenses and procedures to protect information.

“The dominant argument of the day is that more data improves the accuracy of targeting,” says Andrea Matwyshyn, a legal studies and business ethics professor at Wharton. “But there are additional risks associated with storing that information. More may not always be better.”

Indeed, the cost of a data breach in 2008 was $202 per compromised record, up 2.5% from $197 per record in 2007, according to the Ponemon Institute, a Michigan group that researches and consults on privacy and information security issues. Ponemon’s estimates are based on interviews with companies that have suffered breaches to customer records that include credit card numbers and, in some cases, personally identifiable information. Following a data breach, companies often must hire security consultants, engage legal counsel and offer credit monitoring services to affected customers. The Institute also found that companies will lose customers in the year following a data breach. For example, health care and financial firms lost 6.5% and 5.5% of customers, respectively, after such incidents.

Fader and Bradlow argue that companies are taking on undue risk to their reputations by hoarding data with little business benefits. While companies generally disclose what data they keep in little-read privacy statements, consumers can still be surprised when breaches occur. “Companies are actively collecting data without realizing the work involved,” says Fader. “And given how companies are stretched thin, they can’t manage the data correctly. Keeping detailed data is a blessing and a curse.”

What to Keep?

The real challenge for companies is assessing what customer information they need to retain, says Fader, who adds that firms may be keeping an excessive amount of data because they can’t pinpoint what they actually want. “Data minimization involves more than just the data. You can’t minimize data until you know what to do with it. What data elements do you need to predict customer behavior?”

The inability to answer those tough questions, says Bradlow, could be one reason why companies default to storing as much data as possible — not the best strategy when it’s clear that many companies don’t know what to do with this data even when they have it.

Fader and Bradlow recommend a simple approach to data minimization. First, companies should figure out what information they need to track consumer behavior. Then, aggregate that information — including, for example, grocery bills, shopping frequencies and e-commerce sales for a retailer — over a defined period such as two to four months. With that aggregated information, a company can create histograms — graphical representations of aggregated data –and throw away original data.

Fader suggests that histograms offer accuracy rates close to individual targeting — without the risk. Purging individual information lowers costs because companies don’t have to secure information in transit, store and analyze data, and navigate a bevy of regulations across the globe. “Maintaining data warehousing is costly because the minute you keep data, you have to protect it,” says Bradlow. “Most firms realize they can’t do one-to-one targeting so why not only keep data that’s relevant?”

According to Matwyshyn, the discussion by Fader and Bradlow was an eye opener for privacy and legal experts at the Wharton security conference. What remains to be seen is whether privacy experts, marketers and security professionals can agree that data minimization is an important step. “The key is that there is discussion on the issue,” says Matwyshyn. “Marketers and privacy experts may not be as far apart as people presume.”

Fader and Bradlow acknowledge that the argument for data minimization is only just beginning. For data minimization to become the norm, a company’s management, privacy officers, legal counsel and marketing team will have to reach consensus on customer data collection. Legal and privacy experts are likely to support data minimization, while marketers will argue for keeping all the data they can collect.

Poaching Profitable Customers

In addition, data minimization practices will vary by industry. Clemons says that data can be a competitive advantage for many companies. For instance, Capital One used customer data to better segment its most profitable customers and poach similar ones from larger rivals. In this example, customer information led to varied pricing models — such as interest rates that varied by customer credit ratings — that maximized the profit from the top decile, or 10%, of customers. “Under the uniform pricing models of the mid 1990s, the top decile of customers produces 150 times more profit than average,” says Clemons. “Capital One found a way to attract the best customers away from other issuers.”

In a co-authored study, Clemons found that Capital One used what it calls an information-based strategy that allows the company to try varying approaches based on differences between itself and rivals. This strategy allowed Capital One to deploy a mass customization model. That model also generated returns, says Clemons. Capital One sustained double-digit returns on equity and double-digit increases in sales and profit growth due to its approach.

Clemons argues that storing customer data in bulk could lead to new pricing strategies. He agrees that one-to-one marketing is illusory at best, but a move to precision pricing — or figuring out exactly what an individual customer will pay — may warrant being a data pack rat. “I am not talking about pursuing some sort of illusory one-to-one marketing relationship with customers,” says Clemons. “I’m talking about making the transition to precision pricing, which does indeed require understanding your customer.”

Meanwhile, there’s another conundrum companies face: Data purged today could be valuable tomorrow. “Ten years ago, one of my clients wanted to purge his database. It was an insurance company, but once you purge your database, you know no more about your customers than a new entrant,” says Clemons. “That was okay under existing pricing models, but after any form of insurance deregulation, the information they were purging would have been enormously valuable.”

Ultimately, the choice to follow data minimization practices boils down to one question: What will a company do with the data?

“If you are collecting data just for its own purposes, follow a minimization approach,” suggests Matwyshyn. “If a company is doing something else with data, like selling it, then there’s no incentive to minimize the risk.”

Bradlow says data minimization has the potential to be one of the key security tools used by companies, even if it remains largely an academic concept today. “Security professionals will buy [data minimization]. Next, you have to convince the marketing world and begin giving talks outside the ivory tower. I think firms will start buying in.”

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Posted by truecreek on March 18, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 2 Comments to Read

Today, I got on an elevator with two young people.  We had a twelve floor trip to the lobby ahead of us.

Immediately after entering the elevator, their respective blackberrys just seemed to fly out of their respective pockets and voila!  There it was…The Blue Screen Of Death.  Or in this case, “The Blue Screen of I Don’t Want to Have Anything To Do With You.”

You know what I’m talking about.  Why do people find it necessary to go to such lengths to avoid all contact with another simply by opening up the device and clicking away.   I mean, what are you really reading that is all so important?

I have a suggestion.  The next time you get on an elevator and are face to face with another human, try this:  Put those things down.  Heck, don’t even bring them out.  Say hello.  Join us all in some light banter.  Open up.  Make us laugh.  Do something that differentiates  you.  Speak up.  Look us in the eye.  Tell us a quick story.  Encourage us.

Just don’t pull out your damn device and lose yourself in the light.

It’s just not sociable.

Kudos for Comcast’s (Goodby’s) New Campaign.

Posted by truecreek on March 16, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Comcast has been a regional client of this agency for almost a  year now.  Our job has been to write, design and produce the stuff that sells things; DM, catalogs and the like.  All of the brand work came from Goodby, where That’s Comcastic originated.  We just follow their lead happily.

But the new campaign, dream big, is just great and the agency deserves a tremendous amount of credit for taking the client in this direction.  The new campaign offers up some of the most visually interesting work I have seen in a long time.  Some see it as bizarre, but for me, it does a wonderful job of humanizing the category…something that is tough to do with broadband accounts.

With this category, it’s all about the features and benefits of the three products, the speed of the network, the amount of channels you offer in high def, the price point and the like.  To take all of that and turn it into a sort of Yellow Submarine meets Monopoly spectacle is just fascinating to watch.  Not to mention the extremely creative music that just carries the spot to a whole new place.

It will be very interesting to see how the campaign unfolds over the next six months to a year.   Does it have legs?

Ad Recession Brings on the Belly Fat.

Posted by truecreek on March 10, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

how-much-better

Sites Stop Fighting Those Ubiquitous Direct-Response Ads as Publishers Reluctant to Forego Revenue

by Michael Learmonth

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The recession is having a slimming-down effect on media businesses, but it’s feeding the proliferation of pot bellies and muffin tops across the web.

The belly-fat ads may be unappealing and jarring on some of the higher-end sites that are running them, but they work, and can bring more revenue than a display ad sold on a cost-per-thousand-viewers basis.

The ubiquitous “belly fat” ads, placed by numerous direct-response marketers, including some of the web’s shadiest advertisers, are finding welcome homes across the web as publishers grow more reluctant to leave any available ad budgets on the table, even those attached to unappealing ads.

These ads, which typically link to sites with names such as Becky’s Weight Loss or Helen’s Weight Loss, often use the same exact creative — a before-and-after photo of a woman’s belly — and tout some secret to getting rid of a gut. Users, of course, have to click on the ad to find out more.

Online advertising start-up Rubicon Project estimates that different versions of the “belly fat” ads are now being served by half the ad networks in the U.S., sometimes accounting for as much as 30% of an ad network’s total revenue.

It’s all part of a larger shift toward direct-response advertising as brand dollars become harder to come by. The belly-fat ads may be unappealing and jarring on some of the higher-end sites that are running them, such as MSNBC.com, but they work, and can bring more revenue than a display ad sold on a cost-per-thousand-viewers basis.

“Ultimately, the economy is what it is, and ad networks are finding that it is easier for them to get direct-response ads right now than it is to get brand dollars,” said Rubicon VP J.T. Batson.

But here’s the bigger problem: The process of blocking belly-fat ads for publishers that don’t want them is proving particularly difficult for ad networks. The creative gets placed by numerous corporations using different tags, URLs and toll-free numbers, making them hard to track and stop automatically.

And when ad networks have unsold inventory, they’ll often tap another ad network to fill it, giving belly-fat ads another side door onto websites that might not want them.

New Jersey-based ad network AdBlade is placing some belly-fat ads, including smaller placements on MSNBC, but CEO Ash Nashed said he turns away about 60% of the belly-fat ads out there, including those with forced upsells in the fine print and those where a person doesn’t answer the toll-free number. “They do perform well; a lot of people click on those ads, quite frankly,” he said.

And it’s not just belly fat. Direct-response ads of all kinds, such as those for lowering bills, avoiding computer viruses and checking credit scores, are flooding into unsold ad inventory. Windows that open underneath a page — the so-called pop-unders of the late ’90s — are making a comeback, and ad execs say they’re seeing more in-text ads from the likes of Vibrant Media and Kontera as publishers attempt to squeeze incremental dollars from each page.

“It signifies a shortage of alternatives and a hunger for revenue,” said Andy Atherton, chief operating officer of Brand.net. “This isn’t a new issue, but in this climate it’s harder to say no to any ad if there is money attached to it.”

In their quest for hard-to-find ad dollars, publishers are paying more attention to their international traffic, which many used to ignore. A typical U.S. web property gets 30% of its traffic from overseas, but it’s difficult to sell ads against those visitors without doing a deal with an ad network based in, say, Germany, to sell to a much smaller German audience, or working with companies such as Adconion or AdGent 007, which can serve international ads to those visitors.

Dipping Into the Stream of Consciousness

Posted by truecreek on March 5, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

Start by sticking your big toe in and continue until you are fully immersed in knowledge, insight and enlightenment of current affairs in advertising and marketing. It promises to be a very refreshing experience.

This is my MOM by the way.

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You Got Your DTV Coupon Yet? Actually, It’s a Debit Card. That’s Progress.

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 2 Comments to Read

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 From the web:  the federal government has re-funded its discount program for digital-converter boxes, and $40 coupons will be in the mail to U.S. homes next week. The backlog in demand for the coupons contributed to the decision to delay the conversion of analog signals to digital from Feb. 17 to June 12.

Two just arrived in my mail today.  Well done, but why “TV Converter Box Coupon Program”?  It’s a debit card, guys.

What’s Up With G?

Posted by truecreek on March 3, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 2 Comments to Read

I don’t know about you, but for the life of me I cannot understand the rationale behind the new campaign from Gatorade. Gatorade has the type of  brand history  that most companies today would just die for.  So why would the company throw that all away and confuse everyone with a slick new campaign?

What’s up with G?

To get a good feel for the history of the brand, let’s see what the company has to say about it.  For accuracy, the next few paragraphs are from the official website:

In the early summer of 1965, a University of Florida assistant coach sat down with a team of university physicians and asked them to determine why so many of his players were being affected by heat and heat related illnesses.

The researchers — Dr. Robert Cade, Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. H. James Free and Dr. Alejandro de Quesada — soon discovered two key factors that were causing the Gator players to ‘wilt’: the fluids and electrolytes the players lost through sweat were not being replaced, and the large amounts of carbohydrates the players’ bodies used for energy were not being replenished.

The researchers then took their findings into the lab, and scientifically formulated a new, precisely balanced carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage that would adequately replace the key components lost by Gator players through sweating and exercise. They called their concoction ‘Gatorade’.

So that’s how it all started.

Soon, the drink was a huge success.  After seeing their gridiron fortunes turn around, the Gators attributed their ability to withstand the tremendous heat to the fluids and essential elements in Gatorade.  Of course, word got around and eventually virtually every team in college football had plenty of Gatorade on the sidelines.

Today, over a dozen products and flavors now carry the Gatorade name. Shoot, the drink’s manufacturer, Quaker Oats, thought so highly about it they registered  and trademarked the name.

So what does the agency recommend to the client?  Change it.

Now, I love the art direction and execution and I’ve always been a big fan of b/w television.  The talent chosen for the spots is superb.  The cinematography is excellent and everything is very well written.  But my problem is with the STRATEGY and the rationale.

I would have loved to have been in that presentation.  Just imagine the dancing the creatives had to do with this one.  They sold everyone in that meeting a ton of goods, you know…this is gonna be cool.  But whatever they said in that meeting, it worked.   Quaker Oats decided to change everything, including the packaging, product names, website….the whole enchilada.

The campaign is nothing but a huge financial gamble. Can you just imagine how much it will cost to get the letter “G ” up to the brand recognition numbers the name “Gatorade” has today?

To me, the shop has done the brand and Quaker Oats a tremendous disservice.  Here’s what I think will happen.  I suspect you will see the Gatorade name once again gain greater prominence in the packaging design, as negative numbers start reflecting the lack of enthusiasm with the new direction.  G will slowly fall into obscurity.  But not after millions of dollars will have been put into this misdirected approach.

But that’s just me.  I believe in the power of brand history and to convince a client to make such a radical departure is just irresponsible.

Paul Harvey. And Now, the Rest of the Story.

Posted by truecreek on March 1, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

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In Downturn, Americans Flock to the Movies.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood could get used to this recession thing.

While much of the economy is teetering between bust and bailout, the movie industry has been startled by a box-office surge that has little precedent in the modern era. Suddenly it seems as if everyone is going to the movies, with ticket sales this year up 17.5 percent, to $1.7 billion, according to Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking company.

And it is not just because ticket prices are higher. Attendance has also jumped, by nearly 16 percent. If that pace continues through the year, it would amount to the biggest box-office surge in at least two decades.

Americans, for the moment, just want to hide in a very dark place, said Martin Kaplan, the director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment and society at the University of Southern California.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “People want to forget their troubles, and they want to be with other people.”

Helping feed the surge is the mix of movies, which have been more audience-friendly in recent months as the studios have tried to adjust after the lackluster sales of more somber and serious films.

As she stood in line at the 18-screen Bridge theater complex here on Thursday to buy weekend tickets for “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience,” Angel Hernandez was not thinking much about escaping reality. Instead, Ms. Hernandez, a Los Angeles parking lot attendant and mother of four young girls, was focused on one very specific reality: her wallet.

Even with the movie carrying a premium price of $15 because of its 3-D effects — children’s tickets typically run $9 at the Bridge — Ms. Hernandez saw the experience as a bargain.

“Spending hundreds of dollars to take them to Disneyland is ridiculous right now,” she said. “For $60 and some candy money I can still be a good mom and give them a little fun.”

A lot of parents may have been thinking the same thing Friday, as “Jonas Brothers” sold out more than 800 theaters, according to MovieTickets.com, and was expected to sell a powerful $25 million or more in tickets.

Other movies kept up their blistering sales pace, too, including “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” about a gun-toting grandma. Even “Taken,” a relatively low-cost thriller starring Liam Neeson, is barreling past the $100 million mark this weekend.

Historically speaking, the old saw that movies do well in hard times is not precisely true. The last time Hollywood enjoyed a double-digit jump in attendance was 1989, when the unemployment rate was at a comfortable 5.4 percent and the Gothic tone of that year’s big hit, “Batman,” seemed mostly the stuff of fantasy. That year, the number of moviegoers shot up 16.4 percent, according to Box Office Mojo, a box-office reporting service.

In 1982, theater attendance jumped 10.1 percent to about 1.18 billion (the top seller was “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”) as unemployment rose sharply past 10 percent. Then admissions fell nearly 12 percent, an unusually sharp drop, in 1985 (the “Back to the Future” year), as the economy picked up — suggesting that theater owners have sometimes found fortunes in times of distress, and distress in good times.

Academic research on the matter is scant. One often-quoted scholarly study by Michelle Pautz, of Elon University, was published by the journal Issues in Political Economy in 2002. Over all, it said, the portion of the American population that attended movies on a weekly basis dropped from around 65 percent in 1930 to about 10 percent in the 1960s, and pretty much stayed there.

The film industry appears to have had a hand in its recent good luck. Over the last year or two, studios have released movies that are happier, scarier or just less depressing than what came before. After poor results for a spate of serious dramas built around the Middle East (“The Kingdom,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Rendition”), Hollywood got back to comedies like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” a review-proof lark about an overstuffed security guard.

“A bunch of movies have come along that don’t make you think too much,” said Marc Abraham, a producer whose next film is a remake of “The Thing.”

Certainly exhibitors are looking for a profit lift in the downturn. A new report from Global Media Intelligence on Friday predicted that the fortunes of movie theater operators like Regal Entertainment and Cinemark Holdings would be “increasingly favorable against a backdrop of highly negative economic news.”

Cinematic quality has little to do with it. The recent crop of Oscar nominees has fared poorly, for the most part, at the box office. Lighter fare has drawn the crowds.

“It would take a very generous person to call these pictures anything other than middle-of-the-road, at best,” said Roger Smith, the executive editor of Global Media Intelligence.

The box-office surge started just before Christmas with the comedy “Marley & Me,” in which Jennifer Aniston was upstaged by a dog. And it has continued, weekend by weekend, with little sign of let-up, analysts say.

“Watchmen,” a dark superhero film, opens March 6 and is expected to do megawatt business. It is to be followed by “Monsters vs. Aliens,” a 3-D behemoth from DreamWorks Animation that analysts expect to have the biggest March opening ever for a nonsequel.

Movie theaters are already adding 3 a.m. screenings for “Watchmen” next week, and advance sales by online ticket companies like Fandango and MovieTickets.com have been strong.

“Fandango is experiencing the best first quarter in its history for ticket sales,” said Rick Butler, its chief operating officer. “I see no signs of a drop-off.”