I’m pleased to present the 410th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Our first topic this week is data from a new Vimeo report showing that 60% of people who sign up for a free trial with an OTT service convert to become a paying subscriber (with an app, the rate jumps to 72%). As Colin and I discuss, these rates seem incredibly high, especially in the context of “freemium” service conversion rates which are often less than 10%. Granted, it’s not a pure apples-to-apples comparison, but still, the Vimeo data makes a compelling case for OTT services to offer free trials.
We then switch gears to discuss the Oscars which notched its lowest-ever broadcast audience this past Sunday night, with 26.5 million viewers. We explore the range of issues affecting the Oscars, some of which relate to the divergence between box office hits and award winners while some are more about changing viewers’ behaviors and fragmentation. The Oscars ratings reflect an industry in the midst of a huge change.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 42 seconds)
Preliminary overnight numbers for the Oscars show an 18.9 rating in prime time, down 16% vs. 2017’s 22.4 rating. The overnight rating is a new record low for the Oscars, and importantly continues the dismal showing for 2018’s marquee TV events: Golden Globes (-5% vs. 2017), Super Bowl (-7% vs. 2017, worst in 9 years), Olympics (-7% vs. 2014, worst ever) and Grammys (-24% vs. 2017, worst in 9 years). Clearly TV’s biggest events are losing their luster.
There are always challenges particular to each event (e.g. Olympics time zone issues, Patriots fatigue, etc.). In the case of the Oscars, an ongoing problem is the disconnect between best picture winners and box office performance. A fascinating WSJ article on Friday detailed how only 4 best picture winners in the past 12 years have been among their year’s 25 highest-grossing movies, with none cracking the top 15. In the current era of superheroes, animation and franchise movies, thoughtful best picture nominees simply don’t draw the biggest audiences, in turn diminishing the Oscars’ relevance (2018 could be a quasi-exception with “Black Panther”).
Obviously there is no Oscar category for "Most Effective Advertisement at Oscar.com," but if there were, the hands-down winner last night would have been Unilever's "Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash Ad Contest" display ads.
As many of you know, I'm a big believer that brand advertisers need to evolve their mindsets, which have traditionally called for making the cutest or the funniest or the quirkiest ad and then spending big money on placing it on popular programs, in the hopes of driving audience awareness and recall.
Instead, advertisers need to be focusing on user engagement, reinforcing brand authenticity, leveraging multiple platforms and extending the campaign's life. Dove did all of these and more with its "Cream Oil" campaign, and the resulting lessons for other brand marketers and their agencies are abundant.
Dove kicked the "Cream Oil" campaign off late last year, with a user-generated video contest asking women "how does showering yourself in everyday luxury with Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash make you feel?" There were 3,500 entries received for the 30 second spot between Dec. 5th and Jan. 9th, which were winnowed to 5 semi-finalists on Jan 30th who were invited to LA for a private Oscars party. The 2 finalists were presented for viewing on Oscar.com. Dove's display ads on the site prompted visitors to click and vote for the best spot, which would become Dove's new ad. This voting process created an even larger user engagement opportunity than the original UGC contest. Capping it all off was actress Amy Brenneman, announcing the winning ad during a spot Dove bought during the Oscar telecast.
In my post last week, "An Intersection of UGC and Brand Marketing?" I proposed that brand marketers should create opportunities for passionate customers interested in expressing themselves to submit user-generated video supporting or explaining products. Dove's marketing people were clearly in synch with this thinking. The campaign shows their belief that the authenticity of the Cream Oil product could best be conveyed by real women using video to creatively express themselves. That sense of authenticity in turn resonates really well with other prospective customers. The YouTube age has conditioned many of us to appreciate each other's video more than the professionally produced, because its rough edges make it feel far more real.
Lastly, by having Ms. Brenneman announcing the winner in the on-air spot, Dove recognized that if it is going to spend $1.7 million + for a 30 second ad (last year's price), it better do more than just offer another cute, funny, or quirky spot. Instead it created anticipation, and capped off 3 months of contest excitement. I've argued in the past that these expensive on-air spots should reinforce or continue campaigns begun before and/or extended after in the broadband medium. Doing so increases their ROI, and will only raise the value of this on-air time in the future.
In the past I've been critical of brand marketers and their agencies for being abysmally slow in recognizing new opportunities broadband video presents. Yet there have been exceptions, and Dove's "Cream Oil" campaign is certainly one. Hopefully we'll see more like it in the future.
What do you think? Post a comment and let us all know!
Lots of scorn flying around the net this week criticizing Oscar's takedown notices to YouTube combined with their miserly video offering at their own site. I'm just going to pile on here. What's happening is totally consistent with the findings of our Q4 '06 report on the broadcast industry and broadband video. A key conclusion of that report was that today networks look at broadband as essentially a new distribution path for existing shows. The 2 options are consumer paid downloads (dominated by iTunes) and free streaming episodes.
What they haven't done yet is create robust clip areas complete with interactivity. This area has been dominated by YouTube and others. As I said in Variety, as a result of networks' inactivity, a vacuum has been created which YouTube is filling. Consumers want clips and they want to interact. The networks should be creating these offerings on their own sites. And they should be working with YouTube. But to do neither is ostrich-like. Their inactions suggest they just wish this whole broadband/community thing would just pass already.