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This Week in TV News: Sundance, Oscars and Super Bowl Creative

This week, we’re talking about one of our favorite topics, big-budget TV ads that captivate audiences. We’re also looking at Sundance films with buzz and Netflix’s Academy Awards nominations.

Netflix’s “Roma” gets Best Picture Oscar nod. The streaming service’s nominated films include Alfonso Cuaron‘s “Roma” and the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” “Roma” garnered 10 nominations total, including Best Picture, which is a huge get for Netflix as it faces obstacles on the awards circuit. (CNN)

Sundance is here. The annual film fest attracted 14,259 film submissions from 152 countries. Of those, 112 feature-length films were selected, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. Buzzy titles include “Late Night,” a comedy written, produced and starring Mindy Kaling, documentaries about Harvey Weinstein and Michael Jackson, and Netflix’s “Velvet Buzzsaw,” a thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal. (Vulture)

“Taste the feeling” before the big game. Coca-Cola won’t air an ad during the Super Bowl for the first time in 10 years, opting for a 60-second spot before the National Anthem. Coke’s SVP-marketing for North America and president of its sparkling beverages business unit said the anthem timing is intentional, aimed at reminding remind everyone that “together is beautiful.” (Variety)

Spot these celebs in Super Bowl LIII. Celebrity cameos are a staple of big-budget ad creative. This year, Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercial will borrow the star power of Steve Carell, Lil Jon and Cardi B (who wears bejeweled Pepsi-colored nails). Kristin Chenoweth teaches dogs to sing in Avocados From Mexico’s ad, Luke Wilson will appear in a Colgate ad called “Close Talker,” and dating app Bumble will air a spot featuring Serena Williams as a part of its #InHerCourt campaign. Keep an eye out for Budweiser’s spot, which borrows Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” for its a message that the beer is “now brewed with wind power,” promoting the brewers’ goal to be powered by renewable sources by 2025.

See last week’s TV news covering the Fyre Festival documentary wars and the Oscars going hostless.

How Oscar Wins Give In-home Entertainment the Golden Seal of Approval

Congrats to all the newly announced Oscar nominees! We are especially excited for our clients and their titles, including Best Picture nominees “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Vice” and “The Favourite.”

Let’s take a closer look at how the awards will impact the in-home rental window.

It seems intuitive that box office performance would generally be a stellar predictor of in-home rental success. For instance, “A Star Is Born,” achieved blockbuster status in theaters, so you’d expect it to do similarly well as a VOD rental. Viewers who couldn’t get enough of the chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will naturally want to revisit the star-crossed pair again, and those who missed the theatrical release might want to see what all that enthusiastic chatter from fans was about. By the same token, a film that doesn’t generate excitement on the big screen could reasonably be expected to get a lackluster response as an in-home rental.

While box office figures undeniably provide some of the strongest indicators of rental success, they’re not the only factor studios should consider, especially as the excitement of Academy Awards season ramps up. one2one Entertainment has analyzed more than 20 additional variables that can organically affect a film’s rental success, and we discovered that strength in those other areas–most notably Oscar buzz–can lessen the importance and impact of unimpressive box office receipts.

The graph below provides an eye-opening example. Last year, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a difficult-to-categorize film starring Frances McDormand, couldn’t be described as a hit when it was released in theaters. Thanks to the boost from its many Academy Award nominations – including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor – the picture attracted a new wave of attention from potential viewers and has performed just as well in the home market as “Jurassic World” (which had 670% higher box office revenue). Award recognition, especially in significant categories like Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director, can double rental demand. (It’s also interesting to note that while the Oscars has been slipping in viewership, it was still one of only two shows that year without a sports tie-in to make the top-10 in Nielsen ratings.)

It’s important to keep in mind that a film enjoying a second wave of awareness with the public will have a very different spend and strategy than if it were simply released in September with no award recognition. Leveraging the timing of the Oscars becomes paramount. This is one period in the year when the slate is wiped clean; ticket sales aren’t automatically mirrored by rentals; and little-seen but deserving, well-made, culturally relevant movies get a chance to find an audience. It’s no coincidence that most nominated movies make their debut in the VOD window just prior to the awards or right after.

If you’d like a deeper understanding of the variables that impact in-home entertainment and how the Oscars will affect the movie-rental window, reach out to us.

This Week in TV News: a Hostless Oscars and Fyre Fever

We’re watching Oscars news to see if the big show will have a host, and we’re talking about yet another streaming service.

Oscars goes host-less. The surest way to avoid controversy with the Academy Awards host pick, it seems, is to go with no host at all. After Kevin Hart was supposed to host the show, then dropped out after old controversial tweets resurfaced, the Oscars appears to be foregoing an MC. Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross will present nominations on Jan. 22. (NYT)

The newest streamer in the game. NBCUniversal plans to launch a streaming service next year. According to Variety, NBCU will be an ad-supported, free service to U.S. NBCU pay-cable subscribers. Rumor has it that NBCUniversal, which owns “The Office,” may pull the popular program from Netflix. (Variety)

Fyre fever hits the streaming services. Famously, the Fyre Festival – marketed as a lux “Coachella in the Bahamas” – was a giant disaster that stranded attendees without much in the way of food or lodging. (You’re probably familiar with the viral photo of a Fyre sandwich, two sad slices of wheat bread, a tomato slice, cheese and past-due greens.) Now, Netflix and Hulu both are releasing documentaries about the failed festival. Check out Vulture’s guide to which doc is right for you.

Netflix hikes subscription price 18%. The streaming service’s most popular plan, one that offers high-def streaming on up to two different internet-connected devices at the same time, will go from from $11 to $13 per month. As of last September, Netflix reported $8B in long-term debt, up 71% from about $5B the year before. The company proposed another $2B in debt last October to fund more original content. (Chicago Tribune)

See last week’s TV news blog on “Bird Box” and the Golden Globes.

The Role of Television in the Modern Customer Journey

[A version of this post originally appeared in MediaVillage.)

Consumer behavior is always shifting with the introduction of new technologies, so how should today’s marketers think about TV?

To start, marketers should recognize that TV has adapted to be more relevant, targeted, measurable and flexible, with better return on ad spend than ever before. With TV driving real business impact by influencing consumers throughout their journey to purchase, those marketers who take advantage of the medium’s new capabilities will get an early start on a more effective and versatile branding instrument.

In our series on the customer journey we explored how TV has transformed from a broadcast medium – one traditionally considered for brand lift and share of voice – to something else: a data-driven medium capable of refreshing and reinforcing messages to specific segmentsfostering loyalty and advocacy, educating during the research phase and selling products.

In this last post, we’ll illustrate how data drives results, especially when tapping TV’s emotional power, making it key to today’s media mix.

The Power of Digital + TV

Advanced TV uses datasets to reach consumers on the big screen at home as they research and set their buying criteria. TV indexing uses data science to find correlations in content and consumer interests so marketers can deliver specific messages to the segments most likely to buy. Sequencing messaging via email, digital display and Addressable TV instills brand loyalty. These approaches should be used across the consumer journey – in conjunction with digital tactics – to reach people at the right time with the right message.

A company selling an electric toothbrush, for instance, uses traditional broadcast TV to raise awareness, reaching a broad swath of the public, some of whom will not be interested in the product. Afterward, the toothbrush brand could use data to find consumers with a particular income who recently researched oral care products, then target them with Addressable TV ads that compare the toothbrush to competitors.

Next, a marketer could target ads further to those who appear likely to make a purchase and offer them incentives like a coupon or time-sensitive offer through e-mail or display banner ads.

TV’s Emotional Power

Today, TV is still the most emotionally potent medium – and emotional connection is vital to the customer-brand relationship. Indeed, Nielsen found that ads with a higher-than-average strong emotional connection prompt a 23% lift in sales.

And while other mediums compete for attention, TV is different. In fact, WARC research shows TV ads command twice the active viewing of YouTube and 15 times the active viewing of Facebook.

The main takeaway for marketers is that TV has evolved into a multifaceted tool that should be used to talk to consumers as they make their way through the customer journey. Because TV is digital-enabled and can share segments with digital, its tactics can be paired with digital by bringing more context, emotion, sight, sound and motion to the equation, creating a cadence of messaging that leads the consumer to brand loyalty.

Marketers can start testing now to see how taking advantage of TV’s full capabilities can boost their return on ad spend.

Read the intro to our customer journey series and check out the previous stage, Advocacy.

This Week in TV News: ‘Bird Box’ and an IMDB Streaming Service

This week, we’re talking about Netflix’s latest thriller, a viral movie starring Sandra Bullock. We’re also talking about the Golden Globes because we’re in the thick of #awardseason and the newest streaming service offering (because you didn’t have enough options).

“Bird Box” gets big views. Twenty-six million people streamed the thriller in its first week, according to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings. Nielsen said that of Netflix’s original programming, the much-memed about movie comes in right behind Stranger Things Season 2 by less than one million viewers. Dec. 28 saw the most views, with an average minute audience of about 4 million U.S. viewers. (Hollywood Reporter)

Alexa, let’s binge ‘Scandal.’ Viewers who use Alexa to tune in to shows watch 50% more TV than those who don’t use the AI-enabled device, Hulu CMO Kelly Campbell said at CES. “I think there’s a lot more to unlock in the voice category,” Kelly continued. (Deadline)

The Golden Globes stay golden. The awards show on NBC brought in 18.6 million viewers, down 19.1 million from last year. Viewership among adults 18-49 increased 4%. The event, hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, was the most-watched non-sports or news event on TV since the Oscars aired on ABC last March. (Vulture)

Another streaming service for you. IMDB now joins the lineup of streaming services available to consumers. The service is called Freedive, a free ad-supported platform that offers IMDb or Amazon users and Amazon Fire TV owners access to TV and movies. (The Verge)

See last week’s TV news.

How TV Fosters Customer Advocacy

[A version of this post originally appeared in MediaVillage.]

While you might assume that merely being satisfied with a brand’s performance is enough, the real reasons for loyalty go deeper.  Looking at data from hundreds of brands across categories, research from Harvard Business Review found that on a lifetime value basis emotionally connected customers were more than twice as valuable to marketers than highly satisfied customers.

While delivering a satisfying customer experience is table stakes, brands need to cater to consumers’ emotional needs, like feeling a sense of freedom or standing out from the crowd.  For marketers, that means understanding customers on a deep level and offering them messages and creative that resonate so the consumer will talk up the brand to others and become a repeat purchaser.  In other words, it’s all about nurturing existing customers.

TV is great for reaffirming a purchase and nurturing the emotional connection with a consumer.  For instance, a car ad can reaffirm a lifestyle that fits with the reason the customer bought the car.  And if you set your segments up well from the start, your segmented messaging will do double duty, reaffirming the purchase for loyalists and attracting new customers.

Leaving the Best Impression

One way to achieve loyalty is by effectively sequencing messages.  Think about how you want your favorite brand to reach you.  See their ads too often and you’ll get sick of them.  You might want to hear about offers, but only if they’re very relevant.  A sign of appreciation, like a coupon or just a thank you message, is a more welcome means of reaching out.

With many different channels available, one hazard of using traditional TV advertising for this purpose is the risk of overexposure.  A spray-and-pray approach makes it impossible to deliver personalized messages.  Addressable TV offers a new vehicle for messaging that is targeted to the household level.  Testing can reveal the optimum sequence of messaging via email, digital display and addressable TV that helps instill loyalty.

Segmenting Brings Success

As McKinsey illustrates, consumers can hold vastly different views of your brand.  The choice is often which segment to focus on for maximum efficacy.  First-party data can help identify different groups of customers, ranging from dissatisfied to evangelists.  Observing behavior and preferences and unearthing their emotional connections with a brand can help execute such segmentation.

McKinsey recommends looking at traditional customer survey data and linking those results to anonymized online activity to see how such consumers behave.  For instance, do product upgrades help turn moderately satisfied consumers into very satisfied consumers?  Which messages have resonated with them most?  As with everything else in marketing, only rigorous testing will unearth the answers to such questions.  Testing won’t make your marketing perfect, but it will point you on the right side of the continuum between ineffective and very effective.

At the loyalty stage, advertisers should look back at the entire journey.  Now that you know something about the customer, how would you segment them, and how would you tweak messaging to encourage the customer to buy from you again?

Looping Back to the Beginning of the Journey

Advertisers that are successful at fostering loyalty have this stage in mind through the entire customer journey Through relevant messaging, excellent creative that resonates with the audience and great brand experiences, the customer is likely to start the journey over again.

Strengthening consumer loyalty is very important to the health of a brand and can be a potent tool for acquiring new customers (hence the Net Promoter Score).  Take the time to thank your customers.  They’ll thank you back.

Read previous stage of the journey, Purchase, and check out our conclusion to our series, all about what modern marketers should make of TV in context of the modern customer journey.

This Week in TV News: The Oscars, Roku and Bob Einstein

It’s 2019, and we’re back with more TV news. The Academy Awards are still looking for a host; Roku makes subscribing to premium streaming services easier within their channel; and a star from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” passed away this week. 

And the Oscar host job goes to… No one. After Kevin Hart’s ouster from the role, there are still no firm takers for the award show job next month. Apparently the Academy is looking for someone who doesn’t speak about politics and has appeal beyond older audiences who can be counted on to tune in regardless of the host. (THR)

Roku adds streaming channel subs, all in one interface. The Roku Channel will offer subscriptions to more than 20 premium channels including Showtime, Epix and Starz, all in one bill. A caveat: you won’t be able to find HBO, Netflix and Hulu through The Roku Channel. Apple and Facebook are said to be considering a similar offering. (CNBC)

Hackers expose smart device vulnerabilities. This week, hackers forced almost 3,000 Google Chromecast streaming adapters, Google Home smart speakers and smart TVs to display a message promoting controversial YouTuber PewDiePie. Variety reports that the hackers took advantage of “badly configured routers” and technically didn’t hack the devices to pull the stunt. (Variety)

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” actor Bob Einstein dies at 76. Einstein, who won two Emmy awards for his writing, was well known for his “Curb” role Marty Funkhouser and his bumbling daredevil character Super Dave Osborne, which he used on multiple television shows including “Bizarre,” “Super Dave” and “Super Dave’s SpikeTacular.” (Deadline)

See the previous TV recap covering 2018’s top-viewed ads on Youtube and how Netflix finds rom coms that resonate with viewers.

The Road to More Relevant, More Privacy-Compliant Advertising in 2019

TV has always been a cornerstone of advertising campaigns due to its unique ability to employ sight, sound and motion to grab viewers’ attention, and now, with new digital privacy regulations, it’s also important to know that TV can enable you to connect with households in a more privacy-compliant way.

The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, went into effect in Europe this year and fundamentally changed how marketers collect and use data for targeted advertising. In the U.S., the regulation led many global advertisers to take a hard look at data collection practices and about what information needs to be collected, and what can—and can’t—be shared with partners. And it looks like public sentiment will give way to more privacy regulation, whether it’s determined state by state or nationally. California’s digital privacy rules go into effect in 2020, and a similar privacy bill was introduced in New Jersey. A PwC survey found that just half of U.S. businesses affected by the California legislation expect to be compliant by the 2020 deadline.

Regulation is coming at the same time that interest in addressable TV is growing. And since addressable TV has natural safeguards built into it to protect privacy, now is the time for marketers that are reviewing their privacy practices to add addressable TV into their mix. Advertisers know that ultimately, reaching people with relevant messages is key to improving their television advertising ROI and enhancing the overall TV viewing experience, whether for live or on demand, in a home or on a mobile device. The challenge, then, is conducting addressable advertising in a way that completely safeguards consumer data and optimizes relevant ad experiences.

The good news is that TV provides more privacy-compliant ways to reach target audiences—now and for a long time to come.

How Addressable TV Safeguards Data

Addressable advertising, and TV generally, have built-in privacy safeguards. From the beginning, addressable TV advertising has been built to target at the household level, not the individual level. What’s more, addressable TV advertising doesn’t handle personally identifiable information (PII).

One way marketers could preserve customer trust while still delivering relevant ad experiences is by putting a standardized workflow in place between broadcasters and operators.

For example, Sky and Virgin Media work with a blind matching partner to create audience segments using first- and third-party data matched against Virgin or Sky subscriber files. The partner anonymizes those segments by turning them into a unique random identifier, which is then pushed into the Cadent Advanced TV Platform, which is running on premises at the operator. Cadent then matches addressable ad placement opportunities against that anonymous ID. Aggregated reporting is provided, and no ad requests or data leave Sky or Virgin’s network.

This is a more-privacy-compliant approach to TV advertising because persistent IDs and audience qualifiers aren’t propagated outside Sky or Virgin’s footprints—the companies retain control of their data at all times, even in anonymized forms.

In short, Sky and Virgin protect the commercial integrity of their data while maintaining the highest level of privacy for consumers. It’s also a win for broadcasters, content owners and advertisers delivering household addressable advertising to subscribers, who will receive a better, more relevant advertising experience.

There are no fundamental barriers to this kind of partnership; it comes down to simply putting a workflow in place.

It’s inevitable that change will come to data and privacy compliance in the U.S. Reaching customers could get a lot more expensive, complicated and challenging. Addressable TV offers a more privacy-compliant, effective alternative. And as sophisticated targeting continues to attract advertisers to the medium, it becomes an even more compelling alternative to digital advertising platforms.