Last week Google and the ANA presented an impressive display of content and headliners in a wide-ranging discussion of, well, "tv and everything video" (the official name of the forum). I won't review the full day of events -- which was sold out -- but several observations are worth noting.
Before the program began there were several messages from the sponsors. When it was Google's turn, the presenter briefly referenced a typical viewing day in his household, in which members of his family alternated between their Google TV, their Roku, mobile video and DVR. While I have every belief in his description of that dynamic in that household, I was left wondering if it might be stretching things a bit to suggest that it was a real trend toward the new norm.
After the mandatory conference administration of identifying the wifi service, Twitter feeds, and variation on Mad Libs to qualify for a prize (who says those direct marketing involvement devices are dead), we learned/confirmed that HDTV is now at 50 % penetration, smartphones at 25% -- and we all watch TV 4 hours and 58 minutes a day.
Interactive TV was an important topic, with ANA and Canoe announcing some of the details following their October 2010 announcement of their joint effort to test and measure Canoe's ITV platform for advertising.
Ad-ID, the asset coding system which is quickly growing in acceptance, was positioned as "the key to improve measurement across platforms." In addition to the 4As, ANA, CTAM and IAB already on board, it was announced that Nielsen has now endorsed Ad-ID as an industry standard.
MediaPost's Joe Mandese did his usual fine job interviewing Bob Liodice, ANA's CEO, discussing Nielsen's coming brand-specific commercial ratings, more on Ad-ID as one of the foundational steps for cross platform measurement, and Liodice's statement that measurement itself is at "the top of the priority list" for CM's.
Al Gore, who once characterized himself as the former next President of the United States, gave a keynote as Chairman of Current TV. Trying to emphasize his Tennessee roots, I guess, he began with a Minnie Pearl joke about a police officer who shot a cow...
Best Buy's CMO, Barry Judge, told the story of his brand's first step into the Super Bowl advertising experience. Among the takeaways from his speech: The big stage demands a big idea, not just a creatively memorable spot. In Best Buy's case, it was the introduction of the Buy Back program, a strategic initiative designed to ease consumer tension about the rapid obsolescence of their technology purchases.
He reminded everyone, or at least every CMO, of the importance of getting the CEO on board, and to stay very flexible when using celebrities, especially if one of them is Ozzy Osbourne. And, in what has become a mandatory moment, he spoke about the pre- and post-game campaign as insurance for the spot itself. Judge said every CMO should maintain a healthy fear of "the ad sucking," and reiterated the power of prayer for ultimate Super Bowl redemption. All in all it was a very good, and honest, presentation.
There was a 1 on 1 with Hannah Storm of ESPN and David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA. After the reaction to her introduction, Hannah felt compelled to say, "David Stern is here also."
David Lubars, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of BBDO North America, gave an interesting presentation about the continuing power of TV as the starting point -- the framework, as he described it -- on which additional brand messages and media are supported.
Perhaps the most anticipated session of the day was the last one in which a very high-powered panel of advertiser, agency, and network executives discussed 10 issues in 50 minutes, among them CIMM (multiplatform measurement as the Holy Grail); ITV (it's early); 3D commercials (not yet); social media (see Egypt). The most intense, at times emotional, subject? The upfront. Described as a huge problem that needs to be re-engineered as well as a necessary element to facilitate long-term buying, the upfront showed it has not lost any of its power, because that's still where the money is.
All in all, congratulations to those who gave us such an interesting and important program.
And if you were in attendance, please let us know your observations and thoughts about the day.