The 2015 Media Plan: A Work of Fiction

MediaWorks Viewpoint: Group M Interaction's Rob Norman

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Rob Norman
Rob Norman
NEW YORK ( – Group M Interaction's Rob Norman -- on his blog, On Demand -- extrapolates to a future where old media metrics are obsolete with this media plan for a fictional brand, Swallow Throat Spray.

Brand name: Swallow Throat Spray

Message delivery plan Fiscal 2015, shown at constant 2008 currencies (Ignores switch from U.S. dollar to euro on Jan. 1, 2012).

The U.S./Canada audience delivery of the season (and indeed franchise) finale of "Found" released by Microsoft's Disney division in May of 2014 is a relevant illustration of the watershed advertisers are facing as we plan for the coming year.

The bare statistics are as follows:

  • The 3 x 60 second preview clips received an aggregate of 23 million views between 5.1.14 and 5.31.14.
  • Of these views, the monitor size distribution was 42% on screens of 5 inches or less (mobile), 34% on screens of 5 inches to 42 inches and the remainder on devices between 42 inches and 180 inches.
  • It is estimated that of these, only 4.8 million views were from "official" channels and the remainder via peer-to-peer and community pass-along.
  • The May 1 IMAX launch (presented by Swallow) on 300 screens nationwide delivered an aggregate attending audience of 400,000.
  • The 72-hour expiration download sold 6 million units at $10 from May 1.
  • The unlimited-time download with extra features sold 14 million units at $20 also from May 1.
  • The June 1 pay-per-view transmission (at $5 per device) delivered a limited commercial showing to an audience of 7 million, of whom two-thirds used fixed devices and one-third mobile.
  • The June 15 first-run "free to air" recorded an audience of 23 million (the only scripted drama episode of the year with a 20mm audience).
  • The aggregated on-demand and streaming audience from June 15 through Dec. 31 was 9 million.
  • Excluding the IMAX event, only 11% of all views were in environments that were not addressable; in almost all cases (by inference at least) the addressability was at individual level rather than household.
  • In total, Swallow's brand integrations and presenting sponsorships redirected 11 million individuals into "Find Swallow" applications on, and In turn, these added net 3.8 million fully PII records to the database. Furthermore, 8 million QR codes were downloaded via media exposure of which 4.3 million were activated in-store.

Among the revealing statistics above is that significantly fewer than half of all the full-length showings were ad-supported and less than 20% of total content revenues were believed to be generated by advertising.

Set alongside this, it is useful to note that the aggregate views matched the best performance of the major scripted dramas of the '80s and '90s, demonstrating that the evolution of delivery systems does not necessarily impact the popularity of the content.
Rob Norman is CEO Group M Interaction Worldwide. His interest is in the effect technology has on changing consumer media behavior and its implications for the biggest companies in the world. His blog is On Demand.

Most concerning as we plan for the future is the inevitable escalation in the costs of rapidly building reach in an environment where the number of individual ad-supported scheduled transmissions delivering a 10 rating have halved since 2008. Of these, 75% are sporting events, leading to the escalation of costs for both advertising and sponsorship in these programs. Live is live, and nothing is going to change the appetite for sports (and to a degree news) as it happens.

Reach, per se, has now become an unaffordable objective and has for all practical purposes ceased to be a relevant measure. In a period where our goal was to maximize gross ads, reach had its place, but now our goals are different:

  1. Maximize lifetime revenue per customer across the range and category.
  2. Minimize switching to competing brands.
  3. Maximize share across retail and commerce platforms.
The change in goals coupled with the rise of both addressability and on-demand delivery mean that our message delivery goals for 2015 operate at the individual level -- which we then scale up -- rather than at a broadcast level which we then scale down.

The trend is continuing. Almost all media now in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, East, South East and North East Asia, Brazil, Western Russia, South Africa and the Levant is now addressable. 4G networks and 4 MBPS Wi-Max are a standard among 80% of the world's population as measured by economic worth.

As we head to 2016 and the re-election campaign of President Winfrey, we see the "digital vote" via any secure network as being the final bridge to cross that leaves the analog world behind in the most developed markets.

The overarching trend has been clear for some time:

Media strategy has evolved from the placement of messages to the distribution of content.

Consumers control the content they consume in terms of time, place and device. There are no longer any barriers to a quality content experience and Jobs' Law of Media has succeeded Moore's Law in the governing of computing expectation. Defined simply as 'data compression doubles in efficiency twice as quickly as available bandwidth' Jobs' Law has recognized that in terms of media in the widest sense technology has become both free and invisible.
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