Copy pre-testing has always been a part of marketing. But these days it has become increasingly important for Brand Managers to reduce risk as much as possible and get advance information on how commercials are expected to perform.
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing which type of test production format to use:
Definition – still artwork, stock or custom photos shown in an edited timeline using cuts and dissolves to show movement
Consideration – effective when budgets and/or timelines are tight
Costs – $8,000 – $15,000
Lead times – 1 to 2 weeks
Definition – created from hand-drawn illustrations with color and detail added and then brought into computer software and matched with audio
Consideration – choose an artist with a style of artwork that you like: revisions can be tedious, time-consuming, and potentially costly
Costs – $20,000 – $25,000
Lead times – 2 to 3 weeks
Definition – actors and sets are computer generated, motion capture actors used to show realistic human movement. Changes can be handled at virtually any point in the development process.
Consideration– while changes can be made with ease, they also can increase costs by 40%-50%
Costs – $25,000 – $30,000
Lead times – 3 to 4 weeks
The best decision for the format of your test production is made with consideration of the type of research needed, type of product, and the type of commercial. Additionally, many advertisers are tempted to use the test spot “on air”, especially with the more advanced testing formats; however, this is not best practice and represents a critical risk to your brand. It’s important to agree with your agency up-front that test commercials will be thrown out and never placed on-air.
Need advice or recommendations for test production vendors? Give us a call–our production experts consult with brands around the world, and we’ve supported thousands upon thousands of test productions over the last 30+ years. If you need anything at all, we’re here to help.
There are two distinct sets of copyrights in music: the rights to the musical composition (the written lyrics and the accompanying music), and the rights to the sound recording of the musical composition. The sound recording is usually owned by a single record company and compositions often have complex ownership groups. Any reproduction of a musical composition or a sound recording requires the consent of the owner of that particular copyright.
Common Music Licensing Terms
Synchronization License: Rights to synchronize the musical composition in timed relation with audio-visual images such as a commercial. Music publishers issue these licenses either as the copyright owner or their agent.
Master Recording: Rights to use a specific recording called a Master. Covers the owner of the Sound Recording (typically the record label, or whoever paid for the recording such as the producer or the artist).
Most Favored Nations: A promise by the licensee to treat a licensor equal to any other licensor on a particular project. This would mean that the Sync and Master licensor would receive the same fee.
Linear Use: Using a song “as is” without any manipulation (i.e. moving around verses, cutting the horn section, etc.) may need special permission for non-linear use.
Exclusivity: The rights granted to the licensee will almost always be in the form of a non-exclusive license; the advertiser will pay more for an exclusive time period or industry.
There are many factors that can contribute to the fees you pay for licensed music. Consider these 10 important questions that will contribute to what you pay:
- Do you want to use the composition AND the master recording? Or, do you want to use only the composition and do a re-record?
- Do you want to re-record the composition with a parody lyric?
- For television, how many spots are you producing and what are the timings of each spot? (include versions, edits, lifts, tags)
- What is the media buy? (network, cable, spot syndication)
- Are you doing any radio spots? If so, how many? Lifts, versions, edits?
- What other kinds of uses will there be? Do you need rights for non-broadcast/industrial use, sales meetings, trade shows, internet, in-store, POP, use of song title/lyrics in print or use of talent name/image in print, phone systems, in-cinema, in-flight, in-stadium/jumbotron, theme parks? Now is the time to include as much as you think you’ll need.
- Term – How long will the campaign run and what is the first air date?
- Territory – What cities, states, and countries will the campaign be airing?
- Exclusivity – Do you need exclusivity and if so, for what product category?
- Option – Do you need an option to renew the use for an additional consecutive term?
In order to procure the most competitive music licensing fees, MRA recommends the use of a third party vendor who specializes in negotiating popular music. Why? These companies have professional relationships with all major publisher and record label licensing departments and have the expertise to secure the best rates for advertisers.
Wondering how to get in touch with a music licensing specialist? Submit a request, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to the best resources in the industry — based on your specific needs.
Selecting the “best” location for your production is an important decision that should be made with care. Several factors come in to play:
- LA and NY are relatively high-priced but have a high concentration of directors, photographers and talent available
- There are a multitude of cities around the world that can offer lower costs
- Many advertisers travel U.S. based directors and talent to lower cost locations
MRA has created a quick reference guide categorizing popular international locations into high, medium high, medium low and low-cost ranges — click here to download your copy.
While there can be significant cost savings with an off-shore shoot, here are 4 important pros and cons to consider:
- Lower production costs
- Broader selection of directors geographies, etc.
- Ability to tap non-union talent and negotiate talent buyouts
- Reduced overtime (film crews tend to work longer standard days before incurring overtime)
- Increased travel expenses
- Possibility of paying for travel time (directors, producers and agency supervision may charge for travel time outside the U.S.; in some instances these can be negotiated)
- Longer lead time to organize and plan the shoot
- Smaller foreign talent pool if an American “accent” is required
- If the product is not sold in the country of the shoot, customs could delay product delivery
- When shooting outdoors, be cognizant of the background (i.e., are cars driving on the correct side of the street? Are there signs close-by in a foreign language?)
- Many countries have very specific regulations specific to producing content – ask an expert to ensure you’re aware of all local laws that may impact your shoot
- Consideration should be given to safety and fluctuating currencies
MRA has more than 37 years of experience in consulting with clients on making the best decisions when it comes to production locations, and we’d be happy to help you as well. Contact us today to learn more.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.
Cyber Monday Case Study
According to CNBC, Cyber Monday 2017 is expected to produce more than $6 Billion in sales, and RetailMeNot reports that 95% of employed consumers plan to surf for deals while at work. Having the right strategy to capture the attention of consumers on Cyber Monday is critical for advertisers; yet, you may be paying a premium to reach your target consumers this year.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Saferite of Saferite Consulting, and in this 10-minute conversation, she highlights a recent consulting engagement where she helped her client optimize their Cyber Monday digital campaign — and generate $175,000 in savings by asking one key question.
What is Integrated Marketing Communications?
The definition of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), according to the American Marketing Association is the “Planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” This includes but is not limited to:
- Social media
- Sales promotions
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
- Point of purchase
The game changed with regard to IMC when the internet came in to play in two big ways. First, instead of marketing campaigns being a “push” strategy, it became more “pull” with consumers searching information and becoming “push and pull” interactive. Second, with traditional media the same information is received by all consumers, and with internet media content can be tailored for specific groups or individuals.
IMC not only focuses on consistent messaging for the customer but also provides an efficient and cost effective way for advertisers to communicate. The idea is to harness the power of each channel to have a more effective impact than working each channel individually. The message remains consistent, but the delivery method varies across the platforms.
This ties nicely into advertising production strategic planning. A well defined content production strategy with optimized work flows is a powerful tool to work an IMC process and manage a budget efficiently.
Additional Types of Integration to Consider
- Horizontal – across the marketing mix and business functions – production, finance, distribution and communications working together
- Data – sharing relevant marketing data across different departments within a company and with agencies
- Vertical – ensuring marketing and communications support the higher level business and company objectives and mission
- Internal – keeping all staff informed and educated regarding brand and company identities, standards, partners, etc.
- External – coordinating with all external partners (advertising, PR, media, and digital agencies) to work together in a cohesive manner with messaging and campaigns
IMC: Where do you stack up?
One of the biggest pitfalls of integrating marketing communications (especially for large advertisers) is to be able to effectively and efficiently work across multiple departments that are each producing their own marketing communications. According to Smart Insights, only 6% of companies report that their marketing integration processes are fully optimized while 32% report that integration is a key area of focus for their organization. Regardless where you fall on the spectrum, there are several ways to drive efficiency with IMC including reducing agency fees, streamlining work flows, and leveraging consistent assets across all channels.
Have questions on how to build a production strategy to fit within IMC? Contact us to learn more.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.
This month, we’ve spent time discussing budget planning, successful budget management, and how to find more money within your budget. Now, let’s take a moment to review some key tips to help you avoid common budgeting pitfalls.
Common Pitfall: Instead of starting with project or campaign level budgeting, pull out and think big picture. Are there certain ground rules or strategies to align all the teams on before jumping in to the detail build?
Helpful Tip: When reviewing the annual budget, do a detail review for any spending not tied to a specific plan or campaign, often this can identify spend that can be trimmed without impacting brand objectives and KPI’s.
Common Pitfall: Instead of asking your agency what the production budget should be, consider using models to build your own budgets and set guidelines. The budgets and models can be further refined as the detail planning and creative idea is finalized.
Helpful Tip: When building out models for production budgets, it may be helpful to have a ranges of standard costs for components. For example, animation costs will vary widely depending on the complexity of what is required. A :30 spot with heavy CGI will have a very different budget than one with very little. Music costs will vary depending on whether you’re using stock, original, or licensed music. No two :30 spots are exactly the same, and buying production is not like buying widgets. Setting an appropriate budget is a critical first step to managing costs.
Need a production budgeting tool for your organization or benchmarks for different components of production? Contact us — we’ve had the pleasure of helping hundreds of brands with budgeting, and we’d be glad to help you, too.
Common Pitfall: Failure to obtain written approval for scope changes, overages, or changes in direction during the project can lead to agency disputes and financial management issues down the road. Standardizing and formalizing this process relieve this pressure on projects, teams and relationships.
Helpful Tip: Use a standard form for routing and documenting change requests and approvals. Also consider using a management report to show project budget, revisions, and final spend. Having a dedicated resource (internal or external) who actively manages the budget during all stages may seem like an additional step, resource or cost, but this pays for itself quickly (usually multiple times over).
Need a fresh perspective on a budget issue/opportunity? Click here to submit questions to our team, and one of our experts will get back to you right away.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.
It’s Fall and most everyone is working on budgets. And over the last 37 years, we’ve NEVER heard a marketing professional say, “I have enough to execute all the plans and build my brands. No thank you, I don’t need any more budget money.” Seriously, through all the years, with all the brands, in all the circumstances — never have those words been spoken.
So, as an Operations Team member, Procurement Specialist, Accounting or Finance professional, Strategic Planner, or Budget Analyst, here’s what you need to do to be successful: FIND MORE MONEY!
The business environment of today is a picture of:
- Doing more with less
- Holding budgets flat in spite of inflation
- Negotiating incremental deliverables out of existing contracts
- Introducing new brands without incremental budget
- Squeezing payment terms, hourly rates, and fees
- Working with an approved budget only to later receive cuts to that amount
- Reducing total spend but providing the same or better business outcomes
- Reaching consumers in a complex, always-on communication stream
- Complexities with technology and the digital space
So, the task of finding more money in this environment can seem daunting, but there are ways of analyzing existing budgets, building plans for the next year, utilizing tools, and managing processes that can make this a reality. It is reasonable to find money and identify savings that can make you look like a hero, and that money can be dropped to the bottom line or even re-invested in incremental marketing programs to drive improved revenue!
Success in budgeting and smart ongoing budget management looks like this:
- You become the “go to” person for the executives
- Marketing and brand teams respect you and seek advice
- Teams come to you early when there’s a problem
- Teams are honest with you when there’s money remaining in projects or available to solve problems or drop to the bottom line
- You become known for solving problems and helping the marketing team and your company deliver financial goals
- Senior management begins coming to you saying, “If we have incremental money to spend, what can we do to drive incremental sales and revenue?”
So over the next few weeks, let’s roll up those sleeves, sharpen the pencil, and get after this budget in a new way with results that drive new thinking and help you find money!
Join us next week as we explore some actual case studies and tools that deliver this type of success in budget season and throughout the year with ongoing budget management.
“Change before you have to.” — Jack Welch
Here are 4 key tips to consider as you implement change to bring about greater transparency with your agency partners:
Tip 1: Create Policies, Procedures, & Guidelines
Many people may believe that production policies are developed to simply prevent issues. However, they offer a true benefit by outlining transparent production practices, creating efficiencies in the production process, and including safeguards to mitigate financial risk. Remember, it’s best when your production policies and guidelines:
- Include the “do’s and don’ts” as well as clearly-defined business procedures
- Address approval processes, responsibilities, and limits
- Have training, training, training – BOTH internal advertiser employees and agency employees should be trained annually and/or during on-boarding
- Are proactively utilized to review/audit for compliance
- Are updated regularly to ensure the latest industry best practices (including the ANA Production Transparency findings) are addressed
Tip 2: Assign Responsibility
It might seem straightforward and intuitive, but many companies focus on tips 1, 3, and 4 but miss this critical element. Having production policies means nothing unless someone is responsible and actively assuring compliance. Also, it’s important to make sure the person(s) you designate has the right tools and resources to be successful; getting the right expertise or training is crucial and should be considered up-front.
Tip 3: Consider Up-Front Analysis
Analyzing costs and overages after-the-fact (or when the purchase order runs out of funds) is simply just the process of approving incremental spend. The most critical decisions which can have a significant impact on transparency (and costs) are made early-on. Having a seat at the table with standard processes, tools, and templates helps ensure transparent discussions between your brand teams and agencies — and can help you avoid any unnecessary spending. With a proactive approach to up-front analysis, you’ll also be better equipped to manage scope changes (while still staying on budget) — or, heck, you may end up with funds that you can reinvest back into your brand.
Tip 4: Review Invoices Prior to Payment
Prior is the key word here. After payment is made, issues are often discovered:
- During an audit
- When invoices come in and there are no more funds available on the purchase order
- When invoices come in and the project is closed
This wastes precious time and money to resolve — and may lead to issues with the agency. Moving this review and “audit” process up before payment is made is the key to success.
There’s never been a better time to take an active role in managing and governing production transparency in your organization. Check out additional articles on the topic:
- Production Transparency: A Good Idea or Baseline Requirement?
- How Production Transparency Can Impact Your Budget
- Production Transparency: 4 Steps to Getting Started
Need advice? Click here to submit questions directly to our team, and one of our experts will get back to you with an answer immediately.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.
With the recent release of the ANA Production Transparency, now is the perfect time to review and refresh your practices.
Identify someone or a team who is responsible for managing production. This can be accomplished in three ways:
- Tap into in-house resources with deep production knowledge (these team members may reside in marketing operations, procurement or finance)
- Train and develop internal team members to manage the production process and expenses
- Hire production experts to supplement your internal team
Assigning this responsibility is a critical first step to success!
Implement solid policies, procedures and guidelines governing production spend. These usually start with your company policies and procedures that need to be adhered to. However, this alone is not enough; more specific production guidelines require clarification and communication. Production guidelines are best when in writing, updated often, and both employees and agency personnel receive training. (The training is best delivered by the individuals responsible for the management of production costs.)
Avoid surprises and issues with your agencies up front in the process by conducting a thorough pre-bid meeting, including leveraging an objective party to ensure 100% alignment among agency personnel and brand teams on all elements of the production, including (but not limited to):
- Recommended bidders
- Shoot location options
- Types and number of assets to be included in production
- Talent requirements, residuals, and buyout considerations
- State incentives
- Special effects
Input and clarity around these topics early in the process facilitates transparency, effective management of budgets, and — yes, even results in savings.
Have a smooth invoicing process which includes a detailed review of invoices before payment is made. This also is helpful in eliminating the painful process of recouping funds if there are discrepancies or disputes with the billing.
Experts that specialize in reviewing production invoices and back-up documentation, monitoring compliance, ensuring verification of all costs can provide a thorough analysis. (Up-to-date, best-practice guidelines are a key element to have in-place prior to implementing the invoice review process.)
Regardless if these 4 steps are supported by internal or external resources, there’s never been a better time to take a look in the mirror and identify areas for improvement. Find yourself wondering how you’re stacking up to other organizations, or need help identifying areas that you might be at risk? Call 513-354-3833 to schedule a free transparency assessment.
Join us next week as we provide tips and tricks for implementing change to production management practices in your operations.
It’s MRA’s priority to ensure transparency and integrity in the production bidding process for our clients, and we wanted to share a quick post regarding the recent announcement of the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation.
Day-in and day-out, our Content Production Advisors advise our clients on best-practice processes and procedures to protect against fraudulent bidding practices like those mentioned in The Wall Street Journal article.
With that in mind, MRA has responded to this week’s announcement by developing additional resources to help you mitigate risk and safeguard your organization against unfair production and post-production bidding processes. We’d be happy to discuss them with you — please request additional information here or call Stacey St. John directly at 513-354-3833.