Emerging Trends After 1 month of COVID-19 “Lockdown”

April marked the first full month of lock down for most of the world. As advertisers adjust TV spend and creatives to reach and engage with consumers watching increasingly more video across all screens, what trends have emerged?

Source: https://info.tvsquared.com/rs/597-QOT-387/images/COVID-TV-Insights-April-2020.pdf?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTm1aa01qQTFNVE15T1RCaCIsInQiOiJFSDBXNlwvcFFGNnRCWUI4bEI0T1o0RXlpRE1cL3phcG5zNnY0ZEpyQzkrcGM0emJqSHU0VjROOVlIWlV0Q2w1Um9kT2ttaWt5cU92UWRYVnRXSFVIMHlIVEFXd2lcL2FGYnVmUk95YzltTGdNQzJidk9DeTY3NUZrcWpjOXlNWUdQTCJ9

So happy it’s over!

According to Kantar Media over $6.75 billion was spent on Television and Radio media promoting the 2018 mid-term gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Before this number even came rolling in we knew it was going to be a challenging 2018 media environment – especially for our clients that advertise locally. The media tightening started in summer and became progressively worse the closer we got to November 6. The expectation by some was that after the election, the media would open-up and all would be right in the media world.  Unfortunately, the networks now have hundreds of thousands of makegoods to fulfill before the end of the year. Plus, it is 4Q which is always challenging regardless – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday shopping, healthcare dollars.

The only winners this year, in my opinion, are the media providers that have taken in the over 6 billion dollars in political ad spend – Meredith, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Fox Television Stations, CBS, etc.

What we do have to look forward to is a wide open 2019 – no Olympics, no political races, no World Cup. It will be the first year, in over 10 years, that the media environment may have a respite from increased rates and distressed inventory due to media premium payments.

That being said, we probably only have 1-year of solace. To ensure you are ready for the 2020 political mayhem, here are our top 3 tips to weather the next political storm.

  1. Plan ahead! Take advantage of opportunistic media outside of months that are going to cause your clients issues. Put together a flowchart that clearly outlines the races on the calendar along with the expectations of when media dollars will be coming into the marketplace.
  2. Diversify your media mix. Television has always been the media of choice for politicians – delivering the highest reach during the political media rat race. Help your clients test and identify other media opportunities that will help them weather the storm. Test alternative channels before you are in the middle of the chaos.
  3. Keep your client informed on the political spending implications and specifically how you foresee it affecting them. If the client expects the tightening media environment, you can have collaborative discussions on how to best navigate.

December 26 and 2019 can’t come fast enough. We are looking forward to a peaceful media negotiating and buying!

Don’t get caught up in the big data hype. It could be costly.

Don’t get caught up in the big data hype. It could be costly.

Since 1994 I have been reviewing the performance of client advertising campaigns – mostly direct response.  In 1994 campaigns utilizing direct response principles were typically direct mail, television (with a TFN only), print and radio. In those days, tracking performance was relatively easy, and WOM (word of mouth) attribution was simply part of the formula. Analyzing business growth, and the contributions to that growth, over distinct periods of time was simply part of the formula. Today, with web, text, social, search, phone, WOM to name a handful, it has made tracking the effectiveness of distinct media channels even more cumbersome.  What I always come back to, however, is the foundation of my direct response upbringing. The foundation is developing a method, agreeing on it with your client, and then executing a model built on baselines and collaboration. This is all regardless of the response mechanisms in which you are tracking. This is all just about the math.

There are many companies that are charging clients hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide insights into the impact television has on their business, but it just isn’t necessary. The findings that direct response professionals have been providing for decades continues to hold true, and the good television experts don’t charge extra for it.

I often reference an experience I had reading a case study that was done by Google on a well know brand. The brand utilized the Google 360 platform to test the creative performance of a campaign. The case study video testimonial delivered a compelling message to viewers as to the test environment and the methodical nature in which Google set up its test. This was not something that was revolutionary for me, this was basic stuff. In fact, we have been doing this for our clients since I have been in the business – since the 90s. We have never charged our clients to simply do our job – which is run the most optimal media, at the best times with the best creative. We constantly challenge the controls and change strategies and measurement based on the trajectory of the business and what the data is telling us.

I know different people can interpret the same data in different ways. But, if everyone is aligned on the method, and all parties are interested in the truth, then the end analysis should always be the same.

At the end of it all, don’t get caught up in the hype. You don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to find the truth in the data. The truth is already there – you simply need a partner, who is also interested in the truth, and has the expertise to help you find it.

Political Dollars Affecting Your Media Buys? Try this!

Political Dollars Affecting Your Media Buys? Try this!

Start TV Network Logo (PRNewsfoto/Weigel Broadcasting Co.)

Check out this article on Weigel Broadcasting Co.’s new multicast entertainment television network- Start TV. 

Start TV could be a another TV option for challenged Media Buyers during these Politically charged times.

Local Political advertising is very dynamic in 2018. For DR clients that are used to reasonable rates and nice frequency, that luxury has gone away since 2nd quarter.

Tampa is a great example.  Local TV is pressed with issues, money and new candidates making their presence known. A resource, if you have an aging demo, are the Antenna’s, GETTV and METV’S of the world. They can help reach your audience without the sticker shock of the Affiliate stations. I have re-worked my schedules for several clients this quarter to include these stations. The results have been a positive blessing.

Tampa will have a new option for broadcast buyers in September. If you have a local market that will have START in your line-up, give it a try if the demo and client sync up. November cannot come soon enough.

We Believe in a Balanced Scorecard.

We believe in a balanced scorecard. Why? Because it is what is best for our client’s.

 As direct response television experts we are constantly challenged with “why television”, “why not put it all in digital”. We also hear a lot about how no one is watching television anymore. Well, if that was true Facebook would not have just launched a TV PR ad campaign to try to fix their privacy/consumer trust problem. Television continues to have the highest reach of any other media. Period. Are the patterns of how people consume video changing, absolutely! That is why the way we purchase television aka video has changed and must continue to change. We buy more VOD than ever before. We take advantage of DSPs more than ever before. We buy more Hulu and Roku than ever before.

Despite all of that, this article is to provide some up to date trends from IAB, VAB and other sources on how TV and digital media work together to make a positive impact on an advertiser’s business. We also provide some stats on media usage/time spent. And last, we provide some debunking of cord cutting.


1. TV and Digital Executed Simultaneously Drove the Most Impact for Awareness, Familiarity, Opinion and Intent

2. Television continues to have the highest daily media consumption.


3. What are Adults doing any given minute? 

4. Cord Cutting – Don’t believe the hype.


Pay TV subscribers will drop cable services for more affordable Over-the Top (OTT) options like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.


83% of TV households watch cable – steady over the past 15 years

71% of US TV Viewers are “cord stackers” – subscribing to Pay TV and streaming services. Streaming-only customers account for only 11% of viewers.  One of the reasons cord-cutters were liberating themselves from the shackles of cable was the cost of cable. In order to fulfill the viewing needs many are now having to subscribe to multiple paid streaming services – inching closer to the cost of cable.




Top 3 TV Strategies any Healthcare Organization can use to Build Loyalty, Awareness, Engagement and Ultimately Bring in New Patients.

Top 3 TV Strategies any Healthcare Organization can use to Build Loyalty, Awareness, Engagement and Ultimately Bring in New Patients.

All three of the below strategies are the foundation of a strong television campaign. The execution of a direct response television campaign is built to cost effectively build your brand, awareness, loyalty, engagement and deliver more patients to your institution. For over 30 years healthcare brands have been profitably utilizing direct response television (DRTV) to advertise their hospitals, clinics, healthcare institution, medical equipment, health insurance plans and/or surgery centers.

1. Formula Based Creative

a. Creative developed around the brand promise providing a compelling/arresting opening
b. Capitalize on the healthcare organization’s reason to believe. This can be most effective with testimonials and/or expert endorsers. Cultivate a creative strategy that demonstrates and rejoices the challenges the consumer may face every day and then why your brand is the solution.
c. Develop creative that builds on the brand to maximize loyalty and buying behavior resulting in competitive differentiation and market share growth
d. High-impact visuals to cement the campaign with physicians and potential patients
e. Provide a call to action and offer that is meaningful to the consumer. For example, a free MRI review, no obligation consultation, free treatment, call or go online to find out more; or many other options that would be relevant to the specific brand.
f. Encouraging consumers to visit your website is critical to growing your brand engagement. Ensuring the consumer experience is seamless, easy, informative and best represents your brand promise is imperative.
g. Companies such as AARP, Shriners Hospital for Children, Moffitt Cancer Center and Laser Spine Institute are just a few healthcare brands that deliver on this creative foundation.

2. Cost Saving, Targeted Media

a. Develop a media mix with television (video) as the champion because TV delivers the highest reach. Surround television with a suite of other media that best fit the goals, budget and target sets of the organization.
b. Purchase programming that profiles the target demo and programming/ pricing that is supported by extensive research.
c. With local market goals, focus on key locations, including near facility and competitors in order to have a high-impact to continually emphasize the campaign.
d. If the company has the ability to run national television (video) develop a national campaign with goals developed specific to the targets and individual executions specific to those targets. National cable delivers CPMs (cost per thousand) substantially lower than local TV media therefore if the advertiser has the ability to air media nationally they should air nationally. The goal should be to deliver a CPM under $5.00 with a national cable television plan.

3. Implement Tracking Mechanisms and Baselines prior to any media launch.

a. With the call to action and offer clearly defined in the creative, the foundation of the analytics should take shape. Whether the institution is tracking a lift in responses to their website, growth to walk-in traffic, growth in new appointments or overall growth in new patients, the metrics should be set up and tested prior to campaign launch.
b. Real-time access to the performance of your campaign is going to be critical as you monitor your media spend. Media optimizations based on the analytics should be occurring daily to ensure you reach the goals you established pre-launch. Ensure you have access to your data and performance in a format that is usable to you.
c. A baseline of your business before campaign launch commands attention, and thoughtful time. This baseline is going to provide the starting point to prove all the hard work has paid off. Constant monitoring and evaluation of real-time performance against your baseline will provide leadership the evidence that the campaign you have invested funds and resources has more than paid for itself.
Direct Response Television (DRTV) has been accountable, predictable and actionable since the 1980s and continues to deliver on that promise. For brands that are especially scrutinized to be fiscally responsible there is no other television execution for them other than direct response television (DRTV).

UpCycle America Launches DRTV Campaign with Modus Direct

Is your old smart phone or iPad sitting unused on a shelf or in some drawer?  There’s good news! We are excited to announce UpCycle America launched its Direct Response TV campaign, offering cash for digital devices. Their motto is “Don’t Recycle, Upcycle.”

Rob Graham, President of UpCycle America, chose Modus Direct to launch the campaign.  “The idea really came from Cash for Gold,” Graham said.  “That was a huge DRTV and internet success until everybody and his brother made “WE BUY GOLD” signs on just about every street corner.”

UpCycle America’s DRTV ad directs customers to its easy-to-use web site.  You simply identify the device you want to sell, answer 3 quick questions, and you get an offer to purchase that device, plus a bonus Gift Card offer.  “We made it as easy as possible,” Graham explained.  “Our job is to get the word out.  Direct Response TV is the best way to do that.  Then we give people a fair deal.”  Graham concluded, “Cell phone ownership is through the roof – over 150, 000, 000 in the US, with millions of owners waiting for the next new thing.  What do you do with the old one?  We say Upcycle.”

For an iPad 2, upcycleamerica.com offered $238, in addition to a $250 Gift Card offer.

Check out UpCycle America today!

Sixteen Things Calvin and Hobbes Said Better Than Anyone Else

How can you not get a smile on your face with Calvin and Hobbes!

To paraphrase E.B. White, the perfect sentence is one from which nothing can be added or removed. Every word plays its part. In my more giddy moments I think that a simple comic strip featuring Calvin, a preternaturally bright six year-old, and Hobbes, his imaginary tiger friend, features some of the most lucid sentences committed to print. And when I sober up, I usually think exactly the same.

Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes ran between 1985 and 1995. His comic strip managed to infuse wondering (and wandering) on a cosmic scale into an ageless world of lazy Sunday afternoons, snow goons, and harassed babysitters. I’m not saying that you should take moral and philosophical guidance from the inventor of Calvinball (a game that runs on chaos theory), but you could do much worse.

So here, in no particular order, is a selection of quotes that nail everything from the meaning of life to special underwear. Enjoy.

On life’s constant little limitations
Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

On expectations
Calvin: Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!

On why we are scared of the dark
Calvin: I think night time is dark so you can imagine your fears with less distraction.

On the unspoken truth behind the education system
Calvin: As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.

On the cruel reality of commercial art
Hobbes: Van Gogh would’ve sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.

On the tragedy of hipsters
Calvin: The world bores you when you’re cool.

On the tears of a clown
Calvin: Isn’t it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humour? When you think about it, it’s weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it’s funny. Don’t you think it’s odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?

Hobbes: I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot of life.

Calvin: (after a long pause) I can’t tell if that’s funny or really scary.

On the falling of sparrows (or providence’s lack of a timetable)
Calvin: Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.

On why winter is the cruellest of seasons
Calvin: Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.

On the gaping hole in contemporary art’s soul
Calvin: People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.

On playing Frankenstein with words
Calvin: Verbing weirds language.

On realising God is more Woody Allen than Michael Bay
Calvin: They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines.

Hobbes: Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell if we’re living in a tragedy or a farce.

Calvin: We need more special effects and dance numbers.

On why ET is real
Calvin: Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

On looking yourself in the mirror
Hobbes: So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?

On the future
Calvin: Trick or treat!

Adult: Where’s your costume? What are you supposed to be?

Calvin: I’m yet another resource-consuming kid in an overpopulated planet, raised to an alarming extent by Madison Avenue and Hollywood, poised with my cynical and alienated peers to take over the world when you’re old and weak. Am I scary, or what?

On the truth
Calvin: It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!


Should CEOs Be In TV Ads?

This article is by Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

Papa Johns
Papa Johns (Photo credit: mrsdkrebs)

At the most fundamental level, television advertisers are faced with a simple objective: Make an impression on viewers that distinguishes the brand. In a media environment where viewers are bombarded with countless messages on a daily basis, this goal can prove challenging.  Whether a brand is unveiling a new product line, attempting to move itself in a new direction, trying to recover from negative publicity, or merely reaffirming its presence with consumers, there are a multitude of choices, tactics, strategies, and over-arching philosophies that can guide creative development.

One particularly interesting strategy is the ad that stars the company CEO. Whether this strategy brings forth mental images of Lee Iacocca vouching for the superiority of the Chrysler LeBaron, Frank Perdue guaranteeing the freshness of Perdue chickens, or Dave Thomas unveiling the latest combo meal at Wendy’s, ads featuring CEOs are not a new concept. Agencies are often put in the difficult position when a client CEO pushes to be in ads, whether or not the agency believes it to be an effective strategy for the brand. To that end, Ace Metrix is unveiling a study today that relies on the Ace Metrix database to provide hard data to answer the fundamental question: Is putting the CEO in an ad good for my brand?

While the strategy of “CEO as front man” has been adopted by numerous brands in the past 30 years, it’s never been entirely clear whether this strategy is effective—until now. The biggest concerns are: (1) failure by the CEO to come across as authentic; and (2) the inability of the brand to commit to the campaign for a period of time long enough to bring about success—which, in turn, can bring about a perceived sense of lack of authenticity. Thus, lack of authenticity is a key driver in failed CEO ads.

The results of our analysis show that, in general, ads featuring CEOs outperform ads that do not feature CEOs. Across every metric we measure, ads featuring CEOs had slightly higher average scores vs. other ads in the same category. However, this is not to say that ads featuring CEOs always perform well. Averages are averages, and certain brands—two in particular—were more successful than others at producing effective “CEO as front man” advertisements.  In particular, ads that feature CEOs have considerably higher “Desire,” “Relevance,” and “Information” scores than ads that do not feature CEOs.  These three metrics measure the extent to which viewers want a product (Desire), can relate to the message of the advertisement (Relevance), and feel they learned something new from the ad (Information). All three are critical components of the Ace Metrix Persuasion score.

The restaurant industry is the most frequent adopter of the “CEO as front man” strategy, representing three-quarters of all CEO ads in the Ace Metrix database.[1] .  Driving this is Papa John’s 47 ads featuring CEO John Schnatter,[2] which, by and large, perform well both quantitatively and qualitatively. “Verbatim” responses from consumers demonstrate that Schnatter is perceived to be “authentic” and “genuine,” two hallmarks of CEO ad success.

By the same token, Jim Koch of Samuel Adams and Sam Adams Light (Boston Beer Company) is another big success story. Unlike most brands featuring their CEO in ads, Sam Adams truly adopted the “CEO as front man” strategy, as every ad they aired in the past three years featured Koch. Sam Adams’ dedication to this strategy is the secret to their success, as the effectiveness of these ads is consistent: Samuel Adams tops the list of beer advertisers with an average score 25 points above the next best brand (Miller High Life). In addition, like Papa John’s, open-ended comments about Samuel Adams ads indicate that viewers were impressed with the brands’ “real-world,” informative appeals. Moreover, CEO Jim Koch’s commentary and tour of the beer brewing process (a feature of many Samuel Adams ads) resonates well with viewers.

So how can brands replicate the success seen by Sam Adams and Papa Johns?  Here are some important considerations for brands considering the “CEO as front man” strategy:

Not all CEO ads work.

CEOs who are dull, boring, or fail to positively differentiate a brand are the kiss of death in advertising.  Viewers are looking for the CEO to be interesting, relevant, and truly understand consumer desires.

A “genuine” CEO is critical to an effective CEO ad.

Generally, direct, trust-inspiring messages communicate a no-nonsense style that gets viewers’ attention and delivers on Information, Relevance, and Desire scores.  As in the case of Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, ads work best when the CEO is perceived as genuine and authentic.

Commitment is the key.

Most brands use the CEO concept sparingly, dedicating most of their advertising portfolio to non-CEO ads. There is good reason for this: CEO ads are risky. Papa John’s and Samuel Adams/Sam Adams Light, who have fully committed to the “CEO as front man” strategy, are notable exceptions. But CEOs who just do a “fly-by” often miss the mark and result in a confusing fit with other campaigns.

This article is by Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.
This article is by Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

Know the CEO.

Not all CEOs are born communicators. Let’s face it: Some CEOs are more camera-ready than others. Personal charisma and the ability to communicate authenticity and relevance vary widely. Make sure your CEO is up to the task.

Test the ads; test the message.

Many CEO advertising failures can be prevented. Our advice: Test CEO performance and let the data guide you in determining whether to use a CEO. If the ads perform poorly, find alternative means to get the message across. In the case of CEO ads, there is a lot more at risk than simple ad failure: A CEO’s image and reputation can also be irreparably tarnished. Make sure you test the ads and the message.



[1] Even after removing Papa John’s from the list of ads that featured a CEO, Restaurants & QSRs still top the list of industries with the largest number of ads featuring a CEO, with 24%.

[2] Papa John’s also fielded 7 ads that did not feature their CEO.

See Full Article Here: Should CEOs Be In TV Ads?

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