Friday, January 13, 2006

Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges

Kathleen M. Joyce; Apr 1, 2005 12:00 PM

Web-based games and sweeps? Done that. Online loyalty fulfillment? Natch. Downloadable coupons? Oh, please — years ago! To be on the real cutting edge of interactive, marketers are looking to online video, multi-media messaging via cell phone and beyond.

As a result, brands are backing interactive initiatives with healthy doses of cash. While 19.4% of marketers polled for PROMO's 2004 Industry Trends Report said interactive was among their top three spending tactics, that number increased to 24.4% of those surveyed for 2005.

Nearly 70% (68.5%) of brand marketers said they will assign some portion of their budget this year to interactive promotions; the average was 7.6% of the total marketing budget, an increase over the 5.4% average allocation in 2004.

Where does the money come from? Primarily the advertising budget. Nearly 24% of brand respondents said they had shifted money from their ad silo to the interactive marketing side.

Don't feel too sorry for those old media types — many are finding ways to work with the new tools. Agency creatives love the “almost-TV” flavor they can get online, while marketers and their CFOs prize the data tracking of Web and cell-phone programs. And consumers prize instant gratification and fun from their favorite brands.

Fun and fast are key: Chevy launched a sweeps in March, using text messaging. The program, co-sponsored by regional entertainment magazine Quick, drove entries for a chance on a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Of the 5,541 total entries, 3,568 came from local consumers who used texted “COBALT” to sweeps operators.

“Our young, professional readers lead extremely busy lives,” Quick General Manager Dave Schmall says. “We must be able to reach our audience while they are on the go. This [sweeps] reaffirmed our strategy and its impact.”

According to In-Stat/MDR, a research firm in Scottsdale, AZ, there were 165 million mobile phone subscribers in the U.S. last year, 90% of whom can both send and receive text. These subscribers sent 30.2 billion messages in 2004, compared to 11.9 billion in 2003, the firm says.

While short message (SMS) texting by marketers is less pervasive in the U.S. than in Europe or Asia, several brands are testing its impact — especially with audiences under 30.

Frito-Lay used both the Internet and texting to support its Doritos Black Pepper Jack rollout last September. “Texting is the language of Millennials [16- to 24-year-olds] and we wanted to reach them through their language,” says Frito-Lay's Jared Dougherty.

In addition to SMS trivia games, the Doritos' Web site featured an instant messaging (IM) interface that let teens unlock hundreds of video and audio clips and games. HipCricket, Essex, CT, designed the texting piece. Tribal DDB Dallas, created the Web site.

Neither SMS nor Web programs happen in a vacuum. Both the Chevy and Doritos campaigns drew heavy support from TV, radio and outdoor spots, that drove key audiences online or to their phones.

Sometimes that support is sitting on the breakfast table. Kellogg's, for example, pushes kids and parents via on-pack promos to its EET and ERN site for games, product news and downloadable loyalty rewards. The four-year old site won a 2004 Gold PRO Award for its loyalty impact.

It's about relevance. As marketers make the interactive experience more valuable to the audience, participation rates will go up, and brand equity will increase.


More than 50% of Americans online use high-speed connections

Over 90% of cell phones in the U.S can send and receive text messages

Online marketing spend expected to grow 25% in U.S. in 2005


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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Internet becomes "go to" source for health information for more consumers in 2005

Internet becomes “go to” source for health information for more consumers in 2005


In 2005, 31.6 million US consumers reported using the Internet as their primary learning channel for health information, up nearly 50% since 2004. And according to Manhattan Research (MR), a total of 99 million US adults report using the Internet at least once in 2005 to look for health information.

According to the group, with the shift away from traditional health promotion and patient education to more targeted approaches promoting informed patient care, the Internet has become the “go to” source for health information for many Americans.

And the group says there is a new market segment that pharma must embrace in the years ahead – the “on demand” health consumer. Manhattan Research finds that these consumers are significantly more likely than the average health consumer to engage in a wide range of interactive activities and “embrace the ability to access and control health content on their terms.”

The group says these consumers are twice as likely as other health consumers to watch video clips online, four times as likely to subscribe to podcasts and nearly three times as likely to read blogs online. They are also twice as likely to carry a PDA, listen to satellite radio and use a digital video recorder.

And although relatively healthy, MR says this group is more likely than the average consumer to suffer from ADHD, acid reflux, allergies, anxiety or social phobias, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, migraine and/or obesity.

Search engines, the group reports, continue to be a critical gateway to content for online healthcare consumers. Ninety-five percent (95%) of consumers say they used search engines in 2005 to access health and pharmaceutical information online.

Although most report creating links directly to their favorite health sites and portals, most view search engines as “essential guides to the latest and most diverse health content and resources available online today, MR says. And the group says consumers have very high expectations about the future capabilities of searches specific to health-related information.

Some of the biggest users of the Internet for health information are a group MR calls “health influencers.” This small group of health consumers (approximately 20 million) has a significant impact on those in their “zone of influence,” including spouses, children and elderly parents.

According to MR, other health consumers are very likely to seek advice from this group of influential health consumers – who are more likely than the average consumer to rely on interactive media, including the Internet, to secure healthcare knowledge and education.

Despite some negative news on the effectiveness of DTC advertising in the wake of a rash of pharma product safety concerns, according to MR, the population of consumers sourcing the Internet to learn about pharma products in response to DTC ads has grown significantly over the past year. 2005, the group says, represents a critical point in the shifting landscape, with more than 22 million consumers actively going online in response to DTC ads.

And those “on demand” health consumers , the group reports, are significantly more likely to seek additional information online in response to advertisements, but also to request a prescription drug from their personal physicians.

“The health industry is adjusting to a world where the promises of 10 years ago, at the launch of the Internet generation, are finally becoming a market reality,” says Mark Bard, president of Manhattan Research. “The intersection of broadband, consumer-driven health, community and content, has created the perfect storm for the next generation of e-health.

“Consumers are in control,” he adds, “ and are increasingly seeking timely and efficient access to the information and tools that will help them manage their personal health and that of their friends and family.”

To learn more about the Manhattan Research Cybercitizen Health studies, visit the group on the Web at .


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Monday, January 09, 2006

Comedy Central Is Serious About Internet

Comedy Central Is Serious About Internet
The cable channel adds eight Web-only shows, betting the online audience will grow.
By Chris Gaither, Times staff writer
For those who find humor in the plague, there's the Internet.  At least that's what Comedy Central hopes as it introduces its 2006 slate of new shows today for its online channel MotherLoad.  The eight Web-only shows are another sign that big media companies increasingly see the Internet as a viable way not only to promote their on-air shows but also to launch shorter programs ill-suited for TV.
The MotherLoad lineup includes such series as "All Access: Middle Ages," billed as the inside story behind the coolest crusades and "most awesomely bad plagues," and "Golden Age," which finds out what happened to retired cartoon characters. (For Jerome, a gumdrop from the concession-stand ads before movies, it's substance abuse.)
MTV Networks, Comedy Central's parent, has been hunting for filmed and animated shorts. After failing to capture viewers with online video offerings during the dot-com boom, big media are jumping back in.
"This side of the business has been dormant for six, seven years," International Creative Management agent Michael Rizzo said. "Now the studios have come into it with a much more mature eye."
The numbers are still small. During its best week, in early December, MotherLoad attracted 109,000 viewers. "The economics are different because TV is a very mature business, and the dollars are bigger," said Jason Hirschhorn, chief digital officer for MTV Networks. "But online is becoming … lucrative."  Comedy group Littleman Creative is developing its second MotherLoad show, the Middle Ages parody. Possible episodes include "Worst Breakups: Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn." One thing member Nick Kroll discovered: People like online comedy.
"People seem to be desperate for content," he said, "because they're terribly sad at work."
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Lives in Focus

Using video, audio and photographs, this website presents the voices of those who are rarely given space or time in traditional news media.  Lives in Focus has gathered nearly 2,000 photographs and 13 hours of video interviews. Look for new video and photographs on the site weekly.
Fascinating project...
About the current Project: Documenting the lives of India 's HIV+ population

In March 2005, India passed a new patent law that is likely to have global ramifications in the treatment of AIDS patients—especially those in the developing world—who depend on India's generic drug industry to provide drugs well below the prices charged by multinational pharmaceutical companies.

In order to join the World Trade Organization, India had to fulfill the obligation to recognize and protect global patents. The bill that was passed in March 2005 meets this requirement. Much of the mainstream press has emphasized a business perspective when reporting this development, focusing on India's opportunity to tap the Western generic drug market while only briefly acknowledging the potentially devastating impact of the new rule on vulnerable populations.

We are documenting how India's HIV-infected populations depend on the Indian versions of Western patented Anti-retro Viral (ARV) drugs to survive. The baseline will also establish how they think they will manage as drug prices surge and any stockpiled drugs are depleted.

Using audio recorders, photographs and video, we plan to document the lives of families struggling to buy ARV drugs to keep a family member healthy; the challenges that stigmatized AIDS patients face in trying to earn enough money to buy the lifesaving treatment; activists desperately searching for new sources of inexpensive ARV drugs or lobbying the Indian government to grant compulsory licenses to continue producing cheap drugs.

We visited AIDS shelters and hospices in and around Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. The project will harness the Internet to showcase an issue with global ramifications—not just as information but as a way to involve viewers. A multimedia grassroots expose can completely bypass the traditional media gatekeepers to help people gain awareness of a pressing issue. We hope the project will not only inform people around the world that India's new patent law is likely to have a global impact, further aggravating the AIDS health crisis, but also allow them to spread the information widely using built-in Internet technologies.

We also hope the multimedia slide presentations, photographs and videos moves people become involved in this vital issue.

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