Building Branded Environments: examples from television

February 6, 2007, 11:48 am

I attended an interesting AIMA session last week.

The premise: traditionally, marketers have “broadcast” their messages through the loudest mega-phone possible, and from there refined and tailored messaging around purchases and relationships. As Consumer 2.0 opts in and out of media channels at will, this approach means segments are not getting the message, and other segments are getting the wrong message.

Executives from Tivo, Cox Media and YouTube discussed how they are allowing consumers to be in control of the advertising experience.

(Other AIMA talks I’ve blogged about: MTV & MySpace and Facebook.)

I’d don’t have TIVO, but I really want it now. Julie Black, Director of National Advertising Sales,discussed interactive tags, no not like we think, these are tags that companies can buy so that when their product is on screen, the viewer can pause the program and learn more about the item. So let’s say the hero gets into a sports car, I can stop and learn more about that vehicle if I want, or go back later. Lexus offers a customization tool so that viewers can design the car they want (make, model, color, and features) and send that information to a dealer to purchase. Lexus is a little outside my price range, but I imagine a future feature in which the viewer could save a car that they see on the TV and import it into a game like Vice City.

Julie kept dropping the phrase “time shifted television” which I really like. Also the term “telescoping” which in a nutshell is the act of pausing television to opt into a supplemental advertising message—it’s really an extended form of product placement, but instead of just seeing the Coke glasses on American Idol, I can click and get bonus material, maybe a tour of the bottling process, or retro/vintage commercials, maybe even see the last several Coke Super Bowl commercials, whatever—it’s bonus material highlighting the product. They referred to this as entering a branded environment- a space that is built by the advertiser to communicate directly with the customer.

She also claimed that in 4 years, 50% of the US will have some form of DVR. The biggest threat to advertisers is the fast-forwarding because it allows people to skip commercials entirely. The 30 second spot is dead! Tivo’s pitch is that there is time to change and adapt to this evolution, the response needs to engage customers via an opt-in manner.

When watching a show that is syndicated, you could purchase the DVD collection by clicking and ordering. If you are watching a show and they play a song you can find out who the artist is and buy the cd or single—as well as link to merchandise or music videos by the artist. Also, at the end of a show, viewers are asked if they want to Save, Delete, or see info about the products used on the program. Maybe you really liked a shirt or the phone that a character was using— simply click to find out more!

Essentially it’s like hyper-linking your television experience. It makes advertising actionable. The consumer decides when and where they see the ads, if at all; they are in charge. Plus it helps companies because they can get measurable results—they see what works and what fails because they know how many people actually view their content. This allows them to measure effectiveness and outcomes.  A great phrase she used was “the cost of persuasion.”

Cox Media

Cox is headquartered in Atlanta, yet they don’t serve our area, we’re stuck with Comcast. They offer a similar DVR service as Tivo. Major themes presented by David Porter
VP of Marketing and New Media, Cox Media:

  • Technology is changing consumer behavior, but also changing business behavior
  • New media = new marketing
  • We can now provide more education on products than traditional media allowed
    Education + engagement = greater probability of purchase
  • DVR allows companies to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time

An interesting feature that David hyped was the “interactive overlay”—essentially a small bar/menu at the bottom of screen (similar to stock ticker or news/sports scrolling) inviting viewers to participate in trivia, opinion polls, sweepstakes, receive coupons, link to brochures, take surveys, supplemental advertising, etc.

A good example, let’s say you’re watching the Super Bowl, during every quarter they might offer a Pepsi Trivia Challenge with a prize is reward to random correct respondents. They could also offer the stats features, so you could find out just how many turnovers does Grossman have so far? It’s a great way to add more experiential content to the programming.

So ,let’s say you’re watching a music video, you can jump to a tutorial on how the play the guitar riff, or view a behind the scenes making-of the feature. Or maybe you’re watching Giada De Laurentiis cook and you get distracted, you can jump to the recipe and email it to yourself, as well as find other recipes of hers, learn about the appliances in the kitchen, order her book, etc.

During the last presidential campaign, viewers participated in interactive polls to select who they think won specific debate rounds. Candidates also used these polls to test reactions to political and discover the major issues in specific communities and for specific demographics, allowing them to narrowcast.

The bottom line, DVR creates new opportunities for interacting with the viewer in a non-intrusive manner.


Keri Millstein, Director of East Coast Sales on why Youtube is successful:

Fun + Easy + Intuitive + Works the way it is supposed to = $1.6 billion

Average over 100 million videos watched per day.

YouTube offers a platform for companies to interact with customers— and the chance for customers to interact with the brand. It’s a short form of entertainment, no longer the traditional 30 second spot. No longer dominated by huge expensive ads, but now the opportunity to create several inexpensive ads instead. Suggested making advertising episodic, because whenever a new video is released, it gives rebirth to the older content.

Examples of company created channels:


An interesting example was Dane Cook promoting his movie Employee of the Month. Of course they did traditional 30 second spots, but they also created this YouTube channel as a way to offer additional advertising. There are several clips of Dane talking directly to fans and inviting them to create videos of themselves goofing off at work, in turn, he selected the funniest each week, giving it his endorsement and commentary. The objective was to step away from the movie trailer and to engage with the star.

So what about libraries?
I definitely think we have the opportunity to create a branded environment, but we have to stop thinking of our website as our website and aim for a new concept. I know Ross is working on some of this, but we need more tools. Coming to the library, physically or virtually, as to be more than simply access to content. It would be cool if we had some type of dashboard or interactive overlay, so that people could locate and use resources, individually and collectively. I’ll try and flush this out more in the future, this post is already too long, so let’s just cut it here…..>

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