Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Central station



Central station is a common element in the names of railway stations. Stations which are called Central are often centrally located within the place served, but this is not always the case and the name can exist for other reasons. The Central station may not be the main station in a particular settlement, as the main station may be elsewhere.

Friday, 19 September 2003

Have time for a little "extra" with your commercial break?

We spotted this over a month ago ...

NBC has decided to break from the traditional commercial format and finance the production of several "mini-movies" - small, featurettes designed to retain viewers through commercial breaks. (Ref. our rant of earlier today.)

Of course, the question here is "Will it work?"

We'll find out in about a week when the first mini-movie airs during Will and Grace.

If you're not clear what the mini-movie concept is or how we think it might impact the modern commercial form, download our FLASHReport on the subject (published on 04 August).

Have a great weekend, I'll be back here on Monday.

Regards,

Mike Bawden
Brand Central Station

Why isn't there any TV on TV anymore?

Ever get that feeling that television programming is getting less and less interesting? We all know broadcast viewership is falling - with audience slipping to cable and alternative programming. And the Internet is claiming its share of eyeballs as well.

But there's another culprit. Advertising.

Or, more technically, "non-program messages." The AAAA's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) has conducted studies for years along with the ANA (Association of National Advertisers). Year after year, advertising "clutter" goes up and time dedicated to actual programming has been going down. More recently our friends at CourtTV have conducted a similar study.

While the two sets of numbers don't agree, they both show the same trend. Advertising, promotions and other non-programmatic messages are increasing and starting to wash out programming. Is there any wonder TV ratings are falling and viewers are flipping channels to a greater degree than ever before?

Get this - according to either survey nearly one in four minutes an hour is dedicated to a message other than the programming you're expecting to watch. If you don't like ads, watch the ESPN networks where commercials occur only once every ten minutes or so. If you're an ad junkie, try the Golf Channel where nearly a third of the hour is dedicated to commercial messages.

Clearly, the problem here is not that ad sales at the Golf Channel are so strong that they can't find a place to put all the sponsors. In fact, it's probably the opposite. Too many media sales people sell on price and too many media buyers buy on "measurable" numbers. The result is a commodity-based business that leaves bloody media reps in the wake of tough agency planners and buyers.

What needs to happen to remedy this situation? As I see it, two things are needed:

1) An objective study on the influence of clutter on viewing habits needs to be conducted. Media and advertisers need to understand how clutter really impacts a viewer and his tendency to switch channels and tune messages out;

2) Advertisers need to start considering a "clutter factor" to their television program selections. The price might be great and the ratings where they need to be, but it doesn't matter what the TV is tuned to if the viewer has "tuned out" due to an endless barrage of spots, promos, news breaks, etc.

Tell me what you think. How do we make a difference in television advertising and viewership and save TV from itself? E-mail me and let me know what you think.

Regards,

Mike Bawden
Brand Central Station

This information is (c) 2003, Brand Central Station, all rights reserved. If you are interested in receiving news and analysis directly from BCS, please log onto our website (www.brandcentralstation.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter, the BCS

Thursday, 18 September 2003

The future of account planning ...


This week's edition of Advertising Age includes a report on the 4A's account planning conference, held in Boca Raton, FL this past week. Over 600 people attended the conference and commiserated about what's wrong with account planning.

It appears that "with the demand for integrated campaigns, the fear is that planners are expected to be all things - experts in media, accounts, research, consumers and more." This according to reporter Claire Atkinson who filed the story.

Jeff Goodby, who addressed the conference, seemed to sum it up another way, shin gthat account planners were not sufficiently involved in the creative process. Goodby accused planners of "taking the instinct out of advertising."

Does this sound like a common complaint of a creative person?

Granted, Mr. Goodby is an outstanding creative talent and his agency is one of the very best in the world. If you've ever had the good fortune of listening to his presentation of Goodby, Silverstein's creative work and how they integrate insights from their account planners, you know this guy gets it.

But to sum it up by saying planners too often take the instinct out of advertising trivialize what's really wrong with the account planning discipline as it exists in the US today.

The problem, as I see it, is that account planning has been relegated to the role of "uber-research" - allowing the convoluted title to justify the higher hourly rate with little to no definition of the actual benefits provided by the account planner on the team. Big agencies and big clients rushed to build account planning into their groups but did little to define the role the planner played in the entire scheme.

The result, as reported by another 4A's conference attendee (Jeremy Hall of NY-based Hall & Partners), are complaints from clients who think of account planning as a luxury they can rarely afford. Again, we come down to questions about the value of the services and expertise provided by ad agencies to their clients (sound familiar?).

So, what do you think an account planner should do? E-mail me at: mbawden@brandcentralstation.com and let me know. Let's work on re-writing the job description and try to envision the future of this position going forward. I'll add a few of my observations from over the years and from my experiences with dozens of small and medium-sized accounts who, in my opinion, see a much greater benefit to the role of an account planner than many large marketers.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Regards,

Mike Bawden
President
Brand Central Station

This information is (c) 2003, Brand Central Station, all rights reserved. If you are interested in receiving news and analysis directly from BCS, please log onto our website (www.brandcentralstation.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter, the BCS TuesdayReport.

Wednesday, 17 September 2003

The end of telemarketing as we know it?


I'm working on articles for upcoming editions of the BCS TuesdayReport - and one of them is an article concerning the impact of the telemarketing DNC (do not call) registry. Last week's TR included some suggestions as to how telemarketing companies might want to try and survive the arrival and implementation of the DNC. But now, it looks like the DNC might have further reaching consequences than originally believed.

My question: Does the DNC impact new business development efforts for b2b marketers? Can you still do a "cold call" on a company as of October 1 or is it considered a violation of the DNC rules? I haven't seen anything on this and will continue to look.

The implications for marketing agencies are pretty significant, to say the least.

This information is (c) 2003, Brand Central Station, all rights reserved. If you are interested in receiving news and analysis directly from BCS, please log onto our website (www.brandcentralstation.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter, the BCS TuesdayReport.

An open letter to the editors of Ad Age.


RE: 4A's takes issue with compensation consultants.

Dear Editors:

It's remarkable to see the topic of agency margins and profits even on the negotiating table with clients and their consultants. Kudos to the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) for identifying this problem and thanks to Ad Age for framing the real issue in your editorial.

The issue, of course, is not one of price or the source or quality of databases used to negotiate discounts with agencies. The issue is perceived value of the services rendered by the agencies in the first place.

We all know that clients can be hard to read. My conversations with small and mid-sized shops around the world reveal the same problems when it comes to getting clients to set budgets or clearly outline their expectations.

The result often seems to be agencies that let costs get out of hand and clients disappointed with one aspect or another of the agency's service on their business. Duplicated and unnecessary services seem to be the biggest thorn under the saddle and contribute greatly to the inevitable decision to put an account up for review.

I suspect that underneath it all, these concerns are similar to those held by large clients now conducting compensation reviews and triggering the 4A's reaction.

If clients are trying to find ways for their agencies to do more with less, the answer is not to put the squeeze on profit margins but to work with their agencies to optimize their performance. This often entails consultants working on both sides of the relationship to identify areas of overlapping capabilities, spot processes that don't synch up, clarify expectations on both sides and establish budget parameters for work.

The end result can be demonstrable savings, efficiently produced work, a constant flow of new ideas to the client, lower production budgets and, quite often, better margins for the agency.

Mike Bawden
President
Brand Central Station

This information is (c) 2003, Brand Central Station, all rights reserved. If you are interested in receiving news and analysis directly from BCS, please log onto our website (www.brandcentralstation.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter, the BCS TuesdayReport.