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Insights: The EGC Blog


It’s Advertising Week 2015 in NYC, an event that for the past 12 years has gathered leaders and high profile professionals from around the world to discuss, exchange, and develop ideas in every aspect of advertising. Needless to say, the changes that have taken place in advertising make the last 12 years seem like light years.

Some of the big topics this year have been network acquisitions, the news that Facebook indeed intends to launch "ratings"and YouTube's proposed subscription video and music service. Digital advertising was clearly at the forefront of the conversation. But there were signs that tride and true traditional advertising methods still have a place in the game.

Radio was given its due as medium that is still very relevant. Matt Scheckner, the Executive Director for Advertising Week, told RadioInk: “Radio has brought a robust presence from the industry by day and by night with premiere speakers, content, and performers throughout the week.” 

Internet radio was also discussed (and its competition with Facebook) . It was noted that audiences made up of Millennials and Generation Z listeners are tuning in to the radio more often than usual. 

Outdoor advertisements, it seems, are alive and in the game, and on view for all to see via billboards and bus shelters, among other places. Steven Perlberg of The Wall Street Journal wrote that the the Outdoor Advertising Association of America will launch a campaign with statements such as: “This ad is real” and “You are consuming an advertisement. You are real,” which is geared toward out-of-home advertising businesses. 

The average budget for outdoor advertising is $4.1 billion, Perlberg reports, compared to $50 billion budgets that are spent on digital. So, outdoor advertising is still around, but is not as widely sponsored. The big bucks are being saved for modern technology.

And on the modern tech front, one of the biggest topics this week has been the possible impact of "ad blocking." Perlberg in his piece went so far as to write "the week will carry a patina of fear" on the subject. Erin Griffith reporting in Fortune quoted Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg, who coined some inventive descriptions of ad blockers (such as “unwelcome gatekeepers”), and claimed that these types of apps “hurt the little guy.”

Other attendees, when asked, went on to state that ad blocking was “a threat to what makes the Internet great.” How to address this threat? Begin by looking at the general collection of mobile ads, and honestly address what mobile users don’t like about them. 

Peter Imburg, of the gift giving site Elfster.com, stated that ad blocking should serve “…as a wakeup call to solve the things that are annoying to audiences.” 

As EGC's Creative Director Rich DeSimone noted in a recent Insights piece, "If someone wants to block ads, did we ever have a chance that they’d engage with it? Maybe now the eyeballs we’ll have on ads will actually be people who welcome them and respond to them, making click-through and effectiveness even better."

And as Jamie Scheu, writing for The Huffington Post, wrote in what might be interpreted as a more positive spin on Imburg’s statement, and considers the obstacles of ad blocking as challenges. Ad blocking will force creatives to step up their game. Or, simply stated: “Digital advertising has to get better."

Connie Anne Phillips, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer for Glamour Magazine, was quoted in Ad Age suggesting:“As far as ad blocking, I think the greatest solution for it is native advertising. Creating ads and working with marketers to take our great assets and make sure that that consumer doesn’t want to miss that marketing message…Create content, and deliver it to the right consumer, in the right context, where she wants it, when she wants it.”

There is an age-old saying when it comes to attracting an audience: “Always leave them wanting more,” which has been attributed from everyone from P.T. Barnum to Walt Disney. Regardless of who said it, in these current times where people can “tune out” ads at will, this short maxim could (and should) be a mantra for marketers and creatives in attracting – and keeping – customers. Hopefully, the dialogs and forums at Advertising Week 2015 built a foundation to build on for digital ads to be not only be seen – but sought out.

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Long, long ago in 2011, TechCrunch published a piece entitled: It’s a Facebook World, Other Social Networks Just Live in It. The article featured Vincenzo Cosenza’s “World Map of Social Networks” that highlighted Facebook’s global dominance.

In the four years since then, there have been countless headlines declaring that the death of Facebook is nigh. Two years ago, Ruby Karp, then 13, wrote an article that went viral: I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook. Ruby is back this week with an update: I’m 15 And All of My Friends Use Facebook.

This time last year, EGC took a look here on Insights at apps that were popular with younger demographics. Facebook had fallen behind Instagram and Twitter. And Snapchat was looking like a contender to become the platform of choice for Generation Z.

Certainly, younger demographics are more likely to embrace new apps and try new networks. But clearly, with more than 1.4 billion monthly users, and the platform’s recent announcement that one billion people used Facebook in a single day, this is still a social center that brings users together.

Facebook has become a place to watch videos, competing with YouTube, and has now joined forces with YouTube in launching 360 videos. This week, Lucasfilm’s special effects team, ILMxLAB, created a short Star Wars clip that premiered exclusively on Facebook. Watch the video: HERE.

While the technology to create these videos is complex, Facebook writes that its goal is to see immersive experiences across the network: “In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil – you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there.  Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organizations, and individual creators.”

In addition to Lucasfilm Discovery, GoPro, LeBron James & Uninterrupted, Saturday Night Live, and VICE are also sharing new 360 videos. Facebook adds, “If you’re using Facebook on the web or on Android, you should be able to see 360 videos in News Feed soon. We plan to roll this out for iOS in the coming months. It’s early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities for 360 video and hope it helps people explore the world in new, immersive ways.”

Facebook has also dialing up with its Instant Articles, which first launched in May. The Washington Post will reportedly begin running every story on Facebook via Instant Articles. Facebook has signed on publishers such as The Huffington Post, Mashable, Hearst, MTV, Time Inc., CBS Interactive and Gannett.

Facebook is becoming a center of media, advertising, and ecommerce with brands such as Johnny Cupcakes (and even allegedly as a black market for perhaps more unexpected items, like fish). Facebook has become such an integral part of the world’s marketing, communications and daily life that when it when down yesterday, it prompted tongue-in-cheek headlines such as: Facebook Goes Down for 10 Minutes, Mass Panic Ensues.



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Facebook can feel like a proud parent. This summer, figures and reports showed that this social media giant was also a force to be reckoned with in marketing and advertising. And as the parent company of Instagram, Facebook has a lot to be proud of. Instagram is on its way to becoming what may be termed an “advertising prodigy” on social media.

Recently, this popular photo and video sharing social media network began expanding its resources to enable advertisers to run campaigns in various formats (including the option of 30-second video spots) on its site. Instagram is looking to accommodate any business, brand, or corporation – well-known or not – that hopes to advance their campaigns. And, all of these marketing efforts are global. In a statement from Instagram that was posted on Phys.Org:

"We're excited to announce that starting this month, advertisers both large and small can run campaigns on Instagram. In addition, ads are now available in more than 30 new countries –including Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and South Korea – and will be launching in markets around the world on September 30."

According to Mark Sweeney, writing for The Guardian, that figure is 38 new markets, so Instagram’s reach is only expanding. Apparently, this plan was in development since June, and the prediction is that within a couple of years, the popularity and wide usage of ads on Instagram will eventually surpass Google and Twitter in mobile display revenues.

What should especially appeal to advertisers is the quick and convenient set of callouts that Instagram is featuring in the campaigns. As Kathleen Chaykowski lists in Forbes, these callouts include “Install Now,” “Sign Up,” and “Shop Now.” And, in addition to the relatively new mode of video advertising, Instagram is also appealing to more traditional arenas. Got an event you want to promote? Try Marquee, the event-related format.

Another thing that Instagram has going for it, is late-breaking technology. Last week, Apple unveiled some cool and impressive upgrades and entirely new products to its lineup. In addition to the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, there is something new for the iPhone. Whether by luck or coincidence, the new “3D Touch” displays on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models by Apple makes this venue for mobile advertising stand out (literally and figuratively).

As Ms. Chaykowski goes on to explain, “3D Touch” will: “…respond to three different levels of force and gives users new shortcut screens. The result is a nimbler and more visually pleasing navigation interface.” (On a side note, it is ironic that Apple has also introduced “content blocker” apps which can eliminate having mobile ads appear on a mobile screen. Talk about opposites of extremes!)

In the space of a week’s time, Instagram ads are off and running. Recently, a list of “Instagram Advertising Best Practices” was posted by Katie Carlson of B2C that covers everything from staying relevant to a target audience to creating different ad visuals. This is but one example of how advertising via Instagram has taken hold (and quickly).

With this kind of impending success, Instagram will not only carve a strong niche for itself, but it will also further secure proud (and profitable) parent Facebook as a preeminent social media platform for advertising. Congrats, Instagram…you chip off the social media block.

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Facebook-6 This has been a week of big announcements from two of the world’s biggest brands. Yesterday, Apple unveiled its revolutionary iPad Pro that promises to provide professionals with incredible new tools, particularly the new Apple Pencil that affords creative teams impressive sketch capabilities. And Facebook announced changes to Pages that will make it even easier for businesses to promote their products and services.

More than one billion people visit Facebook every month. In fact, just last month, the platform announced that one billion people used Facebook in a single day. With one in seven people on Earth on Facebook in one day, there are incredible opportunities for businesses to reach customers.

As early as 2012, Facebook was bringing in billions of dollars in ad revenue, making $1 billion per quarter. As of July 2015, Facebook revenue was $4.04 billion in Q2 alone. Clearly, marketers understand the power of Facebook advertising.

But as much as brands could advertise and use the platform strategically to energize fans and Facebook has worked to improve its billing system to make the platform an even more attractive place to advertise, there were limits to how businesses could present themselves on the network. Now, Facebook has launched new sections for Pages that allow businesses such as restaurants, for example, to list their menu items, or service industry businesses to list their offerings.

The update is seen as taking aim at Yelp, which calls itself “the best way to find great local businesses.”  And Facebook is known for taking on other platforms. One notable example is its effort to dominate as a video platform in direct competition with YouTube.

Facebook also unveiled more prominent call-to-action buttons, with particular focus on making them bigger and brighter on mobile. In testing will be new call-to-action button options on mobile as well, including “Call Now,” “Send Message,” and “Contact Us.”

Reflecting an unignorable trend, making mobile more important than ever, Facebook put the emphasis on mobile in its announcement. The brand stated, “People are spending more time on their phones and tablets, which means businesses need to keep up with people’s expectation that they can find information and communicate with a business anytime, anywhere, on any device.”

Perfectly timed with this was Apple’s unveiling of the new iPad Pro, which offers consumers a new mobile device on which to work and play.

Understanding that many professionals prefer to work with a keyboard, Apple introduced the new Smart Keyboard. A new Apple-designed interface, called the Smart Connector, works with the new conductive fabric inside the Smart Keyboard to transmit information between the keyboard and iPad Pro with no plugs, switches or pairing.

The new Apple Pencil allows designers to draw lines of any weight depending on the pressure applied. As Apple explains, “iPad Pro knows whether you’re using your finger or Apple Pencil. When iPad Pro sense Apple Pencil, the subsystem scans its signal at an astounding 240 times per second, giving it twice the data points it normally collects with your finger. This data, combined with Apple-designed software, means that there’s only milliseconds between the image you have in your mind and the one you see on the display.”

With the ability to add shading, connect to built-in apps and apps from the App Store, draw in Notes, and enjoy 12 hours of battery life, this could be an incredibly powerful tool powering brainstorms, creative sessions and more. Perhaps sketching out some new plans to best put Facebook’s new Pages layout to work for clients?

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This week Google Chrome began blocking Adobe Flash. What does it really mean for advertisers?

Headlines from Wired’s Google is Taking a Big Step to Kill Off Flash for Good to the Christian Science Monitor’s The Slow Demise of Adobe Flash Continues as Chrome Blocks Flash Ads have sounded the death knell for Adobe Flash. Will Adobe Flash meet its end at the hands of Google? And is this cause for alarm or welcome progress?

For many artists, designers, and digital professionals, working with Flash was a double-edged sword. While some swore by it, there was no denying that technical issues abounded, between the application itself and Flash Player. 

EGC Group Creative Director Rich DeSimone tells us, “In the beginning designers loved Flash. It was an opportunity to add some “flash” to an otherwise boring medium at the time.” He explains that while “The viewers of Flash-driven creative welcomed the entertainment value, the way people used the internet when Flash was introduced is strikingly different now.”

Rich-DeSimone“Users want to find things quickly, and consume information quickly without distractions,” DeSimone adds. “More importantly other ways to build, code and program things like games and streaming data evolved to the point that Flash was quickly becoming more of a hassle than a help. So the bigger question is: ‘Why couldn’t Flash evolve with the technology and coding movement?’”

Senior Art Director Keith Groshans adds, “Flash lost a lot of its luster for me when it became very dependent on action scripting (around AS2.0). Designers at that time did not write code well, if at all. Coupled with the restrictions of file size, action scripting became necessary to do Flash ‘well.’” But he notes, “Adobe is still fighting the good fight. They have released Adobe Animate, which emulates the Flash designer environment, but converts everything to HTML5 in the background.”

Security issues also plagued Flash. Recently, an incident of a major security hack was traced back to a flaw in Flash. Russell Brandom reported in The Verge that in the last year alone, advertising malware rates went up dramatically.

With results that went from frustration with the technology to the realization that it was the cause of a security risk, it was natural that Flash would have been phased out at some point in time. The late Steve Jobs (whose company Apple® was Adobe’s first big customers and investors), wrote of the disadvantages (and potential dangers) of Flash in 2010.

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.

So with Google’s big move marking the apparent impending doom for Flash – what about existing rich media online advertising that has been created in Flash? Aaron Pressman post on Yahoo! Finance and cited a survey which concluded that 90% of these ads were created in Flash.

At the same time, Elizabeth Dwosking of The Wall Street Journal estimates that with ad-blocking software, the loss in advertising revenue for 2015 could be as much as $22 billion.  Should we be concerned about the cumulative impact between the loss of Flash ads on Google and content blockers?

DeSimone says, “The next best thing is always in the works, so I’m sure there will be a way to convert all of the rich-media already created.” He adds, “22 Billion is a big dip in revenue, however if someone wants to block ads, did we ever have a chance that they’d engage with it? Maybe now the eyeballs we’ll have on ads will actually be people who welcome them and respond to them, making click-through and effectiveness even better.”

The wave of the future, by all accounts, is HTML5. And DeSimone shares, “HTML 5 will be able to create the same rich media experiences that Flash used to do. And I’m sure we’ll see more progressive trends with HTML 5 that we were hungry for when we were stuck using Flash because they were the only player in the game.”


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In an understatement, mobile advertising has become a dominant force. The world is not experiencing a mobile migration; it is experiencing a mass-mobile migration. And the conversion has been fast and extreme. What is interesting (and confounding) are different findings in the news as to how mobile is advancing in some ways, and changing in others.

A study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that mobile ad revenue surged 65% to $32 billion (globally) last year. These figures are listed in article in Marketing Interactive which also states that mobile display has even surpassed the use of search. Furthermore, customers are shifting more toward app-based messaging platforms (which are geared toward mobile users). Among the big money-makers of mobile advertising (which should come as no surprise) have been social media sites.

In Fortune Magazine, Matthew Ingram lists some very impressive statistics. Facebook reportedly earned over $3 billion dollars in advertising last year, and with their recent inclusion of auto-play ads, the site should hopefully have further success next year. Even Twitter, which a couple of months ago announced a major reorganization of its resources, did not do too badly, and this year is likely to further improve its fortunes with the recent introduction of its mobile ad network, along with video formats.

Social media sites “know” their users, and so they deliver mobile ads that they think their audience would appreciate. When one is on a social media site, they tend to be more receptive (or actually want) to see what mobile ads might appear before them. This is not true, however, for all sites…

It may be hard to believe, but some websites are actually hurting because of mobile. Mr. Ingram writes of the negative impact that mobile has had on news media sites (as one example). In findings conducted by Pew Research Center, while over 50% of users have visited many news sites via their mobile devices, they have not stayed as long due to poor optimization. These same users are also less likely to click on ads, thus contributing to the lack of revenue.

As if that were not enough of a problem, mobile ads are apparently more difficult to promote than web ads. Mr. Ingram goes on to cite Jack Marshall in The Wall Street Journal, who states: “Selling advertising on mobile devices is proving difficult: It is hard to show mobile users enough ads, traditional ad formats like ‘banners’ perform miserably, and publishers can’t easily do sophisticated tracking and targeting of ads.”

Mr. Marshall mentioned “tracking and targeting,” which brings us to another obstacle for mobile advertising, which are apps known as “content blockers,” soon to be featured in the next update to Apple® iOS. Yes, the “content” that this app will block includes advertising, tracking (a major supplement to tell how well ads are performing), and additional unwanted content. Owen Williams has actually tried some of these new apps, and he provides details about them in TNW News. The advantages for mobile users is that they will not be inconvenienced by ads they may not want to see in the first place, and, the blockers will help enable speed of download times and improves cellular connection.

This latest development puts a real question mark on mobile advertising. Will content blocking hurt the great financial results that social media has gleaned from mobile advertising? Will those sites that already have difficulty in managing their mobile presence become obsolete? While it is too early to tell, developers and marketers alike will no doubt be monitoring ad performance and return even more closely than when they began their mobile campaigns.

Here is a very pertinent quote that was included from the Marketing Interactive article from Townsend Feehan, the CEO of IAB: “It’s important that advertisers, agencies and publishers fully understand consumer behavior as the differences between the devices diminish and the potential for engagement with digital content grows.”

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In the last couple of months, there were mixed predictions about where the future of long-form content in marketing and advertising was going. To quote – appropriately enough, a famous writer – Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Pessimists were declaring the role of the writer as all but obsolete on account of recent technology that could generate short, attention-getting copy quickly and efficiently. Optimists heralded the emerging power of “native advertising” which requires (no, demands) the talents of living and breathing writers to craft and refine long form content.

The reality, of course, is that no one can predict the future. This is particularly true in the world of advertising and marketing. The advances in technology, combined with consumer tastes, changing trends, and preferred methods of gathering information, browsing, and making a purchase – invalidate almost any kind of guessing as to what will definitely work (and what will not). But for now, there is good news for those who write and those who read…

Long-form content is alive and well, has a healthy future ahead, and will remain a major part of advertising and marketing. In an article for “Content Standard by Skyword,” Krystal Overmyer writes why long-form content is beneficial to brands:

In the age of seconds-long attention spans, many marketers have clung to the mantra that shorter is better. But it turns out users are happy to engage with long-form content, even on mobile devices. The apparent appetite for long-form content presents an opportunity for brands: With long-form, companies have more space to tell their stories and boost brand awareness.

Additionally, Ms. Overmyer goes on to state that long-form content has a better chance of earning a higher positioning in search engines and social media. (In the short, to-the-point messaging that we’ve grown accustomed to, we tend to forget the obvious: more content means more keywords, which in turn, means more chances of appearing in a web search.) A particularly surprising conclusion is that people who use their mobile devices much of the time are actually more receptive to reading long-form content than one might think. Ms. Overmyer cites statistics from an article that appeared on Buzzfeed, entitled “Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500,” where half of the one million views were from mobile devices. This content had to do with editorial. What about paid content?

While there is freedom and opportunity for long-form content, keep in mind that when it comes to writing copy for advertising and marketing (paid content), there are definite rules and guidelines that must be adhered to. Native advertising becomes the gateway to promoting content. VentureBeat recently listed some best practices to apply when it comes to making native advertising more appealing (read: attention-getting) to those who get their content via mobile. Native ads must be real, clear and valuable. They must be tested. And, another thing to keep in mind is to think like a mobile user when creating a native ad. The article at VentureBeat gave a perfect explanation of how this partnering of native advertising and content should work:

By definition, mobile native ads blend in with the natural experience of the app they appear in. Native ads drive deeper engagement, so brands prefer them. And because they are more subtle and less obvious than conventional banner ads, native gives users the opportunity to discover ads more naturally.

As a closing example to the staying power of long-form content, Kerry Flynn, for “International Business Times,” reported on a recent announcement from Facebook. The ever-expanding, ever-change social media platform is in plans to update its “Notes” feature as well as a redesign of its blog layout – for the express purpose of accommodating long-form content. And while these updates are geared for desktop users, it is still indicative of the fact that long-form content is growing and evolving, regardless of what device users choose to read from.

So, the next time you want to find out some in-depth data about a product, service or brand (that can be represented by native advertising), or wish to simply curl up and read a good blog or lengthy article, there is no shortage of content to read.

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Over the course of the last couple of months, there have been major changes in the fortunes of several well-known social media sites. The extreme highs and lows experienced by these platforms have had a sense of drama and intrigue that are almost worthy of a Netflix television series…

At the end of June, Twitter announced a major overhaul that entailed everything from new management to reorganizing and reworking the platform for the purpose of accommodating its audience (not to mention the hope of gaining more followers).

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Google all but admitted defeat in having tried to take a place as a leading social media presence when it could no longer be denied that Google+ proved to be – literally – losing. These losses included some signature features (such as Google Photos), as well as popularity (which, unfortunately, never matched that of the other contenders to begin with).

On the opposite end of this spectrum, there is Facebook, which could be considered to have the Midas touch among social media platforms. For example, whereas Google+ experienced a lack of success with Google Photos, the Facebook-owned Instagram is still going strong. On the other hand, the jury is still out in regard to Facebook as a challenge to YouTube in the world of online video streaming and marketing. But even if Facebook does not manage to equal or overcome YouTube, it is still a very strong and sound social media site.

And the greatest strength and savvy that Facebook has recently displayed has been in the field of advertising. In mid-July, Facebook stated that the purpose of their proposed Click to Website ads were to help brands and businesses (that have a Facebook Page, of course) attract more traffic to their native site by way of clicking on a specially designed ad. And, this type of feature is indeed paying off for both the brands and Facebook…

Forrester Research, the technology and research company, recently conducted a study entitled, “It’s Time to Separate Social from Media.” As advertising via social media has gained traction and power, this title could not be truer, with the emphasis moving away from “social” and more toward “media.” Tim Maytom of Mobile Marketing, who covered the Forrester Research report, made note of one of their considerations that: “…any social media ad spending should be governed by a company’s media team, rather than its social team, representing a shift in how central social media is to digital marketing.”

And how does the above conclusion tie in with Facebook? The Wall Street Journal also reported on this Forrester Research study. In an article by Jack Marshall, when it comes to numbers and results – 78% of social marketers consider Facebook as the social media site that provides the best value. This social media platform has received high praise and has also attracted more advertisers than Twitter (66%), YouTube (65%), and LinkedIn (68%). (The significance of these finding cannot be undervalued, as paid advertising currently accounts for 83% of social spending by marketers. And 82% of these social marketers spend money for ads on Facebook.)

The advertising possibilities offered by Facebook are only increasing. Forbes reporter Kathleen Chaykowski has just written of how auto-play ads are now being integrated into the mobile ad network on Facebook. As Ms. Chaykowski writes: “The move gives Facebook the chance to sell more video ads to marketers without upsetting Facebook users by putting more ads on its own apps.” So – advertisers get exposure, Facebook users are not inconvenienced, and Facebook itself gains popularity, revenue, and additional business by keeping everybody happy.

Whether or not Facebook is one’s social media network of choice, there’s no denying that this platform knows what it is doing when it comes to advertising.

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Going to the movies may become a lost pastime, and for a number of people, it has.

Part of this can be attributed to the advances in technology, with widescreen TVs and DVD and BluRay players that are more affordable in today’s market. Another factor is price. The average price of a single movie ticket is over $10.00, with food and beverages at the concession stands increasing this cost.

What does this mean to the relationship between movies and advertising? Some have already declared product placements in films a dying advertising tool for brands. Are local ads that run on the big screen before the show starts – once considered a dynamic ad option for small businesses – thus on the way out too?

All of the factors listed above tie into what may be the bigger problem, which are the changing attitudes of what people want or expect in entertainment. What follows is a comparison of how going to the movies has changed – between once upon a time and today. And much of it has to do with attitudes

Earlier this year, a website posted in its introduction: “Boredom is terrible. Thankfully we live in an age that allows us to watch free movies on Android devices with ease.” Yes. This website sold apps by which people could watch movies on their smartphones. It seems that history is repeating itself. People can now watch movies on a screen that is similar in size to the Pilot Model TV-37 “Candid” Television, an early television model from 1948, which had a viewing area of three (count ‘em, three) inches.

shutterstock_162916022In an age where widescreen features are filmed (a number of which are in the even bigger and wider IMAX format) with the goal of filling a movie theater screen with as much imagery as possible, consumers can watch the same movie (shortly after its theatrical release) on their smartphones. The fact that all of that onscreen richness and depth will be microscopic in size is beside the point. The real value is the convenience and capability to watch movies in miniature. Oh, and by watching movie in this manner, boredom (which has become the worst fate imaginable) is eliminated.

Smartphones are wonderful things. Telephone calls, emails, GPS capability, and more can be carried out quickly and conveniently. But to watch movies on? A time and a place for everything, and movies-by-smartphone have also changed what the movie experience is all about (or is supposed to be about).

For members of “the Greatest Generation” and their off-spring that are “the Baby Boomers,” going to the movies “back in the day” was an experience that has drastically changed. If a movie was popular, lines would form and wind all the way around the block. Once the tickets were bought, there was a sense of anticipation, sitting in the auditorium. The lights would slowly dim to dark, and the feature would begin. People may not have been conscious of it, but this buildup intensified the movie-going experience and made it more enjoyable. Movies were meant to be seen, preferably from beginning to end.

In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock famously insisted that no one would be permitted into the theater after the start of his classic film, “Psycho.” This marketing tactic enhanced the movie-going public’s curiosity, whetting their appetites for what this fuss was all about – and their enjoyment of the film was better for it. If people were late, they had to wait until the next show. (Yes, they had to be – gulp! – bored for the next two hours!) Unfortunately, a film like “Psycho” could not be made today, because without question, all of the secret twists and turns would have been tweeted or shared to the social media world within seconds after the premiere performance. So much for anticipation and curiosity. Again, attitudes have changed. On a related point, another minus to movie going today is being distracted by the all too many smartphone screens that make movie auditoriums look like a firefly convention.

A couple of weeks ago, “TIME” Magazine reprinted an article from a Chicago-based publication, “Consequence of Sound,” by Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, which was about the imminent change that may well alter the movie-going experience (as it used to be known) forever. One example of this change in attitude is that movies are considered products for “consumption,” as opposed to experience to be seen and (hopefully) enjoyed. Paramount Pictures reached a deal with AMC Pictures and Canada’s Cineplex Inc., whereby a couple of test project movies would be released to video on-demand services 50 days after their respective theatrical releases.

This “experiment” is being carried out due to a shortage of people who fill up auditoriums. Apparently, the box office returns in 2014 were the lowest in the past 20 years. As stated above, the cost of going to the movies is great, and many people can understandably wish to wait for the video release (be it DVD, BluRay or streaming). And it is perhaps understandable that Paramount is resorting to this method of distribution, and many other studios may follow suit.

shutterstock_206384146On a side note, it is ironic that the Academy Awards are still a big deal when the excitement of going to the movies has waned.

And as the change to movie making and watching has impacted advertising, a similar trend might well follow suit with video production and distribution. While traditional video content mediums are changing, with the focus on streaming services and video becoming a big content player on social media, how brands advertise in video/film is inevitably changing as well.

Is the future of sitting in a crowded movie theater obsolete? Maybe not. If anything, those who truly enjoy the communal experience of seeing a movie will become a specialized group, similar to those who enjoy the opera and ballet. To illustrate this point, Lincoln Center just finished a featured event: “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton.” Years ago (i.e., before smartphone movie watching), this kind of an event would not have been likely to take place, if in fact even thought of.

Whatever the future holds for movie watching, there is no question that the experience has become compartmentalized, as some will actually go out to a theatre while others will rent, stream (or even choose to watch on a smartphone…hey, it’s a free country). In any case, the times have changed.

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Google+, a social media site that has seen some varied success since it began, has been going through some dark times recently. As with all social media sites, the purpose of Google+ was for users to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The familiar logo of the lowercase letter “g” with a “+” sign next to it is still featured next to the icons for Facebook and Twitter on many different websites to invite visitors to “follow” that site’s Google+ page. The question of late, however, is how long and how frequently will that logo be included with those of Facebook and Twitter?

A recent article in “Business Insider” actually claims that the search engine Google “threw in the towel with Google+” (in the title, it should be noted) but that difficulties regarding related social media issues will remain. The most successful time for Google (not Google+ keep in mind), was when searches were done via desktop. With the advent of mobile, Google’s strength has slowed down. While Google is still in the lead as far as earning more in the way of mobile advertising, research by Morgan Stanley predicts that Facebook will in time win out.

The list of recent – and many – changes (or rather, losses) continues. “Google Photos” have been moved out of the service (so if you have any on Google+, be sure you have backups). According to “Tech Crunch” Google is also separating Google+ profiles from regular Google accounts. The (very good) intention of this was to make communicating and working with all other Google services easier and convenient (a sort of “one-profile-fits-all-for-everything-Google”). Unfortunately, there were not enough Google+ users who “clicked” with this concept. The most prominent site that is parting ways with Google+ over this is YouTube. Again, the good intention of having identifiable user profiles was that this would cut down on offensive content posted by trolls and malicious users. (For the actual video report from Sarah Lane of “Tech Crunch: Crunch Report,” click here. The time frame for this section is 2:54-3:50.)

Finally, Google itself has weighed in with a verdict of its offshoot social media site as being confusing to users, as reported by NBC News. "This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing," claimed Bradley Horowitz, who took charge of Google+ a few months ago. (One can’t get over the irony that the purpose of trying to have everything streamlined so that a registered user of Google+ could easily access the social media site and all other Google pages should be met with confusion.)

So what does the future hold for Google+? Is there a future for Google+? Jillian D’Onfro wrote in “Business Insider” that perhaps Google should cover the losses incurred by Google+ by spending money on acquiring (or partnering) with one of the other social media sites, such as Twitter –

“Early Twitter investor Chris Sacca said that Google never understood social and that it would be an "instant fit." Google would finally have a social product, get a new ad-stream, and have access to a different kind of real-time search relevancy.

This past Monday, Mr. Horowitz posted to the Google Official Blog, where he detailed the changes that were going to happen for Google+ over the course of the near future. Overall, he claims that many features will stay the same, but without being under the “Google+” umbrella. For those who use this as their social media of choice, here’s hoping that these features can still be salvaged, along with the site that may in time be referred to as the “formerly-known-as-Google+” platform.

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