Friday 24 June 2011

What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement?

If you recall some of the television/radio advertisements, you would notice the usage/synchronization of film songs in the advertisements. Some examples from the recent past are:

Sr. No
Song Synchronized
Album Name
Maruti A-Star
Rock On
Rock On!
Kellogs Honey Loops
Love Mera Hit Hit
Billu Barber
Kellogs Honey Loops
Uff Teri Ada
Karthik Calling Karthik
Boro Plus Ice – Talcum Powder
All is Well
3 Idiots
Ponds White Beauty
Khuda Jaane
Bachna Ae Haseeno

What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement?
First, it’s the positive decision of the creative advertisement agency and approval of the same by the client, that a particular song is relevant to the brand, to the commercial, matches brand personality, and would help recall the brand and the advertisement.
Well, the second and the most important aspect of song synchronization is to avail the permission / license from the right’s holder of the song being synchronized in the ad.
This post will further elaborate the process of obtaining the necessary permissions from the right’s holder and different negotiation handles. Not to mention, content is a non-commoditized item and there is no Maximum Retail Price attached to it. The cost of the permission / license depends upon various parameters that you should know to negotiate the rate accordingly.
1)    Identify the Right’s Holder
The agency needs to find the Music Label which released the song that has to be incorporated in the brand commercial. Then the agency needs to contact the licensing / publishing cell of the Music Label and contact the person responsible for music licensing / music publishing or non-physical sales.  Once connected with the licensing department, the agency needs to tell the the purpose of the call, the name of the song and ask if they own 100% rights to the song selected for the commercial. 100% includes the sound recording and the publishing rights.

2)    Information required by the Music Label
These are the parameters basis which the Music Label will quote the price for granting the synchronization license. (Synchronization is the usage of the film song /tune / lyrics in the advertisement).

·         Name of the Product/Service
If the advertisement is for say Mahindra Verito, the name of the product will be Automobile / 4 Wheeler / Car etc.

·         Name of the Brand
If the advertisement is for say Mahindra Verito, the brand name will be Mahindra Verito.
Well, the Music Labels have their own reasons for enquiring the brand name, one it helps them to gauge the size of the brand that will enable them to understand how much they can charge to the brandJ, second the Music Label may not want to associate its song with a brand that connotes negative sentiments. This could affect the associated value of the song in the minds of the population thus affecting other revenue streams for the song.

·         Name of the Song to be Licensed
If the chosen song happens to be a popular number and a recent one, the cost of the synchronization license will be more as compared to a song that is say 2 – 3 years old.  Music Labels contend that they invest considerable monies to acquire the songs from the production studio and to make the song popular, the very reason for which the brand wants it in the advertisement.
So be prepared to shell a good amount for a popular and a recent number. Moreover if the commercial features a film star and the song chosen by the agency is filmed on the same film star, the Music Label will try to make utmost use of this opportunity and “co-incidence” and accordingly the charge will go up.

·         Usage Duration of the Song in the Said Advertisement
This refers to the synchronization duration of the film song in the said advertisement. This can be a continuous cut of 60 seconds from the soundtrack or 15 seconds looped 4 times or 6 pieces of 10 seconds cut from different parts of the soundtrack. For a Music Label, it’s 60 seconds of duration. Remember, lesser the duration, lesser the monies charged to the agency.

·         Usage Allowed - Only Audio of Original Sound Track
A song has many elements like, lyrics, tune, music (arrangement of instruments) and the final product that comes out as a sound recording. Sound recording is the one that we buy in a music store in the form CDs / DVDs. The price of the synchronization license therefore also depends on the element that the agency wants to incorporate in the advertisement.
E.g. The Agency may just want to use the song music and overlay it with their own lyrics, this is where the knowledge of whether the Music Label owns 100% rights or not kicks in. This is the license that falls under the realm of publishing rights. Only if the Music Label owns the publishing rights, they can extend it to the agency.

·         Campaign Duration
It is the duration for which the advertisement runs in the media. It has a positive relation with the price of the synchronization license. Usually the license duration equals the campaign duration.

·         Number of Media Vehicles
The number of media vehicles adopted for the campaign is positively related to the price of the synchronization license. Media vehicles could be Television, Radio, Internet, In-Cinema, Out of Home Digital Screens, Digital Signage etc. In the pegging order, Television occupies the highest place followed by Radio. Media vehicles apart from television and radio are treated at par.

·         Number of Advertisement Edits
Edits are commercials of lesser duration edited from a master commercial. For example if the original master commercial is of 60 seconds, it can have various edited versions of different duration say 15, 30, 45 seconds etc. The media agency may schedule different edits for different day parts / television channels / radio stations etc. The definition of edits also includes language translations. Numbers of edits are positively related to the price of the synchronization license.

·         Territory
Geo-regions covered by the campaign. Numbers of geo-regions are positively related to the price of the synchronization license.

These are some of the line items that determine the cost of a song for ad synchronization. Some line items may not picture in negotiations at all. Probably the Music Label may just quote a lump sum amount and give a free hand to the agency for using the song in the commercial.

The method outlined here is not a clinical formula. There could be different permutations and combinations of it and would also depend upon the persona of the people involved in the negotiations.

3)    Documentation to close the Loop
Generally in India, the entertainment industry works on the concept of advance payments. Once the agency has negotiated the price of the synchronization license with the Music Label, the Music Label will ask the agency to pay the negotiated license fee before the advertisement goes on-air. The Music Label will also issue a license to the agency / client printed on its letter head, stamped, and signed by the authorized signatory. Among other things, the license will mention most of the points covered in this post such as the purpose of the license, duration of the license, media vehicle covered, etc.
I wanted to share as much as possible with the readers of this post, however if you feel that I did not cover any specific point that you would like to be covered, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. As always, if you have time, please drop a line.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

A letter to Mr Mark Zuckerberg..!!

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,
Sub: Beginner’s video guide to Facebook.
It was around the year 2008 when I started to see a lot of my friends hanging out on Facebook. It was a time when other social media platforms were not mainstream. Remarks from my friends, like, “why are you not on Facebook?” really made me think that I am missing out on something BIG. Not only friends, but a lot of brands were also asking the same question though in an indirect fashion, by embedding URLs like in their media message inviting people like me to find them on Facebook. They still do!
In the summer of 2010, I took a leap of faith and braced myself to be a part of the Facebook cult.
Once I signed up for an account on Facebook, I started to get people I may know kind of communication. At first it was a magic to me, Facebook knew the people I know! But very soon I was overwhelmed by the functionalities/features offered by Facebook. I did not know how to manage a sudden barrage of friends who somehow found out that I have joined Facebook. I was completely lost as to where to begin and manage the entire affair. I felt bad about my ignorance on things such as like, poke, newsfeed, wall. I had to master a completely new vocabulary, to come across as a cool dude to my peers.
Facebook help center, offered some relief, though it did not serve the purpose of someone like me who wanted to get to speed soon upon joining Facebook. I wanted to be at par with my peers in exploiting all the cool things that Facebook has to offer.
Taking a cue from the learning theory proposed by Edgar Dale, which says that simulation/videos result in up to 70% - 90% learning, I looked out for Facebook tutorial videos on youtube, but was disappointed to find none of the official Facebook videos, though there were certain videos uploaded by Facebook enthusiasts, it did not inspire me much as it was not something official.
Mr Zuckerberg, here I am, still sitting in front of my Facebook page wondering how I get the max out of my Facebook account. It will be great if Facebook also provides its official getting started videos, alongside textual help in the help center. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the number of zeroes a video will replace!!
I am sure this will further the popularity and stickiness of Facebook.
I’ll await your revert to my sincere request,
Thanks and Regards,
-Himanshu Agarwal

Friday 10 June 2011

What’s Your MQ (Maturity Quotient)..!!

Few days back I came across the story on the creative idea behind the recent Mahindra Verito campaign. If you have still not caught the TV campaign, check it out on You Tube. The TV campaign was launched on 6th June 2011.
Verito has been positioned as a "Mature Man's Sedan" and introduces consumers to the “Verito Man”, who is cool, sensible, straightforward, mature and has “grown up to Verito”. The creative agency has addressed the issues of lack of maturity on Indian roads, road rage, irresponsible driving and lack of road etiquette in the current TV commercial. Jimmy Shergill is the brand ambassador for Mahindra Verito.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

c-ads, Oops See Ads!

Few days back in the month of April’11, I came across a press release of a Bangalore based organization on bringing interactivity to TV commercials.
This is how it works:
1.      While watching a TV show on a particular channel, a clickable advertisement (c-ad) will appear as a 100*100 pixel thumbnail or a hot spot at the bottom of the screen.

This is my assumption about the placement of c-ad based upon illustrative screenshots and the verbiage contained in different press releases.  However I believe that the placement of c-ad will be governed by parameters which enable high visibility of c-ad without obstructing or hampering the TV viewing experience.

2.       The c-ad along with the information on navigation button (to be pressed / clicked) lasts for 10 seconds on TV screen, during which the viewer has an option of interacting with the c-ad by clicking on the indicated navigation button.

3.       Upon clicking the specified navigation button on the Set Top Box (STB) remote, c-ad expands as an overlay on the TV screen atop the existing show being broadcast on a particular channel.

4.       The viewer is allowed to navigate the overlay using the STB remote navigation keys to learn more about the advertised product/service. The maximum limit for which the viewer can interact with the overlay is 05 minutes.

5.       The viewer can exit the advertisement anytime by clicking exit on the overlay.
And the available ad units are:
The available ad units are akin to the ones available in the internet world. The c-ads are available to the advertisers in the following sizes/units:
1.       Box (This looks like a thumbnail)
2.       Banner (This looks like a rectangle at the bottom of the TV screen)
3.       Full Screen (A very big thumbnail that will occupy the full TV screen)
The above ad units do not represent the size of the overlay. The size of the overlay equals the size of television screen.
This is how it is priced:
The pricing of c-ad is a blend of Television and Internet media pricing. The elements that come into play from internet media pricing are, size of the c-ad (box, banner or full screen), targeted geo-region (say only Bangalore) and impressions served (say 10 million). From a television media perspective, the elements are part of the day (time of the day), channel, etc.
The bullet items that determine an advertiser’s costing are:
1.       Number of ad impressions served.
2.       Number of overlay pages in the advertisement upon clicking the thumbnail.
3.       Interactive elements in the overlay – text, audio, or video.
4.       The TV channel on which the advertiser wants to place the interactive advertisement.
5.       The program on the selected channel on which the advertiser wants to place the interactive advertisement.
6.       Time of the day on which the advertisement will appear.
The limitations are:
1.       The technology being used is limited only to addressable cable systems, such as Digital Cable, Direct-to-Home (DTH) and IPTV.
2.       The organization behind this technology has so far tied up with only one DTH service provider and one television channel. Though they are in the process of ramping up alliances with other DTH providers and broadcasters.
3.       Measurement Metrics – Good news! The advertiser gets to know the inventory served. Bad news! The advertiser does not get to know the number of clicks and the engagement time of the viewer with the advertisement. The reason given on the company website is “broadcast medium is a one way channel. Now this is hard to believe! The company has tied up with a DTH operator and we know that DTH is a two way medium, otherwise how can you explain usage of active services that involve interactivity?
 Why strike alliances with the broadcaster and DTH service providers?
The content on which a c-ad is placed is owned by the broadcaster and the broadcaster owns the right to monetize the content. Therefore, the broadcaster should agree to place c-ads on its channel. However to reach to the viewers one needs to have relationship with the distributor. In this case the distributor is the DTH service provider.
Therefore the business eco-system of c-ads has, technology provider for c-ads, broadcaster, and the distributor. The monies that are collected from the advertiser are shared on the basis of business agreement among these three entities in the eco-system.
My observations:
1.       As per the company’s website, c-ads or any such interactive application developed by them is compliant with the maximum fielded base of STBs.
2.       Well, the company scores in allowing online tools to advertisers for creation and management of their interactive campaign. Though a demo is not available on the website, but I feel it’s a cool idea! (Something akin to what Google provides to its adwords clientele).
3.       Interactive TV is not new to the world. In developed nations the technology has existed for quite some time and is at a high maturity level. Standards such as EBIF (Enhanced Binary Interchange Format) and Tru2Way defined by CableLabs are driving the development of interactive apps in American markets. I’ll cover more on this in one of my blog posts.
4.       Since the company is not providing two way interactivity in the purest sense, I see very limited uptake of this offering.
5.       Prior to the introduction of this technology, Indian DTH operators have been pitching their available inventory such as Electronic Program Guide (EPG) skin, video ads on boot up or showcase screen etc. This technology opens another revenue stream for the DTH operators.
6.       The c-ads are currently not available during the so called commercial break, but will be available to click during the TV show. Since India is still not a single TV/person market, I doubt how successful the offering could be.
I can really keep going on and on, but I will keep it short. There are other considerations which this organization should watch for, like convincing broadcasters that c-ads doesn’t cannibalize their traditional revenue stream, working with media planners and broadcasters closely in terms of, say, scheduling a c-ad of Dominos Pizza when the actual ad of Dominos Pizza is being telecast, etc.
If the readers of this post have any questions, please leave your comments with your mail id. I’ll be glad to answer your questions.
As always, I’ll request the readers of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Monday 6 June 2011

Anatomy of a Radio Ad

When there isn’t much in your advertising, sing it.
-          David Ogilvy

Well, we hear radio jingles and slogans every day (I won’t say listen), and whether we agree or not, most of the times they fall on our blind spot errr…deaf spot. It's either because we are currently not looking out for the advertised product/service, or are busy with some other activity, say driving, or may be the advertisement itself failed to leave a mark!
I have been listening to these advertisements on radio for quite some time now and will safely conclude that they follow a set template. The four elements of this template are: