Saturday, June 17, 2006

Coffee with Showtime's George Abi-Habib on TV tomorrow.



DC: So George working at Showtime could you tell us a little about DVRs and your prediction as to what role they will play in future audience life, on advertisers etc?

G:You hear a lot of products claim to revolutionize the industry it’s in, but DVR is one of the few cases where that really holds true. Everyone has had the experience missing a show they like or wishing they could see a goal replay instead of the fat painted football fan. With DVR, viewers control time; what is more revolutionary then that?

The effect is higher audience involvement in their own viewing habits and more efficient use of their TV. But what that really translates into is the need to increase quality of programming and advertisement production. Now to get the attention of the viewer you will have to be very bold on your communication and very specific about your messaging, otherwise you will get the fast forward button.

This is a scary prospect for all the agency hippies who are use to the industry of mass media. But hopefully these scrubby, dreadlock sporting creatives will take a bath and align with people on the sales side of the business a little more to find out what people really need; then build creative and engaging messaging around that.

DC: So could we say that our advertising dollar will be of much less value?

G: Well this is a double edge sword and the advertising community needs to find out how it works in their favor. Either you are cutting to the heart of viewers needs and building your brand faster then before or you’re cutting your brand out of the equation by waffling around issues speaking to o generally. The people who are going to have the hardest time with this are the P&G’s of the world. Everyone thinks they know what the products and the needs it serves so these ads are first on the chopping block. But what is going to happen when the next non-drip detergent innovation comes along? Will Jumeirah Jane’s be fast forwarding through Desperate House wives moments or stop and listen?

However, this is good news of anyone that specializes in product placement. Future technology will allow you to highlight products in your favorite movie or show and explore product details and where to get it. Or simply switch over their TV to web functions and just have it delivered. How is that for ‘on demand’ advertising? The shift in consumer habits is not that people don’t want information, quite the contrary they want a lot of information; just about the stuff they like.

DC: On demand this on demand that, so the net is going to replace TV?

G: Well it is definitely starting to. I would much rather explore content that I like then wait for my TV to deliver meaningful content at its own pace. I regularly surf sites like www.utube.com to see what people are doing around the world. With the fiber optic bandwidth capability doubling ever ~3 months the space to stream any movie in history any time you want is not far off. So it is not that internet will take over, but it will just complement your viewing habits more and your TV will gain more functions.

The major change is in the amount of content people want, now people want bite size info. Think about SMS news updates, it is a lot easier absorb then watching 30 min of CNN and its light years ahead of the newspaper. So the next step would be SMS updates with streaming video of the news in question and taking your TV with you on your phone. Not that far away either.


DC: So where are we with all this here in the UAE from your Showtime perspective?

G: It is hard to say how long it will take for DVR to be the standard, in the US 1 in 10 homes owns a DVR now. We still have a long way to go, but products like ShowBox are selling out fast and having a hard time keeping up with demand. But, unless people have other functions like EPG (Electronic Programming Guides) they will not take full control of viewing habits. Showtime is currently the only company offering this service with a sizeable lead time. As the industry itself matures, more companies will offer this feature, bringing the value to more people.

Once DVR is the standard, the effect should be better commercials with higher production value to grab attention and inspire product sales. Hopefully TVCs will be like mini movies. You could compare it to what the Michael Jackson’s music video Thriller did for the MTV generation.

DC: Many thanks George and good luck with Showtime.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Years ago, TiVos were sold for $1000, plus roughly $10/month subscription to the service, and have only now come down to a more accessible $250 or so. DirecTV have been having a very successful $99 promotion on their PVR machine, suggesting that lower prices should fuel more rapid growth."

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Brenda. said...

The best creatives have always realised that the best communication is that which taps into latent consumer needs and desires and leads to entertaining, engaging and aspirational communication that people want to watch or read or surf.

The best marketers and salespeople realise that selling is not about facts and numbers and data, it's about connecting with an audience, inspiring them and giving them what they aspire to - and believe it or not, people do not aspire to informational based advertising or seeing their lives played out in a boring problem/solution style ad.

Bring on the DVRs I say - maybe that will sort out the good creative - ie what entertains people - from the rest of the mediocre bunch.

Cheers people.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 2 questions:

1 How easy does DVR make tracking ad viewership?
2 and whats thew difference between TIVO and DVR?

3:12 PM  
Blogger AD MAD said...

Tivo is the brand.

DVR is the device, like VCR

3:41 PM  
Blogger AD MAD said...

Why does anyone actually believe that digital devices are a benefit to advertising?????

The more selectable the channels, the more convienient they are, the more precise the programming, the better viewership understanding, more targeted the media becomes, the higher the costs, justified by this understanding, the more of a monopoly the larger client gains on the target audience, the higher the barriers to entry and the more difficult it is to gain awareness, power brands, with power media agencies, power buying their way to power....

Globalization never looked more certain....I'm really looking forward to this era !!!!!!

3:53 PM  
Blogger AD MAD said...

Brenda you say:

"realize that selling is not about facts and numbers and data, it's about connecting with an audience, inspiring them and giving them what they aspire to"

I disagree in this context of DVR - selling is about supply and demand economics 101 - imagine if you have 100 properties - the first one starts at a very low price and the final one ends being sold at a huge price based on the demand - (or number of enquiries - red button clicks) - you sell them through DVR and when they are all sold you stop the ad. You know who you sold them to, the profile of the purchaser and even there motivation for purchase - real time sales formula ads and price combined with a dynamic sales model. This is pie in the sky I hear you say? To complicated? maybe in 20 years?

No! Apply the same logic you have in airline sales, online shopping and whole of the hotel industry - Easy Jet the most successful Airline in Europe over the past decade doesn't advertise it based everything on real time yield management of pricing - what the consumer wants as you put it is the best price delivered through convenient service. So your comments are a little broad if not FMCG founded I fear.

In all honesty more and more ad people in the region need to be careful when mixing their advertising rhetoric with marketing - and then chucking it at a digital genre for the hell of it. They are not the same and that is why our clients are employing management consultants to do this not us.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"more targeted the media becomes, the higher the costs?" Wouldnt more channels mean cheaper costing?

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These DVRs are going to create huge barriers to brand building! Maybe it is time to start re-thinking conventional TVC and exploring other ways to connect to consumers. Maybe the book is true...This is the begining of "The Death of Advertising and the rise of PR"

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Ish said...

I opt to take the anonymouses out back and shoot them.

5:38 PM  
Blogger X said...

Ish...take the sand out of ur vagina please.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous G$ said...

Just as an interesting footnote to the globalization comment; in a region where pay TV dominates the airwaves, i have just been watching the world cup on my computer at work... www.pctvshack.com

So, the worries of DVR should pail in comparison to the opportunities of the internet.

6:44 PM  
Blogger AD MAD said...

Channel proliferation happened donkey's years ago - 500 channels that you flick through aimlessly until you find what you want. But DVR lets you record only the things you want to watch - your wasted time spent in front of the TV is reduced. More targeted channels that are consistently watched (because of huge hype - Lost - 24 - Champions League football – Pop Idol) get all the viewership and the media spend. It’s not to say that niche channels won’t have their place but it is much more likely that lower budget productions will inevitably go straight to the internet ….blah blah blah……..TV isn’t dead it’s more about the way we get our hands on our entertainment.

TV is competing in a digital age for a share of our time - we spend more time on the phone - more time watching downloaded movies - listening to downloaded music.......but most importantly playing interactive games, not just consoles and gamboy's, but online gaming is the biggest shock to the advertising system since the internet itself……ok not everyone but online gaming is moving out of geek status even in a voyeurism, celebrity status and big big big money.

It’s fair to say PR now has a huge opportunity but the it faces an almost mind boggling challenge – where to focus efforts with so many sources of information open to consumers.

Do you trust a friend or a like minded consumer on a blog or even a product rating from a previous buyer more than a journalist’s article and or an average print ad????

10:55 AM  

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