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Mediacom Marketing Digest - April 5 2006

5 April 2006

Mediacom Marketing Digest - April 5 2006

For Want Of A Nail

It was, observed Sky CEO John Fellet, the longest night of his life. Just before 7pm last Thursday evening more than half a million Sky Digital households lost access to their pay television service as the Optus B1 satellite went walkabout. Sky's phone system and website went into meltdown as subscribers sought in vain to find out what had happened. Radio stations and other services using the satellite were also AWOL.

Speculation raged through the evening. Some observers noted that the B1 satellite has been operating on backup (and well past its use-by date) for some time, just one systems failure away from oblivion. Had the unthinkable happened?

Over on GeekZone , Juha Saarinen reported that the B1 satellite had suffered a stabilisation system failure, as a result of which it was spinning around and unable to receive control telemetry signals from earth. The Trade Me Message Boards carried plenty of opinions, informed and malformed alike - and one enterprising soul posted a listing for one Optus B1 satellite, For Sale as is, where is, which attracted more than 200,000 pageviews, several hundred quirky questions and spurious bids in the hundreds of millions before eventually being withdrawn.

Meanwhile, in the real world, viewers tried to tune in to Sky on Thursday night, failed, and mostly abandoned TV to other pursuits. People Using TV (PUTs) and Households Using TV (HUTs) were down around 10%, week on week. Some are predicting a mini baby-boom for Christmas.

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Finally, some 13 hours after the original loss of signal, Sky services began to be restored around 8am Friday morning.

So what actually happened? Official word from Sky: "The service interruption resulted from a routine repositioning of the Optus B1 satellite from which SKY broadcasts its signals."

The repositioning may have been routine, but the ensuing chaos certainly wasn't. Unfortunately, New Zealand has limited options in terms of direct-to-home satellite coverage, and a replacement for that aging B1 satellite isn't due for several months. Disaster was averted last week but the clock is still ticking.

The NZ Government is currently reviewing its digital television options. Before last week, satellite-delivered services seemed a shoo-in. Now those digital terrestrial options are starting to look pretty attractive ...


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The First Cuckoo Of Spring

TVNZ has just released its rates for the third quarter (July-September 2006) and for once we find ourselves pleased. Peaktime pricing for TV One is down 20% year on year, whilst TV2 rates are capped at the same level as 2005. This highly-desirable state of affairs, while somewhat reflective of current TVNZ audience share levels, clearly demonstrates the declining demand resulting from economic belt-tightening all around.

It's not a pleasant dowry for TVNZ CEO-elect Rick Ellis. Income dropping, audiences eroding, alternative television technologies breaking out all over - and a desperate need to introduce digital services before the endangered analogue Goodnight Kiwi chirps its last. And that's not counting the political swamp-draining that's inevitable for any TVNZ leader.

Still, veterans of the last reign of Rick Ellis at TVNZ speak highly of his abilities - and one would hope that his acceptance of the position was predicated on suitable assurances that he would be permitted to do the jobs that need doing.

Television New Zealand has been through upheaval after upheaval over the last couple of years ... but the essential changes, the vital course corrections to steer the organisation towards tomorrow, haven't even been attempted. Now's the time, Mr Ellis.

Through A Mirror, Darkly

The British Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) last week revealed the results of its long-awaited TouchPoints Survey; a week in the life of a representative sample of the adult population of Great Britain during the latter part of 2005.

The survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) questioned 5,010 people through a substantial self-completion questionnaire and a PDA (personal digital assistant) time-based diary that collected data every half hour for a week on how they were spending their time, their opinions, and the role of media in their lives.

A snapshot of the research shows that consumers are leading distinctive and individual lifestyles and that TV viewing still dominates over other media including the internet:

Multi-Media Usage

Changes in written communication: From pen to palm pilot

* Only 13% of all written communication is now using pen and paper; 49% is via email, 29% via SMS text, 10% via Internet Instant Messaging * 39% of written communication by adults aged over 65 is on paper; for 15-24 years olds it is only 5%. This younger age group favours electronic methods of written communication, 48% is SMS, 28% is email, 20% is Internet Instant Messaging * SMS is used more by women than men, accounting for 36% and 23% of their total written communication respectively * 29% of 15-24 year olds send in excess of 10 text messages a day; 7% send in excess of 20. 92% txt once a week * 70% of 15-24 year olds ignore all commercial text messages they receive * 25% of all mobile phone users (and 59% of 15-24 year olds) take pictures with their phones every month * SMS texting is almost as common as talking on mobile phones (Talking is 54.9%). * Whilst texting, 32% of 15-24 year olds are also watching TV, 18% are also listening to the radio, 10% are also browsing the Internet and 6% are also reading

A comprehensive media mix TV remains the lead medium for the majority of adults - this is true for all age groups and is irrespective of internet access.

The media hierarchy in hours for all adults between Monday and Friday is:

* 3.9 hours television * 1.3 hours radio * 0.8 hours internet.

On Saturday and Sunday this changes to:

* 4.5 hours television * 1.5 hours radio * 1.0 hours internet

Through the letterbox

* The average individual receives 8.5 pieces of advertising mail each week, 4.9 (57%) are personally addressed and 3.6 (43%) are 'random' pieces of mail * 8% of all adults receive personally addressed advertising mail on an average day * 45% open the majority of ad mail that they receive * Only 4.8% respond to ad mail that they receive from companies * 55% of adults are happy to receive information from companies they have bought products and services from * 53% of individuals indicate that they are annoyed by the amount of ad mail they receive

Consumer Lifestyles

Quality time with the family On an average weekday, a two parent family unit with children spends 21% of its time as a complete family unit, peaking at 9pm. On the weekend, this figure rises to almost double (39%), peaking at 7pm on a Saturday and 9.30pm on a Sunday. Watching TV remains the core shared activity with in the family home


* 70% of 15-24 year olds say they 'could not live' without a mobile phone * Only 12% of mobile users never use their phone for texting (49% of these are over 65)

Attitudes to ads

* 31% of the population find advertising intrusive, 15% do not * Those aged over 65 (41%) are more likely to find advertising intrusive than the younger generation (27%) * 89% of the population feel some adverts appear so many times that they become irritating * 63% of the population would be happy to have advertising on the BBC channels in return for scrapping the licence fee * Only 14% of individuals like the idea of interactive ads - This rises to 29% among those aged 15-24 * Men are 1½ times more likely to like the idea of interactive TV ads than women

Social graces

* 51% of the population believe there is too much bad language on TV * 43% think there is too much violence * 29% deem there to be too much sex.

Yes, most of the findings are fairly obvious - but it's nice to know that statistics support many of our favourite preconceptions.

Taking It To The Streets An intriguing if largely reprehensible new game has turned up on the streets of San Francisco and other American cities. It's called StreetWars Killer and it works like this: some 150 participants, who pay $10 each to enter, have to assassinate-by-watergun their designated victim, himself/herself a would-be assassin as well. If you succeed in this task - which involves "wetting" the victim - then you inherit his/her target, and start the process all over again. Victim details with which you're entrusted include home and work addresses and phone numbers, and the game is all about dumpster-diving, stalking and all those other unsavoury habits on display in today's TV crime dramas. The assassin left standing at the end of the game wins.

If you find something more than vaguely disturbing about this "game", you're not alone. Mayor Bloomberg expressed his dislike for the game when it turned up in New York - but his comments sparked a whole rush of interest in the genre.

It's probably inevitable that this concept will be turned into a reality show - or at least some sort of advertiser-supported indulgence. You have been warned.

PS The game is currently played with willing participants. But wait until one of those ambush TV shows decides to make this the next big thing ...

Ad Accountability America's leading marketers have rated the biggest issue facing them in 2006 as 'accountability'. The third annual survey of members conducted by the US Association of National Advertisers, a body representing 370 companies with 8,000 brands and a collective annual spend of over US$100 billion in marketing communications identified these Top 10 issues:

1. Accountability; 2. Aligning marketing organization with innovation; 3. Building strong brands; 4. Integrated marketing communications; 5. Media fragmentation; 6. Impact of technology on marketing; 7. Growth of multicultural consumer segments; 8. Attracting and retaining top talent; 9. Consumer control over how they view advertising; 10. Advertising creative that achieves business results.

What's on your list?


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