Kantar Media reports on the advertising vitality of the Academy Awards®

14 February, 2012


Historical Advertising Data Showcases Ad Pricing Trends, Top Marketers, Ad Clutter and an Expanding Online Footprint

NEW YORK, NY — The 84th Academy Awards arrive on February 26th and millions of TV viewers will watch the live broadcast, whether to satisfy their desire for Hollywood glamour or just indulge their curiosity. An elite group of marketers will pay hefty prices to be associated with this marquee franchise and the opportunity to promote their products to a mass audience dominated by women.

“Big-scale, high visibility television events continue to draw large audiences and the Academy Awards comes just a few weeks after the most widely watched Super Bowl in history,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at Kantar Media North America. “While coverage is still centered around the network TV broadcast, digital platforms and online content are offering additional ways to target brand messages at an engaged audience of Oscar enthusiasts”.

Kantar Media has tapped its extensive database to compile key figures on Academy Awards advertising. Highlights include upward movement in ad pricing and revenue, a higher incidence of first-time advertisers in the TV broadcast, an uncluttered ad environment and a variety of digital tactics used by media companies to draw audience to Oscar-related content and by advertisers to target those same enthusiasts.

The Price of Advertising
The average price of a 30-second commercial in the Academy Awards has increased modestly the past two years but remains firmly below the peak levels achieved during the period of 2006-08.

Ads in the 2011 telecast fetched an average rate of $1.55 million per 30 seconds and total revenue was $74.4 million. Higher pricing is expected for the 2012 show, in the range of $1.70 million per :30 unit.

Spending By Top Advertisers
A small number of blue-chip marketers dominate the rankings of top spenders in the Academy Awards. Last year, 40 percent of total ad revenue came from three companies.

Hyundai has been the exclusive auto advertiser since 2009 and will have a major presence again this year. JC Penney has been a continuous sponsor since 2002 and will use this year’s broadcast to promote a major repositioning of the brand.

A few other well-known advertisers stand out for their loyalty and longevity. McDonald’s has appeared in the program every year since 1992 and American Express since 1993.

How Much Do The Best Film Nominees Spend on Advertising?
As top TV sponsors of the Academy Awards, Hyundai and JC Penney will each spend more than $10 million to deliver their messages in the show. By comparison, a majority of the films nominated for Best Picture spent less than $10 million on advertising to support their theatrical release and generate ticket sales.

First Time Advertisers
Throughout much of the past decade, the Academy Awards had a stable core of perennial sponsors. The low turnover coupled with stiff limits on the total amount of commercial time made it difficult for new marketers to gain entrance to the program.

The ad recession of 2009 led to sponsor withdrawals and a downward drift in audience ratings has further contributed to advertiser defections. This has created an opportunity for other companies to buy ad time. In the 2011 show, 31 percent of the marketers were first-timers.

The freshman class of 2011 included Amazon, Best Buy and Living Social.

Advertising Clutter
The Academy Awards runs against the general trend of stuffing more ad content into TV programming and offers marketers a less cluttered environment. In granting broadcast rights to the program, the Academy limits the amount of commercial time.

Over the past decade, the show has consistently averaged 8-10 minutes per hour of national commercial messages. This includes paid ads plus promotional plugs from the network for its own programming.

The comparable level for the Super Bowl is about 13-14 minutes per hour and for network prime time programming it is typically 14-16 minutes per hour.

TV Ratings Are Eroding
Household audience ratings during the live broadcast of the 2011 Academy Awards were the second smallest in history. Viewing levels have slipped 23 percent in the past decade and 15 percent from just five years ago.

In an effort to attract audience and boost interest, ABC has been integrating online elements into its coverage. The 2011 show was streamed live, providing expanded coverage of red carpet activities, press room interviews with winners and other backstage activities. Social media and mobile applications were also utilized to help make the event more immersive and appealing to younger audiences.

The Digital Advertising Footprint
Although the Academy Awards is predominately a TV advertising event, there are a range of digital marketing programs that capitalize on the event and target Oscar enthusiasts.

ABC is the most active player, using digital media to generate audiences for both its TV and online productions which it can then monetize through advertising sales. ABC places rich media and display ads on targeted web sites in the 3-4 weeks leading up to the Academy Awards to promote and build interest in the TV broadcast. The network also executes a paid search ad campaign to direct traffic to the Oscars.com web site, which it operates. Not surprisingly, the primary root keywords it buys are “Oscars” and “Academy Awards”.

ABC sells a variety of display ad formats on Oscars.com and some of the companies buying spots in the TV broadcast also purchase digital ads on the web site to extend and amplify their offline campaign. In 2011, Hyundai was the top spending advertiser on both the ABC telecast and the Oscars.com site.

Other web publishers create content around the Academy Awards which helps support their ad sales efforts. For sites that cover the entertainment and celebrity industry, popular approaches include announcements of the nominations, predictions and fan voting for winners, red carpet activities, critiques of celebrity fashion, and coverage of post-Oscar parties. Food-oriented web sites have gotten into the game with articles on hosting an Oscar-themed party at home and recipe ideas.


About Kantar Media
Kantar Media provides strategic advice and competitive intelligence to the world’s leading brands, publishers, agencies and industry bodies, helping them navigate and succeed in a rapidly evolving media industry. This includes analysis of paid media opportunities; counsel on brand reputation, corporate management and consumer engagement through owned media; and, evaluating consumers’ reactions in earned media. Kantar Media provides clients with a broad range of insights from audience research, competitive intelligence, vital consumer behavior and digital insights, to marketing effectiveness and online influence. Our experts currently work with 22,000 companies tracking 3 million brands in 50 countries.www.KantarMediaNA.com

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