Kiwi papers suffering from bad circulation (but faring much better than the Brits)

In this installment of Michael Carney’s Marketing Week:

  • The latest readership results are out. Grim reading, of course. But don’t wallow in self-pity. Laugh at the misfortune of others instead.
  • Telecom announces modest sales of TiVo. But can CASPA change that?
  • Can the iPad do for TV what the iPod did for music?
  • The Travel Channel gets set for landing.
  • The case of the missing asterisk. ComCom cracks down on misleading promotions.

Shock! Horror! Readership Results

The latest magazine and newspaper readership and circulation figures are out and most publications’ numbers are down. Quelle surprise! And with a recession on, too – go figure. Let’s put the bloodbath into some sort of context: based on ABC circulation figures, here’s how our biggest-circulating newspapers fared (Audited Net Circulation to 31 December 2009 vs 12 months earlier):

  • New Zealand Herald, down 5.8%
  • Waikato Times, down 0.5%
  • Dominion Post, down 4.3%
  • The Press, down 2.4%
  • Otago Daily Times, down 0.3%
  • Southland Times, down 0.6%

Oh, and Rotorua’s Daily Post actually deserves a special mention for managing to increase its Net Circulation by 24 copies an issue, year on year. Not statistically significant, perhaps, but still a signal honour in comparison to the rest of the newspaper industry in 2009.  So how do these figures compare to global performances? The UK also came out with national newspaper circulation results on Friday, and those results make far more depressing reading:

  • The Times recorded the biggest year-on-year circulation fall of any UK national paper in January, down 17.69%
  • The Daily Telegraph reported a 11.76% year-on-year decline
  • The Guardian showed a 15.76% decline
  • The Independent was down 13.78% year on year
  • the Financial Times dropped 8.52% year on year

There – we feel better already!

TiVo and Telecom’s Expectations

As Chris Keall reported in NBR Online on Friday:

At Telecom’s quarterly result briefing this morning, Telecom retail chief executive Alan Gourdie told NBR that sales of TiVo boxes so far have been “modest”.

“We set some quite high targets for Christmas that we didn’t achieve,” said Mr Gourdie.

The surprise in that report is not that TiVo missed its targets. The surprise is that Telecom set “quite high Christmas targets” for a service that’s a medium-term play, not an instant sales sensation. TiVo is a personal video recorder, just like the MySky box. In fact, some of the TiVo technology is slightly better than what’s available through currently configured MySky set-top boxes.

Where TiVo falls short, however, is in content. MySky can deliver nearly all the television channels currently available in New Zealand (with the exception of the regional analogue channels); TiVo, however, is only delivering free-to-air channels.

And that’s where CASPA is so important, for TiVo and for Telecom. CASPA (no, not your friendly ghost) is a broadband-connected service for providing Movies, TV and Music On-Demand, through the TiVo box and into your TV set.

CASPA (in theory) could enable TiVo to accelerate past MySky in terms of access to content. The service could provide on-demand access to infinitely more content than can ever be poured through a satellite transponder.

Unfortunately, it’s a case of “chicken or egg”. Should TiVo operators Hybrid pay (presumably) squillions of dollars for rights to shows that would currently be delivered to only a small number of subscribers? Or should the company wait until sign-ups reach some critical mass?

We’d recommend waiting, especially in the current economy. Which is why we describe TiVo as “a medium-term play” – and would be surprised if the powers-that-be at Telecom, Hybrid and TVNZ think otherwise.

Content remains king, whatever the technology …

Will the iPad Reinvent Television?

From the Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is [reportedly]in discussions with television networks to lower the price of downloaded TV shows when the company begins selling its new iPad tablet computer.

Apple has already been testing a price of 99 cents—half the price of standard-definition TV episodes—for certain shows on its iTunes service and [again, reportedly] wants to finalize a deal to offer that price more broadly along with the iPad, which is expected to go on sale in late March.

All that speculation makes for a great story, probably with at least a grain of truth. And selective leaking might well put more pressure on TV programme producers to do a deal. But the underlying subtext is even more interesting – and potentially game-changing. When the iPod came out, it (more than any other device) turned music listening from a shared experience to a predominantly single-user moment. Whatever your musical taste, you were no longer obliged to negotiate with other members of your household before firing up the stereo. You could dance to the beat of a different drummer in the privacy of your own earbuds.

Now the iPad threatens to unleash the same single-user phenomenon with television. YouTube already brought us part of the way – the iPad will complete the circuit with quality television available in a one-person device. Content comes in through WiFi or Mobile, and exits through one pair of eyes.

As marketers, are we ready for a new generation of massively-multi-set households?

The Travel Channel: Arriving on Sky May 1

Another new channel joins Sky Television’s basic digital package on May 1 with the arrival of the Travel Channel.

Targeted at a broad 25-54 age group, the Travel Channel “believes in the magic of journeys to change and enrich lives. Travel Channel’s programming delivers enlightening journeys, diverse excursions, human stories and unmatched travel information. Travel Channel is a passport to a broader, more fulfilling life through the experience of travel.”

The Travel Channel is a natural for Kiwi travel marketers; and Sky expected to have four minutes of airtime per hour available for local advertisers.


What sort of shows can you expect to see on the Travel Channel?

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular shows currently running on the Travel Channel in the U.S. (eventual NZ offerings may well differ, of course):

  • Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Tony uncovers the best in culinary cuisine across the world
  • Bizarre Foods; Andrew Zimmern is on a quest to find the world’s most unique tastes.
  • Dhani: Dhani Jones, NFL linebacker and Renaissance man is about to embark on a global sports odyssey that will take him anywhere with a scoreboard
  • Ghost Adventures; The “Ghost Adventures” crew investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world
  • Meet the Natives: The extraordinary journey of 5 men from the remote Pacific island of Tanna across the USA
  • Samantha Brown
  • Samantha offers up a definitive guide to the very best in weekend getaways, traveling to destinations all across the U.S. and worldwide.

The Travel Channel launches on Sky Digital Channel 77 Saturday 1 May 2010 at 6.00am and will be available to all SKY subscribers at no extra charge.

Beware of the Missing Asterisk

You may have spotted the press release issued last week by the Commerce Commission warning retailers that “when offering free gifts or prizes, they should ensure that the fine print does not materially alter the terms of the offer. This is particularly the case when the information would be critical to a person’s decision to buy the goods or services.”

The advice is of relevance to all marketers, not just the retail trade:

“If the overall impression given by a promotion or advertisement is misleading, it risks breaching the Fair Trading Act no matter what information is provided in fine print,” said Greg Allan, Commerce Commission Fair Trading Manager, Wellington.

So what brought this on?

The Commission found itself issuing a warning to Borders that a pre-Christmas voucher promotion risked breaching the Fair Trading Act.

In November and December 2009 Borders advertised a promotion with the headline offer “Receive $20 in vouchers for every $75 you spend at Borders until Christmas.” The promotion was widely advertised in-store and online through an e-newsletter and on Borders’ website. However, the small print of the offer specified that customers could only redeem one $10 voucher in January and a second $10 voucher February, which, in the Commission’s view, materially changed the headline offer.

As the Commission noted, “misleading representations about gifts and prizes can lead consumers to make purchases that they may not otherwise have made at the store.”

That, of course, is the whole reason for such promotions. No, not to mislead, but to make sales that would otherwise not have happened. But we take the Commission’s point: if your headline offer is materially different from what you’re really offering, expect to be disembowelled in public as a result.

  • And make sure you check out the Marketing Rebooted eCourses. As the name might suggest, is all about the challenges facing marketers as we head into the second decade of the new millennium. Under that name, we’ll be bringing you a series of eCourses for marketers trained in traditional advertising and marketing methods, who know a little about new generation marketing tools and techniques – but not enough. The first installment will be on social media. And there’s a rundown of the course content and what it will cover here.

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