The popular social media app’s unannounced refresh, which Instagram has since labeled a bug, took users by surprise Thursday. Instead of scrolling through posts vertically, some people were forced to swipe and tap left and right through their feeds, similar to how the app’s “stories” feature works. Users went berserk on social media, with #instagramupdate trending on Twitter. Instagram quickly reverted back to the original top-to-bottom scrolling feature even before everyone had seen the update.
“That was supposed to be a very small test that went broad by accident,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted alongside a grimacing emoji. “Should be fixed now.”
Earlier this year, a redesign of Snap Inc.’s Snapchat was met with similar outrage and the company has struggled since. The change separated chats and postings of friends from the rest of the app—the content from media organizations that is paired with advertising sold by Snap. The platform has since seen a decline in the number of daily users, a key metric for social media companies.
Facebook is increasingly relying on growth at Instagram, which now has about one billion users, as its flagship social media network has almost reached saturation point. Future revenue growth at the company depends on Facebook’s ability to shift marketers’ interest to new ads in messaging services and marketing spots in “stories,” especially on Instagram.
It’s hard to imagine that the OTT space could get even more crowded than it already is, but that’s what 2019 is about to usher in. A slew of new streaming services will arrive on the scene, going toe-to-toe with current big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium.
Here are the biggest streaming offerings set to roll out next year.
The company, which completed its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner in June, will launch a direct-to-consumer offering in Q4 of 2019.
The still-unnamed OTT product, which AT&T first announced in October and shared more deals about with investors last month, will rely heavily on content from WarnerMedia, including HBO and the Warner Bros. library.Randall Stephenson said earlier this month that it will be a three-tiered service with a “core platform of movies,” which will be followed by a second tier of original programming and blockbuster movies and a third layer that features the library content (some of which could be licensed from third-parties), including classics, kids/family and niche programming.
AT&T doesn’t intend for the service “to become another Netflix,” said Stephenson, explaining that it is “not our ambition” for the OTT product to rival Netflix as a “warehouse of content.”
The channel will feature a second live-action Star Wars series, currently in development, and though it will have less content than Netflix, Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Robert Iger said it would be cheaper. The app will feature programming from brands such as Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
“We’re going to walk before we run as it relates to volume of content, because it takes time to build the kind of content library that ultimately we intend to build,” Iger said in August.
Apple has greenlit a number of original shows during the past year—including one about the morning news starring Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston—but it’s not clear on which platform that content will live when it is finally released. That content is finally expected to be rolled out next year, though specifics remain under wraps.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said his company is taking a “multifaceted” OTT strategy and will include direct-to-consumer options as well as producing content to sell to other services or content library.
“We do believe there is an opportunity on AVOD, ad-supported video on demand, and that is useful for building a funnel into our subscription products,” Bakish said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.
Discovery, Inc. executives have said they’re considering a direct to consumer offering, especially now that the company has 17 networks in its portfolio after merging in March with Scripps Networks Interactive.
Though execs have said they’re only considered the options, which could include bundling a number of brands, like HGTV, Food Network and TLC, in one channel. In theory, it could cost as low as $5 to $8 per month, said president and CEO David Zaslav in July.
Linear TV is still the biggest ad category, but digital video and mobile are making inroads. Advertising research company Warc took a look at 12 major markets, and found most ad spend went to display ads (which here includes TV, radio, mobile devices, out of home, and some online formats) and that linear TV was the biggest chunk of that spend.
Looking at 12 major markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.), all display ad platforms took in $140 billion in 2018, and of that linear TV took 41.9 percent. That’s a 1.0 percent year-over-year (YOY) improvement. The next biggest area was mobile devices.
Taking a step back, the data shows linear’s share has been declining for years, while mobile is improving. In fact, mobile has risen 16.6 percentage points since 2009.
One curious finding is that even though linear attracts fewer eyes every year, advertisers still flock to it. It offers unparalleled reach for top-of-funnel marketing campaigns, and nothing else can match it. Daily viewing time for linear averages 1 hour 54 minutes, which fell by 4 minutes this year.
When it surveyed brands about their plans for 2019, Warc learned that 32 percent planned to spend less on TV next year. Also, 18 percent will increase spending and 49 percent will maintain their current spend.
Addressable online video ads will certainly take a growing share of spending from linear, but Warc notes that the are has its own hurdles. In the U.S., consumers don’t like giving up their data to marketers and often see targeted ads as creepy: 61.5 percent in the U.S. don’t want to trade their personal data for more relevant ads.
“We believe TV spend will dip 1.5 percent in our 12 key markets next year, to $138 billion,” says James McDonald, data editor at Warc. This will largely be due to an expected 4.6 percent fall in the U.S. (to $61 billion). Addressable TV still has a long way to go to make up the expected shortfall in linear investment, but recent developments, such as AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and AppNexus, could instigate a new arms race in the industry.”
The growth of direct-to-consumer brands has been marked both by their disruptive business models which cut out middle-man retailers, and by their marketing strategies. These digital first companies, the likes of Dollar Shave Club, Casper Mattresses and Peloton, have managed to eat into the market share of established brands in a relatively short space of time.
Many have been quick to say that this growth is down to a new way of marketing conducted by these D2C brands, one which differs from the brand-building playbook followed by their established competitors. But given the rate at which marketing blueprints have evolved in the digital age, is it really fair to paint D2C brands as innovators and established brands as stagnant?
There are a few features of direct-to-consumer businesses which mean that they will inevitably operate differently from indirect brands. For a start, the action which the brand usually wants to drive – leading a potential customer to their own sales platform – is different from that of indirect brands, who generally want to lead users either onto a third-party site, or into a physical retail location.
But commentators point to a few specific common features of D2C brands which separate them from indirect brands. The primary points tend to be their access to lots of first-party data, and their direct communication with audiences, usually using social media to talk to potential customers directly.
These two factors were picked out by a report released by the IAB earlier this year, ‘The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy‘, and were also raised by LUMA Partners founder and CEO Terry Kawaja in his ‘Fire Your CMO’ speech at the ANA’s “Masters of Marketing” conference.
First Party Data
By controlling sales themselves, D2C companies gain access to a host of sales data which can be used to guide marketing, as well as the wider functioning of the business as a whole. The IAB’s report states that “first-party data relationships are important not for their marketing value independent of other functions, but because they fuel all significant functions of the enterprise, including product development, customer value analysis, and pricing”.
Andrew Hirsch, VP of client services at digital agency YellowHammer, laid out some of the specifics of how this data can be used. “From a marketing standpoint, this data can be used for customer modelling, audience targeting, building conversion paths and evaluating the efficacy of each marketing channel,” he said. “From a business standpoint, this data can be used to project customer lifetime value and acquisition costs. Brands also get real time data on what messaging causes users to transact, what products users buying, the quantity users purchase as well as the frequency at which they purchase.”
Dan Kenger, head of experience and partner at Gin Lane, another agency which has worked with a number of D2C brands, said this approach is spurred by the types of people who tend to lead D2C businesses. “When D2Cs enter the market they have a high level of technical acumen, in terms of being data aware and using data to make informed decisions right from the get go,” he said. “I think that’s something that’s just built into the culture of a lot of these D2C brands.”
But even D2C brands will generally have to start without first party data, so the initial stages of their marketing campaigns will be run data-free (though there are some exceptions – D2C razor company Harry’s collected over 10,000 emails before launch by offering prizes to those who shared the campaign with their friends on social media).
And first-party data won’t be equally useful to all D2C brands. For companies like Casper, the individual data collected when a sale is made will be useful for profiling its customer base, but less useful for targeting that individual – once a customer buys a mattress, they’re unlikely to be in the market for another one any time soon.
Established, non-direct brands aren’t all ignorant to the usefulness of first-party data either. P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, in a response to Kawaja’s ‘Fire Your CMO’ presentation, said his company is investing in data management platforms in China and the US that are populated in-part with first-party data generated by its own consumer-facing properties, and by direct-to-consumer sales run via social channels like Facebook and Instagram.
For P&G, Pritchard says this data is being used to move from “mass blasting” to “mass reach, but still with greater precision”, often being leveraged for more intelligent TV campaigns. This is a tactic which D2C companies themselves are now starting to experiment with, as many are looking to TV to expand their reach.
Social Based, Story Focused
As for the focus on storytelling and social channels, D2C brands themselves do seem to see these as their hallmarks. The IAB’s report lists a series of quotes from D2C executives who say storytelling and social interaction are at the heart of their strategies.
“Storytelling is a central part of our marketing,” Steph Korey, co-founder of D2C luggage brand Away Travel, told Inc. “We think about what stories we can feed to the press and to social media–things that make people take notice, things people want to share and talk about.”
There was a time when TV advertising was king, and the only question left after locking in the creative was how much to allocate to cable vs. broadcast. But today, because viewers have more content options than ever, there has been a decrease in linear TV consumption that has created a scale problem for advertisers trying to reach their target audiences. As Deloitte Global projects, viewing of traditional TV content will decline by 5%-15% per year through 2023.
Many advertisers flocked to online video to reach these consumers, leveraging the more granular targeting and measurement capabilities digital advertising offers. But that presented its own challenges, as the increased investment in OLV (online video) resulted in increased fraud, brand safety, and viewability issues.
This does not mean that the death knell has been rung for television or online video. The sight, sound, and motion of television creates a powerful branding experience that cannot be replicated with a digital display ad. That said, the targeting and measurement capabilities in OLV increase the effectiveness and accountability of advertising. The answer is not to choose one or the other; it’s combining the best capabilities of both TV and OLV into one holistic approach.
Unfortunately, the tactic most marketers have adopted – simply shifting money from TV to digital – does not create a holistic video strategy. For one, heavy TV viewers are heavy online consumers, so unless you have a sophisticated cross-channel audience extension strategy, you are not truly extending your TV reach with OLV. Additionally, the consumer experience is not the same; TV ads are viewed on a big screen adjacent to professionally produced content, an ideal environment for a marketer’s branding message. Countless studies have shown that simply shifting that message to a small screen adjacent to a news feed or UGC does not produce the same effect on the upper funnel metrics so important to TV advertisers.
So while the right strategy might seem simple and intuitive (first identify those consumers not exposed to your TV advertising and second, find them in TV like experiences) the constellation of vendors offering such services has made it challenging at best to execute. This fragmented market has largely been bi-furcated between data companies that can identify a consumer across channels (TV and Digital) and OTT content companies that have the quality video inventory available to actually reach them.
On the data front, there are over a dozen companies in the market today offering ACR solutions to identify unique consumers across TV and Digital all with varying degrees of scale and efficacy, not to mention marketing materials that seemingly contradict one another. Furthermore, few of these companies have access to scaled unique video inventory so once you identify a consumer that has not been exposed to your TV ad, your options are limited for actually finding them in a quality TV-like environment.
On the quality video side of the equation, advertisers have had to stitch together a hodgepodge of CTV, OTT, and FEP providers to reach people in TV-like environments. Historically, the scale and varying degrees of access to these sources made them challenging to utilize as part of a holistic video strategy.
Committee hearings — in the House even more than the Senate — are always a showcase for the worst aspects of the embarrassing, benighted gerontocracy of the American legislature. That happens not least because the most senior members of most committees ask their questions first, and those tend to be the representatives from the safest districts and thus the members least interested in actual governance and the most invested in petty squabbles with the press and industry, as those are the fights that will help them get elected to a fifteenth term.
So Tuesday’s interrogation of Google CEO Sundar Pichai by the House Judiciary was a terrific use of a hugely powerful public forum in the world’s foremost democracy — at least it was, if you’ve always wanted to ask the CEO of Google, for example, how to get the crown prince of Nigeria to pay up after giving him your checking account routing number. Or whether that email forward from your golfing buddy is correct about Mark Zuckerberg giving away free iPads to anyone who buys a reverse mortgage.
It actually wasn’t much smarter than that: Throughout the hearing, representatives like Steve King R-Iowa, and Ted Poe, R-Texas, blasted Pichai for problems they had with iPhones (which, as Pichai observed to King, Google does not manufacture). Florida’s John Rutherford asked Pichai to send him “a printout” of the data Google had collected on him.
But there was a sinister cast to much of the questioning, too: Plenty of senior Republicans wanted to know what Google was doing to defend them from the threat of negative search results when people used Google’s search product to learn about them or their legislation. “I googled American Healthcare Act [intended to repeal Obamacare] and virtually every article was an attack on our bill!” whined Steve Chabot, R-Ohio.
It’s undoubtedly too much at this point to expect shame or, indeed, any kind of introspection from Republican politicians, who seem fine with having installed a uniquely incompetent and compromised game show host as head of the executive branch. But it is useful to look at what all of Tuesday’s nonsense was in service of, because there did seem to be a strategy behind it.
Foremost among many distinguished contributors to this strategy was Lamar Smith of Texas, who presented Pichai with a chart published by right-wing site PJ Media and authored by anti-vax favorite and Benghazi conspiracist Sharyl Attkisson (who, to her credit, had the grace to call the chart “subjective” in the blog post where it originates), which he pronounced “irrefutable” evidence of a biased search algorithm that prevents conservatives from reaching the number of people Smith felt they ought to reach.
But behind the content-free bad-faith posturing was a real threat: If Google does not correct for its perceived “political bias,” the laissez-faire free marketeers of the Republican party might suffer a sudden attack of Marxism and correct the company’s supposed bias for them.
For instance, King demanded a list of the 1,000 people — Pichai’s estimate — who work on Google’s search algorithm (which is designed to analyze search terms in several different kinds of context, including, in most cases, its often scarily-accurate perception of what the user is looking for based on past behavior across Google’s products) to enable Republicans to police those engineers’ “political bias” until it better pleased him. “Look at their social media, and if that doesn’t solve this problem, the next step is to publish the algorithms,” he told Pichai. “If that doesn’t happen, the next step is amendments to section 230” — the law that absolves platforms of responsibility for the material published through their systems — ”and beyond that is a Teddy Roosevelt step,” a reference to trust-busting.
This would pain King considerably, he said — “I don’t want to regulate anything” — but a public discourse in which he is criticized with impunity in public is, he implied, simply too high a price for the country to pay.
Regulating Google closely — even breaking it up — might well be very good for society, but only insofar as the people doing the breaking weren’t seeking to enable the worst parts of Google’s operations (like its ability to surface unending far-right messaging to unsuspecting YouTube users looking for videos of new games or movie trailers) and to squelch dissent into the bargain.
It’s already an article of faith among people who oppose Google’s excesses that the company ought to be brought into closer alignment with the values of the society that has allowed it to grow to terrifying and formidable size, but those values might need some fine-tuning if they give power to people like King, the sort of legislator gleefully stops in to a racist nationalist talk show during a trip to the sites of the Holocaust.
Republicans at Tuesday’s hearings hardly touched on Google’s near-monopolistic power, except to threaten to end it if Google doesn’t accede to their political demands — or the wonky algorithms which do, in fact, serve up not just fascist bloviations but total fabulism and conspiracy theories, especially if users view content the algorithm sees as fascism- or lunacy-adjacent.
The advertising model for traditional, linear television is actually pretty simple. Networks air TV shows, and those shows have regular commercial breaks. In total, they typically end up being around eight minutes of commercials every half hour, and 16 minutes in an hour.
Now, as consumer viewing shifts to over-the-top video — a format dominated by the ad-free giant Netflix, and the limited-ad giant YouTube — companies are realizing that those old ad models just won’t fly.
“It is clear to us that consumers are not going to stand for 16 minutes of ads per hour,” Scott Rosenberg, the GM of Roku’s platform business, said at the Business Insider Ignition conference last week. “The consumer we are serving is highly empowered, they have lots of screens to choose from — ad-free experiences to choose from. While they value free, there is a tolerance. It is very clear that ad loads will come down, and the ads will have to become smarter and more engaging.”
So what can companies do? Better targeting and more relevant ads are a start, but so are ads that are not interruptive to the viewing experience. Roku will be adding search-based and discovery-based ads in the coming months, and is looking at other formats as well.
Other companies, such as Hulu and AT&T, are looking into other options, including “pause-vertising,” in which an ad would begin to play after a user presses pause on a show they are watching.
The logic is that as consumers increasingly binge-watch shows, they are increasingly pausing the action to grab a drink or use the bathroom. That could present an opportunity for certain advertisers.
While some consumers may be annoyed by these types of ads, they are certainly less interruptive than traditional commercial breaks, and are part of the value exchange of ad-supported OTT.
“Ad-free is a great product, if you can afford that type of viewing experience, it gives you back some time,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer at the Business Insider event. “What we really like is that we can offer choice. We can offer a $0.99 package, or our Spotify bundle to consumers, and that is ad-supported, they understand that, and it has less than half of the commercial time than you have in traditional markets.”
Value is the key word here. Rosenberg says that consumers clearly want free ad-supported options to complement their paid subscriptions, and that “free” is the most-searched for term among Roku apps.
“I think many of us in the industry have been trying to figure out what the balance of ad-supported and ad-free viewing will be five years from now,” Rosenberg says. “It is very clear to us now at Roku that consumers are cutting and shaving the cord, not just because they are looking for more choices, but because they want value, so free is a really important selection criteria as consumers get into OTT.”
New data published by connected intelligence specialist Kantar Media shows that reality television has driven the highest level of social media engagement over the course of the past year, closely followed by current affairs programmes.
Kantar Media measured engagement amongst UK viewers between December 1st 2017 and November 30th 2018. The insight is taken from Kantar Social TV Ratings, which was launched in 2014 as the official metric for understanding, analysing and benchmarking the impact of social media on TV viewing habits.
Over the 12-month period studied, there was a total of 75 million Tweets, resulting in an enormous 28 billion overall impressions. Entertainment programmes are the most tweeted about on the whole, attracting 32 million Tweets during the period, followed by drama (20m) and current affairs (13m).
Despite the nation’s interest in live programmes, the data also suggests that viewers have been making increasing use of streaming services and on-demand viewing opportunities. Three-quarters of all TV-related Twitter activity during the year-long period occurred outside of broadcast windows, amounting to 17 billion impressions and 99 million likes.
The Love Island appeal
Kantar Media’s data reveals that Love Island was the most talked about television series on Twitter in 2018, with a total of 6.3 million Tweets, 18 million likes and just under 60 per cent of all interactions taking the form of retweets.
According to additional insights, taken from Kantar Media’s TGI consumer survey, one million adults agree with the statement: ‘I specially choose’ to watch Love Island, 74 per cent of whom are women. The programme is particularly popular amongst those who are young and without children as well as parents with young children. Two extremes of the country find Love Islandparticularly compelling, with those in the North East 31 per cent more likely to be fans and those in the South West 34 per cent more likely to be fans.
When looking at brand engagement around Love Island, clothes brand and sponsor Missguided featured most highly. 15,000 Tweets around Love Islandalso mentioned Missguided; while 6,800 mentioned tech sponsor Samsung and 2,400 mentioned drinks brand and sponsor Lucozade. Missguided was equally popular across Instagram, forums and blog posts referring to Love Island, making up 56 per cent of all brand mentions.
The remainder of the top five television series on Twitter list was made up by current affairs programmes, including Question Time (with 2.5m Tweets), Good Morning Britain (1.8m) and The Andrew Marr Show (1.6m). Daily Politics (1.5m Tweets) came in sixth, just behind Doctor Who.
The top 20 Individual Broadcast list was dominated almost entirely by Love Island, with the first episode of the new series taking third place (with 205,000 Tweets), behind annual live music events The Eurovision Song Contest(841,000 Tweets) and The Brit Awards (229,000 Tweets). The series finale took fifth place (with 151,000 Tweets) behind the series launch of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! (162,000 Tweets). The Great British Bake Offand Celebrity Big Brother entered the top 20 list, in positions 14 and 15 respectively.
2018 was feted as the ‘year of the launch’, with hugely hyped new shows including The Bodyguard and Informer making their debuts, while well-known favourites Doctor Who, Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Talereleased new series. However, of these, only Doctor Who made a significant impact on Twitter, coming in at number five in the top series with 381 million total impressions.
Alongside The Bodyguard, which featured at number seven (42m overall impressions), the list of Series Launches was dominated by popular entertainment shows. Love Island Series 4 topped the ranking with 206,000 Tweets, followed by I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! (162,000) at second; Celebrity Big Brother (77,000) third and The X Factor fourth (63,000).
“What is truly interesting is the way in which our data highlights the strong attachment consumers have with their favourite television programmes, even outside of the broadcast window,” noted Andy Brown, Global CEO, Kantar Media UK & Ireland.” More than ever, consumers are using social media to communicate about television programmes at a time that suits them. For brands and advertisers, this serves to reiterate the opportunity offered by multi-channel engagement and the need for a connected intelligence approach to measure its impact; using social media platforms to become a part of the conversations they know their audiences are already having, at the right time and in the right place.”
YouTube and Facebook account for the majority of online video advertising in Europe, but the vast bulk of video advertising still goes to television, according to a report by the European Audiovisual Observatory.
According to the report, Online Video Sharing: Offerings, Audiences, Economic Aspects, which cites a number of third-party data sources, YouTube and Facebook together take a 56% share of the European online video advertising market. In 2018, YouTube took an estimated 32% of the market, with Facebook taking a 24% share. Broadcasters took a 20% share of the market collectively.
Despite the dominance of YouTube and Facebook in online video advertising, the vast bulk of video advertising – 91% – went to television in 2016. However, the growth rate of the online video advertising market is much higher than that of the TV ad market – 21.4% between 2015-16 compared with 2% for the TV advertising market and 11% for the overall online advertising market.
The report also noted that 6-15 year-olds in the UK spend about 20% of their screen time watching online video clips, compared with about 45% watching broadcast TV, 12% watching recorded TV, 6% watching catch-up TV and 10% watching paid for streaming or download services. Over 16s, by contrast spend 63% of their screen time watching broadcast TV, 17% watching recorded TV, 6% watching catch-up TV and 6% watching paid for streaming or download services, and only a very small amount of screen time – 2.9% – watching online video clips.
YouTube is used at least once a month by 93% of western European consumers, according to the report.
Despite the growth on online video and the rise of SVOD, the report cited Recode data from 2017 that shows traditional media companies still account for the bulk of expenditure on original non-sports content, with the top four spenders – NBCUniversal, Time Warner, Fox and Disney all being traditional players, led by NBCUniversal, which spent US$10.2 billion. Netflix comes in at number five with expenditure of US$6.3 billion, while Amazon is number seven with US$4.5 billion. Among technology and social media companies, Apple and Facebook were the top spenders, coming in at number 13 and 14 with spend of about US$1 billion apiece.