Letters - 31 October-7 November 2006

ScreenFX plc, GCap Media plc, i-vu, Mobile Media

MEDIA PLANNERS AND BUYERS NEED CONVINCING OF WHAT DIGITAL OUTDOOR HAS TO OFFER

John Scorah, Joint head of sales, ScreenFX plc

It was encouraging to read the article on public awareness of outdoor digital screen media (Outdoor digital test reveals 16.4% public awareness, page 12, 10 October).

While industry insiders have long banged the drum for the opportunity the medium offers, it is refreshing to read an article which acknowledges this.

If we want the sector to continue growing, then we need to start shouting louder about the effectiveness of the medium.

Some brands are already aware of the opportunities, but the big task ahead is to convince media planners and buyers that our medium shouldn't be an add-on to a campaign plan, but an integral component of a brand's strategic plan to engage consumers.

Some have embraced the possibilities. Ascension, the organically and ethically produced clothing range, chose to exclusively use our digital screen network in shopping malls to launch its range at selected Topshop outlets.

It was clear to Ascension that if it wanted to influence consumers within the retail environment, our network was a vital ingredient.

Campaigns of this nature enforce the strength of our medium. But it is our responsibility to communicate our achievements, elevating our industry to the top table of media channels.

BRANDED PODCASTS CAN MAKE SOME MONEY

John Hirst, Head of creation, GCap Media plc

I read with interest your Digital Progress Report supplement (17 October) - it's all exciting stuff and we at GCap are seeing development in some of these areas too.

In particular, we are seeing significant growth around podcasts, and a thriving business developing over the past year.

Two of my senior colleagues mentioned that the headline for number 15 in your article was rather misleading, compared with the body of the text. It suggests that podcasts make no money. However, as the IAB's Guy Phillipson explains, more and more brands are launching podcasts, including GCap.

GCap is generating new revenue and profit from podcasts across four main areas.

1) Radio-branded podcasts - extensions of our brands with an opportunity for advertising sponsorship or inventory placement.

2) Podcasts focused on content such as fishing, movies and even minority language groups, such as our UK Polish podcast (see creationpodcasts.com). These podcasts allow advertisers to take sponsorship and place inventory.

3) Commercial-led podcasts linked to radio brands - such as the successful series of City Guides from Airmiles with Classic FM.

4) Podcast production - the skills required to create podcasts and vodcasts (video) are central to GCap core competencies.

We have secured a significant amount of new business over the past year and have also been able to allow advertisers to promote their podcasts via our radio stations, both on-air and online. Therefore, I agree with the part of your headline that says "podcasts take over the world", but strongly disagree with "but make no money".

CREATIVE MUST BE RIGHT IN THE OUTDOOR DIGITAL WORLD

Mike Anstey, CEO i-vu

I disagree with some of the assertions made in the feature (Can media owners own the big idea?, page 26, 17 October)

The advent of digital technology in the out-of-home sector has created a myriad of opportunities for brands to connect with their target audiences. Innovations such as interactive bus shelters and moving image posters all offer the opportunity for the audience to interact with the creative.

While it is true that traditional out-of-home advertisements have to rely, to a degree, on their advertising content to capture an audience's attention, the advances made over the last few years mean this is not the case for many digital technologies.

The digital out-of-home industry includes the most up-to-date content available, either in terms of news or entertainment.

Embracing digital in a networked environment, such as i-vu's hair salon network, offers brands the benefits of a TV-style advertisement, but with the added benefit of true interactivity.

The i-vu network's 45-minute loop combines lifestyle content advertisements - all interactive and broadcast to a captive and receptive audience at a time when it is predisposed to act on impulse or respond to a message. A consumer's inter-action with a branded ad can be monitored, recorded and executed.

I-vu is, and has been for several years, speaking to advertising clients directly, advising on and developing the creative, whether it is interactive or not. We see this not as an extra service, but part of our overall offering, giving clients the peace of mind that the creative will be right for the medium.

ELECTIONS CAN BE LITMUS PAPER FOR EFFECTIVE ADS

Karen Olsen, MD, Mobile Media

Spending on elections has come up for debate over the last few months and election funding has become a controversial subject.

Not only have the major parties got into serious debt, but some of their donors are facing jail sentences. Commercial companies run in this way usually go to the wall.

As an advertiser (with a fleet of 70 ad vans) that has been hired by all three political parties, we are watching with interest to see where this debate will lead.

Clearly if spending is capped, advertising budgets will be cut, but will the parties be able to put the advertising genie back in the bottle?

How can they get the results they require by reducing ad spend? We are confident we will stay in demand. Outdoor spend is now referred to as a broadcast medium (with PA systems on vehicles) and is suited to getting a message across in a prescribed geographical area and directing footfall to an event.

But what about other advertisers? Who will they axe?

The political parties need to inform the electorate, so who can they afford to shed if their budgets are cut? Elections are an interesting litmus paper for effective advertising.

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