Context Rules New TV Audience Targeting Systems
The initiative embeds or juxtaposes TV advertising messages into, or adjacent to television content that Turner's researchers say creates "unconscious" behavioral effects, motivating consumers to recall and even purchase brands at higher levels than advertising they are cognitively aware of.
While likely highly effective, the approach may remind consumer advocates about the kind of controversial subliminal advertising practices sparked by media critic Vance Packard's book "The Hidden Persuaders" during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Turner executives, including Chief Research Officer Jack Wakshlag, and Stacey Schulman, noted that the approach was based on new research into brain theory developed by neuroscientists, especially the work of InnerScope Founder Dr. Carl Marci, who consulted with Turner.
Wakshlag described the approach as a "priming" effect that causes consumers to have unconscious, "emotional" responses to advertising based on the emotional effects of the programming content - usually movies - that Turner places the ads in.
Turner's Schulman gave an example of a consumer shopping for wine in a retail store playing French music in the background, leading the person to unconsciously select a bottle of French wine.
Schulman noted that the approach has not yet been "operationalized in television," and said it's a "huge, untapped opportunity that we wanted to exploit."
Operationally, Schulman said the system works by "meta tagging" all of the most contextually relevant content in the programming, mostly movies, available in the TV In Context initiative, and matching it to products or brands that are mostly likely to benefit from an emotional connection to it.
In one example, Schulman showed a clip of a sensational car chase and crash from the feature film "The Bourne Supremacy," which seamlessly segued into a commercial for the OnStar auto safety service.
Schulman said the TV In Context initiative has proven to generate "lift" in purchase intent both on a cognitive and a non-cognitive level, and said Turner is exploring some new approaches that it is ready to introduce to the advertising marketplace, including one dubbed, "Brands In Context."
She said the Brands In Context deals would place brand names and logos directly on to the set of TV shows produced by Turner, including 10-second programming interstitials that directly tie the brand to the programming content.
"It's not quite a product placement," she said, adding, "That's where TV In Context is going in the next year."
While Turner's approach to unconscious, contextually relevant advertising placements may be more effective, it also comes at a time when consumer advocates, regulators and legislators are up in arms over consumer privacy, including practices like online contextual and behavioral targeting. To head off potential new laws that would prohibit the practice, the online industry has kicked off a major lobbying and public awareness initiative to explain the benefits of serving contextually relevant advertising to consumers.
One of the pioneers in the field of online behavioral targeting, Dave Morgan, also presented an update of his new company, Simulmedia, during the alliance meeting. Morgan, who created and ultimately sold Tacoda to AOL, has been trying to apply the science of behavioral targeting to television. Since a scalable addressable TV advertising infrastructure does not yet exist for the TV industry, he said Simulmedia initially is focusing on using the data to make TV program promotions more effective, but finding the best places and times to schedule them to influence potential viewers based on their past viewing behavior.
His presentation was entitled, "How To Win Viewers And Influence Sampling Using Set-Top Data," and showed how Simulmedia's system leverages actual TV tuning data to match the right audiences with the most relevant program promotions possible. He showed two case studies that dramatically increased program sampling for the premieres of shows on a broadcast and cable network, and hinted that when the TV industry is ready, Simulmedia might someday also dynamically "serve" ads to consumers utilizing a similar approach.
Nielsen executives also presented new data showing the contextual relevance of new "convergence panel" data measuring how consumer simultaneously use TV and the Internet. Nielsen's Matt O'Grady said the company also is exploring new ways to leverage online and mobile media measurement techniques that might be introduced soon, but said its initial focus was on the convergence panel, which simultaneously measures TV and Internet usage in the same households.
His colleague, Cheryl Idell, said there still is relatively little data coming through the system showing what kind of TV shows people are watching online, but she said Nielsen has found significant amounts of simultaneous usage of the Internet while households were watching television.
"Close to 50% of people will use these mediums together," she said, adding, however, that they were not necessarily using TV and online media to access the same kind of content.
She compared the phenomenon to someone reading a magazine in front of their TV set, but said Nielsen is mining the data to identify relevant patterns between TV and the Internet.
To date, she said, the total amount of concurrent usage is still relatively small, only about 3.6% of the time people spend watching TV. She also said the highest usage was among young adult women, and especially during big programming events and certain genres of programming.
Sports and news indexed much higher than scripted or reality TV, talk and game shows. And the biggest concurrent usage was during events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars telecast.
But when Nielsen executives analyzed what Web sites Oscar television watchers were going to, she said only about 12% of them were specifically related to the Oscars.