The Underblog

What’s Old is New Again in Television Advertising

Milton Berle Phillies Cigar Spokesperson


It’s been nearly eight decades since the first TV commercial break aired for Bulova Watch Co. just before the first pitch of a televised baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies in July 1941. Only two months earlier, the FCC approved of TV commercials. Once brands realized the power of television advertising it was the wild west. Ad Agencies thought they were going to be developing television shows along with all different formats of advertising.


In the early days, announcers would step away from the camera to read messages from Procter & Gamble, Goodyear, and more. Sometimes a product would be introduced to the audience from the stars as with Winston cigarettes plugged by Fred Flintstone. Other times, a brand would headline the show, like the 1950s series “The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.” The singer would introduce the newest model as “the most important guest star of our show.”


When you look at the historical arc of broadcast advertising, advertisers have been continuously pushed away from the content of the show and relegated into their 30 second time spot. But that is starting to change. Three trends are forcing networks to look at creative ways to integrate with their advertisers: 1) In 2016, digital ad spending eclipsed television.; 2) Nielsen has recorded an 8 percent drop in prime-time TV viewing among the coveted 18-49 age ; 3) the traditional model has being uprooted by ad-skipping technology and services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. These add up to a big problem for networks.



Networks and agencies have been forced to innovate or revisit some ideas from yesterday to cope with changes in the media landscape. They are bringing back old favorites like NBC’s Will & Grace and bringing advertisers to the party. With the launch the network and advertiser developed an “innovative” cross-platform partnership. “Will & Grace” prompted Honda to create a 90-second spot that features actors from the show in character, one of whom is driving a new Honda Accord. Another popular NBC show, “This Is Us,” recently joined with State Farm in a similar relationship. The insurer has produced family-themed ads that incorporate flashback sequences like those seen in the drama series. Voiceovers will even be delivered by cast members from the show. The State Farm ads will run during the live airing of the episode as well as video on demand, and the company will see additional distribution through social media and on custom pages on


Even late night shows are following this formula. In an effort to avoid being forced to let go of producers on his show due to budget issues, comedian Jimmy Kimmel decided to incorporate brands into segments of his show. While taping a week’s worth of shows in Brooklyn instead of his usual Los Angeles studio, Kimmel filmed a bit where he asked silly questions of local bartenders — complete with a Smirnoff logo on camera. And another late night host, Conan O’Brien, has spent several years pushing video games on his show in a segment called “Clueless Gamer,” where O’Brien and a celebrity guest will play the game on the show with plenty of humorous antics.


All that is old is new again in TV land. The concept of program integration by the guys who pay the bills is alive and seems to be working.


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The future of voice search should make agencies and brands concerned about their SEO

amazon voice search, atlanta ad agency

Amazon made a splash on Super Bowl Sunday with its event campaign “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” where celebrities filled in for the standard robot voice that Echo users traditionally hear.


It’s a clever ad that highlights the functional commands that allow users to engage with Alexa as well as reinforce the popularity of the device. Geekwire reports that as of December 2017, there were 31 million Amazon Echo bases installed in the U.S. alone, with Google Home following with just 14 million but growing fast in units sold.


It’s still early for voice interactive search and engagement and the facilitating technologies. But its development is quickly accelerating, leaving some brands and businesses to feel as thought they’re already behind the times.


And that’s largely because of SEO – it’s not just for typed text anymore. It’s for voice search, too.


Whether at home or on the go, consumers are now able to effortlessly seek information with either a button or by voice command. More importantly to brands, they can also make purchases just as easily, so optimizing SEO for mobile and voice should be a top priority for businesses moving forward.


Fortunately, many of the best practices for SEO carry over into voice search. The target for optimization, however, is to be the featured result that voice devices reply with to a user’s inquiry. Because some devices may only reply with a single result, this means achieving “ownership” of a top ranking like Google’s featured snippet, also known as an answer box. The reason this search result is now more valuable than ever is because it will require new thinking on keywords and mobile-first content strategies.


Forbes offers three key tips on how to be prepare for this new phase of Web search:


Consider speech patterns. When typing on a keyboard, even on a mobile device, users tend to stick with shorthand searches. For example, if I wanted to know the weather forecast for today in Atlanta, I would most likely type “weather Atlanta” or “Atlanta weather.” The results on most search engines or devices would likely give me the current temperature and weather conditions.


But if I want to know what the weather was going to like on Friday as I’m making a sandwich, I’d likely say aloud to my nearest Android device, “OK, Google. What’s the weather forecast in Atlanta on Friday?” And I would hear the information I wanted to know.


Long-tail keywords. Let’s say you play golf and you’re in the market for a new driver and you want to test it out at a nearby brick-and-mortar store today. You might initially search Google for “golf driver” and see a return SERP full of different brand names and prices for a various makes and models of drivers.


Perhaps you know which brand you want based on experience and now you just want to know where you can buy one, so you search for “Callaway golf driver stores in Atlanta.” Google replies with Edwin Watts Golf store in a featured snippet, with its website link, street address, operating hours and 24 reviews – plenty of information that countered the specificity of your search.


Agencies and brands should go the extra mile to test and incorporate as many keywords as they can that answer questions their target consumers may ask their smart device through a voice search.


Continued emphasis on mobile. A mobile-friendly website is going to keep a brand’s website higher on a SERP than one primarily formatted for a desktop computer. That shouldn’t be news to anyone working on the Web in the past few years, but with a shift toward voice search – especially among younger generations – there will be a growing war for the top results on the SEO battlefield unless agencies can help their clients stay ahead of the curve.


Like it or not, voice-activated search is on the horizon and headed our way. Unlike a typical web search, voice search usually comes up with just one or two choices. This could be a huge problem for brands like CPG in the future, especially with Amazon buying Whole Foods and their plethora of private-labeled 365 products. Brands that don’t pay to play will have to pinpoint their SEO to particpate in the voice-activated marketplace in the future. Ad agencies and advertisiers need to get up to speed and keep on top of the information if they want to stay relevant.

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