Archive for February, 2010

More commercials likely for online TV

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

A move by Nielsen, the television ratings giant, could result in online presentations of TV programs carrying just as many commercials as broadcast does, according to Advertising Age.

Nielsen’s new methodology to compile data that take into account viewing of commercials that run in a particular show, online or off, could be in place by September so it can be used for ad sales in February 2011.  “If this system were adopted en masse — and it’s not clear that it would be — online viewing might be crammed just as full of commercials as the more traditional TV-watching experience,” Ad Age says.

And, while online sites like Hulu and Disney’s typically have few ads, “many TV executives say these methods don’t bring much, if any, profit — and therefore cannot continue.”

It’s a new Super Bowl record!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

One count from the Super Bowl says there was an all-time record “nearly 39-and-a-half minutes” of ads during the game, about 90 seconds more than what was shown in 2009, says Media Daily News.

The half-hour-plus included 66 ads run by 41 different marketers (excluding NFL “house” ads), according to Kantar Media. On top of that was about eight-and-a-half minutes of CBS promos — also about 90 seconds more than 2009.

The game itself was 30 minutes shorter than in 2009, the report says.

In addition to the record number of commercials, the viewership numbering 106.5 million beat the 27-year-old record held by the final episode of “M*A*S*H,” and there were many records set during the sporting competition itself, as anyone who watched the CBS broadcast can surely tell you.

Also, “Multiple analyses were issued Monday about which ads were the most popular. … [V]otes cast via Twitter and Facebook … found that a Snickers spot with Betty White topped the charts, while one for Google about finding love in Paris was second,” Media Daily News says.

Newspapers get small share of political ads

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Newspapers can expect to see less than 8 percent of the $4.2 billion to be spent on political advertising in 2010, a new report from Borrell Associates says. That share comes out to $329 million.

Most will go to broadcast TV with 61 percent, or $2.6 billion, Editor & Publisher’s reading of the report says, followed by cable TV at a very distant second with a 9.1 percent share. Only 1 percent, or $45 million, of political dollars is expected to be spent on Internet ads — 73 percent more than in 2008.

Last year was relatively quiet on the political front, yet spending outpaced 2000 levels,” E&P says. “The recent Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to now spend on politics caused Borrell analysts to bump up its forecast 10 percent.”

The Fitz & Jen blog charts the numbers for each medium.

Online newspaper readers shy from video ads

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Running a commercial before a video on your newspaper Web site is a good way to lose about 25 percent of your audience, a new study says.

TubeMogul, an online video research and analytics outfit, according to Media Daily News, “found that one-quarter of visitors who click on an online video link on a newspaper Web site will close or navigate away from the video window without watching the video if a pre-roll ad begins playing.”

The number is the same at magazines’ sites, but fewer visitors to broadcast media Web sites — about 11 percent — peel away, apparently because commercials are expected.

The general “quit rate” for online video links preceded by video advertising averaged around 17 percent.

TubeMogul observed online interactions with 1.8 million video streams over a two-day period, Media Daily says.

Kerry proposes free-speech amendment

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, says there needs to be a constitutional amendment indicating that corporations don’t have the same free speech rights as individuals, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), seconded the motion and said he planned to introduce legislation calling for a complete overhaul of the campaign finance system.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the prohibition on corporate use of treasury funds for political speech — specifically for broadcast and cable spots in federal elections — taking a big bite out of campaign finance reform law, B&C writes. “No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations,” said the court in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined in part by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

Adoption of a Constitutional amendment is a long process and, in fact, Kerry said it would take some time even to craft the amendment.

Once a bill is written, to actually become part of the Constitution it must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds majority in each. Then it goes to the states, where it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Or, according to U.S. Constitution Online, two-thirds of the states could call for a Constitutional Convention, which would return any amendments it proposed to the states for ratification by three-fourths of the states.

Meanwhile, Kerry and others suggested the committee should pass various bills that have been introduced to tighten up disclosure and disclaimer rules and give shareholders more say in corporate campaign speech.

Paid-content system on its way

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer could be among the first newspapers to adopt a pay wall system called Press+ developed by entrepreneurs Steven Brill, L. Gordon Crovitz and their partners, according to The New York Times.

The Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era of Lancaster, Pa., is “one of the first handful of news outlets to acknowledge in interviews that it intends, in the next few months, to start using the software system,” the NYT report says. The article mentions the Fayetteville paper and GlobalPost, a news site based in Boston, as “others interested.”

Initially the Pennsylvania paper “will charge only readers outside its immediate area and only for reading obituaries, with a little green Press+ logo next to each headline covered by the system,” the NYT says. “It will allow a reader to see a certain number of obituaries free before a box pops onto the screen demanding a flat fee to keep reading, but the paper has not yet decided what that number will be, or how much it will charge.”

“The first publishers planning to launch on the platform are currently integrating our software, in anticipation of offering paid access later this winter when our consumer-facing logo, Press+, will be presented to the public,” Brill and Crovitz say in a memo at

“The timing for these initiatives could not be better,” Brill and Crovitz continue. “Our industry is adapting, and it’s now clear that many sites, large and small, will be soon be charging their most engaged online readers for access. Studies show that readers will pay for distinctive brands and content. … In short, the question is no longer “if,” but “when” and “how.””

The Times points out that, “there are plenty of skeptics who say that charging (for online content) could be a short-lived experiment.”

Girl Scouts up to speed on marketing

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Girl Scouts and their annual cookie sales have gone viral, says the Contra Costa Times.

Scouts are hitting the Internet, using Facebook, e-mail and texting in addition to staging rallies and setting up phone banks to run their cookie sales “as a serious business.” The Girl Scouts of Northern California has eight pre-written text messages that Scouts are encouraged to send to drum up sales of Somoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs and five other cookie varieties.

There are also business card templates, door hangers, marketing plans and e-mail invites that girls can download through their council’s Web site.

While the girls are not allowed to sell cookies via e-mail or over the Internet, they are allowed to use the Internet to tell people they are selling — a tough distinction for the younger girls to grasp … ,” the newspaper says.

The Girl Scouts of Northern California council encompasses the Bay Area and coastal counties up to the Oregon border. It has 50,000 scouts, 30,680 of whom sold cookies in 2009.

Analyst warns against McClatchy bond sale

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

A Reuters analyst urges caution to those banking on the McClatchy Company being out of the financial woods.

McClatchy is marketing $875 million of bonds this week. But bond investors should be wary. McClatchy’s performance will be tough to maintain,” writes Lauren Silva Laughlin.

McClatchy has cut costs, mainly through layoffs, to recover from near bankruptcy, and digital advertising revenue grew by 15 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. But online revenue is still only 16 percent of the total, which was down by 20 percent in the 4th quarter of 2009.

The worry is that McClatchy can’t cut costs fast enough to bridge the time it will take to transform print revenue to digital,” Laughlin says. “Without ending the print declines, lost revenue could easily consume the benefits of cost savings.”

McClatchy is selling senior secured notes due in 2017 in a deal that is expected to price on February 4. The publisher intends to use the net proceeds of the offering to repay approximately $614 million under its credit agreement and to fund its cash tender offer for approximately $166 million aggregate principal of notes due June 1, 2011 and approximately $24 million of senior notes due 2014.

Open the local floodgates

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Edward Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington & Lee University, says the Supreme Court’s January ruling that corporations have a right to advertise their political views is “Christmas in January” for media outlets. And while others have pointed out the potential windfall for national networks as corporations shape the big races, Wasserman says, local is where the opportunity for new money — and new influence — lies.

“If I ran a media company, I’d be putting together selling campaigns for local companies that want to be sure candidates sympathetic to their interests — development plans, changes in zoning laws, tax breaks, a new sports arena, road expansion — benefit from well-funded, expertly calibrated, advertising outreach.

“That’s also where the most toxic effects of the court’s ruling will be felt — not in the national arena, where big money long ago figured out how to get around the rules the court outlawed, and where a multiplicity of voices are already heard. The new era the court has opened is one in which local money can flood the zone with self-serving messages about matters that, thanks to the slashes in newsroom budgets among metro newspapers, are covered thinly if at all by available media.

“Soon enough, perhaps even in this election cycle, most of what people hear about state and local issues will be via paid corporate advertising.”

McClatchy set to reward top execs

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Top McClatchy executives could be getting six-figure bonusesfor their efforts towards stabilizing the company’s financial outlook following a period of significant economic turmoil,” according to Editor & Publisher’s review of regulatory filings submitted late Friday.

CEO Gary Pruitt is excluded from eligibility for the $160,000-plus bonuses under the “2010 Senior Executive Retention Bonus Plan.”

Bonuses will be paid to three executives E&P names if the chain’s performance in operating cash flow in 2010 is sufficient to fund a supplemental company contribution to its 401(k) retirement plan, McClatchy said.