Starcom, Turner Team for Research

Oct 9, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Media agency Starcom USA and Turner Broadcasting are teaming to do research on programming and marketing delivered over new media.

The companies plan to test consumer reaction to content on mobile devices and Internet protocol television technologies, which allow for interactive TV and addressable advertising.

Media companies and advertisers have been looking to branch into these new areas.

“A lot of people are talking about it but not a lot of clients know what to do with it,” said Chris Boothe, president and chief activation officer for Starcom. “This is a great way to test in a real format with consumers how they engage with this type of content and what their behavior is towards it.”

Turner has a platform research and development lab facility in Atlanta where consumers can be observed using mobile video gear or interacting with content using IPTV technology.

“We’re very interested in seeing what the tests tell us,” said Linda Yaccarino, executive VP of Turner Entertainment ad sales and marketing. “As these technologies advance and mature, they will be very important parts of communications plans for marketers and important for Turner.”

Working with Starcom and its clients may give Turner the inside track on new media spending at a time when advertisers are looking to reach consumers using methods beyond traditional marketing.

“Working with us in an environment where they help develop applications that are smart for our advertisers should lead to them having something we want to buy, as opposed to guessing,” said Tracey Scheppach, VP and video innovation director for Starcom.

Ms. Yaccarino said Turner has been using the facility to explore new digital technologies, a process that hasled it to develop new platforms and programming. While Turner’s CNN has done extensive work in the mobile and interactive space, the company’s entertainment networks, including TBS, TNT and Court TV, are using the lab to pre-test new programming, platforms and formats.

Starcom and Turner have a history of working together and completed one of this year’s first deals at the cable upfront ad-sales market, where networks and buyers tried to find ways advertisers could sponsor content on digital platforms beyond the TV. Advertisers are talking about shifting marketing money from television to digital. Finding out how well the new TV technologies work could help justify that bet.

About a half-dozen of Starcom’s clients are already participating in the research initiative, including Washington Mutual.

While there has been a great deal of buzz around mobile video, marketers haven’t yet jumped in wholeheartedly.

“What a lot of our clients are asking is does mobile make sense for what we’re trying to do from a marketing perspective,” Mr. Boothe said.”If the answer is yes, what do we do. Is it texting? Is it five-second ads? Is it three-second ads? Is it sixties? Is it some sort of pre-roll?”

In the lab, a beer marketer could figure out whether mobile users would respond to a message saying a particular bar is running a special.

“This will allow in a very real-world format to test various types of ways to connect messaging with consumers and take it out in a much more impactful way without having to test on a large scale and fumble in front of a large audience,” he said.

Starcom also sees IPTV growing into an important media in the next few years due to the billions being spent by phone companies Verizon and AT&T to develop television products.

“We see significant benefits in the system that’s being rolled out for IPTV, which allows for much larger bandwidth in order to do things like addressable advertising, interactive TV,” Ms. Scheppach said.