Posted by: singularlogic | January 21, 2010

Interactive Commercials Show Strong Early Results

Cablevision’s Optimum Select Pleases Marketers Including Colgate-Palmolive, Benjamin Moore
by Andrew Hampp
Published: January 14, 2010

LOS ANGELES ( — After years of one-off tests, single-market trials and several false starts, interactive TV advertising finally achieved scale this fall when Cablevision became the first cable operator to offer the technology across its full footprint of 3.1 million subscribers in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area.

Benjamin Moore’s Cablevision campaign yielded more than 25,000 requests for product samples during the crucial early-fall time period.
The interactive ad product, Optimum Select, attracted launch advertisers including Gillette, Benjamin Moore, retailer Century 21, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive Co. Each marketer signed up for two-week flights in which viewers could click on their remote controls to receive more information, product samples or gift certificates from the advertisers. But the ads weren’t customized or addressed to certain viewer demographics or household incomes, so the only targeting had to come from strategic buys on certain cable networks.

The interactive spots worked well anyway, participants now say. Responses were strong enough that the campaigns were taken off the air after an average of half their scheduled runs after advertisers were caught low on promotional inventory, according to Cablevision and marketers.

For Benjamin Moore paints, the Cablevision campaign yielded more than 25,000* requests for product samples during the crucial early fall time period, the last time of the year most consumers in the Northeast are in the market for home renovation materials until the spring. Because the product samples had to be redeemed in stores, Dan Calkins, a general manager for Benjamin Moore, said the company was able to quantify the campaign’s impact on store traffic.

“We had difficulties keeping up with the demand and suspended it for a few days to get some more resources involved,” Mr. Calkins said. “It’s enough of an indication directionally that we’ll continue to do more of this going forward.”

Colgate-Palmolive saw similar results from its test, converting 70% of the consumers who requested more information into actual recipients of the product giveaway. Optimum Select campaigns, on average, got 40% of the people who pressed buttons on their remotes to complete requests for information or other actions.

For local advertisers like Mount Everest Ski & Snowboard Shop in Westwood, N.J., Optimum Select showed that interactive TV can get people through the door, said Bob McGarry, the store’s manager. The ski supplies store offered free lift tickets and a free tune-up for ski or snowboard equipment, to be redeemed in-person.

“This is something that holds the customer’s attention, gives them the opportunity to get something for free and opens another door for return business because they’re actually coming into the store,” Mr. McGarry said.

Web-like metrics from TV
The campaigns’ results suggest that TV can in fact deliver web-like metrics and interactive opportunities — and that consumers are willing to use their TVs like computers.

“We’ve always been saying television is the most powerful form of advertising, but what’s taken some of the luster off of that is the rich data and metrics of the web that was never available on television until now,” said David Kline, president of Cablevision’s ad sales unit Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation. “When you mix those with the power and impact of TV, advertisers like that and are willing to pay more for that.”

“At the moment we don’t have the ability to customize too much to ask specific types of consumers if they’re interested in this kind of product, so any people who did that literally did it out of genuine interest,” he added.

Cablevision didn’t put much marketing resources behind Optimum Select to inform viewers of the new opportunity. It ran a few educational 30-second spots in the weeks leading up to the interactive commercials’ arrival, then teaser ads before interactive spots themselves to remind viewers they could request coupons and product samples.

Mr. Kline said hundreds of Optimum Select campaigns are in the works for 2010. Other cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner Cable remain cagey on plans for interactive ad opportunities across their full footprints.

Posted by: singularlogic | June 22, 2009

An Advertising Idea That’s Spot-On

Article by Michael Malone — Broadcasting & Cable May 25, 209 on Singular Logic

When he was chief meteorologist at WCCO Minneapolis, Paul Douglas got pretty adept at seeing what sort of weather was coming up around the bend. Since his departure from the CBS O&O a little over a year ago, Douglas is again peering into the future—and placing bets on what television advertising will look like in the coming months and years. <full article>

Posted by: singularlogic | May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Sales – Time to Program the Advertisers

by Paul Douglas

For generations we have been programmed to wait for Memorial Day sales in furniture and vehicles which has expanded to just about every other product category. This year’s economic downturn has sparked some creativity with some states offering Memorial Day tax breaks.

As we moved into the 21st century we are being programmed to believe that search advertising will deliver us relevant products and services. In his book What Would Google Do, author Jeff Jarvis is in awe of the company for opening up advertising to millions of smaller companies through Google’s Ad Sense. Search however, does have shades of being imprecise. Would it be more transparent to ask the consumer what they are interested in and what they are opposed to watching?

I agree with Jarvis’ point about getting out of the way of consumers establishing relationships with companies in an interview with Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion. This direct question or at least a dialogue will help do that, and what would the advertising agency do? They would produce content with greater information, perhaps even more entertaining, but with less emphasis on getting your attention and convincing you that you need X.

Advertising in this century is the search for what is relevant, and that starts by asking the question, what are you interested in? It’s the consumers way of programming the advertisers, and that’s the way it should be.

Posted by: singularlogic | May 25, 2009

The Transformation of Advertising

Guest post by Albert Maruggi

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The classic Dickens line is most appropriate for describing advertising today. On the worst of times: Last year, TV advertising effectiveness continued to decline and few questioned the impact TiVo has on fast forwarding through the ads.

It was the best of times: Online video is fast becoming a destination of high value target demographics. On line video advertising is expected to grow 30% in 2009 according to eMarketer.

source: eMarketer

source: eMarketer

Joe Germscheid, of the advertising agency Fallon, believes in addition to changes in media buying, advertising will test new ways to engage and add value for consumers. Germscheid says challenging interruptive types of advertising will push agencies to new creative concepts. These new concepts will provide greater value for the consumer and more information for the agency and advertiser. The information exchange will draw each party toward each other for a richer experience, and perhaps a tighter bond.

I chatted with Germscheid before the National Association of Broadcasters show in April the highlights of that conversation are in the video below.

Posted by: singularlogic | May 15, 2009

The Era of Mobile Communities Will Replace Destinations

Guest post by Albert Maruggi

In my travels this Spring to conferences both speaking and attending, there were three major recurring themes:

1) A website is not as important as it used to be
2) Making your information portable
3) Users will control even more of their experience

Let’s Explore

Websites have a diminished role, they will be a home base for companies and people, hey a blog is a website right, but your time is being spent as much or more in other places online. Those places include Facebook, Twitter, aggregators from big media players like ESPN to hyperlocal sites like and Birmingham Terminal by Andre Natta. Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang makes this case well in his five eras of the social web.

Portable information is in some ways what your information will become. As my road warrior friend Chris Brogan says “put handles on your information” – (More gems like that can be heard at Brogan Inbound Marketing Summit, next one is in Dallas in two weeks). And what are those handles attached to? Things like widgets of which there are plenty examples at Widgetbox or RSS feeds which now comprise many 21st century newspapers with super customization of content on places like iGoogle and Netvibes. Your information has handles, for example when someone Retweets your 140 characters that may well include a link to a blog post or website landing page. Retweeting is the act of someone else passing your information to their followers, exponentially extending your message. The video below has handles called the embed code and allowed me to bring that video from YouTube to here. See, someone else can carrying your information to another group of people, a community.

Users control just about everything. This will include advertising. It is only logical that we’ve allowed users to control and customize everything from weather, sports, news, page layout, colors, about the only thing left is advertising content. If advertising dollars support the content flowing for no or reduced cost, in the case of media providers say like Major League Baseball, or advertising dollars keeps the technology platform providing new features, MySpace for example, then giving the users a choice about that advertising content is a logical progression according to many in the content and platform space.

At the National Association of Broadcasters Show in April, I spoke with Angela Courtin, Senior Vice President for Marketing, Entertainment and Content at MySpace. We did our version of a social web jam session where I threw out a technology or theme and she did an intelligent riff. Her commentary is like music to the ears of social web lovers.

Posted by: singularlogic | May 7, 2009

Advertising Revolution or Evolution? You Decide

by Todd Frostad

As the first employee of Digital River back in 1991 , I can say I’ve experienced a technology revolution. Being at the dawn of consumer-driven and technology-supplied ecommerce was an exciting time. The issues addressed then were: efficiency, consumer choice of buying products and services online, and the potential of increasing revenues.

That sounds similar to where the state of advertising and consumer content selection is today. The industry is in a state of transformation brought about by dramatic changes in technology, the economy, and consumer desires. Similar to the acceptance of ecommerce, the providers of products (in today’s market it’s content) need to become more profitable, while consumers want more choice, more skin in the game. Both see the current model of 30 second interruption information that may or may not be viewed by an interested party as inefficient and outdated, a prime example of ineffective 20th century advertising.

I suggest that while it may seem like the concept of consumers selecting their advertising content may seem revolutionary to some, it was no different than accepting the fact that consumers would eventually do their holiday shopping without walking into a store. Yet 15 years after I was building ecommerce models for Digital River, the idea of buying online is commonplace place. Just last holiday season alone $25.5 billion in transactions were completed online.

Today content providers have an urgent need to find greater value to give advertisers to either become more profitable, or in some cases, to merely stay alive. Consumers have a growing frustration with an advertising model that does not address their needs in the same way they have by selecting the content they value. Advertisers, for generations, have invested in complex models and algorithms to refine their targeting.
All these things are an evolution in the discipline of advertising. Which is why advertising blogger and practitioner Dan Goldgeier’s article in Adpulp is on the mark.

Goldgeier is not one to mince words, (ROI Advertising’s Dirty Four Letter Word insert article) or (The Advertising Industry Stimulus Package) so I welcome his raising the discussion of “Ads by Choice,” and enjoyed our conversation at the National Association of Broadcasters show in April.

The question: if not consumer-selected advertising, what will address the urgent needs of an inefficient system of communicating with consumers to fulfill a purchase? I mean, that’s what advertising is supposed to be, right?

Posted by: singularlogic | April 23, 2009

Ads By Choice and Consumer Privacy

by Paul Douglas

Regular followers of media trends are likely aware of the latest brouhaha over consumer privacy. In short , Congress is considering drafting legislation that would regulate how online advertisers and content providers harvest and share personal information.

It’s a conundrum. How do you profile consumers without crossing the line, legal or otherwise? How can we afford to support quality content without selling our souls to big brother, so to speak?

At Singular Logic, we’ve been concerned over consumer privacy issues for years. Nobody wants companies monitoring their online behavior, for example. Our proposed solution allows consumers the choice to offer information about what they want from advertisers. That means advertisers can target based on user’s preferences, across all platforms: cable, online, mobile, and whatever next-gen technology is out there.

Since our technology facilitates permission-based, opt-in marketing, it renders the Big Brother question moot. Such technology will almost certainly accommodate any privacy legislation drafted now or in the future.

This investment in privacy is also an investment in consumer interest. My quest to personalize advertising started with the fifth Cialis commercial during a three hour football game years ago. At a certain point, you start to feel helpless to the whim of the advertiser. That helplessness is part and parcel of this debate over privacy.
If a consumer has skin in the game, and feels in control of the content, he or she will go back to their preferences as their family evolves, expands and grows. We use an ongoing dialogue with the consumer to filter the ads and serve up just the products/services that might be of actual interest.

It may be the biggest “duh moment” in the history of advertising: give people what they seem to want. Listen to them. Don’t calculate. Don’t track cookies, or go over to the dark side with behavioral targeting. ASK people what they prefer, what interests them, what they want, what they need.

Posted by: singularlogic | April 21, 2009

The Race to Interactive Entertainment

Guest Post by Albert Maruggi

One of the topics highlighted Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters was the landscape of TV 2.0. TV 2.0 includes more interactivity in choosing content, whether that content is linear, viewed in a scheduled time slot, or on-demand. The two major entities competing for this TV 2.0 land grab are cable and the web.

In a panel, two Gartner analysts, Andrew Frank and Mike McGuire, discussed the pros and cons of each TV 2.0 player. The web players have momentum on their side, an increasing number of consumers are using the web for entertainment and watching TV shows and movies online. Is mainstream America willing to trade their remote for a mouse? In advertising lingo, lean forward means a consumer that is actively seeking information and lean back is a consumer taking the information that is offered to him or her in a more relaxed and passive manner. The lean forward experience, up to this point, has been mostly done on the web. However that’s changing, take my teenage children who are on the web for a lean back experience. My daughter loves CSI all day all the time, and the other number 1 son enjoys borrowed movies (is that legal?) and Hulu offerings.

In either case, the $64,000, well it’s really a lot more than $64,000, but the big question is who pays for this content? Advertising was the unanimous choice on this panel to remain regardless of medium, the major financial support of content. Although, by the almost same margin of agreement, they said advertising will change. Andrew Frank, Research VP for Gartner, who covers marketing and advertising highlighted some interesting ways advertising may change

1) e-Commerce – with an interactive advertising environment buying stuff becomes easy, this is a reality of sorts on the web. It will become more so there, and work its way to set top boxes in the near future.
2) Long form advertising content, “advertorials” of some kind will be tested in an interactive landscape.
3) Cable technology innovations as being considered by Canoe Ventures with it’s Cable Advanced Advertising System (CAAS) which will unify cable operators into a national footprint that can also create local broadcast targeting to zipcode + four.

In any case content is still king, but as platforms become more interactive, advertising can become more relevant. I had a great conversation with Harold Geller Senior VP of Cross Industry Workflow for the American Association of Advertising Agencies. His focus is on content, and believes we are in exciting times for innovation and interaction. Grab your popcorn, remote and keyboard, it’s going to be a great ride!

Posted by: singularlogic | April 21, 2009

“Ads By Choice” Technology Debuts at HBC

Singular Logic teams up with Winona, MN Cable Operator
to Deliver Consumer-Selected Advertising

Las Vegas, NV, April 20, 2009 – ( Singular Logic announced today at the National Association of Broadcasters show, the scheduled deployment of its pioneering customer-selection technology in Winona. Partnering with Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Singular’s technology will allow the consumers in more than 20,000 households to tailor advertisements to their preferences. Advertisers will be able to reach both their demographic and a consumer that proactively selects the category or products with the most personal appeal.

“We are excited about the prospect of our “Ads by Choice” system being available to Winona residents,” said Paul Douglas, founder of Singular Logic. “The ability to match advertising to individual consumer profiles represents an enormous opportunity for content providers to see increased CPM.” “Ads by Choice” is a new way consumers shape their buying decisions; see a demo at Booth C3054A at NAB

Singular Logic is built on Services Oriented Architecture that allows consumers to establish preferences across television, web, and mobile devices. In other words, a family of four watching American Idol might view an ad for an SUV, while the neighbor, an unmarried man next door, might see an ad for a sports model, as well as seeing the same ads while discussing American Idol on Facebook the next day.

“Ads by Choice” also enhances consumer privacy. While search engines rely upon aggregated search results to determine the right advertising, all information provided to content providers through Singular Logic is voluntary. People receive the advertising on topics that genuinely interest them.

“The concept of consumer-driven messaging greatly appealed to us,” said Gary Evans, HBC’s president and CEO. “This partnership will allow us to provide more value to our customers and advertisers.”
This is a step between reality and a future previously defined only in the imagination of the dream-makers being taken by a HBC and Singular Logic.

Singular Logic was founded in 2007 by Paul Douglas and Todd Frostad. A veteran meteorologist of thirty years, Douglas is also CEO of WeatherNation, which syndicates weather-related content for local news broadcasts across the nation. Frostad helped launch Digital River, a leading provider of Internet software delivery, and remained with the company until 2005.

Created in 1997 as a successor to a not-for-profit education initiative called Luminet, Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc., provides cable television, high-speed and dial-up Internet connections and telephone services to the greater Winona area, St. Charles, Wabasha, Lewiston, Rollingstone and Stockton in southeastern Minnesota. The Wabasha build, completed in the fall of 2005 was among Minnesota’s first fiber-to-the-home projects. Lewiston, Rollingstone, and Stockton are also FTTH communities.

Todd Frostad

Posted by: singularlogic | April 20, 2009

NAB Mood Upbeat With Innovation and Determination

The past few years there was a lot of hand wringing about the disruption of media at the National Association of Broadcasters show. I have been a frequent attendee and occasional exhibitor at the NAB over the years. As I walked around the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center yesterday as the exhibitors were setting up, I sense an uptick in the energy of the show, in spite of economic headlines.

There seems to be a direction change at this NAB Show in two major areas, the first is from hardware to content, and the second is from speech (one-way communication) to conversation. This second direction shift is prefaced by the explosion in social media which I translate as content selection.

I attribute the energy to the following

  • Technology in digital media that enables delivery of multimedia content across platforms TV, web, and mobile, with little quality compromise.
  • Booth set up #C3054A Heads on Straight

    Booth set up #C3054A Heads on Straight

  • Production hardware and software price levels are within reach of any aspiring content provider which has led to an explosion of independent offerings
  • Social media is creating a more interested and engaged consumer, who selects their content, their friends, and followers. This continues to be an attractive opportunity for creative advertisers. Even NAB is getting the social media vibe on Twitter

David Bohan writing in the Tennessean contributed to my thinking on this piece.

If you are attending the NAB Show stop by and say hello to our life size dolls, just getting their heads on straight in this photo, or some of a fine real people in the booth.

We’ll be reporting on the NAB on this blog and interviewing some of the speakers. Monday, we hear about the state of the industry from the NAB David Rehr, and will talk to some of the exhibitors at the show. If you have any questions about the industry post them here and we’ll try to answer them.

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