Tag Archives: Nielsen

An Hour More And Less

More and less? A typo right off the bat? Nope, not a chance. That’s a statement about time, which as I think we all know is a zero-sum game. Even if you don’t sleep there are still only 24 hours in a day. Why this is of note today is a report from the Nielsen folks and the implications the findings hold for you.

The results come from Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Total Audience Report, which you can read here. There is also an excellent summary on Adweek’s site. As the latter states: 

The total media consumption across all devices and platforms jumped one hour from the first quarter of 2015, to 10 hours, 39 minutes. (A year earlier, there had only been a seven-minute year-over-year jump in daily media consumption.) That’s mostly due to smartphone use, which has soared 37 minutes, and tablet use, which has increased 12 minutes. Internet on PC jumped 10 minutes, while multimedia devices, including Apple TV and Roku, were up four minutes. Video game consoles and DVR use was flat, while DVD use dipped one minute and live TV dropped three minutes year over year. Nielsen’s data indicates that consumers aren’t pulling away from linear TV, but instead are making additional time for these new devices.

An hour more each day with media sounds wonderful if you’re in the media business. The real question this raises with me is from where are consumers getting that extra hour? Do you think they’re sleeping less? Leaving work early? Maybe they’re watching on the job (so much for productivity). No, I suspect they’re just not doing something else. Shopping, dining out as much, going to other recreational activities. All this means is that as selective as consumers were in allocating their time to your non-media business they’re going to be even more so. That reinforces the need for all of us to provide value every time we have a consumer interaction or we won’t be having as many down the road.

As an aside, I’ll remind us that most of us, even if we make package goods, are now in the media business. Social sites, home base (your website!), and content we provide to others are all media, so it’s not a lost cause. Obviously, it’s fiercely competitive out there, and the hour more each day that consumers are spending in the space doesn’t mean they’re any less frugal with the time they spend. The job for each of us is to make up for the hour less they’re outside of media where we live and capture their attention within the extra hour they’re spending inside. We can do that through great content, content which is focused on providing value and solving their problems.  Make sense?

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Posts Of The Year – 2015 – #3

I am going to continue an annual tradition this week and repost the most-read screeds of the past year.  I am very grateful to the folks from 91 countries around the world who read them this year, although I’m not sure why I seem to be so popular in Brazil (the second country behind the US in terms of readership!).  This post, the third most-read, non-food post, was from October.  It touches on a subject that came up a few other times this year, and one I expect will be front and center in 2016: cord-cutting.  It was originally titled  Shaving The Cord. Enjoy!

You might have heard something over the weekend about a glitch in the Nielsen ratings system that affected the estimated audiences all the way back to March.  While that is kind of problematic for the TV industry, it was other Nielsen data that presents much more of a long-term problem.  As Cynopsis reported:

The top 40 cable channels have lost more than 3 percent of their distribution over the last four years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Nielsen ratings data. How to account for the decline, which exceeds the loss of subscribers? Pay-TV customers are signing up for less expensive bundles with fewer channels, says the WSJ. “What we are seeing is some cord cutting and some cord shaving,” Nielsen global president Stephen Hasker told the paper. “Consumer time and attention is shifting.”

You can read the Wall Street Journal article by clicking through.  As someone who spent a long time in the TV business, I understand why channels are bundled.  Way back when, the market was far less fragmented and the business model evolved where there really weren’t tiers other than the true premium channels of HBO and local sports networks.  Today, even the “major networks” of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC attract audience ratings in the low single digits even for top programs.  Yes, DVR viewing can boost some of their audiences as much as 80% but think about it.  What’s the difference between watching “Gotham” via Hulu (the internet) or on your DVR (the cable bundle)?  Other than being able to skip the commercials on a DVR, not much.  In fact, one could argue that advertisers would prefer that consumers watch in the non-skippable internet interface.

The real point is that how consumers come to content has changed and yet the people who are the middlemen in offering the content – the cable companies – haven’t moved off a business model that evolved in the 1980s.  As the  Journal states:

Data points are piling up to show “cord shaving” is for real. At least two pay-TV providers say about 10% of gross TV subscriber additions are customers who are taking a slimmed-down bundle—in contrast to the bigger ones with hundreds of channels that can cost upward of $100 a month.

So the choice for the providers, as it is for all of us in our businesses,  is to change or to shrink.  They can’t just keep raising prices.  At some point that makes the problem even worse as consumers pay more for channels they don’t watch.  What’s your solution?

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Shaving The Cord

You might have heard something over the weekend about a glitch in the Nielsen ratings system that affected the estimated audiences all the way back to March.  While that is kind of problematic for the TV industry, it was other Nielsen data that presents much more of a long-term problem.  As Cynopsis reported:

The top 40 cable channels have lost more than 3 percent of their distribution over the last four years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Nielsen ratings data. How to account for the decline, which exceeds the loss of subscribers? Pay-TV customers are signing up for less expensive bundles with fewer channels, says the WSJ. “What we are seeing is some cord cutting and some cord shaving,” Nielsen global president Stephen Hasker told the paper. “Consumer time and attention is shifting.”

You can read the Wall Street Journal article by clicking through.  As someone who spent a long time in the TV business I understand why channels are bundled.  Way back when, the market was far less fragmented and the business model evolved where there really weren’t tiers other than the true premium channels of HBO and local sports networks.  Today, even the “major networks” of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC attract audience ratings in the low single digits even for top programs.  Yes, DVR viewing can boost some of their audiences as much as 80% but think about it.  What’s the difference between watching “Gotham” via Hulu (the internet) or on your DVR (the cable bundle)?  Other than being able to skip the commercials on a DVR, not much.  In fact, one could argue that advertisers would prefer that consumers watch in the non-skippable internet interface.

The real point is that how consumers come to content has changed and yet the people who are the middlemen in offering the content – the cable companies – haven’t moved off a business model that evolved in the 1980s.  As the  Journal sates:

Data points are piling up to show “cord shaving” is for real. At least two pay-TV providers say about 10% of gross TV subscriber additions are customers who are taking a slimmed-down bundle—in contrast to the bigger ones with hundreds of channels that can cost upward of $100 a month.

So the choice for the providers, as it is for all of us in our businesses,  is to change or to shrink.  They can’t just keep raising prices.  At some point that makes the problem even worse as consumers pay more for channels they don’t watch.  What’s your solution?

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Can You Trust Your Customers?

It’s not news to any of you who are paying attention to media but we’re at a tipping point.

1898 advertising poster

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cracks in the traditional patterns of media consumption have widened to a point where the foundations of those patterns are falling down. Need proof? How about this morning’s piece is the Wall Street Journal:

Hopes that TV advertising will rebound this fall are beginning to dim. TV networks have been banking on a surge in ad spending in coming weeks, ever since an anemic second quarter reported by media companies and a weaker-than-expected “upfront” advance ad-sales market for the new season. The new season doesn’t kick off until next week but already sentiment is starting to change. On Monday, Jeffries analyst John Janedis lowered his estimates for advertising revenue growth in the second half of the year for most of the biggest media companies

Or this from Kantar Media:

“Four of the nation’s five biggest advertisers,” including Procter & Gamble and AT&T, “cut ad spending on traditional media and online display in the first half of the year.”

So now what?

Millennials spend 30 percent of their time with content created by their peers. This means they’re spending more time with peer-created content than traditional media combined (print, TV, and radio).  Nielsen’s most recent study indicates that Americans aged 18-24 watched a weekly average of 19 hours of traditional TV during Q2 2014. That was a substantial 2-and-a-half-hour drop-off from Q2 2013, which in turn had been down by an hour from the year before.  Spending more heavily in those channels isn’t going to happen.  The impact of most digital display is negligible.  Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?

The answer might just be in the audience itself.  Putting consumers and their messages about the brand front and center – probably through social channels – might just be the way forward.  That’s where is the audience is spending time and the messages are from trusted sources.  As Nielsen found:

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential, as 84 percent of global respondents across 58 countries to the Nielsen online survey said this source was the most trustworthy

The real question is do you trust your consumers enough to hand over your brand?  Can you get on board with them creating content that you’ll push for them?  Are you willing to provide tools – images, logos, whatever – or to promote the products that consumers choose, not those slated for promotion in the marketing plan?

Interesting times.  What’s your take?

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Where Are The Kids?

Suppose you produce something that is widely consumed.

Braun TV

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day you notice that your customer base is getting older in composition. “Duh,” you’re saying – people age. Of course, but if there continues to be an influx of newer and younger consumers, and if product usage remains steady in the younger segments, there isn’t a problem.

So you do a little digging and find out that use of your product by younger people has dropped off. In fact, use among 18-24 year olds is declining at a fairly rapid pace and over the last 3 years it’s down 18%. What now?

This isn’t a hypothetical case.  Welcome to the world of television.  Nielsen put out their quarterly viewing report and here is how one post summed up the results:

In the space of 3 years, Q1 TV viewing by 18-24-year-olds dropped by a little more than 4-and-a-half hours per week. That’s equivalent to roughly 40 minutes per day, says the report. In percentage terms, traditional TV viewing among 18-24-year-olds in Q1 2014 was down by almost 7% year-over-year. Between Q1 2011 and Q1 2014, weekly viewing fell by almost 18%.

I suspect that if you took sports out of the mix the declines would be even larger.  The younger segments haven’t stopped consuming some of the content but they do so using on-demand video both on the traditional TV screen and alternate screens such as their phones, tablets, and computers.  They’re also off playing games and watching others do the same.

I recognize that the TV business in which I grew up is dead.  How can you sell audiences that don’t exist?  Without the dual revenue stream of payments from cable and satellite operators for the programming I suspect we would have seen some TV companies go dark.  Interesting times just keep getting more interesting in the media business (he said echoing the old Chinese curse).  What’s your take?

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Headlines And Half Empty

Part of how we approach business – and life, for that matter – is the spin we choose to put on things.  Some of how we make up our own minds is from the words others use to describe things.  For example, if I won the lottery, the headline might be “Man Wins Lottery, Set For Life.”  The headline could also be “Man Hit With Enormous Unexpected Tax Bill, Owes Millions.”  Far fetched?1379508733538

Let’s take how a single publication handled the reporting of one piece of information in two different articles.  I should state upfront that I have no issue with either of these headlines nor with the articles.  I’m using them to illustrate a point.  The publication is MediaPost, and I read almost a dozen of their newsletters each day – they provide great information.  The story was a study Nielsen did on viewers using Twitter while they’re watching TV.  You can read Nielsen’s own release on the topic by clicking through on this link.  You might be able to tell from the graphic how Nielsen portrayed their findings.

On to the two articles.  One was headlined “Tweeting Doesn’t Spike During Commercials” while the other stated “TV Viewers Use Twitter During Ads.” Same study, same publication, same day.  A quick glance at the headlines might make you think that viewers don’t break away during commercial breaks; the other might lead you to believe the opposite.  One article says

Good news for TV programmers: TV viewers use Twitter during their TV programming — showing lots of engagement, according to analysts. The bad news? Many are also tweeting during commercials.

while the other says

The takeaway is that viewers using Twitter as a second-screen platform are tweeting consistently throughout the airtime for programming and ads alike. TV advertisers might still prefer that viewers’ attention was fixed on the larger screen during breaks, but it’s not as if they signal the start of a tweeting blitz. All airtime is tweet time.

My point is that we always need to dig a little deeper into the facts before we draw conclusions and we should always get to the source material when we can.  In this case, the Nielsen study.  In other cases a sales report, a deal memo, or other things about which we often learn from others who will bring their own point of view as they report the “facts.”   Needless to say, the principle applies outside of the business world as well.

Make sense?

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What The School Dance Shows Us About Marketing

Remember what it was like when you were a lot younger (ok, so not THAT much for some of you) and you’d head to a dance at school? There are the kids who would dance with anyone and everyone. There were the wall flowers who hid along the sides. Then there were whose who really wanted to dance in the worst way (well, not DANCE badly, but wanted desperately to participate!) but didn’t really know what to do. You could almost smell the desperation. They didn’t really have the skills to engage with the kids with whom they wanted to dance but they very much were sending out the signals that they wanted to.

High school dance, 1941. Worthington (Ohio) Hi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reminded of that as I read about how many marketers are planning to spend a lot more money on “social media advertising.”  Frankly, I consider that an oxymoron.  Social media, to me, is about engagement and conversation and not about using a megaphone to talk about yourself.  Nielsen put out the research a couple of months ago and it found that a majority of advertisers surveyed said they are going to increase their paid social media advertising budgets for 2013. In some cases they’re cutting back on display ads and it’s always a good idea to spread the ad investment across channels.  However, I’m a believer in using the resources to support social media efforts and not to buy ads on social platforms if a brand has to make a choice.

There was an AdAge study that showed the use of Facebook Ads is to drive brand awareness more than anything else.  That’s the equivalent of hanging by the gym wall – people can see you but there’s not much going on in terms of making engagement happen.  It isn’t until we lose our fear and go talk with someone (preferably about THEM!) that the invitation to dance can happen.  When people sense that desperation it makes them think they’re the lowest common denominator when an attempt at engagement occurs, whether it’s a dance or an ad campaign.

Nielsen said this: “Advertisers are doubtful or unconvinced about the effectiveness of paid social media advertising, indicating that the growth of the medium is being somewhat hampered by a lack of relevant, universally employed metrics.”  I don’t think that’s the entire story.  I think that doubt is spurred in part because it’s a square peg (ads) in a round hole (a social setting).  It’s the desperate kid standing by the gym wall shouting irrelevant nonsense.  As marketers we need to engage in that setting if we’re desperate to dance.  Chat someone up – see if there’s compatibility.  Maybe even dance a bit.  Who knows where it can lead.  Standing by the wall yelling “I really want to dance with someone!” isn’t going to work.  At least it never did when I was at those dances many years ago.  How about you?

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