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New York Times

by David Carr

There we were last Tuesday afternoon at Lincoln Center, media buyers and journalists stapled in our seats for a long afternoon of tendentious speeches from ABC executives about the continued power of network television and the splendor of the shows that were about to unfurl before us.

“Television is the strongest advertising medium available today,” said Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, intoning a mantra that became wallpaper at last week’s upfronts, the annual presale presentation on the coming television season, while the president of entertainment, Stephen McPherson, suggested that recent programming problems were all about the writers’ strike, so a do-over seems in order.

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The New York Times


IN a world with grocery store television screens, digitally delivered movie libraries and cellphone video clips, the average American is exposed to 61 minutes of TV ads and promotions a day.

Some people may think that amount seems excessive. But “people don’t seem to be getting up and running away,” said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting.

In fact, adults are exposed to screens — TVs, cellphones, even G.P.S. devices — for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to a study released by the Council for Research Excellence on Thursday. TV remains the dominant medium for media consumption and advertising, the study found. The data suggests that computer usage has supplanted radio as the second most common media activity. (Print ranks fourth.) Read the rest of this entry »

The New York Times – TV Decoder

by Stuart Elliott

A study to be released on Wednesday finds that advertisements appearing in traditional media like television are still “much more likely” to have made a positive impression with consumers than ads running in digital media.

The study, called “When Advertising Works,” was conducted by Yankelovich in association with Sequent Partners. The Center for Media Design at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., provided assistance.

The study covered 16 types of media. Besides TV, the traditional kinds included billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio and movie theater commercials. The digital kinds included e-mail messages, Internet banner ads, social networking Web sites, video games and video-sharing Web sites like YouTube.

When asked what kind of an impression the ad made, 56 percent of survey respondents said traditional media ads made a positive impression, in contrast to 31 percent who said that about digital media ads. Thirteen percent reported a negative impression of traditional media ads versus 21 percent for digital media ads. Thirty-two percent said they had neither a positive nor a negative impression of traditional media ads, in contrast to 48 percent who said they had neither a good or bad impression of digital media ads.

A principal reason for those results, said J. Walker Smith, president at the Yankelovich Monitor division of Yankelovich in Atlanta, was that for ads that made an impression, consumers using traditional media were in a more positive mood and more likely to be interested in entertainment and relaxation.
By comparison, consumers using digital media were more likely to be in busy moods, seeking control or solving a problem, Mr. Smith said, and they were more likely to be by themselves. In contrast, traditional media are often watched, listened to or read by people in groups.

Although the new media may be better at helping people solve problems, which represents “a unique reason to come to digital media platforms,” he added, “when I’m tracking down information or looking for an answer or trying to compare things or searching for a link, ads are irritating to a degree not true when I’m relaxed and unwinding with TV or a magazine and thus more open to diversion.”

That may mean that “advertising will always have to work harder to make a positive impression in digital media,” he added.

Another reason for the results of the study, Mr. Smith said, is that consumers are not as used to seeing ads in digital media as they are in traditional media.

“Advertising wasn’t embedded in the new media from the start; it came along later,” he added, which may be why some consumers describe digital media ads as intrusive.

One benefit of digital media over traditional media is “that I can advertise to you and take your order at the same time,” Mr. Smith said, and such usefulness can help generate positive impressions.

The genesis of the survey was that “our clients have been telling us they’re shifting more and more of their budgets to the digital media,” Mr. Smith said, “but they feel they don’t have a handle on advertising in a digital context.”

At the same time, “we don’t quite know how to develop advertising for digital media,” he added. “There’s a lot of experimentation, and we’re probably not as good as we think.”

The differences between ads making impressions in the traditional and new media may fade over time, Mr. Smith said, as agencies become more proficient in creating digital ads and advertisers become more savvy in terms of learning what works and what does not in the new-media realm.

Another highlight of the study, according to Mr. Smith, is that ads that made an impression in traditional media were more likely to stimulate word of mouth than ads that made an impression in digital media.

That was particularly true for TV commercials and for spots in movie theaters — “when people like them,” a caveat Mr. Smith took pains to add.

That finding was somewhat counterintuitive, Mr. Smith said, because of the reputation of the new media as the best way to generate so-called buzz, or positive opinions spread by word of mouth.

Marketers may want to combine traditional and digital media to better stimulate word of mouth, he added.

The New York Times


Being part of a “Nielsen household” has long been a point of pride for people whose television habits are monitored by the Nielsen Company. In exchange for token compensation, these viewers know that their personal taste influences Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Read the rest of this entry »

The New York Times

Wendi Sanders Berger joined Child magazine, New York, part of the Meredith Corporation, as publisher, succeeding Rich Berenson, who was named to a team of five managing directors with the recently-expanded corporate sales/Meredith 360° business unit of Meredith. Ms. Berger had been associate publisher for beauty at Elle magazine, New York, part of the Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. division of the Lagardère Group.

Deborah Loeb Bohren joined Powell Tate Weber Shandwick, Washington, as an executive vice president, to serve as senior leader for the health-care practice. It is a new role at the agency; Pam Jenkins had been running the health-care public affairs area before being named president, and she continues to be involved in health-care public affairs accounts. Ms. Bohren had been senior vice president for communications at WellChoice, New York. Powell Tate Weber Shandwick is part of the Weber Shandwick division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

The Council for Research, New York, is commissioning a pilot study that will seek to learn more about how consumers actually watch video in media like television, cellphones and the Internet. The study will be conducted by the Center for Media Design at Ball State University, which proposed it to the council with Sequent Partners, a consulting company. The council is composed of research executives at advertising agencies and television networks along with Nielsen Media Research, a division of VNU. Read the rest of this entry »

The New York Times -


At an Industry Media Lab, Close Views of Multitasking – New York Times@import url(;
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LOS ANGELES, May 14 — In a sleek media lab hidden in a Los Angeles high-rise, some of the country’s biggest media companies and their prominent clients are seeking to understand the state of the divided American attention span.

The space looks like the most advanced of homes: the living room is outfitted with the latest in video technology, and in the kitchen, the refrigerator has a television monitor for leaving notes for the children, and for looking up recipes on the Internet.

The installation, the Emerging Media Lab in Los Angeles, is run by the Interpublic Group of Companies, a holding company for ad agencies as well as media buyers like Universal McCann and Initiative. Since February, clients like Sony, L’Oréal and Microsoft have been using it to figure out a central question vexing marketers: how do you reach consumers who seem to be doing so many things simultaneously?

People now surf the Internet while watching television. Their children instant-message friends while listening to music. They all talk on the phone and check their e-mail while they cook.

“Our research showed that people somehow managed to shoehorn 31 hours of activity into a 24-hour day,” said Colleen Fahey Rush, executive vice president for research at MTV Networks, which worked with an online research company, OTX, last year. “That’s from being able to do two things at once.”

As media companies plunk down billions of dollars in advertising at the major networks’ fall presentations this week, market researchers are still struggling to understand the realities of what has been called “concurrent media usage.”

Thus far, the researchers have found some common ground, but differ widely in crucial areas of interpretation. They do seem to agree on two points: that this kind of multitasking does not apply only to young people and that the amount of time spent multitasking is rising across the board.

For advertisers, the challenge is getting their message across in one medium while the consumer is active at the same time in several others. The buzzword these days is “engagement” — as in how engaged, or involved, the consumer is in a particular activity, a notion that is still relatively new in a media world that has for decades relied on stable indicators like the Nielsen ratings.

The question for programmers is whether it is possible to break through the clutter and offer material that commands more of their viewers’ attention, and perhaps more advertising as a result.

In the Emerging Media Lab, major advertisers can observe engagement for themselves, watching consumers try new technologies or use old ones, through cameras that feed back into an observation room.

“Multitasking is not quantified yet,” said Greg Johnson, the lab’s executive director. “The metrics of all this is a big piece of what our clients want to know, and they want to know desperately. They don’t know where their customers are, and it’s our job to find them again and what they’re doing.”

Using the lab themselves, media executives can assess how their ads or other content appear on devices like portable video game players or cellphones.

“You can see things here in context,” explained Lori Schwartz, the director of the lab project. Standing in the living room, she wielded a wireless mouse to navigate a media center, a flat-screen monitor on the wall that fed into the Internet, television channels, a DVD player, an Xbox 360 and a stereo system.

“For a lot of our clients, it is hard to keep up,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s hard for them to know what to do next when every day there is something new — a blog, a site. They know to move their dollars, but they don’t know how much or what media to pick.”

Last week, 40 executives from the Sony Corporation of America came to explore the lab’s possibilities after one division had tested its video-on-demand service there. “It’s another way for us to further understand how consumers are using new media,” a Sony spokeswoman, Lisa Davis, said. “We expect the learning here to benefit all of our businesses.”

David Sklaver, president of KSL Media, who buys advertising time for clients like Western Union and Bacardi, said multitasking was either “a blessing or a curse” for advertisers. “If someone is watching a TV drama and has CNN News on the Internet,” he said, “it’s most likely you don’t have an engaged viewer.” But on the other hand, someone watching a sports event on television could enhance the experience by simultaneously surfing the Internet for game statistics.

A widely cited study conducted last year at Ball State University in Indiana observed 400 people over a broad age range for a day, and found that 96 percent of them were multitasking about a third of the time they were using media. A university white paper recently estimated that consumers spend about nine hours a day in media use, most of it watching television.

The OTX study for MTV used an online sample of 4,213 people, and found that those responding engaged in 15.6 hours of leisure activity a day, which included nonmedia activities like shopping, socializing or eating. Almost a third of that time involved doing more than one thing at a time, the study found.

Most of the multitasking involves television plus another activity, whether reading a newspaper, surfing the Internet or talking on the phone. And when that is the case, which activity is getting primary attention?

On this crucial point, the research differs. In a summary of its latest work on the topic in March, Forrester Research noted that only 11 percent of consumers who went online while watching television said they paid the greatest attention to TV. Some 61 percent paid more attention to the Internet, while 28 percent said they gave equal attention to both. Forrester used on-line surveys of 12,000 people as the basis for its findings.

Ms. Fahey Rush said her research showed something different. “TV is considered the primary media activity when you’re doing two things at a time,” she said. But when asked how she assessed what people were paying attention to while multitasking, she paused for nearly a minute. “We certainly asked people about how they feel about our brands on a variety of platforms,” she said.

David Poltrack, the president of CBS Vision, the network’s research arm, said that in the age of multitasking, it was hard to evaluate levels of engagement. “We know people are watching with shared attention,” he said. “But we don’t know to what degree it’s less-than.”

It does seem certain, though, that a viewer who is multitasking is not doing those activities with equal interest. “Terms like multitasking imply equal attention,” said Mike Bloxham, director of testing and assessment at Ball State. “But cognitive science tells us this isn’t possible. You have to give priority to one in order to absorb the messages.”

Industry experts say it will be some time before this kind of research results in changes in the pricing of advertisements. IAG Research, a company that measures engagement, has slowly been bringing the television industry around to its measurement approach. In daily online surveys, the company asks respondents substantive questions about the programs and advertisements they watched. The viewer’s attentiveness is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, and is not formally used to set advertising rates, but Alan Gould, IAG’s chief executive, wonders how long that will last.

“When you have a small but attentive audience, that information can be very important,” he said, citing the UPN hit show “Everybody Hates Chris.” He said viewers of the program were 27 percent more attentive than those of a normal program. One day, that could mean higher ad rates for such shows that command a greater portion of its viewers’ concentration.

“Over time,” he said, “I don’t see how it doesn’t get baked into the equation.”

The New York Times -

by David Carr

SOMETIMES what appears to be a threat is actually a life preserver.

The poor defenseless music industry cowered – then prosecuted – when the monster of digital downloads came lurching over the horizon. Then the iPod came along and music looks like a business again – a smaller business, eked out in 99- cent units – but still a business.

Cable channels were supposed to gut network television, but instead have become a place where shows like “Seinfeld” and “Law and Order” are resold and rewatched. The movie industry reacted to DVD’s as though they were a sign of the imminent apocalypse, and now studios are using their libraries to churn profits.

Which brings us to the last of the great analog technologies, the one many of you are using right now. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Are We

Insight and Research at the Center for Media Design (CMD) has begun to receive quite a bit of attention from industry publications and mainstream media outlets in the last several years as a groundbreaking and reputable media research organization. This archive is only for educational purpose, if the content involved any copyright issue, please contact: Michelle Prieb:
March 2021



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