What is... Terrific TV Show Integration?

By: Tim Burke

It's Super Bowl Week! And important questions are being asked all across this great nation.

"How spicy should I make my wings?"

"Which seat in the living room provides the best sightline to the TV?"

And of course, "Should I take Monday off?"

Jumping on the passion for this colossal event, our client Quicken Loans is involved in many exciting marketing opportunities. And here's one of them.

Watch the video below and see an example of seamless TV show sponsorship and integration. Airing on the Sports Jeopardy show with Dan Patrick, exclusively from Crackle.com, Quicken Loan's role is more than advertising interrupter. They serve up a trivia question (a Detroit-based topic of course), follow it with a TV commercial for their Rocket Mortgage and then finish with the answer. To see more of this sponsorship or test your own Big Game knowledge, watch the entire show at Crackle.com

The Agency That Works

By: Eicoff

Brand Response Advertising is the blending of brand advertising principals with response-driving tactics. It isn't just a specialty at Eicoff. It's part of the fabric of the agency. It's in our DNA. We create video assets that deliver measurable results. Precision media placement - wherever video is consumed. Every campaign relentlessly optimized using data-driven insights. And the ultimate metric for success: sales.

Cooking for a Cause

By: Eicoff Can Do Committee

On a cold January Day in Chicago, there is one guaranteed way to warm your belly and lift your spirit.

The Eicoff Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Day.

An annual event here, the Eicoff Can Do Committee cooked us up another winning combination of these two tremendously comforting foods. The crunch of bread was just right. The ooze of the cheese was a glorious sight. And the tomato soup - all 3 varieties - had spoons scooping with delight.

And best of all, this tasty event raised over $700 for the The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. To see more, watch this short video. Thanks to the Chefs - now, how about making this a monthly winter event?

Eicoff & Sole Hope

By: Eicoff Can Do Committee

Last Friday, the Eicoff Volunteer Committee organized another terrific event for an incredible charity: Sole Hope. We were able to turn the fabric of old jeans into what will become new shoes for 55 kids in Africa. Watch the video to learn more about this program. To host your own Shoe Cutting party or get involved, visit SoleHope.org.

Going once, Going twice

By: Craig Meisenheimer

10 things to know about the “Spectrum Auction” and its effect on local media

When the federal government passed a budget bill last November, the news outlets praised Congress for keeping us funded into 2017 and avoiding yet another trek toward a fiscal cliff.

What they didn’t mention, however, was that buried in the giant bill was something called the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015 – a piece of legislation that very likely will change the TV marketplace as we know it.

So what exactly is this bill and how will it affect things? Here are 10 things to know:

1. The Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015 requires the U.S. government to free up over-the-air broadband spectrum over the next few years through an auction process.

2. The purpose of the bill is to help mobile carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) gain more spectrum access as they continue to supply the increasing data demands of smartphone users.

3. All wireless signals, TV, radio, GPS and mobile broadband fly through the air on invisible signals called spectrum. The name comes from the fact that wireless signals can be sent on a range — a spectrum — of frequencies.

4. Before the FCC offers more spectrum to mobile providers, they’re looking to acquire more of it. Thus, they are holding auctions to purchase those airwaves from TV stations. It’s a buy-back program where stations will have the opportunity to sell their spectrum to the FCC at an extremely generous price. Right now, it’s labeled a “once-in-a-lifetime offer” and the first auction is slated to take place on March 29th of this year. 

5.TV spectrum holds incredible value because it can penetrate building walls and travel farther than existing networks. That quality is highly desirable for both the FCC and mobile providers.

6. In smaller markets, local stations are predicted to make $100+ million on their sale. While in New York, it is estimated that a Telemundo affiliate could start the auction bid closer to $900 million. This opportunity to “sell high” no doubt will be tremendously tempting, especially in the mid-to-smaller sized markets.

7. Most speculation sees the local TV market losing a number of stations. Cord-cutters particularly will be affected. While stations move to cable and satellite only, fewer over-the-air choices will remain for cord-cutters. In a Media Life article, Bill Cromwell says, “One could imagine markets with one or two stations still broadcasting over the air.”

8. If a station gives up its spectrum, it also frees itself from the FCC requirement to include local programming altogether. So there’s no guarantee they’ll continue to even provide local programming on Cable or Satellite. This could impact everything from the quality of local news coverage to the media costs for local cable.

9. Local stations that don’t sell their spectrum will likely reap the benefits, too. As other stations disappear, the ones that stay naturally should find greater demand knocking on their door. Less available ad space makes what remains that much more valuable, aka “pricey.”

10. As it all unfolds, advertisers simply need to pay attention and be prepared to adapt to the changes. Market by market, the picture we see could be drastically different. Our media plans will need to work accordingly.

While all indications point to big changes in our local TV landscape, there are still many questions floating around and waiting for answers.

What exactly will the local market transformations look like?

How will it affect media pricing?

Will it propel cord-cutters to return to cable? 

Will it push viewers to go online or use their mobile devices in an even greater capacity?

If you need to advertise locally, will you take a harder look at radio, print and digital?

It’s a complicated situation. And until the auctions take place, we’ll all just have to (as they often stay during our local news), “Stay tuned as the story develops.

The current reality of programmatic television

By: Eileen Bousquet

Has there been a more talked about topic in the video advertising world than programmatic television?

The potential value of using data and automation in TV buying is clear, but applying the principles of digital programmatic advertising to television has proven to be a challenging proposition.

While there has been progress in the development of programmatic platforms, the realities of the TV business and its stakeholders have complicated the situation. This recent article (see below) from the Wall Street Journal does a great job of providing an exploration of the current landscape in the programmatic TV world. Give it a read.


Why Programmatic TV is Still Stuck in First Gear

TV industry slow to adopt digital ad practices, though certain tactics show promise

(by Mike Shields of the Wall Street Journal)

About a year or so ago, there were a slew of announcements in the arena that has loosely been referred to as “programmatic TV.” Collectively, they seemed to indicate that the foundation was being laid for TV advertising to finally start operating like digital advertising -- meaning that TV ads would soon be bought and sold using automated technology and precision data.

Among the many moves, the ad tech company TubeMogul introduced a “programmatic TV” software tool and RTL Group invested in the TV ad tech startup Clypd.

More recently, though, it’s been awfully quiet on the programmatic TV front. At a panel last month hosted by the trade publication Videonuze, the mood was decidedly pessimistic. Obstacles and hurdles were big topics. Buying TV through ad exchanges and software platforms like the Web was hardly even discussed.

The panelists did agree on the need to kill the phrase “programmatic TV,” since it’s not a real thing, they argued.

CMO Today talked to a number of experts and tried to break down what’s what in this nascent sector.

How big is “programmatic TV,” anyhow? Everyone uses the term in different ways, but the businesses that can be referred to under the programmatic TV banner include TV ad exchanges, TV ad-targeting services and connected TV-related services. International Data Corporation says programmatic TV will come close to being a $1 billion market in the U.S. this year. That’s not so bad, until you consider that TV advertising is a $70 billion market in the U.S., and digital advertising was close to $60 billion last year domestically.

What are TV ad exchanges all about? Essentially, these businesses take TV ad space, pool it together, and sell it via ad tech software, ideally packaged with some targeting data. The challenge here is that the only ad inventory available via these platforms tends to come from local cable companies and satellite TV firms, so it’s not national or primetime in nature. You generally won’t find big broadcast networks here.

“There is a lot of smoke of mirrors out there,” said Long Ellis, president of Longview Media Consulting, which worked on Google’s now defunct TV ad business nearly a decade ago. “None of the TV networks want to put their inventory into anything that will be commoditized. That scares the hell out of them.”

Among the ad tech companies that claim to have aggregated TV ad inventory, “none of them have actually scaled,” said Arun Kumar, Cadreon’s global president. “They don’t really have type of inventory you are looking for.”

There’s perhaps another reason that this sector is lagging. “These ad tech companies’ focus was on automating transactions,” said Randy Cooke, vice president of programmatic TV at the ad tech firm SpotX, which RTL Group acquired a majority stake in in 2014. “That’s not a question that necessarily needed answering.” That’s because, generally speaking, it’s not that hard to buy TV advertising.

Not surprisingly, the companies in the space offer a much different assessment. TubeMogul, which launched a programmatic TV buying platform roughly a year ago, says this sector is now driving 10% of the ad spending flowing through its digital buying software.

“A year ago, this wasn’t a conversation many people in TV business wanted to have, but now they are recognizing this is happening,” said Chief Executive Brett Wilson. “It’s progressing beyond our wildest expectations.”

The ad tech startup Clypd, which last year raised $19.4 million in funding, is one of a handful of companies that help advertisers buy TV ads via software. However, the company has gained more traction among “major” cable networks looking to cut direct deals with advertisers who are using proprietary data to figure out which shows to advertise in, said Doug Hurd, Clypd’s co-founder and executive vice president of business development. He couldn’t say which networks the company works with.

Aren’t networks embracing “data” in a big way? Well, yes and no. This is what everybody was talking up last year during the upfronts--the idea advertisers could apply better data insights when buying ads from the big cable and broadcast networks. Instead of just selling you ads in shows that reach women ages 18 to 49, the thinking went, networks can sell you ads in shows that are watched by people who like salad dressing and healthy eating.

This is happening, but slowly, with some hesitancy on both sides, say experts. The TV networks have a lucrative business model they don’t want to wreck, and are wary of letting advertisers cherry pick ads in specific shows, while ignoring the rest, said Mike Dean, vice president of programmatic and data-driven sales at ABC.

From the buy side, “I’ve often heard the skeptical comment that this is the networks trying to offload remnant ads, selling me very local, late-night, otherwise low quality [shows],” said Christina Beaumier, senior vice president at Xaxis Media.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dean, said these type of deals often involve more people, more complexity, and more costs to middlemen--to the point that they are often not worth it. So there’s not a ton of activity. Rather, most of what you are seeing now in this sector is TV companies putting out “press releases for the upfront,” he said.

What about the whole thing about different households seeing different ads? This tactic, “addressable TV,” has some characteristics of the precision of digital advertising. Using set-top box data from cable companies such as Cablevision and Cox, advertisers can deliver ads only to households that are likely to be in the market for a car, or may be likely to vote for a particular political candidate. After many years of moving slowly, ad buyers say addressable TV is taking off.

Jonathan Bokor, senior vice president and director of advanced media at MediaVest, says this will soon be a $1 billion market on its own. “Addressable has a nice run ahead of it,” he said. “The auto category has really adopted this.”

However, the approach has its limits. For one, It can be quite manual to implement, Ms. Beaumier of Xaxis said. And since it’s only really available through select cable systems, it only really makes sense when your target audience is less than 30% of the U.S., she said. Otherwise, it’s more efficient to buy TV ads nationally.

What about apps and streaming-media viewing? This subcategory has ad buyers excited, but it’s still tiny. Generally, “connected TV’ refers to advertising delivered to TV apps--sometimes that includes ads within full episodes of shows, while in other cases these are ads delivered within the digital menus of various individual apps. Since this content is delivered through the Internet, the potential to deliver more Web-like “dynamic advertising” is large.

Problem is, so many of us spend our streaming time with services like Netflix and Amazon, which don’t carry ads. “Connected TV is more like digital advertising but doesn’t have the scale,” said Sorosh Tavakoli, senior vice president of ad tech at Ooyala, which helps TV companies manage video advertising.

Still, platforms like Crackle, Roku and Hulu are all on buyers’ radar, said Ms. Beaumier.“ The market is accelerating and selling out.”

So, are things just stuck? When asked if programmatic TV has been quiet, Mr. Dean said, “absolutely. This requires an evolution of business model between [pay TV providers] and programmers and changes between sellers and buyers.”

Mr. Bokor concurred. “It’s just not simple,” he said. “There are groups with competing interests. You have the [pay TV providers.] You have networks who are trying to offer their own solutions. And you have buyers who aren’t’ necessarily aligned with the way that networks want to do things.”


The positive effects of "double screening"

By: Bill McCabe

A recent Nielsen study revealed that the increased use of internet-ready devices like smart phones is linked to a corresponding decline in television viewership, especially in the 18-34-year-old age group. On the surface, this trend seems like bad news for television advertisers. In fact, it’s probably the best news possible, at least for those who include a response option in their spots.

Our founder, Alvin Eicoff, who passed away before the dawn of the smart phone era, would have been ecstatic if someone told him that viewers could watch television with a phone/internet device in hand. As everyone knows, the easier it is to respond to an advertised offer, the more likely people will do exactly that. 

In the past, people watching television perhaps didn’t dial 800 numbers or visit a website because of logistics; they had to extricate themselves from the comfort of their chairs or sofas and trek across the room—or into another room entirely—to use a phone or computer.

A smart phone, of course, makes it much easier to call or click. Therefore, a relatively small decline in big-screen television viewership is more than offset by an increased number of viewers who are “double-screening”—watching television with smart phone in hand. 

Advertisers also benefit in another way from double-screeners: These viewers are more likely than single-screeners to create a buzz about a given commercial via social media. Again, the easier it is to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media when watching a spot, the more likely that viewers will “talk” about it.

I’d also suggest taking the Nielsen report with a grain of salt. Yes, television viewership may be declining from its peak, but it’s still reaching a huge audience. More significantly, the people who no longer watch television (or watch it less) are seeing the same commercials on different types of screens or through various streaming services. Commercials with 800 numbers and URLs now air on smart phones, laptops, tablets and even in movie theaters (where smart phone use is rampant before the feature starts). 

We have a tendency to focus on the catastrophic headline: TV IS A DYING MEDIUM. In fact, it’s never been healthier. The important thing is to embrace the changes that are occurring and take advantage of the right opportunities for you.

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: A screen is a screen is a screen. A commercial with a motivating message will generate great results no matter the size or type of electronic screen. And if a viewer has two screens rather than one, well, a strong message will have twice the impact.

TV or Digital - is it a choice?

By: Bill McCabe

Digital video or television advertising? Many advertisers are feeling pressure to declare for one or the other, as if they were diametrically opposed political candidates.

For example, Hallmark recently announced that for the first time, it would not be running any holiday television advertising. Instead, they are focusing their spend on digital venues such as YouTube and Snapchat. This announcement comes on the heels of advertisers such as Quiznos and Campbell Soup shifting a significant amount of their budgets from television to digital. 

On the other end of the spectrum, some advertisers still view digital video skeptically. They’ve relied on television advertising for years, and they believe its ability to sell products and build brands is unmatched. So digital is ignored or used very infrequently.

“Why are we making it an either-or choice?” is the real question. To take a television-only or digital-only stance can be a huge mistake. In every planning session, both mediums must be considered and weighed against advertising objectives. 

If you want to grow your brand and move product, television has the reach and frequency to achieve this goal. Whether you’re using a 30-second image-building commercial on network television or a response-producing, two-minute spot on targeted cable shows, you know you’re tapping into a powerful, proven advertising method.

If you want to reach a highly targeted segment (i.e. millennials searching for their first home purchase in southern states) or try to get your ad to go viral or capitalize on multi-screen (mobile, tablet) options to reach your market, then digital is a great choice.

Eliminating one of these choices arbitrarily though, not only prevents you from capitalizing on a potentially viable approach, but it can deny you the synergy that results when you use both. We’ve found that when we incorporate both television and digital video into a campaign, one complements the other.

Television viewers see a motivating commercial that engages them, demonstrates benefits and even changes their perceptions. Digital video viewers then see the same or different ad on their mobile devices where they can easily click to learn more, take advantage of a promotional offering and/or buy right now. These advertising experiences can be a compelling one-two punch - bringing greater impact on prospective customers than either alone. Plus, for those potential customers that may be hard to find through TV, you can add a digital video plan to extend your reach specifically to that audience.

So don’t fall into the trap of being an either-or advertiser. Instead, make your decision from a situation standpoint. In some instances, campaign objectives dictate using only television or only digital to achieve very specific goals. More often than not, both mediums can be leveraged simultaneously to achieve a broad range of goals and maximize the reach of your campaign. When posed the question, "Television or digital?" Feel free to answer, "Yes, please."

For a more information on making TV and digital video work together for your brand, give Sue Schell a call at 312.396.0322 or visit our contact page.

DRTV Analytics and the Chocolate Chip Cookie

By: Jeffrey Fine

DRTV Analytics and Baking the Perfect Batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. Hopefully one of these two subjects garnered your attention (we won’t ask which one). These seemingly disparate topics actually have many things in common.

Start with Quality Ingredients. The best batch of cookies begins with having the right ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, chocolate. The better the ingredients, the better the final product. Analytics is the same way – the key ingredient being data! The better the data, the better the insights. Quality phone-call data, detailed web data, granular post-log airings data all help us deliver better insights to our clients.

Use the Best Tools Available. The more advanced the tools, the easier it is to deliver a superior product. It is much easier to bake with a digital scale, parchment paper, calibrated oven and commercial grade mixer. While everything may start with the data, analytics is fundamentally about the ability to manage, organize, summarize and glean insights from that information. Tapping industry-leading tools in data management, statistics, and dashboard development is critical to this objective.

There’s math involved. In baking cookies, it is important to understand things like the ratios of wet ingredients to dry ingredients or the optimal amount of chocolate chips per cookie. Want to triple a batch? There is math involved.  For analytics – well, obviously there is a whole lot of math there too!

Simpler can be better. Sometimes less is more.  A great cookie can be made with fewer than 10 ingredients.  A cookie with 20 ingredients may be overwhelming.  When analyzing data, less is often more, too. A simple visualization, like a 2-slide correlation, may deliver more insights than a table of 1,000 numbers. As they say, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Part Science. Baking cookies starts with science. What role does butter play? Should it be softened or cold? How are the eggs used? What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?  TV analytics also begin with solid data science and statistics – managing data and understanding how the different pieces work together. A facet of analytics is often referred to as “Data Science,” the practice of extracting insights from large volumes of data. 

Part Art. Baking cookies calls for a little artistic ingenuity, too. What style of vanilla? Dark or semi-sweet chocolate? Should I add other (try sea salt!) flavorings? Likewise, analytics is very much an art form. We need to answer questions that have not been asked before. We need to build models that see through the complexities of the data. We need to create interesting dashboard visualizations that craft a story. Right brain thinking helps tremendously in these endeavors.

Different definitions of success. Chewy or crunchy? Sweet or Savory? Everyone has his or her own definition of what makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie. TV analytics is no different. It is common for two analysts to build two very different models on the same data set. Frequently the analysts on my team will design dashboards that look different from the ones I design. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to these types of questions. The same data can lead to insights that are equally good, but totally different at the same time.

Learn from successes and mistakes.  Finally, in both areas, there is always room for improvement.  Analyze what worked and what did not. Then, use that information to guide the process going forward. There is always new data to mine and new ingredients to test.

To learn more about how Eicoff approaches TV analytics, contact Sue Schell at 312.396.0322 or visit our contact page. Book a meeting and we just might bring some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Eicoff partners with the Spark Program

By: Stephanie Sidak

“The yucky, the divine, the best product of all time!”

How’s that for a line of hard-hitting DR copy? Confident, creative - but it didn’t come from one of Eicoff’s own. No, that gem (along with an entire :30 TV commercial about an imaginary product called Smell-a-Vision) is the handiwork of 13-year-old Dominique Jones, one of Eicoff’s first ever Spark students.

Eicoff and Spark, a non-profit organization that matches inner-city middle schoolers with volunteer mentors working as professionals in the city, partnered for the first time in the fall of 2014. Over the course of 10 weeks, two students from Mollison Elementary in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood got a taste of the Eicoff experience. There was copywriting, project briefs, and guest speakers on concepting and development. Plus, with every visit, they were taught a different “skill of the week.” From networking to teamwork to time management, each skill offered important insights to the business world at large.

The ultimate goal of the program is to give students - who might be at risk for dropping out of high school - a source of motivation to keep working hard and to see a future full of possibilities.

The experience, however, goes far beyond merely becoming acquainted with the ad industry and Eicoff’s unique role within it. We, as mentors, get to invest in these kids by providing encouragement and positivity on a personal level. And the students get the opportunity to see the inner workings of a major corporation firsthand - with access to ideas, people, and experiences they likely wouldn’t engage with in their school or community.  It’s a unique connection that they might not be getting from their parents and friends - and an opportunity we have come to truly cherish.  

Recently, we kicked off the fall semester of Spark 2015 and can’t wait to see what this year brings. In the meantime, enjoy the final video project from the 2014 Spark crew... “Smell-a-Vision.”