• Column: On The Record -- Television as a Change Agent
    The average American family hasn't time for television." So wrote the sages of The New York Times in 1939, giving us one of those great quotes which in retrospect ranks with the confident predictions that the automobile would all but die after the end of World War II and that the world market for computers would top out at around 5 percent. The reality, of course, is that we seem to have little time for anything other than TV, the car is still going strong, and we hit double digits on the PC front quite a while ago. Naturally, ...
  • Branded: Time to Sing 'Sopranos'
    The producers of HBO's "The Sopranos," like their creation Tony Soprano, are in denial. They still refuse to admit that they are intentionally padding their program with product messages, even as the premiere episode of the sixth and perhaps final season of the Mob soap featured an in-your-face full-screen of a Nestlé's Nesquik logo (the camera actually stopped and lingered on the brand before tracking away), several unsubtle shots of a FedEx package, and a fawning integration (not just a placement, an integration!) of a brand new Porsche Cayenne Turbo as bold and shameless as the fabled integration of a ...
  • The Department: Why Not Let Planners Plan?
    My first media planning experience was, in a word, terrifying. My supervisor had the nerve to expect me to write my own objectives and strategies for a media plan -- in my third week on the job, fresh out of school, on a business I didn't yet understand. And, most critically, he expected me to do all this without his assistance.
  • Book Excerpt: Television Disrupted -- The Transition from Network to Networked TV
    WONKAVISION -- My very latest and greatest invention. Now, I suppose you all know how ordinary television works. You photograph something and then the photograph is split up into millions of tiny pieces, and they go whizzing through the air down to your TV set, where they're all put together again in the right order." -- Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl, 1964 From a technology perspective, Willy Wonka had it just about right. But very few people think of television as a technology, and there is no reason for them to. Television (from ...
  • Ad-free VOD
    Consumers would rather watch ads in video-on-demand content than pay $1.99 or 99 cents for an ad-free show, according to a recent study. When asked what they would rather do if they missed a favorite show, 62 percent of consumers polled said they would rather get it free on-demand with commercials, compared to 17 percent who would pay for an ad-free version, according to a study by Points North Group and Horowitz Associates. "Over time, the $1.99 model will wear thin as consumers get tired of having their credit cards pinged every time they download a replay of 'CSI' ...
  • Demand Control
    Students at Ball State University in Indiana want you to take control of your local news broadcast -- by picking up your remote. About a dozen students from different disciplines are working with faculty and industry professionals to create an interactive TV news show. Using a remote and a split screen, viewers can skip ahead to different stories, access graphics and background stories related to the day's news, and answer polling questions. TiVo kicks in to catch the broadcast, and even the news crawl along the bottom can be rewound or fast-forwarded. The trend is in a nascent stage in ...
  • Out of the Basement
    Years ago, someone decided that the agency model would be best served by separating media from creative services. Media departments grew apart from the all-powerful creative teams. But lately media is in the ascending position. Media teams are gaining power for many reasons -- not the least of which is that consumer control over media via TiVo, BitTorrent, YouTube, iTunes and the iPod, satellite radio, and many other interactive platforms is making media strategy more critical than ever. Marketers are demanding the inclusion of more nontraditional strategies in media plans. Media is now often seen as a ...
  • Check-In Ads
    Check in, drop bags, collapse on bed. What does the average hotel guest do next? Chances are he picks up the remote to see what's on TV. A recent Nielsen survey found that nearly 70 percent of hotel guests in the country's top markets turn to pre-formatted in-room programs to help them decide when and where to spend their money while they're in town. "These are very busy, upscale people who want to know what to do and where to go. It's a highly actionable time for them when they tune in," explains Steve Wilson, ...
  • Permission Granted
    Infinite choice is infinitely irritating. That's what viewers say about having to select from among approximately 1,961 shows and their ad muck. Wouldn't it be nice to unwind with original content and ads you want to watch? That's the thinking behind Internet-based PermissionTV, a new broadband player that creates brand-specific, on-demand channels.
  • Call a Paramediac!
    Photographer and performance artist Eric Payson shoots simultaneous live news broadcasts and assembles them into collage-like multimedia installations. The piece pictured here was shot on Jan. 2, as a West Virginia mining tragedy coincided with a West Virginia University basketball game. The installation appeared in March at New York's Scope Arts Fair.
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