Agencies tuning ads to deal with tickers

April 30, 2009 by Dave Haynes

There’s an interesting piece in the New York Times about financial and sports tickers on broadcast TV, and how some broadcasters are keeping the things going even during commercials.

The theory is that the ticker info actually holds viewers and stops channel flipping that might happen if there was JUST a commercial on the screen.

Now the same does not apply in DS, I’d argue, but what interested me was the spillover effect of these sorts of ads for the agencies producing the creative. There’s insight in there about how the agency world is dealing with different shapes of screens and, therefore, ad spots.

Running the ads with the tickers rolling reduces the space for the ad itself, which can create some headaches for creative agencies. Advertisers may have to produce two spots, one in a 4-by-3 ratio, for traditional analog television, and one in a 16-by-9 ratio, for high-definition sets, even if they would prefer to produce a single spot.

The kinds of commercials that work best on screens like those featured on ESPN and CNBC are referred to as “center cut” safe — ensuring that all the important information in the high-definition spot is centered, so if a network decides to air it in an analog-sized window, nothing will be left out.

All of this takes additional time when shooting and in postproduction, adding to the cost.

“The future is 16-by-9 for all commercials, but that is still a long way off,” said George Dewey, executive creative director at McCann Erickson, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

Ron Nelken, executive vice president of content at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, part of the Leo Burnett Worldwide division of the Publicis Groupe, added, “When you have to constantly take into consideration that the main activity in the commercial is centered while you are shooting and editing the commercial, it slows up the process and hurts creativity.”

And the extra time to shoot and then finish this kind of commercial in postproduction adds to the cost. While Mr. Dewey did not say what those additional costs were, one production executive at another agency, who did not want to speak for attribution because he is not authorized to speak about financial details, said it could amount to a few thousand dollars. 

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