PVRs – less talk and more action

Giving your brand a voice in the fast forward future
How long before PVRs start to seriously effect your brand’s ability to communicate with consumers?
I reckon you have got 5 years
By 2010 Sky estimate that time shifting devices like PVRs will be in 34% of UK households
And as we know 92% of all ads watched from the hard disk get zapped.
That’s 5 years to come to terms with the most fundamental change in TV viewing behaviour since the invention of the remote.
Lets get to work.
1. Launch now.
The principle of Brand Darwinism means only the most powerful brands with the greatest creative reputations will survive in the new TV landscape. This will not be the place to launch brands in the future. Pull forward your brand launch plans.
2. Create must watch live programming.
If people watch TV live not off the disk then they can’t skip the ads. It is in every advertiser’s interest to ensure that the schedule contains a healthy proportion of programming that consumers must watch live. Work with broadcasters to ensure this is the case.
3. Change your criteria for pre-testing.
The most important question for any new campaign is not whether it communicates but whether anyone will bother to watch it. And if they do how long they watch it for. The way you evaluate new ideas needs to answer these questions before anything else.
4. Get the sponsorship habit back.
Whatever he value of associating your brand with particular programming there is a big new reason to get keen on sponsorship. Idents are a key navigation tool for PVR owners signaling the end of the break. Surrender your pre break bumpers and double the length of bumpers at the end of the break.
5. Understand the power of the fast-forwarded ad.
At present ad recall is no lower in PVR households than in linear TV households. This suggests that either live programming advertising exposure is sufficient or that fast-forwarded ads have some value. You need to understand what this value is and pay for it appropriately.
6. Be first in break.
Get them before they have time to reach for the remote and zap the break. And ensure that nothing comes between the last frame of the programming and the first frame of your ad. Of course whether people stay with your ad is ultimately down to how good it is.
7. Put your TV expenditure behind the right brands in your portfolio.
PVR research shows that ad avoidance is category specific. Financial service brands have a far tougher time than leisure and entertainment brands. And within this we can predict that ad avoidance is also brand specific with more engaging and familiar brands more likely to have their ads watched. Put your TV cash behind the brands best placed to return that investment?
8. Challenge media planning orthodoxy.
Should coverage and frequency still be your media planning mantra? Arguably TV advertising will reach fewer people less often than at present but with the power to be far more relevant and offering a far richer brand experience. Relevant contact and depth of exposure should replace coverage and frequency.
9. In the short term play with the technology.
PVRs allow consumers to do extraordinary things with the TV – to time shift (even if by a few seconds) to pause, to rewind, to record two programmes simultaneously and to organise their own schedules. The same functionality can now be applied to ads, looks like its time to have some fun.
10. In the long term harness the technology.
Millions of TVs with whapping great hard disks underneath them, containing unparalleled information about the viewer and their behaviour. Far from a threat to marketing PVR technology might resolve many of the downsides of TV as a medium from atrocious targeting to shallow brand experiences.
11. Get serious about interactive TV.
Few advertisers have really explored the full potential of Interactive TV. Interactive TV lets us take the consumer into a brand space that offers unprecedented levels of experience and reward. Interactive TV will no longer be about brand response but about brand involvement.
12. Rethink the structure of your advertising.
In a PVR world not only will the ad sell the brand but to a very real extent the brand will sell the ad. If you brand is potent and has a strong creative reputation brand the beginning not the end of your commercials. If it isn’t you have 5 years to change this.
13. Treat communications like content.
Read my lips – why would anyone want to listen to what you have to say? That is the fundamental lesson to be learned if you brand is going to continue to have a voice. It’s not a hard lesson but a discipline programme makers learned decades ago.
14. Go shorter and longer.
Sure the 30 second ad looks like it’s in for a rough ride but maybe it was always a bit of a compromise – too short for the people interested in what you have to say and too long for those who couldn’t give a damn. The future belongs to the short form directional advertisement (an ad for the ad) and more involving long form communication outside the broadcast stream. Hey isn’t that like online advertising?
15. Don’t be seduced by easy answers.
I love product placement and branded content as much as the next person. But it is folly to suggest that they are the panacea for all the ills the PVR will visit upon our business. There simply isn’t an easy answer so resist the advances of the content charlatans who suggest otherwise.
16. Become media prejudiced.
Different media channels do different things well. Find out which combination of channels can take up the slack if TV becomes less effective for you. Welcome to the new golden age of the poster.
17. Everything is viral.
Even if the television medium works less effectively in the future that does not mean that the brand film will cease to be the single most powerful long-term selling tool. Find as many ways as possible to distribute your brand films to consumers from the cinema to mobile telephony. But remember that the best distribution is consumer driven and that means creating work that people want to pass on.
18. Be excited, be very, very excited.
Fear has no place in the future. The sooner you get excited about the PVR world the sooner you will work out how to make sure your brand will maintains a strong voice in the market.
19. It’s the creative stupid.
Establish a reputation for creative excellence because creativity matters like it never has done before. It’s not about cut through any longer but about the way you chose to engage the consumer in dialogue. It’s a fundamental reason why anyone should give you the time of day when they are armed to the teeth with kit to kill your comms.
20. Stop reading this and start doing it.
Right now you have time to experiment, take some risks and make some mistakes. But be under no illusion time is running out.

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5 Replies to “PVRs – less talk and more action”

  1. Sure- there are alot of people, myself included, talking to ourselves about the “Future of Advertising” and over-thinking it. Our here in San Fran we are at the vortex of alot of this and like anything, it’s important to understand meaning, intenet and opportunity. That’s where new ideas come from.

  2. Yes, action speaks louder than words. Just an additional comment to your manifesto ideas 16 and 17, which I think have an exceptional opportunity to merge in the future. With the emerging trend of cost-effective flat screen I think a lot of the places where posters are the main medium today we will see brand films in the future. I can think of no better place to be exposed for a film-based selling tool than the in the not so precious “waiting time” – in the bus, the metro, the train, bus stop, in the retail location.

  3. We can’t stop technological evolution. The industry was ecstatic when the web was exploding. The new world, true interaction with consumers through their computer screens. As we all know that didn’t happen, at least not fully. Instead is created a freedom among consumers that put the power into their hands. The same is now happening to our old trusted television. So why should we hold on to old dogmatic truths about mass marketing when we love to announce every “new” communcation opportunity and media vehicles? It’s time we take our responsibility and tell the client how and where they can reach their consumers-we are all aware that it hasn’t been through TV for quiet some time now. Sure it puts more thinking into our hands: How to reach a mass-market through micromarketing vehicles (And please do not start shouting about branded content. It will die as fast as your clients Blog). But our only change is to change or the Darwinism of communication will slaughter us all.

  4. These points accurately address the near future of television advertising in response to PVRs. However, we should also examine the ultimate effects of this technology; we must “Follow the Money”. As the popularity of PVRs increase and advertisers steer away from television, the quality of programming will certainly decrease or the price of television will drastically increase. Either way, viewer levels are likely to decrease in response to this change. I think that preserving this fantastic medium through clever advertising is an important task.
    Both the original suggestions and a response state that we should beware of the “low hanging fruit” (product placement and branded content). However, product placement offers incredible potential for the new “advertising-free” television. Most importantly, it will maintain the quality of the television show around the advertisements (this keeps people watching). Logically, advertisers must learn more about television production to make these placements less obtrusive to viewers. The opportunity here is for advertising agencies to enter the world of television show production.

  5. This article is of course not necessarily the answer. My point is merely that we should start experimenting with various options because there is far too much pontification about PVRs at the moment.
    I do have to take exception with product placement as a solution as I have in previous posts. Yes it is fun and funky and as editorial endorsement goes its pretty much perfect. I also buy it as a way to ensure that TV remains well funded. But brands do badly out of it since it doesn’t deliver in communication terms – which is what we are losing as TV adveritsing gets less effective.

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