Special Features – HRTS In-Focus http://blog.hrts.org News, Notes & Commentary on the world of HRTS Thu, 11 May 2017 01:12:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 http://blog.hrts.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-hrts-2014-32x32.gif Special Features – HRTS In-Focus http://blog.hrts.org 32 32 A Moment in Time: Must See TV http://blog.hrts.org/2017/02/hrts-news/a-moment-in-time-must-see-tv/ Wed, 22 Feb 2017 01:33:46 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=3738

Friends and family

IMG_4746-02-07-17-CHYNA PHOTOGRAPHY2

February 7, 2017. Beverly Wilshire. Hundreds of industry movers and shakers gathered together to enjoy a moment in time, the Must See TV of 90s NBC. The stage played host to reunited family members Warren Littlefield, Kevin Reilly, John Landgraf, David Nevins, Karey Burke, Robin Schwartz and Preston Beckman, who engaged in a candid, freewheeling discussion moderated by WME’s Rick Rosen.

Rosen began by noting “some incredible statistics to think about in today’s universe: in 1994-95, on an average Thursday night, 75 million Americans watched NBC”. He added that during the heyday of Must See TV, NBC won 168 Emmys, an unprecedented amount.

So what exactly was in the water? Littlefield, then President of NBC Entertainment, credited his mentor, Grant Tinker, saying that “Grant didn’t pontificate a lot but one of the things he told us when we were kids running around the network is to stop thinking about the audience as a bunch of aliens out there that you’re trying to figure out and just put shows on that you would watch”. At the beginning of the 90s, NBC was mired in last place and Tinker’s advice was to “first be best, then be first”. As for other secrets of their collective success, Reilly said that “I look down this line and I genuinely like and genuinely respect everyone on this panel, and there’s not a lot of organizations where you can say that”.

So what was it that made Must See TV so memorable?
Let’s begin the hit parade:


ER

IMG_4802-02-07-17-CHYNA PHOTOGRAPHYER is an iconic show that ran for 16 seasons, with Rosen asking “what happened when ER came into the room?” Reilly and Nevins related that it was a 175-page long, “trunk job”, as in a script that had long been sitting gathering dust in a trunk, a script that Michael Crichton had written in 1973. After a few fits and starts, NBC shot it as a pilot and didn’t think it would be a huge hit but they did think it was really good. Drama was out of favor on television and when they screened the pilot, Nevins said that “it went over like a lead balloon”. Reilly concurred, adding “it was like someone farted in the room”.

Despite the poor initial reception, the NBC team believed that they had something great and they moved forward, with Littlefield saying that “in the network universe, shows succeed because someone within that organization was willing to die for that show”. As for scheduling, Rosen noted that CBS in 1994 had a medical pilot from David E. Kelley and that show got even more buzz around town than did ER, asking the team how this affected their process. Nevins said that “a current report from CBS started floating around NBC”, drawing a huge laugh when he added “and we were like ‘holy shit, in the first episode of Chicago Hope they’re transplanting a baboon’s heart into a little baby! They’re gonna kick our ass!’”. Schwartz added that people were concerned about ER’s frenetic pace, saying “and there was that moment of ‘It moves too fast! It moves too fast! You’ve gotta slow it down!’”IMG_4620-02-07-17-CHYNA PHOTOGRAPHY

Despite all of the obstacles, Littlefield confirmed that ultimately “we believed in the writers and the producers, the showrunners who had a vision”. He added that the sales department shared ER out at a 22 rating, but the NBC creative team believed it was better than that and so held back a lot of inventory. Two months into its run, ER had a 45 share.

FRIENDS

Burke heard the initial pitch for FRIENDS and Rosen asked her how it played in the room. She laughed as she replied “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I remember that pitch”, going on to add that creators Kauffman and Crane “were finishing each other’s sentences, and it was so clear that they knew each other so intimately”. They were playwrights and pitched the show “like a two-hander play, it was like watching George and Gracie”. At that time, Landgraf was the new kid on the block and his expertise was drama, he laughed as he recalled “I didn’t know anything about comedy, I had literally zero experience in comedy and so my main contribution in that year was to give terrible, sucky notes to David Crane and Marta Kauffman”.

WILL & GRACE

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Back in the 1990s, openly gay characters on network television were very controversial. Rosen asked Schwartz about the development of the first show to feature an openly gay lead, and she related how the whole NBC team went on a corporate retreat and “at the end, Warren gave us all these rocks, this big garden rock and on the rock it said ‘RISK’” and then when the final script for Will & Grace was ready, Nevins and Schwartz’s team snuck into Littlefield’s office and “we put that script on Warren’s desk and we all piled our rocks, this big mountain of rocks that said ‘RISK’”.

Nevins recalled how he and Littlefield and their team had a meeting with their common boss and at the end of the meeting their boss asked “what f-king world do you live in where you think America wants to watch this?” Littlefield greenlit the pilot anyway and related how “that night when we were on the CBS Radford stage where the Will & Grace pilot shot, the audience were stomping, screaming, and that was it, I said ‘this is a hit show’”. Landgraf said that “the pilot played as a brilliant, riveting love story between a gay man and a heterosexual woman and the audience responded to it, it was profound”.

SEINFELD

IMG_4737-02-07-17-CHYNA PHOTOGRAPHYAs for the show about nothing, Littlefield noted its atypical origins, saying “the pilot screened great, we loved it and then the research report came in and it was probably the lowest-testing pilot in the history of NBC”. The report said that “these are losers. It’s not funny”. Beckman and others were strong believers in the show and so the team decided to move forward. In that year, NBC had already picked up a bunch of other shows and didn’t have much room left in their primetime budget and so they took money away from late night, from a Bob Hope special, and Littlefield called Jerry Seinfeld to say “we’re going to continue the show, we’re ordering four episodes”. Jerry was quiet and respectful and said “just one question: in the history of television, has anything ever worked with a four-episode order?”, Littlefield said he didn’t know, Seinfeld agreed to move forward and “that began the marriage”. The power of good content cannot be overstated, with Littlefield noting how “in the 90s at NBC that show was a beacon to the creative community, the kind of beacon that kept all of us in our jobs”.

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In the Digital World, Not Everything That Can Be Measured Matters http://blog.hrts.org/2016/10/special-features/in-the-digital-world-not-everything-that-can-be-measured-matters/ Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:40:22 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=3542 How to Distinguish “Valuable” from “Nice to Know” Among Measures of Consumer Engagement

Written By
Gian M. Fulgoni
comScore, Inc.

INTRODUCTION
In 2006, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) provided one of the first marketing-focused definitions of “engagement” as “turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.”The phrase “turning on” would appear to encompass any communication from a brand that improves consumers’ attitudes and sentiments or that induces a positive change in consumer choice in favor of the brand.

Some criticized the ARF interpretation as being too broad for such an important indicator, but it has since morphed into multiple definitions, depending on the medium of context.Many are the result of the impact of the Internet, social media, and mobile devices on the nature and extent of communications between a brand and its consumers.

Engagement no longer can be considered to be simply a one-way communication from a brand to the consumer. Instead, it now needs to incorporate consumers’ ability to easily provide digital feedback of their own—at scale and with the communication being either positive or negative.3

From desktop/laptop computers to smartphones to tablets to game consoles, there are myriad ways
for a brand to digitally engage with consumers. With each tool comes a different set of means to measure that engagement. The traditional “softer” measures of advertising engagement—attitudinal shifts in brand recall, likability, and purchase intent… along with harder measures of sales lift—often are used to measure consumers’ engagement with digital advertisements. And they all still have value.

But, the computerized nature of digital also means that many other engagement metrics—from clicks, to viewability, to “Likes” and “Shares”—are available today. The challenge for marketers is to identify the metrics that matter to their return on advertising investment (ROI) versus those that either are nice to know or downright misleading.

DIGITAL-ADVERTISING METRICS
Why the “Click” Matters Less
One of the first measures of online engagement was the “click” on a display advertisement, with the use of a computer mouse. Although click rates in the early days of online advertising reached levels of 3 percent or higher—and it’s true that clicks remain meaningfully high for search advertisements— average click-through rates for display advertisements today have dropped to an abysmally low level of 0.1 percent. Or, in other words, only one in a thousand advertising impressions in a campaign generate a click.

Further complicating the click credibility is that research has demonstrated the absence of any relationship between clicks and effectiveness (Fulgoni and Morn, 2009).

Despite the greater understanding we now have of the metric, many in the advertising industry still use click-through rates as measures of engagement and effectiveness. In a 2014 survey4 of publishers, agencies, and advertisers, approximately four out of ten professionals said they used the click “always or most of the time” to measure the effectiveness of display advertisements. It’s likely that simplicity, low cost, and speed are the drivers of the continued use of clicks—which is unfortunate in light of their lack of relevance to advertising effectiveness.

Only one in a thousand advertising impressions in a campaign generates a click. Further complicating the click credibility is that research has demonstrated the absence of any relationship between clicks and effectiveness.

Buyers and sellers of digital advertising also use other engagement metrics. These include

• website reach
• number of page views
• time spent
• demographics.

Although these certainly are relevant to the size and quality of the audience reached, the relationship of these measures to advertising engagement and the effectiveness of brand advertising carried on the site is tenuous at best.

By contrast, GfK researchers have demonstrated that consumers’

• attitudes toward a website,
• motivations for using it, and
• overall opinion of the site

are the most relevant metrics that need to be taken into account in gauging engagement with brand advertising.5 In particular, trust in the site appears to be an extremely important metric for driving consumer response to advertising.

How Viewable Is Your Ad?
From a negative perspective, the very nature of digital technology results in some unique impediments to any consumer engagement with digital advertisements, including low viewability and ad-blocking software.

Needless to say, if the advertisement isn’t even in-view to the consumer, then engagement can’t occur. Digital in-view rates (i.e., the percentage of advertising impressions in a campaign that are in-view to the consumer) often are found to be lower than 50 percent (mainly because the user doesn’t scroll down the page far enough to see the advertisement or because the “viewer” is a fraudulent computer with no human user).

With that evidence in hand, it’s not surprising to see leading advertisers such as Unilever and the world’s largest media buying agency, GroupM, demanding assurances from publishers that their advertisements are actually seen.6

The realization that the metrics provided by ad servers were misleading—and that many digital advertisements were not in-view to consumers—also has prompted the measurement of how long in-view advertisements are actually in-view.

Sometimes referred to as “attention,” this concern has led to the suggestion that this is another valid engagement metric. The industry’s accreditation group, the Media Ratings Council (MRC), has specified
that as long as 50 percent of a display advertisement is in-view for at least one second (two seconds for a video advertisement) then the advertisement can be classified as being in-view.

Some marketers and their agencies have criticized this definition as being far too lax.7 A Millward Brown study showed that the impact of digital advertisements climbs sharply after the advertisement has been in-view for some time,8 suggesting that a longer in-view definition might be more appropriate.

Further complicating the situation is that in the case of video advertisements, measurement of consumer engagement encompasses not only whether the advertisement was ever seen and how long it was viewed but also whether or not the audio was switched on.7 Speaking at the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Annual Leadership Meeting in February 2015, CBS Interactive Chief Revenue Officer David Morris commented that the introduction of viewability had been somewhat chaotic for the industry, both in terms of measuring the MRC’s standard effectively and the confusion the concept itself has inflicted on the marketplace.7

The Battle Against Ad Blocking
As advertisers seek more effective ways to engage with consumers and measure that engagement, their efforts are hampered by ad-blocking software.About one in ten U.S. consumers have ad-blocking software installed on their computers; the ratio is even higher in some other countries.10 Advertisement blocking is especially popular on mobile devices, where slow load times are particularly annoying to users and the slow loading of advertisements can be considered to increase the cost of consumers’ data plans.

Advertisement blocking is a problem across any digital platform, including the viewing of video content.11 Publishers view its very nature as threatening the “unspoken agreement” between content
providers and consumers that advertising is necessary because it pays for the content consumers enjoy for free. Some have suggested such solutions as

• producing more advertisements that consumers actually want to view while simultaneously reducing ad clutter;
• insisting that a site’s content not be made available unless the consumer accepts the advertisements or that sites install software that recognizes and deactivates advertisement-blocking software;
• using more native advertising that isn’t delivered by an ad server and therefore can’t be blocked;
• taking legal action against the authors of the software.

It’s too early to predict how the advertisement blocking issue will be resolved, but because it clearly represents a serious obstacle to the ability of advertisers to communicate directly with online users—and
to be able to measure that engagement— we can expect it to get intense industry attention.

SOCIAL-MEDIA METRICS
One of the best examples of how digital technology has changed brand engagement from one-way to two-way communications— and the related metrics—is the impact of social networks.

Approximately 50 percent of consumers say they use social media to post positive or negative brand comments (Sexton, 2015)—although criticisms seem to attract the most attention—on a multitude of social sites ranging from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Yelp that are viewed by hundreds of millions of people.

Measurement of the number of postings and whether they are positive or negative, how many times shared, and how many users reached, have become important metrics of social engagement with brands that are initiated by consumers.

Whether simply an extension of human nature (or the nature of those most vocal on social), social networks are inundated with negative comments regarding brands—and the numbers are increasing every day. The challenge for any marketer is to respond to negative engagement in a timely manner. Unfortunately, it appears that as many as 70 percent of companies fail to do just that, thereby risking damaging consequences (Sexton, 2015).

Organizations long have monitored changes in brand equity that are driven by their own marketing efforts. But it has become apparent that monitoring and responding in real time to inbound comments expressed on social media should be every bit as important as monitoring the impact of a marketer’s outbound communications.

The other side of the social coin is that positive consumer engagement on social media can yield impressive results. Brands can use paid or organic communications to reach their target segments and then benefit from any engagement (e.g., “sharing”) that subsequently occurs and which extends persuasive reach.

Warc, the London-based publisher of the Journal of Advertising Research, awards annual prizes for the best examples of how brands have successfully incorporated social engagement into their marketing strategies (Fulgoni, 2015). Many of these successfully leveraged consumer engagement with a wide variety of branded content that led to sharing and a dramatic increase in reach.

Brands have learned that they can maximize the impact of their social-marketing programs by leveraging a framework that helps them move beyond a measurement of the simple number of fans/followers or “Like” metrics. These metrics haven’t yet been proven to drive positive business results, whereas measures of actual sharing of content have been shown to deliver measurable marketing ROI.12

That said, it’s also apparent that some sharing metrics for organic content (as opposed to the sharing of paid content) are problematic. This occurs because of the difficulty of computing the true number of unduplicated people who ever saw the content.

Simply adding the number of followers of the person posting content assumes that all saw the original post. In fact, that’s frequently not the case, and such simple math also fails to de-duplicate the same people across followers. As a result, it’s very likely that the simple aggregation of followers will overstate the true number of people receiving the shared content by a large amount.

The winners will be brands that are able to derive methods to measure and understand consumer demands for mobile engagement and then deliver against those needs.

MOBILE-ENGAGEMENT METRICS
Arguably the most significant change in consumer engagement has been the result of the use of mobile devices. Digital-media time in the United States has surged recently—growing nearly 50 percent in the past two years, with more than three-fourths of that growth directly attributable to the mobile app.13

Mobile has grown so fast that it’s now the leading digital platform, with total activity on phones and tablets accounting for 62 percent of all digital media time spent. It is important to note that apps—which help make it easier for consumers to visit and buy at websites—represent the vast majority of digital mobile time at 87 percent.13

As the use of mobile devices has surged, so have the ways in which consumers can engage with brands. Because of this, it’s vital for marketers to ensure they capture their “fair share” of consumers’ mobile engagement.

Fundamental to this is the need for metrics that measure

• how much mobile time is spent on a marketer’s own brand website versus competitive sites;
• how much of that time is spent via the use of a mobile browser versus mobile app.

Because of the extreme importance of app engagement, any shortfall in consumer downloading and use of a marketer’s app could be disastrous.

Engagement with Mobile Ads 
Certainly, advertising remains important in a mobile world, and the IAB has reported that mobile advertising is the fastest growing format in the U.S. (up 73 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 versus the prior year), accounting for 28 percent of all digital advertising dollars.14

Research also has shown that the impact of advertising is surprisingly higher on mobile than on desktop.8 This suggests higher consumer engagement because there is far less advertising clutter on mobile, and advertisements can be delivered closer to the actual point of purchase— further increasing relevance and, therefore, engagement and impact.

The larger impact of mobile devices, however, goes well beyond advertising. They have allowed consumers to initiate engagement with branded content whenever and wherever they choose. There’s a dizzying array of ways in which this can happen, which Google describes as “micromoments.”15 These unfold through a variety of common “I-want” scenarios that help people take steps or make decisions such as

• I want to learn.
• I want to buy.
• I want to know.
• I want to go.
• I want to do.

These micro-moments can occur anywhere—including in-store. Google has found that consumers often are more attentive to their in-the-moment needs than they are loyal to a particular brand or product. At the same time, they’re attracted to those brands that best address those in-the-moment needs.

Immediacy and relevance in an “I-want”world, therefore, would appear to trump loyalty nowadays. The winners will be brands that are able to derive methods to measure and understand consumer demands for mobile engagement and then deliver against those needs.

CONCLUSIONS
Marketers have only scratched the surface of measuring new levels of consumer engagement, given a digital marketplace that remains in flux. For digital advertisers, it’s clear that some of the metrics produced by ad servers are problematic. In particular, the “click” on a display advertisement has been shown to have no value in terms of predicting effectiveness.

By contrast, the traditional metrics of attitudinal changes or sales lift remain critically important and useful to marketers.

Mobile devices also allow consumers to engage with brand content whenever they so choose and in a plethora of different ways.

Digital advertising also is muddled because of a lack of consensus between buyers and sellers regarding the basic definition of an ad impression in terms of time in-view. Consensus on the issue might simplify matters. But given the ability to measure optimal time in-view of an advertisement—and research showing that impact increases with time in-view—it would not be surprising to see advertisers demand paying only for those advertising impressions that are guaranteed to be in-view for a specific period of time that they define. (For more on the topic of viewability, please see “The Effectiveness of All Advertising Impressions vs. Only Viewable Impressions,” an award-winning case study by Adobe, on page 109.)

Meanwhile, massive use of social media means that marketers no longer can think of engagement solely as a one-way communication from a brand to consumers. The reality is that social media has provided consumers with the ability to impact a brand’s performance by providing public feedback—positive or negative—at scale.

Because of this, metrics that measure consumers’ comments on social networks are important. Advertisers need to respond quickly to negative engagement or risk financial damage. The good news is that social media also provides smart marketers with the ability to engage directly with targeted consumers in many creative ways that result in amplification of persuasive messages.

But to reap the rewards of positive ROI from social marketing, it’s clear that advertisers need to think beyond simple metrics such as “Likes” or “Followers” that have not been shown to be correlated with improved sales and embrace more powerful metrics such as “Shares.” However, in computing the total number of people reached by organic shares, it’s important to de-duplicate the counts of followers and recognize that not all “Shares” are ever seen by all followers.

Mobile devices represent the most important dislocation in the historical communication flow from brands to consumers. Not only does mobile usage now account for the majority of time spent online but also apps dominate that mobile time. And, under such circumstances, understanding how consumers are using apps to interact with brands is vital.

Mobile devices also allow consumers to engage with brand content whenever they so choose and in a plethora of different ways. There is an immediacy associated with most of these mobile communications that provides marketers with many engagement opportunities, and because of this, brands need to be able to measure and address engagement “in the moment.” But the very nature of this far-reaching engagement also means that measurement, for the moment, is a work in progress.


gian-fulgoni
About the author

Gian M. Fulgoni is cofounder and chairman emeritus of comScore, Inc. Previously he was president/ceo of Information Resources, Inc. During a 40-year career at the c-level of corporate management, he has overseen the development of many innovative technological methods of measuring consumer behavior and advertising effectiveness. Fulgoni is a regular contributor to the Journal of
Advertising Research.


comscore-logo

About comScore
comScore’s mission is to measure what matters in order to make cross-platform audiences, advertising and consumer behavior more valuable for our clients. We can do this because we have built a new measurement model for today’s dynamic cross-platform world; a world that can’t be adequately measured by legacy small sample size approaches. comScore relies on 21st century technology, data assets and methodologies that leverage our expertise in measuring unduplicated person-based audiences across multiple platforms. We use massive data sets at scale, including viewing behavior across 40 million TV’s and the activity represented by 1.5 trillion digital events per month that occur on desktops, phones and tablets.  This census-like audience data is then combined with our unique capability of applying granular measurement of target audience descriptors that go well beyond traditional demographics by incorporating actual brand buying behavior. The result is a scalable and future-proof syndicated audience measurement solution.


REFERENCES

Fulgoni, G. M. “How Brands Using Social Media Ignite Marketing and Drive Growth.”Journal of Advertising Research 55, 3 (2015):232–236.

Fulgoni, G. M., and M. P. Morn. “Whither the Click? How Online Advertising Works” Journal of Advertising Research 49, 2 (2009): 134–142.

Sexton, D. E. “Managing Brands in a Prickly Digital World.” Journal of Advertising Research 55, 3 (2015): 237–241.

1 “The great brand engagement myth.” (2012, January 30). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Marketing website: http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1113464/great-brand-engagementmyth
2 “IAB digital ad engagement whitepaper: An industry overview and reconceptualization.” (2013, January 22). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Internet Advertising Bureau website: http://www.iab.net/adengagement
3 “How Brands Define Engagement.” (2012, August 29). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Digiday website: http://digiday.com/brands/how-brands-define-engagement/
4 Proprietary survey conducted by comScore in September 2014 for inclusion in a presentation at the IAB U.K. Engage 2014 Conference.
5 “Measuring Engagement: A White Paper.” Association of Online Publishers.
6 “WPP And Unilever Video Woes Mean Human Viewability Metrics Are A Must.” (2015, September 17). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from MediaPost website: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/258504/wpp-and-unilever-video-woes-mean-human-viewability.html
7 Marshall, J. “Marketers Push Back on MRC Ad Viewability Standards.” The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2015. Accessed on November 13, 2015, at http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/02/25/are-online-ad-viewabilitystandards-failing/
8 “The Value of a Digital Ad: How Delivery and Brand/Sales Effectiveness Can Drive Digital Advertising ROI in a Cross-Media World.” Millward Brown. Accessed on November 13, 2015, at https://www.millwardbrown.com/Insights/MBArticles/Value_Digital_Ad/default.aspx
9 “Ad blocking unleashes anxiety across the ad industry.” Financial Times, October 5, 2015.
10 “The state of ad blocking.” comScore and Sourcepoint. Accessed on November 13, 2015, at http://sourcepoint.com/comscore-and-sourcepoint-the-state-of-ad-blocking/
11 “TV networks confront ad blockers erasing their commercials online.” (2015, August 31). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Advertising Age website: http://adage.com/article/media/tv-networks-confront-ad-blocking-erasingcommercials-online/300143/
12 “The Power of Like 2: How Social Marketing Works.” (2012, June 12). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from comScore website: https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2012/The-Power-of-Like-2-How-Social-Marketing-Works
13 “The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report.” (2015, September 22). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from comScore website: http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2015/The-2015-US-Mobile-App-Report
14 “IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, 2014 fullyear results.” (2015, April). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Internet Advertising Bureau website: http://www.iab.net/media/file/IAB_Internet_Advertising_Revenue_FY_2014.pdf
15 “Best practices: 10 ways marketers can compete for micromoments.” (2015, June 3). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from AdAge website: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/practices-cmos-advantage-micro-moments/298855/

"This article previously appeared in the Journal of Advertising Research"

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Building A New Measurement Model… http://blog.hrts.org/2016/05/special-features/building-a-new-measurement-model/ Tue, 31 May 2016 22:13:17 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=3412 Editor:  On April 12, 2016, HRTS presented an in-depth look into the world of measurement and ratings.  Panelists included Gian Fulgoni, Co-Founder and Chairman of comScore, Inc;  Preston Beckman, media consultant and former network research head at Fox and NBC;  Julie Piepenkotter, EVP of Research at FX Networks and Eric Solomon, SVP, Product Leadership at Nielsen.  Moderated by Variety's Andrew Wallenstein, the spirited conversation touched on many aspects of the ratings and measurement challenges facing our industry.  To add more depth and context to the topic, HRTS is pleased to provide the following white paper as well as a link below to view the entire conversation from April 14th.  Enjoy!

Building a New Measurement Model for the Dynamic, Cross-Platform World

By Josh Chasin, Chief Research Officer, comScore

In March of 1930, Archibald Crossley went into the field with a telephone survey of radio listening behavior in 50 US cities. Thus began the currency audience measurement model that has held sway for over 80 years—first via surveys, then via panels, but always based solely on an attempt to draw a sampling of the user population based on small samples of people. This was Crossley’s legacy.

But if you work at a company of a decent size that is more than ten years old, you are painfully aware of the burden of the dreaded “legacy system.” In today’s technologically-driven world, legacy systems are probably the greatest impediment to any company’s future success.

Things are no different in the audience measurement space. It turns out that the inertia required to maintain the traditional, linear TV marketplace measurement model—pushed gently forward over 86 years, and in place largely as-is since 30 years ago — is anathema to the invention and development of the appropriate  currency measurement system for the fragmented, multi-screen, highly targeted TV marketplace of the 21st century.

comScore and Rentrak are two companies who share a common vision of a new model of media measurement and who came together on Feb. 1 to bring that vision to fruition. We know that state-of-the-art 21st century audience measurement systems must be built around best-in-class Big Data and census-style assets, informed but not dominated by panels — and not the other way around. That’s a recipe for failure to meet today’s fragmented media measurement needs.

Rentrak pioneered the deployment of return path viewing data from TV set top boxes in the provisioning of syndicated TV audience measurement—introducing metrics of unprecedented stability, precision and granularity. comScore integrates site-centric and campaign-centric digital census data with best-in-class massive digital panel data, to provide accurate metrics for tens of thousands of sites, apps, streams, and campaigns each month. Now as one company, the new comScore is putting together all of these robust data assets necessary to bring audience measurement into the 21st century.

So what are the greatest audience measurement challenges today, and how can we meet them?  We tend to zero in on these three:

  1. Sophisticated targeting and innumerable platform options render traditional panel sample sizes woefully inadequate.

Legacy audience measurement systems were designed in an age when advertisers wanted to reach men or women 18-49, and they had exactly three networks and a couple of dozen magazines at their disposal with which to do so. Today, advertisers seek to activate precise behaviorally-defined targets, in as close to real time as possible, across a hyper-fragmented array of platforms, screens, networks, and devices. Legacy, small sample-based solutions are simply insufficient for meeting the needs of today’s complex advertising ecosystem. Only systems based on Big Data assets can enable buyer and seller alike to understand how complex targets accrue to media content across platforms—and only these systems can provide cross-platform activation.

  1. It is impossible to sample your way to cross-platform unduplicated reach.

The cornerstone of cross-platform measurement is understanding unduplicated reach. This is the Holy Grail for media buyers. Most other cross-platform measures are simply additive. A thousand minutes on TV sets and a thousand minutes on tablets sums to 2,000 total minutes of viewing; but a thousand viewers of originally-scripted content on TV and a thousand viewers on tablets could be anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 unduplicated viewers in total, depending on how many viewers watched both on a tablet and on TV. The problem is that traditional panel-dominated systems run into the zero audience problem quickly because they have no one in their sample that views a particular channel —meaning that the media buyer can’t attempt to understand how many of those cable network viewers might also have streamed that network content on their phone, or their tablet, or via OTT. comScore believes in assembling best-in-class measurement assets, and also best-in-class duplication measurement assets, so that granular overlap across platforms at the campaign level may be empirically quantified. It is functionally impossible to understand cross-platform unduplicated reach—and thus, to understand today’s cross-platform media marketplace—using legacy sampling techniques.

  1. Big Data assets and the war on bias and error.

Traditional media measurement panels—regardless of their quality—are subject to myriad sources of error and bias, especially as they are stretched beyond their breaking point to report on more granular consumer segments than ever before. In this age of RFID, geolocation, artificial intelligence, and algorithms, it is sometimes hard to believe that legacy measurement systems still rely on people pushing buttons every time they watch TV, in order to ascertain who’s in front of the set. And in many local markets, legacy systems still rely on viewers filling out paper diaries. Fragmented measurement means that any error or omission the respondent makes is magnified. The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) published Eight Criteria for Solving Cross-Platform Measurement of Exposure to Ads and Content; in this document CIMM notes that “…the least amount of intrusiveness required by respondents is optimal for the highest quality ‘behavioral’ measures of media exposure.” comScore and Rentrak have embraced this philosophy for years; our panel software enables us to passively assign behavior to an individual consumer. Census tagging of millions of digital properties and viewing data from 40 million TV sets require no action whatsoever from the viewer— they are massive datasets, collected entirely passively.

None of this is to say that measuring today’s multi-screen consumer is an easy task. Quite the contrary; audience measurement is more challenging than ever before. Fortunately, technology has provided us with new tools and assets to deploy in the service of measurement and reporting on multi-screen, multi-platform exposure and engagement. At comScore we’ve focused on building new models of currency solutions unencumbered by the past to help both buyers and sellers navigate today’s fragmented advertising ecosystem—bringing the needed measurement assets to bear in order to best facilitate understanding, targeting, and activating today’s cross platform consumer.

Video of full panel discussion from April 14th.

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The Hidden Costs of Airing Bad Ads – Why TV Networks need to care about ad quality http://blog.hrts.org/2015/08/special-features/hidden-costs-airing-bad-ads/ Thu, 27 Aug 2015 23:01:08 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=3201 Peter Daboll headshot

Peter Daboll
CEO, Ace Metrix

Advertising has always been the backbone of the television business model, enabling networks to deliver great programming for free and providing high value to viewers and advertisers alike. With all the digital options, television still remains the most powerful medium for brands to tell their story.

But historically, Networks have not scrutinized the quality of that advertising, considering that the domain of the advertiser/agency. If we are being honest, it takes a very bad ad for a network to refuse to air it. Ad dollars rule, and networks are hesitant to tell a client their ad is awful.  This worked in the past because many viewers felt ads were a necessary evil– a kind of hidden tax they were subjected to watch as payment in return for free programming.

But that world has changed. Viewers have taken the reigns. Viewers are in control of what they watch and when they watch it. And while network television still wields a powerful net for marketers, it is no longer immune to the negative effects of bad creative. With so many ways that viewers can avoid ads, advertisers must produce ads that viewers choose to watch. Digital behavior has trained audiences to be more ad-avoidant, or demand more from their attention investment.  A recent Cox study cited that Millenials demand to be entertained…Today’s viewers are more likely to hold networks/publishers accountable for the ads served up to them. Viewers have choices, and bad advertising fuels switching to alternatives—from skipping, to changing channels to changing screens and content altogether.

At Ace Metrix, we support many of the world’s largest brands advertising on television today. We answer the fundamental questions: Is my ad any good? Will it break through? Will it be remembered, or even shared? Ace Metrix measures every nationally breaking ad in the US in near real-time, providing marketers the data and tools to create, adjust, and optimize their ad creative to have the highest viewer impact. We have seen first hand the power of the television commercial to ignite revenue streams for brands by connecting emotionally with viewers and creating memorable experiences.

Great creative matters and provides leverage for both the brand and the television network– the consummate win-win. Ironically, creative production represents only about ten percent of a marketer’s campaign budget. And yet, a great television ad makes the media spend more productive. And better ad performance leads to an increase in ad spending. More money will be generated if all participants in the ecosystem are committed to improve ad quality. Yet our data reveals that only about 4 percent of the ads airing over the past 5 years are truly “great.”

The essential challenge for all of us in the advertising industry is not just to have advertising persuade viewers once an ad is seen, but to capture their attention in the first place. Viewer attention is no longer automatic, but rather needs to be earned. They expect a benefit if they are going to pay attention: to be entertained, informed, inspired, and so forth. Marketers need to up their game.

Some advertisers are doing just that- executing brilliant campaigns that create followers, and are shared. New metrics are needed to fully determine ad success— such as Viral potential, sharing, emotional connecting etc. (see “Bad Ads Spoil Premium Content”) This is both a challenge and an opportunity for brands. When ads approach the quality of content that viewers would “choose” to watch because they can no longer be “forced” to watch, magic happens.

Craig Davis said it best: “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in, and BE what people are interested in.”

Airing bad ads has a cost to the viewer, to the advertiser and to the network. It is time for us as an industry to focus on the quality of the advertising as well as the quality of the programs in which it appears.

About Peter Daboll

Peter Daboll has more than 25 years of experience in the science and business of advertising effectiveness. He has spent his career developing and implementing analytical models and testing systems to measure consumer response to advertising. Peter is currently the CEO of Ace Metrix, the standard in television and video advertising analytics and is the author of the best selling book “AD-itude: Using Data to Inspire Extraordinary Creative.”

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Six Things You Need to Know About Networking – Right Now! http://blog.hrts.org/2014/11/special-features/six-things-you-need-to-know-about-networking-right-now/ Thu, 06 Nov 2014 01:56:37 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=3004 Networking JHRTS Mentor Mixer at the XBAR

Networking can be scary, or it can simply be challenging – it’s up to you. The fact is that the majority of jobs today are found by making the right contacts, especially in the entertainment business. There are times when you might crash and burn in learning this talent, but the payoffs when they come are definitely worth it.

Below are a few tips for networking that I’ve found successful:

Starting Gate

When targeting the entertainment industry, make a list of how you are going to meet people – for online, LinkedIn.com is one of the best places. Join groups (interest groups, alumni groups... JHRTS and HRTS are great places to start) and participate in the conversations there. Post an interesting bit of information about your industry every day. Establish new connections by writing a specific little note, not just “I want to link in with you” but more like “I used to work at Disney and I noticed that you are working on a new project there, etc.” Make sure that you have a professional photo, as profiles with photos are looked at much more. Twitter is important too, as almost 50% of recruiting is now done on Twitter – follow potential contacts/recruiters and engage in conversations.

Write It Down

Have plenty of business cards when you meet people. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who don’t carry cards or ran out of them, so give a potential new contact one of your cards to write down an email address and phone # on the back of the card after chatting a little. Write down where you met them, the date, what they said, what you talked about, and file it away (I learned this from a top networker in the UK who moved in high circles of politicians and celebrities). Follow up within 2 or 3 days at the most.

Follow It Up

When you follow up with someone on the phone, read up about that person beforehand and what they do to ask interesting questions – perhaps about an article they may have written or about a seminar they may have appeared at. Ask if the person will meet with you for 15 minutes at a later date. Keep a list of your contacts and call every 2 months or so to reconnect. Take notes on what they said – say, if they enjoy talking about current events or they are into hi-tech. Also ask if there’s anything you can do for your contact (this will probably shock them!).

Being a Friend

Before meeting someone in person, do more research about their company. Talk about a subject that they might be interested in, but let them lead the conversation also. Don’t think of it as a job interview, more like you are sincerely interested in that person and just want to learn more about what they do. Give them your business card. Write a thank-you note, as that will stand out more than an email (but write an email too, because mail can get lost). In a recent survey, it was found that the brain retains more information with a tangible subject (like a thank-you note) rather than electronic information.

Where Do I Go?

Apart from the great great events by JHRTS and HRTS, you can look on Eventbrite.com for other business networking events. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has networking events, also Women in Film and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (they have great films where you can network after).  You might take classes (UCLA extension classes are good) and go to local “watering holes” (either restaurants near a studio or places that industry people go to).

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Study everything you can about your part of the industry and beyond – it’s good to know a little about a lot of things. Read articles on LinkedIn, the trades, study social media, see TED Talks and webinars.  You never know when something might come up which would impress (or even help) the person you’re networking with.  I attended Digital Hollywood and after listening to one filmmaker speak, was able to help them in regards to a bit of historic information about a film they were soon releasing.  I also looked up a contact for them to talk to about the info.  Maybe nothing will come of it, but hey, it’s just nice, right?

Above all, try to be in the mindset that you would like to help someone else in return and stay positive.  Think of networking as a card game - sooner or later you’ll get a good hand. Then you just have to know how to play it.

 

Lisa Carroll bio picLisa Carroll
Twitter | LinkedIn | lcarroll.radford@gmail.com

Lisa Carroll is a contributing writer for HRTS.

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When Your Career Stalls – Just Rev Up the Engine http://blog.hrts.org/2014/10/special-features/when-your-career-stalls-just-rev-up-the-engine/ http://blog.hrts.org/2014/10/special-features/when-your-career-stalls-just-rev-up-the-engine/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 18:39:26 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=2958 Umbrellas

Every so often, I get a question to do with the industry that goes like this:  “Lisa, I’ve done all the right things. I’ve had feedback that I have a fantastic resume, great reel - I make all the right contacts and follow up with people. But nothing is happening for me, I feel stuck - what do I do?”

Okay, first thing – don’t panic. It’s just that this industry is incredibly difficult to break into. The entertainment industry doesn’t have a straight path (heck, sometimes there isn’t even a path) to getting ahead. It’s not like nursing or teaching where you take courses and then A follows B follows C. Not at all. Also, in this technology-driven, ever-mutating era, things are not like they used to be where you worked at a company for 35 years and then got a gold watch at the end.

Second, look at the world as full of opportunities and you’ll begin to find them everywhere. How do I know? Because I just got asked to come up with ideas for reality shows for a major cable channel (where I didn’t even have a connection).

It all came about when I had to miss a day-long entertainment business conference a few months ago. I decided to call up several speakers and ask them what they talked about – I was genuinely interested in what they thought and what they had to say as well. I managed to speak to five people (most were the heads of companies) and one person at a cable channel asked me to come up with ideas for a reality show. I just submitted a sample video of one of my ideas to the company. Who knew?

Most of the time, opportunities aren’t that obvious or may even be there in the midst of a problem. Below are some ways that may head you in the right direction of something, I know it did me:

  1. Train Your Brain. Yes, it’s possible – your unconscious is on all the time, so anything you ask it to do, it’s going to think about how to do it. If you are thinking, “how do I become the best producer since Ron Howard” continuously, this will spark your unconscious to think of ways to do that 24/7, believe me. You’ll probably wake up in the morning with things popping into your head, or just walking the dog or texting. In fact, it might be hard to turn your brain off.
  2. Read About People Who Made It. There are plenty of stories about how to get into the industry, and it wouldn’t hurt to study them. Read up on Vin Diesel and how he made a semi-autobiographical film which got selected for the Cannes Film Festival. I also know of two people who were awarded an Academy Nicholl Fellowship Award for Screenwriting, which set them on the road to success. Great examples are everywhere on the Internet, which may spark ideas for you.
  3. Get Together. Form what’s called a “Mastermind” group to think of ideas for each other and track your progress. I had my interns brainstorm for just 10 minutes, and they ended up having fantastic ideas for one another’s future career. That’s also how Henry Ford and Walt Disney had a lot of success – they brought many creative people together to come up with amazing things.
  4. Start a Company. Adam Saunders moved from New York to Los Angeles to act, and found himself in the midst of the Writers Guild strike in 2007. He formed a production company called Footprints Features that is now developing projects like “About Alex,” which starred Jason Ritter.
  5. DYOP – Do Your Own Project. Like Chazz Palminteri and Nia Vardalos did – they created stage plays based on their lives (“A Bronx Tale” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) where they attracted enough major interest (Robert De Niro for the first project and Rita Wilson for the second) to make the plays into films.
  6. Find An Interest. Nicole Perlman, co-writer of the “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” had a big interest in science, which got her first script noticed, and her interest later on down the line got her noticed by Marvel. I was interested in the details of a film/television conference, which got me noticed by the cable channel. So an enthusiasm for a subject can be tremendously helpful.

All of this above is just to say that there are more ways to succeed than may be obvious – if you have any other ways, please let me know in the comments.

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Lisa Carroll bio picLisa Carroll
Twitter | LinkedIn

Lisa Carroll is a contributing writer for HRTS.

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Do’s and Don’ts to Further Your Entertainment Career http://blog.hrts.org/2014/09/special-features/dos-and-donts-to-further-your-entertainment-career/ Mon, 08 Sep 2014 20:11:16 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=2922 Office Building Business Call

After participating on entertainment career panels for several years (as well as mentoring several interns), I’ve noticed some things that may help someone in a new/budding career.

Before I go into those things, I have to mention that most of the grads/new workers I run into feel, well, lost.  Not only is there a slow-growing economy but there is also a lot of pop culture to do with television and film where in the story, someone looking for a job gets one within the show’s hour (or for a film, maybe a few weeks!).  Everything in this digital age is fast, fast, fast – no wonder there is frustration, and even depression among many millennials about things not progressing that quickly.

That’s when I encourage grads/new workers to look to history for examples – like Thomas Edison (it took him 10,000 tries to create a workable light bulb), Abraham Lincoln (failed in several endeavors, both Congress and business), Steve Jobs (fired from Apple, only to return in triumph) and J.K. Rowling (once penniless, her first “Harry Potter” book was rejected several times).

Now they all had two things in common: a) a great work ethic and b) the refusal to give up.  Basically, I think if you have those two things going for you, you’re ahead of the game right there.

Here are the things I’d like to pass on:

Do’s & Don’ts:

  1. Don’t feel entitled. One of the main subjects discussed at these career panels is how many people (sorry, millennials again) start off thinking that they don’t need to make coffee, don’t need to do errands, don’t need to do photocopying – a panelist related how he had told one new hire who said he just got a bachelor’s degree, “What, am I supposed to do it then?!”  You’re at the beginning of your career, so try to be enthusiastic, happy and energetic – decent first (or second and third) jobs are hard to find in today’s competitive market.
  2. Do go the extra mile.  Volunteer for stuff.  Show up early and stay late once in a while. Look for solutions to help your boss.  Do something to make you stand out, like even bringing in terrific chocolate chip cookies – one girl was remembered for a new assignment because she was the “girl that makes the great cookies!”  Seriously, you never know.
  3. Don’t take criticism personally. Benjamin Franklin actually made a list of his faults and went through them all the time to correct himself.  And look where he ended up – as a diplomat to Paris and a Founding Father, not bad. Criticism of how you work can actually help you, although if the criticism is just plain cruel, that’s different.  But always think, if it might be constructive criticism, how you can learn from it, how you can learn to be a better executive/production assistant/screenwriter/actor or whatever.  Try to develop a tough skin.
  4. Do brush up on your knowledge. That means all kinds of knowledge.  If you want to be a screenwriter, learn about the important screenwriters of history – Billy Wilder, William Goldman, etc.  Who are the top screenwriters of today? Or directors or producers or business executives? Most of the grads/undergrads I mentored not only did not know the names I brought up, they couldn’t come up with five names themselves (so of course I gave them a pop quiz a week later). You really need to know what to say when film people start comparing notes.  Also general knowledge – classical music, art, history and classic literature.  A lot of guys love to talk about Ernest Hemingway (especially if they’re writers).  Knowledge about these things is usually impressive.
  5. Don’t dress down. Yes, I know there are casual Fridays, but what if a visiting executive comes in to your company, sees that you have flip-flops and holes in your jeans - and they’re looking for a new development assistant?  It’s happened many times that someone met by accident can change your life.  My friend met someone in the parking lot at work and he ended up introducing her to some great business contacts.  Be always at your best, think nice-dressy.  Bring a jacket to work and put it on your chair, even if you have no cause to use it.
  6. Do hang out with positive, ambitious people.  There was a study done in a newspaper a few years ago about extremely successful people, about one of the main things they had in common.  It was found that these people decided to socialize or work with others who were more successful, and thought that this had helped them a great deal in their career.  So think hard about whom you hang out/work with.

There’s many more do’s and don’ts that I can think of, but meanwhile, think back to things you’ve read and heard – how can you learn by others’ examples?  That’s another “do” – do keep learning.

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Lisa Carroll bio picLisa Carroll
Twitter | LinkedIn

Lisa Carroll is a contributing writer for HRTS.

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Jean Bartel (1923 – 2011) An HRTS icon http://blog.hrts.org/2011/03/special-features/jean-bartel-1923-%e2%80%93-2011-an-hrts-icon/ Tue, 08 Mar 2011 17:54:54 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=1044 Jean BartelIf you’ve attended any HRTS event since the 60s you would have been given a dazzling smile at the door by the impeccably dressed and coiffed Jean Bartel, Miss America 1943. America’s pop culture history books will remember Jean Bartel for her beauty, grace, talent, service, and especially for that bright gleaming Colgate toothpaste smile that she introduced to the world.

The qualities that earned Jean the title of Miss America 1943, and her work on behalf of scholarships for women made her an international luminary, but it was her work with the advertising industry that reunited her with her Miss America publicist Ollie Crawford who was, 20 years later, executive director of the brand-new Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS).

Madison Avenue was looking for a beauty with a great smile and found it with Jean. They didn’t need “subliminal” advertising. Mad Men were renowned for molding a product’s appeal into basic emotional and sexual needs. Her commercials generated a huge boost in sales for Colgate and a lot of notice from the advertising community. Jean was well-spoken on the subject of advertising and for a laugh would sometimes quote British philosopher and social critic Bertrand Russell’s ‘Toothpaste used to be a cleansing antiseptic for my teeth. Now it is a devise to keep me from being sexually repulsive.’ She maintained that, for better or worse, advertising is the energy that gives us free television and radio. “And maybe it will improve your love life,” she added with wholesome Miss America blush.

Jean Bartel Miss America 1943

Jean Bartel Miss America 1943

Jean marketed her celebrity very well. Her years of singing and acting gifted her with a unique knowledge of international marketing, the travel industry and as a by-product, public relations. She was briefly the West Coast and International Representative of the publications TV Digest and TV Factbook before newspaperman Walter Annenberg and his Triangle Publications purchased them both and dissolved them into his new magazine the TV Guide.

In 1957 Ollie Crawford arrived in Hollywood to help set up the West Coast headquarters of Walter Annenberg’s TV Guide. Ollie joined the Hollywood Advertising Club (HAC) and invited Miss America Jean Bartel to speak to the group. Ollie soon became an officer of the fledgling organization. When the HAC morphed into the HRTS, Ollie quit the TV Guide to become the Society’s full time executive director. His job included oversight of the International Broadcasting Awards (IBA) a competition for the “World’s Best Radio and Television Commercials,” a black tie affair with TV star presenters. When Ollie quit the magazine to take the job with the HRTS and its IBA, Jean recognized an opportunity for collaboration. She knew something about competitions, commercials - and advertising men.

Jean delivered the first commercial entries into the IBA from Brazil. Her personal and voluntary promotion of the IBA boosted international commercial entries from ad agencies in England, France, Hungary, Scandinavia, and Greece. Her early efforts helped the HRTS continue to thrive with the IBA. On the IBA’s 22nd anniversary in 1987, it counted more than 3000 entries from 72 countries. Despite the ensuing decline of the IBA, Jean remained a stalwart supporter of the Society and a perpetual hostess at HRTS events.

Jean Bartel

Jean never stopped working. A fellow actor, Bill Jackson, saw her on a set earlier this year auditioning for a role in “Jon Benjamin Has a Van,” a pilot for a new series. She operated her own international travel company “Jean Bartel and Associates,” and was married to William (Bill) Hogue for 31 years until his passing in 2001. Jean ordered vegetarian or fruit plates at the HRTS luncheons, but the waiters were always happy to bring a few pieces of meat for her to take home to her beloved golden retriever Teddy. (Fellow dog lovers will be happy to know that Teddy has now been adopted by the same loving family that always watched him when Jean was on the road.) Jean achieved international stardom and lived for more than eight decades with the same grace, humility and poise that won her the Miss America title.

The HRTS will always be indebted to the charming Jean Bartel.

(Editors Note: The LA Times also featured a story on Jean Bartel)

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Power Lunch Rush with the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society http://blog.hrts.org/2010/12/special-features/power-lunch-rush-with-jhrts/ Tue, 07 Dec 2010 21:47:00 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=818 UTA Valet Station at Power Lunch Rush with JHRTSIf you’re a viewer of the HBO show “Entourage,” you might have some appreciation for the life of a Hollywood assistant.  On that show, the character Lloyd toils away as an assistant for years before finally working his way up to become a talent agent.  Being an assistant is a rite of passage through which all entertainment executives must navigate before they can make their mark on the industry.

I was a Hollywood assistant myself before moving into the automotive industry, and I know Los Angeles is full of real-life Lloyds – young professionals who work long hours and carry notoriously heavy workloads to ensure the wheels of the entertainment industry keep spinning  (to use a car-related metaphor).  

Last week, we teamed up with the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society and United Talent Agency to take a few members of this hard-working group for a spin and a relaxing lunch break away from their busy desks.

JHRTS at the GM Lunch Rush

JHRTS invited its UTA members to take a much-deserved mid-day break, and participants piled into our Chevy Camaro, Buick Enclave, GMC Terrain and Cadillac CTS vehicles for a chauffeured ride to a serene poolside “lunch rush” at the chic Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills.

We enjoyed the good eats and great conversation (as well as sugar-coma-inducing Crumbs cupcakes), and – in an “only in LA” moment – Paris Hilton happened to be at the Avalon shooting her new reality show while we lunched!

Thanks to the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society for hosting us!

JHRTS Lunch Rush vehicles

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Recognition: The Key to Retention in a Recession http://blog.hrts.org/2010/05/special-features/recognition-the-key-to-retention-in-a-recession/ Thu, 27 May 2010 22:58:06 +0000 http://blog.hrts.org/?p=91 The old adage is still true today: Employees are a company’s most valuable asset. While the economy has every media and entertainment company focusing on balance sheets and bottom lines, it’s equally important to pay attention to the mood and morale of your workforce.

It can be costly to presume that employees are simply grateful to have a job in the entertainment industry, and that their continued employment demonstrates your company’s appreciation for their talents. Combine heavier workloads due to smaller staff, the shifting politics of task territorialism, and ongoing economic uncertainty and you’ll see that many employees may be doing different jobs than they signed up for. Their resilience, flexibility and loyalty are worthy of recognition.

Promoting a positive work environment isn’t just an altruistic gesture to your staff – it’s good for business.  In Meaning Inc., author G. Bains reports that from 2001 to 2006, the average return for all S&P 500 companies was 2.5x, while the list of best companies to work for produced a 6x return. Motivated, engaged, and happy employees make your company more productive and more competitive, and improving retention helps reduce training costs and down time while improving profitability.

  • Recognize behavior as well as performance
  • Be inclusive -  don’t recognize only particular roles
  • Make recognition a regular part of your team culture

Recognizing your employees does not require great financial investment. What it does require is attention to their circumstances and to the work they do:

Praise
Motivation experts consistently name “praise” as the most important factor in promoting employee satisfaction. It doesn’t require fanfare or ceremony. (In fact, some employees prefer subtlety). Start simple: seek out the employee to say “thank you” for a particular effort, or send a brief email praising the results of their actions. Peer recognition is especially effective, so work with your team to create a program that encourages employees to acknowledge each other for excellent work. It can be as simple as a centralized whiteboard devoted to those comments. Whatever you decide to do, do something – an annual review isn’t enough to keep an employee motivated through a year of effort.

Train
Most employees are eager to improve their skills and knowledge, and appreciate when an employer makes an investment in their career. Recognize outstanding effort by working with the employee to find affordable training opportunities that expand their capabilities and talents – in turn increasing their value to your company.  Even in an atmosphere of cost-cutting, it’s important to remember that training is an investment, not an expense.

Gather
The recession has people worrying about their own circumstances, which can take focus off of team goals. Consider rewarding a hard work-week by gathering your team for an informal meeting or a team lunch. The focus can be team-building exercises or casual brainstorming sessions to talk about big-picture work ideas. In a 40 hour work week, one hour spent improving morale and energy will increase the productivity of the other 39.

Communicate
Uncertainty can be immobilizing. Most employees recognize that in a recession, difficult decisions have to be made that may impact their jobs, and for many, the uncertainty of impending change is worse than the change itself. Transparent communication with your team demonstrates respect, and empowers employees to take a more active role in creating solutions.

Get Started Today
Business runs on talent. Ensure that you retain the employee knowledge base and skill sets you rely on by making sure your team feels appreciated and respected. The cost of recognition can be small, but the positive impact is priceless.

For more information on building and maintaining a productive workforce, please contact Stacy Stone at Volt sstone@volt.com, or visit www.volt.com

Stacy Stone manages media and entertainment services for Volt Workforce Solutions, providing qualified talent to support every stage of the production process. Stacy specializes in customized, concierge-style recruiting services that help ensure the on-time, on-budget completion of every project.

Volt Workforce Solutions is one of the world’s largest talent acquisition and deployment providers, offering a range of recruiting services including contingent staffing, temp-to-hire, professional search, payroll services, and recruitment process outsourcing. Through 60 years of business, Volt has earned its reputation as an industry leader by consistently delivering best-fit talent who help clients succeed.

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