Reading Time: 4 minutes

The country is reconsidering the value and potential benefits of different forms of products derived from Marijuana or Cannabis. Since this is a state issue and not necessarily a federal issue, lets focus on the states, and which states have laws in favor or against the differing degrees of legality for cannabis. To be clear we are not taking any sides in this debate, but simply highlighting the potential for growth of the industry and how the different states will need to determine how cannabis companies will be allowed to promote and advertise their products and services.  

They breakdown to the following categories this way. Legalized, Medical & Decriminalized, Medical, Decriminalized, CBD only, and Fully Legal.

The industry seems to be taking several cues from the Beer/Liquor & Wine industry and how it has negotiated and determined what rules and restrictions each media channel will follow. The long standing “Alcohol Industry” standard for advertising was that 70% or more of an ad medium’s viewership had to be 21 or older. That was recently revised to the new standard that 71.6% of the audience must be 21 or older. Additionally, alcohol advertising’s creative messages should not be designed to target or appeal to people under the age of 21. Using cartoon characters etc. is discouraged. The advertising cannot promote brands based on alcohol content or its effects. Lastly, the ads must not encourage irresponsible drinking.

As an example of how states are applying a similar line of thinking with regards to its regulation of cannabis advertising, Colorado law states that cannabis companies cannot advertise on television or radio without “reliable evidence that no more than 28.4% of the publication’s viewership is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” This rule is also applied to print and digital media. Of course, some digital properties can add “age gating” to help enforce this.

Cannabis advertising has various levels of censoring by social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

One example to consider is the city of Denver. The city at first, was not allowing billboards, except for company store signs. Any advertising visible from the streets, sidewalks, parks, or other public places within the city limits was prohibited. Thanks to changes to a 2019 bill overhauling the marijuana industry regulations, restrictions were eased. Those same businesses may now utilize outdoor advertising if it is placed at least 500 feet away from schools, playgrounds and churches. This is similar to the restrictions billboards must comply with regarding Alcohol.

In the lead up to these easing of restriction, several dispensaries skirted the laws by sponsoring sections of the “Adopt-a-highway-Program.” This secured the companies name on signs along highways as partners with the state DOT, which maintained regular clean ups of 2 mile stretches of the highway in CO. More than 48% of the programs 248 miles of highways in 2018 were sponsored by marijuana companies.

One of the key concerns, most often cited as reasons for restricting advertising methods, are based upon a myriad of studies about how cannabis products can alter the developing mind of younger people, who have not reached adulthood yet. Despite society’s declining concern over the risks associated with cannabis use, neuropsychiatric conditions, automobile crashes and substance use disorders are often sited in studies as negative outcomes more associated with teens than with adults.  In 2019, the Surgeon General’s report warned, “Cannabinoid receptors are crucial for brain development, which is why cannabis use during adolescence carries special risks.”.

A recent study was published in the “Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs” led by Dr. Pamela J. Trangenstein, Associate Professor of Health Behavior at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gilling’s School of Global Public Health. The research of 172 teens, ages 15 to 19, who lived in states with legal recreational marijuana and who used the drug at least once, reported that compared with those that never saw a billboard or storefront ad, those that said they saw them “Most of the time” or “Always” had seven times the odds of frequent cannabis use and nearly six times the odds of having Cannabis use disorder. Ironically, Teens who occasionally saw some form of cannabis ad on Instagram were 85% less likely to use marijuana frequently compared to those that never saw such promotions.

So is a takeaway from an advertising perspective, that outdoor advertising is more effective at promotion of certain products, than other forms of advertising like social media? Or is it that that some limited and defined parameters modeled after the Alcohol industry, like the distance from schools, playgrounds and churches should be strictly adhered too?

Who is ultimately responsible for cannabis advertising? The “Advertiser” or the “Vendor” that owns the platform. It seems to be a mix of responsibilities based upon the type of media. With OOH, the largest player Lamar, has published a slightly more restrictive policy directive than the state, at least in Colorado. Lamar’s rules for Cannabis ads include the Minimum of 85% of the targeted audience must be 21 or older, vs the state rule of 71.6%.

It’s other guidelines mirror much of the Alcohol and Cannabis laws currently in place.

  • Copy must not appeal to minors
  • Slag words like “Weed” or “Pot” cannot be used
  • No images of the plant or leaf
  • No mention or image of ingestible products or paraphernalia
  • No false Health Claims
  • No images of any product that is ingestible or edible
  • All copy must first be approved by Lamar and is subject to state and local authorities.
  • Disclaimers may be required in select markets

It should be recommended that the Cannabis industry continue to take their lead from the alcohol beverage industry. They should pool their resources of the different advocacy groups, to focus efforts now to study, establish, and publish guidelines of “best practices” for the nation, as it relates to advertising of Cannabis products. Codify the restrictions intended to keep the products out of the purview of children. Distinctions should be drawn that better define the right-minded promotion of legal Cannabis products. Early adoption and codification of the standards pre-emptively should head off government intervention and potential heavy handed crushing regulations that can often follow.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

U.S. Ad Spending: According to Magna Global, the U.S. ad market will rebound in 2021 with ad dollars growing year-over-year by an estimated 25%, totaling $284.3 billion.

What is Data-Driven Advertising?

Data-driven advertising helps brands understand the customer journey and provides insights that allow for a “personalized” experience. It helps brands reach the right audience on the channels they use.

Data-driven advertising isn’t new, but it is increasingly the deciding factor in advertising planning as well as the measurement of a successful campaign.

Does data provide valuable insight into a potential consumer? Sure.

Does data allow an advertiser to follow the consumer across multiple touchpoints, across multiple devices, bordering on creepy? It does.

Does data driven advertising have a place in the strategy of your media campaign? It absolutely does. Should it be the only factor in your media strategy and determining a campaigns success? Not a chance.

One facet of the work we do at A3 Media is constantly vetting new companies. Is every company we vet a perfect fit for our client’s needs? No! However, we have found and established invaluable relationships and implemented many new and unique tools through the process. This process helps enable us to be more versatile and better informed, which, in turn, allows us to provide better service to clients.

Enter Converged TV – the blending of linear, connected and addressable TV.

Converged TV measurement is a blended measurement of the effectiveness of linear and digital TV.

Linear TV

Linear TV has been measured historically by rating points, the percentage of viewers of the total possible audience. More recently there has been a shift to view linear TV by impressions (putting it on a more equal scale to digital properties). Linear TV, ratings or impressions, at best represent an estimate of the audience.  If this isn’t murky enough add to the equation, the leading source of TV ratings is also establishing the statistics for TV households as well as the potential audience size.

Reviewing the intricacies of linear TV measurement could lead to an ongoing series, the topic at hand is converged TV measurement. To make a long story short, an analysis of predictive modeling based on estimated ratings, or impressions, for linear TV should be viewed as marginally accurate. If this isn’t convoluted enough, add the manual steps and time delay necessary to secure the final modeling. These additional steps can require enormous man-hours and can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to complete.

Does this “data” allow for optimization of your linear TV schedule with all these obstacles? Next, add the associated costs for this service – six figures a year.

Connected and Addressable TV

Connected and addressable delivery and engagement truly is much more measurable using household and device data, delivery and conversion measurement capabilities. This, almost, real-time analysis does lend itself to campaign optimization. The fees for this type of data are typically calculated as a percentage of the media cost.

The final blended summation is still at the heart of the issue.

  • Is it data? Yes.
  • Does it contain a substantial amount of inference? Absolutely!
  • Is this the type of data you want to hang your hat on to dictate your media plans? Uhm…
  • Is this a sound foundation to determine the course and success of your media campaign? Not completely.

There may never be an end to the search for more and better data but until something better comes along, this is it. So, in the rush for data always ask for a clear explanation of the source, calculations and accuracy of the information presented – all data is not created equal!

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Clapperboard that reads "Christmas Movies"

As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve come to the realization that my children, now all teenagers, are not excited for the annual parade of Christmas specials airing on TV anymore. It makes me a little sad and a bit nostalgic for the time when they were little and we would pop some popcorn, cuddle under warm blankets on the couch with hot chocolate in our hands to catch our favorite holiday specials.

Now, with the abundance of streaming services we can watch many of our favs whenever the mood strikes. So, in no particular order here is my list of the Top 10 must see Christmas specials:

  1. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – Airing every year since its release in 1964, who can resist watching the longest running holiday special in television history. It’s the story of a misfit reindeer who saves Christmas by guiding Santa’s sleigh with his glowing nose. Watch: CBS 12/19 @6:45pm, 12/24 @9pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
  2. Frosty the Snowman – With the help of a magic hat a jolly, happy snowman comes to life and parades through town before he melts away, thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump! Watch: CBS 12/19 @ 6:10pm, 12/24 @8:30pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him; Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas. Watch: 12/19 on PBS. Stream: Apple+
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Nothing beats the original! A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville only to discover Christmas is a feeling and not about things. Stream: TNT and TBS, or with Peacock.
  5. Shrek the Halls – Shrek wants the perfect Christmas for him and his family but he has no clue how to do it. He buys a book on how to do Christmas perfectly and everything is going well, until donkey and gang decide to intrude. Watch: 12/24 on ABC. Stream: Netflix
  6. Elf – The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Watch Buddy the Elf’s journey from the North Pole to NYC in search of his biological father, who just happens to be on the naughty list. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+, Starz.
  7. The Santa Clause – an ordinary man who accidently kills Santa Claus on Christmas eve is magically turned into the new Santa Claus. Watch: Freeform: 12/17 @5:10pm, 12/22 @7:15pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
  8. Home Alone – An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Watch: Freeform 12/25 @6:45pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
  9. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – In classic Griswold style, Clark prepares for a perfect “fun old-fashioned family Christmas” with anything but perfect results. Stream: HBO Max.
  10. The Polar Express – When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+

Written by:
Jennifer Vanisko
Reconciliation Specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Man placing sports bet at home on mobile phone and laptop computer

Growing up in a top sports market like Philadelphia has had its ups and downs in terms of winning teams. But if nothing else, it’s always an exciting place if you love sports. Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, Flyers have provided year-round conversation, drama, and debate amongst me and my friends. One thing that goes along with those conversations is sports betting. What lines we like, what games to bet, which teams we think are a lock. As early as middle school my friends and I have been betting on sports. Fast forward to 2021 and now we can pick up our cell phones, download a sports betting app, deposit money from our bank account and away we go. And the best part, it’s all legal.

Working for A3 Media, I think about the following question and how it relates to our industry. What impact will the sports betting industry have on media and advertising opportunities?

First some background. In 2018 the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which took away the federal government’s power to regulate sports betting. Sports betting is now legal in 22+ states, with more currently working on legislation. Since the PASPA ban was lifted, over $45 billion has been legally wagered in the U.S., according to Legal Sports Report. However, it is important to understand that there are no national advertising standards or federal agencies in charge of monitoring marketing activities. Rules and guidelines are ever changing. All sports betting practices, including marketing and advertising, are regulated by the individual gaming commissions in each state.

An Increase in Advertising Opportunities
One indicator that there will be growth in sports betting advertising and sponsorships are the number of recent mega media deals. More and more broadcast and cable networks are partnering up with sportsbooks. For example, Fox Sports invested in their own Fox Bet branded app, then there is CBS inking a deal with William Hill to make them their official sportsbook sponsor and both DraftKings and FanDuel are working on plans with Turner Sports.

The interesting thing about these deals will be how they will create a shift in content when it comes to TV, sports radio, social media, mobile apps, and even in-game commentary. Look for television commercials that promote betting apps and offer a bonus or a cash incentive to download their app. I expect an increase in network broadcasters and personalities discussing the betting lines, over/under plays, and even their picks before, during, and after the games. I read a recent article that satellite TV provider Dish Network has partnered with DraftKings to incorporate content into live sports games. Users can then use their DraftKings app to initiate bets, and then view live games that correspond with those bets on their TVs. US sports betting revenue is expected to increase from $2.1 billion in 2021 to $10.1 billion by 2028.

As advertising dollars and revenue increase, expect to see a greater number of things like podcasts and influencer marketing related to sports betting. There will be even more sponsorships from players across the different sports leagues promoting betting apps and websites. I also expect to see some stand-alone sports betting parlors open where patrons can view all the lines, place bets, and watch their games. Look for social media to play a greater role specifically with Twitter. As a real-time platform Twitter can help provide insight, commentary, and video all related to sports matchups. 

In conclusion, some may continue to view sports betting as a vice industry that lacks morals and pushes non-suitable content. However, the numbers don’t lie. It’s been shown that there is a rabid following for this industry especially with online and mobile betting. As each generation becomes even more tech savvy than the next, and things like bragging rights and social relevance become more important, sports betting will be commonplace.

In the next 10-15 years the outlook looks strong for advertising and media opportunities related to sports betting. This will lead to increased fan engagement and will ultimately increase overall viewership, making sporting events that much more exciting.

One thing is for sure, sports betting revenue and advertising opportunities are the odds-on favorite to increase for years to come. That’s a stone-cold lock.

Written by:
Bob Freas
Social Media Specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Remote control pointing at smart TV with apps on the screen

TV upfronts are a big deal and are worth millions in negotiations to network media buyers and TV networks. Every summer there is an upfront in which large inventory pools are sold by station networks to advertising agencies in order to ‘get the best deal’ for national clients. Traditionally the TV stations sell about 70% of their national TV inventory in the upfront selling period which starts in June, with cable TV networks making upfront deals for around 50% to 60% of their inventory. This year OTT provider Roku came to the table, and they came with industry changing standards:

“Unlike TV networks, Roku says it is much more flexible when it comes to marketers adjusting their media buys. Roku offers a two-day cancellation option. For traditional TV, marketers typically can cancel only 25% of their buys in the first quarter and 50% in each of the second and third quarters — and must do so with a 60-day advance notice.”

Roku as a Disruptor

Linear TV is already under immense pressure to compete with digital, impression-based buys. The digital space is advantageous for TV marketers because of all the analytics and data that can track spots down to the household and viewers within those households. Linear TV and cable providers have taken a big hit in ratings because of the rise of OTT viewership (that has trackability) during the COVID pandemic. As audiences fragment further linear TV and Nielsen data sources are trying their best to figure out a way to measure their audience viewership more accurately. Not only is Roku disrupting the Linear space but now the upfront negotiations.

What Makes Roku Such a Big Player in the Space?

“Roku touts OneView, its ad buying platform, as the first platform to feature Nielsen-measured reach and frequency reporting across all four screens: linear TV, TV streaming, desktop and mobile.”

“One of the immutable laws of television holds that people between the ages of 18 and 49 are the most desirable viewers to reach. This year, the networks want to loosen that definition.” 

Millennials were the first generation to really break up with linear TV, and the Gen Zoomers are following that trend. It’s evident the death of linear tv sales is happening in real time.

As Audiences Fragment so does the Advertising Inventory

NBCUniversal has made no secret of the fact that it believes streaming video represents the new primetime. Ad buyers say the company is in some instances seeking eye-popping increases of around 50% in CPMs – the cost to reach 1,000 viewers, a unit that is central to the annual upfront negotiations – for ad on Peacock. The CPM rates for HBOMax are said to possibly be even higher.”

Gone are the days where upfronts where between the 4-6 top station networks. These negotiations will continue to see more and more big players in the OTT space participate. There may even come a day where prime linear TV inventory is offered as ‘added value’ to an OTT campaign.

Clients, whether national, regional, or local, need to look to their agencies to place their messages inside OTT and CTV now, if they want to capture a lion share of the younger generations. If your agency isn’t well versed in both forms of media, then it’s time for you to look for another agency.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The past year of the pandemic slowed the production of many of our favorite TV shows. The good news is it looks like 2021 will be full of great content to choose from.

The continued fragmentation of audience viewership has opened up the competition for great content as well. Last summer, all the network TV stations launched their own OTT platforms, in which they pulled back a lot of their own shows and movies. You may find that your favorite episodes are no longer on HULU for free or on other apps like TUBI or IMBD. NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC now protect their own content residing within these platforms. I do find the Amazon firestick search option helps find my own favorites. If you do a search there, Amazon will tell you all the places you can find the content you are seeking, free or paid.

There is a flurry of great shows coming as viewers seemed to have gobbled up tons of content last year, sitting home throughout the pandemic. As the funnel of free content gets slimmer, I hope this extensive list of upcoming shows to look out for will help in your own search for the next show you binge on.

  • Pretend it’s a City – Netflix
    Directed by Martin Scorsese
    A humorous series inviting conversations between Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz centered primarily around New York City.
  • Cobra Kai – Netflix
    Inspired from the earlier flick; Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, continues the storyline 34 years later focusing on the character Johnny Lawrence.
  • Euphoria – HBO
    Jules and Rue continue with their struggles, challenges and accomplishments throughout their High School years.
  • WandaVision – Disney+
    WandaVision takes place three weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and directly sets up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), in which Olsen reprises her role as Maximoff.
  • Clarice – CBS
    Jodie Foster’s character from Silence of the Lambs is revamped in this new mystery thriller. Taking place back in the early 90’s, this series investigates sexual predators and serial murderers centered around the political arena in Washington DC.
  • Hip Hop Uncovered – FX
    A docuseries on hip-hop from the street level. It expresses how this music forum molded street culture and nurtured talent into the music business.
  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Disney+
    New Season: Season One will debut on March 19
    Following up on the ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier partner together to defeat the world’s evil players.
  • Loki – Disney+
    Loki, who is once again played by Tom Hiddleston, comes from the brotherhood with Thor into his own series. His mischievous and cunning ways will surely entertain Marvel fans throughout this fresh season.
  • Dave – FX
    A comedy loosely based on rapper/comedian Dave Burd, otherwise known as Lil Dicky, takes a comical look at a neurotic 20-something year old man who is driven to be the best rapper of all time.
  • Pose – FX
    A dance musical that takes place in the 80’s in New York City, and depicts the African-American and Latino LGBTQ drag queen culture. The first season takes place in the 80’s while the second season fast forwards to the 90’s.
  • Succession – HBO
    The family drama continues in the Roy family who is fighting over who will lead the family empire and worry about the health of Logan Roy.
  • Atlanta – Hulu
    A Princeton drop out, Earn’s character struggles with finding his place in the world while attempting to redeem himself in his daughters’ eyes.
  • Hawkeye – Disney+
    Another Marvel take off starring Jeremy Renner and Vera Farmiga, sure to be followed by the Marvel fans.
  • Inventing Anna – Netflix
    Shonda Rhimes brings forth her storyline about New York City socialite circles through a journalists’ eyes.
  • The Underground Railroad – Amazon Prime
    Based around the mid-1800’s underground railroad. The plot revolves around hidden routes, safe houses and the people willing to risk it all to help slaves reach their path to freedom.
  • Lord of the Rings – Amazon Prime
    This production crew just went back to work in New Zealand. Be on the look out for hobbits coming sometime later this year.
  • Bel Air – NBC Peacock
    Will Smith revives his most iconic role from early in his career.
  • Nine Perfect Strangers – Hulu
    Nine Aussies gather at a 10-day retreat to transform their bodies and find solitude together. The retreat is lead by a mysterious Russian.
  • The Dropout – Hulu
    Inspired by the podcast, Amanda Seyfried heads up this cast as Elizabeth Holmes, who is the world’s youngest female self-made millionaire.
  • Dopesick – Hulu
    Michael Keaton stars in an adaptation of Beth Macy’s non-fiction book about the opioid crisis in America.
  • Mare of Easttown – Sky Atlantic and NOW
    Kate Winslet is Mare Sheehan, a detective in small-town Pennsylvania who investigates a murder.
  • The Terror – AMC
    Produced by Ridley Scott, this series focuses on the British Royal Navy in the mid-1800’s. The polar explorer ships take to their next adventure in the frigid icy seas.
  • Your Honor – Showtime
    Bryan Cranston is a judge in New Orleans who overseas a case involving his son who was responsible for a hit and run accident.
  • Murder Among the Mormons – Netflix
    Based on the true character of Mark Hoffman, who was one of the world’s most well-known forgers. A good watch if you enjoyed “Catch Me If You Can” with Leo DiCaprio.
  • Waffles + Mochi – Netflix
    Michelle Obama heads up a kid’s cooking show with all the bells and whistles, including puppets.
  • For All Mankind – Apple TV+
    This is a fictional 90’s glimpse at positioning a never-ending ‘race to space’ between the USSR and US.
  • Can’t Get You Out of My Head – Amazon Prime
    A look back on recent history through the eyes of Adam Curtis.
  • The Investigation – HBO
    Based on the 2017 murder investigation of Kim Wall, otherwise known as the ‘submarine case’ out of Sweden.
  • Trump Takes on the World – Amazon Prime
    A look into President Trump’s foreign policies, including a colorful cast of white house characters.
  • ZeroZeroZero – Amazon Prime
    A thriller that covers all the drug trafficking topics, including running cocaine and corruption to the highest level.
  • The Serpent – Netflix
    A vintage 70’s story that follows hippie styled Charles Sobhraj throughout Thailand.
  • Night Stalker – Netflix
    This series stalks serial killers ravaging the Los Angeles night scene.
  • Call My Agent – Netflix
    This French comedy taking place in Paris. A variety of characters must manuever through the challenges of working in a talent agency.
  • Back – Amazon Prime
    A sitcom about 4 brothers who haven’t been on the best of terms, that must come together after the death of their father to run the family business.
  • A Perfect Planet – Amazon Prime
    David Attenborough leads this picturesque series about the beautiful planet Earth.
  • Mythic Quest – Apple TV+
    A successful video game company struggles to keep their top market position.
  • Sex Education – Apple TV
    A comedic sex comedy centered around teenage life and challenges of hormonal pubescence.
  • Peaky Blinders – Netflix
    A continuation of the Irish gang of hoodlums during the early 1900’s.
  • American Crime Story: Impeachment – Amazon Prime
    Starring Sarah Paulson and Clive Owen as President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, this story relives his term and impeachment trial.
  • Derry Girls – Netflix
    Lisa McGee’s teenage coming-of-age series set in the 90’s continues the laughs around a group of Irish girls and all their fun adventures, big hair included!
  • Cowboy Bebop – Hulu/Netflix/Adult Swim
    A futuristic anime series taking place in the year 2071.
  • McMafia – Amazon Prime
    A British crime drama focused on the son of a Russian mob boss who resides in London.
  • Paper Girls – Amazon Prime
    Four pre-teen newspaper delivery girls stream their story from the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio.
  • This Way Up – Hulu
    A comedy/drama about a young Irish English teacher has a nervous breakdown.
  • Industry – Amazon Prime
    A group of 4 graduates who will do whatever it takes to land a prestigious job in the London banking industry.
  • Time – Amazon Prime/TUBI
    Sean Bean stars in a series about surviving a 4-year prison sentence after an accidental homicide.
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley – Hulu/Amazon Prime
    A take-off of the psychological thriller from the late 90’s.