Carat Looks Beyond :30, Turns Its Eyes West
"We are talking to the talent agencies, people that we can outsource to," said Oscar, during a Radio Television Research Council luncheon discussion entitled, "Is the Traditional 30 Second Announcement Obsolete?" While Oscar, and his fellow panelists ZenithOptimedia Executive Vice President-Director of Strategic Resources Bruce Goerlich, and Initiative Media Executive Vice President-Global Research Integration Stacy Lynn Koerner, did not necessarily believe TV commercials were growing obsolete, there was some question about what their duration should be.
"I watch more commercials, I just watch them faster," said Carat's Oscar, referring to the impact digital video recorders have had on his commercial viewing patterns. By "faster" Oscar meant that he fast-forwards through the spots, a process that is estimated to compress the average 30-second commercial into six-seconds of time on a typical TiVo system. CBS is expected to release new research indicating that consumers who view commercials in fast-forward play actually have relatively high recall of the ads they are zipping through.
But Initiative's Koerner said the duration of how consumers are viewing TV ads may not be as important as the relevance advertising has for them. "It's not temporal," she said. "It's how relevant it is." Toward that end, she said Initiative has conducted new research with the MIT Media Lab to determine how various kinds of media environments "engage" consumers with advertising in order to determine the right place and time to schedule the most relevant messages for the agency's clients.
While he did not detail the nature of Carat's discussions with Hollywood agents, Oscar's disclosure was reminiscent of a time when Madison Avenue turned West in an effort to come up with new ideas and forms of content that would break through advertising clutter. The difference now, said Oscar, is that agencies like Carat are looking at a much bigger swath of communications channels than just television. Carat recently won part of packaged goods giant Procter & Gamble's communications planning account with the mission of transforming the marketer's communications strategy beyond its current television dependency.
Oscar did allude to some recent efforts by other big marketers that are radically altering this communications mix, such as automaker General Motors, which has begun working with Medialink Worldwide, a distributor of video news releases, in an effort to deliver GM's messages through "news" content. "GM is piecing together news bits with Medialink," said Oscar. "Now we have to find people who can do things like that for us."