Outsmarting Ad Skippers

Jan 25, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The economic slowdown isn’t stopping advertisers from paying premiums to create sales messages that defeat the fast-forward button on digital video recorders.
Case in point: General Motors is sponsoring a five-part microseries on Turner Broadcasting’s TBS to highlight the features of its new Traverse Crossover vehicle.
Turner has done several of these microseries before, but for the first time, one will air during an original series, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”
“Payne” is the second-most watched show among African Americans, behind only “American Idol,” and the microseries, “My Manny,” was created to appeal to a multicultural audience.
Turner already is planning a second season of “My Manny,” which will be sponsored by another advertiser. That deal hasn’t been signed yet.
Linda Yaccarino, executive VP and chief operating officer of Turner Entertainment ad sales/marketing and acquisitions, said sponsored microseries are popular because they directly tackle the threat posed by DVRs.
At first, Turner had to find sponsors willing to experiment and see if microseries would deliver higher viewership and higher recall.
“Now we’re able to come in and say, look at the case studies,” she said. “These things work. So if they are a premium, they are most certainly worth the effort. The payoff, or the return on investment, far outweighs the investment.”
Two-minute episodes of “My Manny” will appear in commercial breaks in “Payne” beginning Jan. 28 for five weeks. With heavy promotion, Turner and GM are counting on viewers staying tuned through the commercial breaks in which “My Manny” appears and getting the Traverse ad pitch embedded in the content. Chevy spots run adjacent to the microseries.
Turner aired three microseries for automakers on TNT in 2008. Audience retention was 5% higher during the pods in which the microseries appeared than in traditional pods, according to Nielsen. More impressive, brand recall for the automakers was 45% higher on average for the microseries versus regular 30-second spots, according to Nielsen IAG data.
While advertising clients are cautious about incremental spending, the microseries data has been instrumental in convincing top executives to sign off on these programs.
“The good news is there’s a tremendous amount of solid analytics and rationales for why these types of vehicles do work harder and really maximize your investment,” Ms. Yaccarino said.
She declined to say how much extra it costs to produce a microseries, or how much the network charges its clients for them.
She did say most clients who have bought microseries have increased their spending on Turner networks.
“In virtually all cases, we were able to enhance our relationship with the advertiser,” Ms. Yaccarino said.
She said Turner would be open to putting microseries in its other original programs, if that’s what advertisers want.
“When you take a look at ‘The Manny,’ it’s important for you to know that that content or environment was perfect for ‘House of Payne,’” she said. “So if we can come up with appropriate content that would make sense for ‘The Closer’ or ‘Time Heals,’ which is coming up in June, we would absolutely move forward with it.”
In “The Manny,” an attractive widow is surprised when an agency sends her a handsome young man to look after her son when the regular nanny calls in sick. As the microseries develops, he becomes an integral part of her life—as does the Chevy Traverse.
The part of the Manny is played by Sharif Atkins (“ER”), with Elise Neal from “Hustle & Flow” as the widow.
TBS will be airing custom tune-in spots to drive viewers to watch “House of Payne” and “My Manny” on Wednesday nights. In-show graphics and billboards will air during the show to remind viewers to stay tuned during the commercial break.
All episodes of “My Manny” will appear on TBS.com, where there will be a section dedicated to the microseries. Viewers watching the series also will see an ad for the Chevy Traverse. The section—also sponsored by Chevy—will include cast bios, photos, quizzes and other material.


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