AMP Stories, Google’s Answer To The Stories Trend

Stories. It seems like everybody’s got ‘em, from Snap and LinkedIn to Instagram and Facebook – and now Google.

But while AMP Stories might look like a knockoff of the other guys, it’s actually quite a different animal.

What’s the story?

The main difference: AMP Stories are specifically designed for publishers to create full-screen experiences for accelerated mobile pages, the technology Google developed to speed up page load time by pre-caching publisher content. AMP Stories can include any rich media element, from sound and video to static images, text and motion graphics.

Unlike Facebook or Instagram Stories, which live within their respective platforms, AMP Stories are web-based, so publishers can integrate them directly into their own websites. They’re also searchable through Google across desktop and the mobile web.

That means publishers aren’t locked into a walled garden platform, and they have the opportunity to unlock new revenue streams.

“Let’s face it, publishers today need as much help as they can get,” said Kargo CEO Harry Kargman.

After launching a test at the beginning of the year with a handful of publishers, including CNN, The Washington Post, Mic and Meredith, Google brought AMP Stories out of beta in mid-November and rolled out support for direct-sold Stories ads through Google Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick).

AMP has integrations with around 100 ad networks and exchanges, including InMobi, Kargo, Yieldmo, Unruly, OpenX and AppNexus. On the measurement front, publishers can either use the built-in AMP analytics framework to partner with a third-party vendor or send engagement data in house, or they can rely on the basic reporting functions they get from Google Ad Manager.

Why buy?

Publishers can tap into the full-screen palette of an AMP Story to tell, well, an engaging story [click here for an example in The Washington Post]. But the larger enticement is that they can monetize that engagement without sharing the revenue. And, better yet, they can monetize through their existing ad servers, which makes the Story relatively easy to implement.

“Of course, this is also in Google’s interest given that publishers tend to use the Google ad-serving stack for the open internet,” Kargman said.

Scale, though?

New monetization opportunities always sound promising, but scale is a perennial challenge. Before publishers can attract advertisers, they’ll need to find and build audiences – something that the walled gardens don’t have to worry about as much.

Google can rely on search to help drum up scale – Stories are discoverable through its search engine – but it’s not always easy to find an AMP Story in the wild.

One possible reason for the dearth: To build an experience for AMP Stories, publishers need a basic working knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript, including an understanding of how to convert these languages to conform with AMP’s specifications.

If Google made the process easier by developing a tool that automatically converted publishers’ Instagram Stories into AMP Stories, for example, more publishers would likely participate, Kargman said.

On the advertising front, however, lots of buyers already have vertical assets they’ve created for Stories on other platforms, which means it would be relatively easily to test AMP Stories ads without whipping up something from scratch – if they can be convinced the experimental budget is worthwhile.

read more here: adexchanger.com

LIBERTY MEDIA: WE’RE ‘ABSOLUTELY’ INTERESTED AT LOOKING INTO BUYING A STAKE IN UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP

Back in August, shortly after we learned that Vivendi was planning to sell up to 50% of Universal Music Group, MBW suggested that US-based Liberty Media may emerge as a candidate in the scrabble to buy a chunk of the world’s biggest music rights company.

Then, a month later, SiriusXM, majority-owned by Liberty, announced that it had fully acquired Pandora for $3.5bn.

This led us to suggest whether Liberty Media could build a true ‘full-stack’ music company – more officially tying together its ownership, or part ownership, of Live Nation, SiriusXM and Pandora. And, therefore, whether a strategic acquisition of a stake in UMG might be under serious consideration.

Yesterday we got our answer. And it’s a big fat yes.

One of the most important annual conferences for the entertainment marketplace is Liberty Media’s Investor Meeting, which this year took place in New York.

Liberty, to paint a picture of its current influence, owns 34% of Live Nation and 71% of Sirius (which should itself soon own 100% of Pandora).

Liberty is also a big player in sports, owning 100% of the Formula One Group and 100% of the Braves Group – parent of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.

MBW sat through Liberty’s Investor Meeting yesterday, and our ears pricked up when Greg Maffei – the whip-smart CEO of Liberty and the Chairman of SiriusXM – took to the stage. He was asked, outright, whether his company might be interested in acquiring a chunk of Universal Music Group.

He gave a very intriguing answer.

Maffei noted that corporate marriages between large-scale entertainment distributors (like SiriusXM and Pandora) plus major content companies (like Universal Music Group) had created handsome fiscal results in other media industries.

“It’s a little odd, a little different, in the music space,” said Maffei. “While some of the labels have had a taste or touches [of ownership] into a piece of Spotify, there really hasn’t been that same crossover [as in other industries], where a distributor or a content provider has owned an ongoing large piece of the other side.

“I think that’s probably a missed opportunity in some ways, for both [music content owners and music distributors].”

read more here: musicbusinessworldwide.com

65% of Digital Media to be Traded Programmatically Next Year

Programmatic ad spend will have grown by 24 percent over the course of this year, and will grow a further 19 percent next year, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts published today. This will mean that in 2019, 65 percent of all digital media will be traded programmatically. But while the growth of programmatic trading continues to be strong, Zenith says it’s slightly slower than expected, due to a mixture of new data laws and investment patterns within the industry.

Zenith says growth is being driven by the fact that the breadth of formats which can be traded programmatically is improving all the time, specifically with mobile video and audio formats increasingly available programmatically.

The company believes that very soon there will be very little which cannot be traded programmatically, and from there is it simply a question of how quickly each country embraces total automation. Zenith predicts that by 2020, 99 percent of digital media will be traded programmatically in Canada.

“We expect all markets to follow Canada and use programmatic trading for all digital media transactions eventually,” said Zenith’s report. “Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before programmatic trading becomes the default method of trading for all media.”

For the moment, adoption of programmatic trading is highest in the US, where Zenith says 83 percent of all digital media will have been traded programmatically this year. Given the scale of the US’s total digital ad spend, this means nearly half of all programmatically traded ad dollars will have been spent in the US ($40.6 billion out of a global total of $84 billion).

Canada comes in second, with 82 percent of digital media traded programmatically. In Europe, the UK and Denmark lead the way, with 78 percent and 75 percent of digital dollars spend programmatically in each country respectively.

Progress towards total adoption has been slightly slower this year than expected, which Zenith attributed to a couple of factors. One was the introduction of the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) which restricted the data available for programmatic transactions, making it simultaneously more expensive and less attractive.

But Zenith thinks the primary cause was that advertisers have been investing heavily in making programmatic trading more effective, at the expense of ramping up the scale of programmatic buying as quickly as they might otherwise have done.

read more here: videoadnews.com

YouTube To Introduce ‘Ad Pods’ That Stack 2 Commercials Together

YouTube is adding a new advertising solution to its portfolio, one that makes the streaming video platform more like traditional TV offerings.

The Google-owned video site will be testing what are calling “ad pods.” The ad pods will see two video ads stacked back to back. Until now, YouTube ad breaks only featured one ad at a time. Importantly, users will still have the ability to skip the ads and go straight to the content.

YouTube will roll out the ad pods on desktop later this year, with mobile and connected TV screens to follow.

According to a blog post from Google video ads project manager Khushbu Rathi, the goal is to reduce the number of ad breaks during longer viewing sessions.

“Through this research, we also learned that fewer interruptions is correlated with better user metrics, including less abandonment of content and higher rates of ad viewing,” Rathi writes.

“Why does this solution make sense? Because when users see two ads in a break, they’re less likely to be interrupted by ads later. In fact, those users will experience up to 40% fewer interruptions by ads in the session,” he adds.

The company cites experiments suggesting the ad pods resulted in a mid-to-high single-digit increase in reach and frequency for advertisers, without impacting brand lift.

The move is somewhat surprising, given that Google has been at the forefront when it comes to encouraging shorter ads from marketers. The company launched its six-second bumper ads product more than two years ago. That format remains popular on the service.

read more here: www.mediapost.com

Video Now Up For Grabs After Facebook’s Abdication

by Gil Sommer

In a candid Q3 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg laid his cards on the table with a vision of change for Facebook that signaled an increased focus on user-generated content (UGC). With this move, the days of Facebook acting as a source of referral traffic are gone, which means the opportunity is ripe for anyone invested in social to use video to finally grow consumer engagement outside its ever-closing walls.

These days, adults spend, on average, more than 90 minutes each day watching digital video — a number that’s increased almost 50% since 2015. Video provides that immersive experience viewers have grown accustomed to on social, and the appetite for video is only growing on the content side, as readers now want to experience narratives visually as well.

For those who haven’t yet made the investment, finding the right opportunities to extend written narratives into fast and digestible, interactive content will be paramount to engaging readers for longer periods of time. Solutions like dynamic video sections allow for additional exploration opportunities with video recommendations, and give readers a deeper content experience, while also generating revenue via video advertising.

With this shift, marketers will naturally have more opportunities to spread the media mix. However, advertisers aren’t likely to re-allocate mobile video dollars without a plentiful supply of vertical inventory available, which has been a bit sparse outside of social media. The onus will fall to publishers to build a tech stack that can keep pace with the seamless experience both readers and advertisers have grown accustomed to.

Anyone wanting to successfully scale video on their own terms should focus on relevance (what works best for their audiences) and quality. Branded video content and syndication is a great way to deliver a seamless viewing experience at scale, since both the advertisement and the video content were created with the other in mind.

At the end of the day, brands want to be where viewers are, and as emerging video formats continue to grow and keep readers engaged for longer periods of time, advertisers will want to be part of this momentum.

read more here: www.mediapost.com

YouTube Tests Ad-Supported Movies

The streaming video platform YouTube quietly rolled out a new feature over the past few weeks: full-length, ad-supported movies.

The movies are part of an exclusive deal the company signed with MGM. Among those now streaming: “Terminator,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Pink Panther” films and “Rocky.”

The movies are available through YouTube Movies, which previously focused on movie rentals and purchases. They feature pre-roll advertising and a number of ad breaks. As of this writing, “Rocky” featured 10 interstitial ad breaks.

YouTube’s flexible advertising model could potentially enable other options, like allowing one advertiser to sponsor an entire film. As with YouTube’s other channels, the movies will be ad-free to subscribers of YouTube Premium.

What YouTube has going for it is its massive scale.

The company says it has 1.8 billion logged-in users per month and has become the de facto home for free video content online. Many consumers still associate YouTube with user-generated content, short-form video from creators, or music videos. The company is clearly trying to remedy that association.

In addition, classic movies are a safe, reliable place to advertise. Marketers know exactly what they are getting. With YouTube having faced a number of brand-safety controversies over the last year, adding brand-safe content to its portfolio is one solution to the problem.

Free, ad-supported movies may be fresh to YouTube, but they have become one of the staple features of Vudu, the streaming video service owned by Walmart. Vudu also has a deal with MGM, covering the same library of films. It also has other deals with other studios. It isn’t clear whether YouTube will pursue similar arrangements.

read more here: www.mediapost.com

The disappointment of ‘House of Cards’ and its final season

It seems like Netflix’s “House of Cards” had a real opportunity for a fresh start with season six.

Granted, the behind-the-scenes turmoil probably made this season particularly challenging: Production was already underway when “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp came forward with allegations that Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was only 14. In response, Netflix and production company Media Rights Capital halted production and ultimately decided to rewrite the season without Spacey’s character Frank Underwood.

If you’ve watched “House of Cards,” you know that this must have been a big change, since Underwood and his political schemes have been at the center of the show for five years. Still, the previous season ended with Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood taking over the presidency, so it seemed like the right time to rethink this as a show that’s centered on Claire.

What we got, however, was a season that’s still very much about Frank Underwood. Sure, he’s died offscreen before the season starts, and Spacey never appears in these new episodes. But he still casts a long shadow over the show, with all of the characters focused on the mystery of his death and the power vacuum he left behind. On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we try to explain why we found this approach so unsatisfying.

In addition, we talk about the death of comics legend Stan Lee and Hulu’s plans to create multiple series based on “Wild Cards,” a set of superhero stories edited by George R.R. Martin. This, in turn, leads us to the question on every “Song of Ice and Fire” fan’s mind: When is he going to finish the next book?

listen here to the poadcast:

Amidst Disappointing Numbers, YouTube Music Launches in 7 More Countries

Late last year, Google revealed it would launch yet another attempt to finally break into the streaming music market.

Spotify had around 60 million subscribers at the time. Apple Music was hovering at the 30 million mark. Google Play Music had nearly 7 million paying subscribers. YouTube Red had around 1.5 million.

The service, codenamed ‘YouTube Remix,’ aimed to appease disillusioned music industry executives who have long slammed YouTube’s low payouts.

Several questions immediately emerged. Most importantly, how would Google convince YouTube’s 1.8 billion+ user base to pay up?

After all, the IFPI found that 35% of music lovers don’t subscribe to a streaming music service because they can already listen to free on YouTube. How would the search giant compel these consumers to subscribe?

Google soon launched YouTube’s streaming music service with two very confusing tiers.

For $9.99, you can stream millions of songs and music videos without ads on YouTube Music Premium. You can also download songs for offline listening, but not some playlists. And, you’ll have to watch ads on almost every other video on the service.

For $11.99, you can stream millions of songs and music videos as well as other videos completely ad-free on YouTube Premium. That means you can enjoy Drake’s latest hits and watch Cobra Kai without having to worry about skipping ads.Why would the search giant launch yet another streaming music service?

Would Google terminate or merge its existing Play Music service with YouTube’s newest streaming music platform?

As expected, the service launched earlier this year. But it’s struggled out of the gate.
According to a study from Parks Associates, Premium no longer ranks among the top 10 streaming services in the US.

Following a major overhaul in May, YouTube Music has launched in 22 countries. Yet, the service has kept its actual subscription numbers a closely-guarded secret.

Now, in an effort to rescue its floundering streaming service, the streaming music service has launched in 7 more countries.

Starting today, users in Cuba, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland, and Ukraine can sign-up for the service.

read more here: digitalmusicnews.com

Ad-Supported OTT Viewers Incremental To TV

Consumers that watch ad-supported streaming over-the-top video services are largely incremental to those that watch linear TV. They are a “high-value” audience. as well, per the IAB.

The IAB released its report, “Ad Receptivity and the Ad-Supported OTT Video Viewer,” at the first edition of its NewFronts West event, held in Los Angeles Tuesday.

The IAB sought to explore who watches OTT video and determine some of the defining characteristics the audience.

The report found that viewers of ad-supported OTT services (i.e. YouTube, Crackle, Roku Channel) do not typically watch linear TV. Over half are cord-cutters or cord-shavers. In other words, they make up a largely incremental audience to linear TV.

The IAB also found that even though the primary audience for ad-supported OTT services are the “typical ad blocking demo,” skewing younger and male, they are not opposed to ads delivered through these services.

“ASV OTT viewers are more receptive to advertising than either SVOD OTT or TV Only viewers,” the report says. “Many report they enjoy interacting with ads. In fact, ASV OTT viewers think of ads on this platform as being better.”

All told, 73% of adults surveyed that watch OTT video also say they watch ad-supported OTT video, with 43% saying they watch ad-supported services the most out of their streaming options.

That suggests that while ad-free options like Netflix and Hulu remain powerful forces in the industry, there is still opportunity for ad-supported options.

The full IAB report can be found here.

Why is Everyone Afraid of Amazon?

Compared to some of the other tech giants, Amazon is still a relatively small player in the advertising world. Google’s total ad revenues in their most recent quarterly financial results were ten times larger than Amazon’s ($2.5 billion). While Amazon is included in pretty much every acronym used to group the multinational tech companies; FAANG, GAFA, FATBANG and the like, it is still not afforded the same status as the ‘duopoly’ of Google and Facebook.

But for many, Amazon is the ‘sleeping giant’ of the advertising industry, and represents Silicon Valley’s biggest challenge to the media industry. Ex-WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has said that of all the threats facing ad agencies, Amazon is the one that keeps him up at night. Scott Galloway, who explored the growth of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple in his book ‘The Four’, last week said at the Brandemonium conference that Amazon should be feared by the rest of the four.

With each of these companies continuing to grow revenues at an extraordinary rate, it’s easy to forget why some consider Amazon in particular to be the most threatening. Below, we’ve broken down the key areas Amazon is operating in, and why it may be poised to knock the duopoly off their advertising pedestal.

Amazon Advertising

Amazon’s advertising business is far from best-in-class today. As a recent Digiday report claimed, some advertisers are frustrated with what they describe as clunky dashboards and limited functionality.

But the company has been taking steps to simplify its ad offering, bringing its four separate marketing divisions together earlier this year under the ‘Amazon Advertising’ banner.

Amazon runs sponsored ads, which promote an advertisers’ product within search listings, as well as display and video ads. While sponsored ads only appear on Amazon, display and video ads are run across Amazon’s properties (which include the likes of IMDb and Twitch), as well as other sites partnered with Amazon. These ads can only be bought through Amazon’s owned and operated DSP.

Obviously the key appeal here is Amazon’s user data, and its ability to serve ads to users who are primed to buy – in the case of ads served on Amazon.com, the user is actively looking to make a purchase. Amazon’s DSP allows marketers to target audience segments based on buying behaviour – for example, an advertiser can target users currently in market for their product, or who are habitual buyers of their product, and can retarget on third party sites those who’ve previously searched for the product.

“Advertisers know the Amazon audience is huge and primed to buy, and that Amazon’s platform will allow them to target based on real shopping and buying data—not just demographics and interests,” said an eMarketer report released earlier this year.

These benefits seem to be overriding concerns about clunky interfaces. A report released by Advertising Perceptions last week claimed that Amazon’s DSP is now the most-used by advertisers (in terms of the percentage of marketers using it), jumping ahead of Google Marketing Platform (formerly Doubleclick Bid Manager or DBM).

And ad revenue is soaring as Amazon ramps up the ad business. The company’s ad revenues sat at around $600 million in 2013, while at their current pace Amazon are pulling in $10 billion per year and rising.

Eroding the Agency Model

Amazon’s increased focus on advertising at a glance looks like good news for agencies, offering them an attractive new avenue to funnel their clients’ ad spend into.

But many fear that increased advertising on Amazon could reduce the need for agencies. as marketers look to cut out the middleman and plan their campaigns directly with Amazon. Reports surfaced earlier this year that Amazon has begun working with brands including Lego and HP directly.

“Amazon are creating products, similar to Facebook and Google, which are exceptionally easy to operate plus they already have direct to brand conversations as they have major brands selling through the platform,” said Wayne Blodwell, CEO of the Programmatic Advisory.

Blodwell says it’s unlikely that Amazon will cut out agencies completely. “If you bring those two together it’s clear that agencies could easily be disintermediated, but much like Facebook and Google I think advertisers need specialisms to help navigate wider marketing options and to best understand where to deploy budget, as well as the operational excellence in operating the platforms themselves. It’s like anyone can learn to drive, but very few become Lewis Hamilton.”

We have also seen specialist Amazon agencies emerge designed to provide an end-to-end for all of Amazon’s ad products. But while not all brands will work with Amazon directly, any loss of business during what is already a precarious time for agencies is bad news.

Voice Search

One of the notable themes at this year’s CES was the battle between Google and Amazon connected home devices, an important component of which is these devices’ voice search capabilities.

Opinion is split on if and when voice search will overtake typing – CSS Insight analyst Ben Wood believes voice will be the primary search input by 2021, though this prediction is seen as wildly optimistic by some.

If voice search does take off though, Amazon could be well placed to soften Google’s iron grip over search ad revenues. Amazon’s smart speakers currently make up 75 percent of the UK market, compared to 16 percent for Google. Google’s shareholders have begun to question how Google will fare as voice search grows.

Amazon is continuing to invest at a frightening pace too. Scott Galloway claims that “Amazon has more job openings in their voice group than Google has in the entire company right now.”

Voice search at the moment remains much harder to monetise than typed search, since audio ads are more intrusive than ads on a screen. This means fewer can be delivered in any given search without destroying the user experience.

But this is a much bigger problem for Google than it is for Amazon. Google has much more search ad revenue to lose, and Amazon leads users straight from voice searches into purchases via its ecommerce platform.

If Amazon establishes a firm lead in voice search, this data would act as an invaluable enhancement to Amazon’s DSP. Amazon’s shopping data already makes its DSP very attractive to advertisers – adding a bank of wider search data to rival Google’s would make it even more formidable.

Premium Video and UGC

At the moment Amazon’s primary video platform, Amazon Prime Video, is built to hook customers into Prime membership and onto the ecommerce platform, rather than generate money itself.

While this means it isn’t currently competing for TV ad dollars, it is competing for eyeballs, and has the sheer spending power necessary to fund a huge library of premium content.

One of the clearest examples of this is Amazon’s move into sports broadcasting. Live sports has been viewed as something of a crutch for linear television, and if Amazon snatches away expensive broadcasting rights it would be very bad news for the likes of Sky and BT.

When it comes to spending power, there’s no competition – Amazon’s market cap currently sits at $803 billion, while BT’s is $32 billion. In the most recent auction for Premier League broadcasting rights Amazon dipped its toes in the water for the first time, seen by many as a precursor to a bid for a much larger package later down the line.

The growth of subscription video services like Amazon Prime Video is already squeezing revenues for traditional broadcasters, with Ofcom finding earlier this year that subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV in the UK have overtaken subscriptions to pay TV services.

This pressure could ramp up further if Amazon makes a long anticipated move into ad-funded premium video. The Information reported earlier this year that the company is working on an ad-supported video service for Fire TV device owners, which would have a reach of around 48 million.

While Amazon is using Prime to target the premium video market, its simultaneously hoping its live-streaming platform Twitch can knock YouTube off its perch in the user-generated content market.

read more here: videoadnews.com