1. Don't read this column. Well, okay, go ahead and read it, but it'll just be a waste of time because it's not in 3-D. What are we talking about? A little while ago we received a press release from Geneva Film Co., a Toronto-based producer of stereoscopic 3-D commercials, touting studies the company said demonstrated memory retention rates for ads viewed in 3-D were on average 15 per cent higher than those viewed in 2-D. "For a nominal increase in production costs, you get a 15-per-cent to 20-per-cent increase in ad recall. Who does not want that?" asked James Stewart, Geneva Film's founder. Now all he's got to do is get people to put on those awkward 3-D glasses. Oh and, you know, actually watch the ads.
2. Which is apparently a problem, but not for the reason you might have thought. New research published this week on AdAge.com suggests that smart phones and other so-called companion media or distraction media cause far more people to avoid watching TV commercials than, say, the increasing use of DVRs. During a study by IPG Media in Los Angeles, about 63 per cent of TV impressions were avoided by viewers who engaged in other media during the commercials; meanwhile, only about 2 per cent of ads are skipped using DVRs. But wait! Viewers are actually 12 per cent more likely to watch the screen while they're fast-forwarding through an ad on their DVR: Okay, agencies, which of you can produce great silent ads that are effective when fast-forwarded?
3. Or maybe advertisers could just give viewers other incentives to watch their ads. That seems to be the motivation behind an announcement by the CW Network at the recent U.S. fall TV upfront presentations in New York, saying it had struck a deal with the creator of the mobile app Shopkick to track viewers. Shopkick was originally created to enable shoppers who have the app on their cellphones to collect rewards points when they walk into a store outfitted with special tracking equipment. But the app can also offer rewards to TV viewers since, when it's open on their phone, it can listen to what they're watching. Anybody want to take bets on how long it'll be before our phones are yelling at us to fast-forward through the commercials?
4. Unless, of course, the phones are big fans of bunless sandwiches. For this week marks the return to Canada of KFC's Double Down, the greasy chicken-and-cheese-and-bacon (and sodium) concoction which apparently proved so heart-stoppingly popular last fall that the chain, um, took it off their menu. The scarcity marketing tactic reminds us of Apple's approach to selling its iPad2, which remains so difficult to get that phone calls to its Toronto-area stores asking about when it might be available have been met with an unusually curt: "I have no idea." Sounds like Steve Jobs's famously helpful employees could use a pick-me-up. Though probably not a Double Down.