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

Connected TV: The challenges and opportunities for marketers

“The Situation is so much cooler now that he’s off drugs and lasagna is his vice instead” is an actual thing that I said out loud last week. We all have our guilty pleasures and yes, Jersey Shore is one of mine. MTV recently rebooted the show after six years, during which the proliferation of connected TV changed the television landscape dramatically. Back in 2009, I watched the original series on MTV; the new episodes, on the network’s Roku app. I don’t even know which night of the week they originally air.

I’m not alone. eMarketer estimates that about 182 million Americans watch connected TV, a term that encompasses smart TVs, over-the-top (OTT) devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV, subscription services like Hulu, and even gaming consoles. And yet, according to a survey of ANA marketers, only 15% have connected TV in their media plan.

“It’s easy to say, ‘You should be on connected TV,’ but that’s such a broad term,” says Will Felcon, Head of Product & Technology at OTT advertising company Premion. “There’s a lot of confusion in this industry and the fragmentation isn’t helping the lack of understanding.”

Fragmentation: A challenge and opportunity in connected TV

Let’s use Jersey Shore: Family Vacation to illustrate the fragmentation. You can watch the show on MTV and its various apps. Episodes are also available on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and Vudu. That totals 14 different channels, discounting pirated content.

Tim Sims, Senior Vice President of Inventory Partnerships at The Trade Desk, points out that the fragmentation is both a challenge and an opportunity. While people are watching content from every which way, that also gives marketers a chance to capitalize on one of connected TV’s main advantages: more sophisticated targeting capabilities.

“For the history of TV buying, we’ve been mostly stuck in a world where the transactional currency is age and gender,” says Sims. “One of the big potential tipping points is, you take all the amazing things you can do in digital, like audience targeting, and apply them to TV, which was impossible before.”

Compared with linear TV, connected TV also lends itself to more sophisticated frequency capping and relevant retargeting. Data providers also enable more effective reporting and measuring, telling advertisers where and how many times, and on which devices, an ad was viewed.

An omnichannel look at TV

There’s a parallel between connected TV and ecommerce: perpetually on the rise and particularly popular with younger consumers. Roku’s ad revenue is projected to hit $293 million this year, making the company second only to Hulu in OTT ad sales. According to Nielsen figures, Roku ads have 10.2% greater incremental reach over linear TV among 18- to 34-year-olds.

However, much like in-store shopping, linear still dominates. Traditional TV ad spend may be down year-over-year, but eMarketer still projects it to reach nearly $70 billion in 2018.

“The number of cord cutters continues to grow, but there’s a larger group of people who have linear TV and Amazon Fire or Roku or a smart TV with Hulu and all these apps preloaded,” says Sims. “That’s quite a substantial middle of the curve. We’re still in the early days for what the opportunity is, which is exciting.”

Looking forward

Connected TV is the fastest-growing video segment. And just as marketers are buying more ads there, they’re getting savvier about it.

read more here: clickz.com

Google is advertising in print magazines and you can’t tell

Perhaps you would buy a smartphone for its camera if you knew it was used to photograph the rapper Cardi B on the cover of W magazine. Or actress Angela Bassett on the cover of Allure. Or Ryan Gosling on the cover of GQ.

If so, you might prefer to know that the company pushing this phone—Google in this case—paid for this partnership, and that the magazine, owned by publisher Conde Nast, made a business decision rather than expressing an aesthetic or technological preference. You may want to know photographers didn’t necessarily decide that this was the ideal device.

Regardless of your personal preferences, federal advertising guidelines in the US certainly require such disclosures. In advertising, “the watchword is transparency,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers need to know when they are looking at paid promotional materials.

Yet Google’s new approach to promoting its Pixel phone’s photographic prowess presents a very murky picture that may not meet these standards. The tech company has partnered with Conde Nast publishing and celebrities to create advertisements that don’t seem like ads at all. The publisher is using the Pixel phone in magazines like Vogue, GQ, Allure, and Glamour, by photographing stars like Bassett and Ryan Gosling with the phone’s camera.

You might not even know about it. But you might learn in other ways, such as through a mention on social media.

here’s certainly nothing wrong with a partnership between Google and Condé Nast, which the publisher’s chief creative officer, Raul Martinez, described in a press release last month: “Photographing our covers with the Pixel 3 was a compelling challenge, impressing even our most discerning photographers. This strategic partnership with Google is an example of how we’re innovating to bring our audiences content that is created and distributed in new ways that reflect the cutting edge of the industry.”

What is a material connection?
“If there is a material connection between your company and an endorser, disclose it,” the FTC explains on its website. A material connection, according to the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, is a relationship between the endorser and the seller that “might materially affect the weight or credibility a consumer gives the endorsement.”

The government body states that its guides “reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading.” As such, if the endorser has been paid or given something of value to tout the product, disclosure is a must because “knowing about the connection is important information for anyone evaluating the endorsement.”

read more here: qz.com

Major OTT Companies Securing Foothold in Sports Streaming

In their attempt to entice and engage more customers, leading over-the-top (OTT) companies like Facebook and Amazon have tapped into the sports streaming market.

At the Sport Business Summit held recently in London, executives from Facebook and Amazon have discussed about the engagement of these Internet-based companies in sports matches streaming.

In the words of Peter Hutton, Facebook’s Director of Global Live Sports Partnerships and Programming, Facebook believes it can help congregate sports fans.

In addition, he said that the social media giant thinks it can facilitate streaming enthusiasts to experience sports “in a better way.”

The Facebook executive admitted that shifting from watching on traditional TV to availing the services of OTT companies is certainly challenging.

However, Hutton contended that smooth transition is facilitated by Facebook through its partnerships with broadcasters.

Social media platforms can also help rake in new sports fans like what happened during Facebook Watch’s coverage of the Major League Baseball.

It enabled the real-time interactions among the audiences, the coaches, and the athletes during the live presentations of the baseball games.

Amazon Prime Video, the subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) division of the e-Commerce juggernaut, presents a wide array of sports programming as well.

These include the National Football League’s matches, the US Open Tennis Championships, and the soccer games of Germany’s Bundesliga.

By 2019, Amazon Prime Video will present 20 English Premier League matches across two particular dates in December. This schedule also consists of Boxing Day programming.

Alex Green, European Managing Director of Amazon Prime Video, also spoke at the Leaders’ Week of the London sports business conference.

He cited that the SVoD service of the online retail giant is certainly committed to sports broadcasting for the long haul.

Green elaborated on the fact that plenty of today’s consumers are anticipated to register for a 30-day trial free of charge to view the Boxing Day matches.

In addition, this trend will propel an increased surge in new members during the busiest shopping period of the year.

read more here: digitaltvlife.com

Research: OTT in 64% US homes

Market research and consulting company Parks Associates has released its updated list of the top 10 subscription over-the-top (OTT) video services in the US market, based on estimated number of subscribers. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continue to hold the top three slots, with HBO Now and Starz moving into the top five.

1. Netflix
2. Prime Video Users (Amazon Prime)
3. Hulu (SVoD)
4. HBO Now
5. Starz
6. MLB.TV
7. Showtime
8. CBS All Access
9. Sling TV
10. DirecTV Now

“Which company is the leading OTT video subscription service remains a topic of debate,” said Brett Sappington, Senior Director of Research, Parks Associates. “According to our estimates, Amazon has more Prime Members than Netflix has subscribers. However, when you consider only those Prime Members that use Prime Video, Netflix is the largest. Hulu remains the third largest but continues to grow its subscriber base.”

The firm notes the rise of a second tier of OTT video services from services with recognised brands, including several with high profile original content. Online pay-TV services Sling TV and DirecTV NOW round out the top ten, ahead of similar services Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, and PlayStation Vue. Online pay TV has been one of the fastest growing segments in the OTT video space, with aggressive marketing by all.

“HBO, Starz, Showtime, and CBS All Access demonstrate the powerful attractiveness of original content through series like Game of Thrones and Star Trek: Discovery,” Sappington said. “This pattern suggests new services such as WarnerMedia’s DC Universe and the forthcoming streaming service from Disney could achieve success quickly.”

The top subscription sports OTT video services are MLB.TV, WWE Network, and ESPN+. MLB.TV continues to lead the sports OTT subscription category, benefiting from its long tenure as a streaming service and popularity among dedicated baseball fans. WWE also has a dedicated fan base and publicly reported having over 1.2 million US subscribers at the end of Q3 2018. ESPN+ is a newcomer to the OTT video marketplace but recently announced that it had exceeded 1 million subscribers.

Additional data from Parks Associates’ OTT Video Market Tracker, which tracks the content offerings, business strategies, and subscription numbers for OTT services in North America:

– OTT video subscription penetration has reached 64 per cent of US broadband households. Over two-thirds subscribe only to one of the top three services, Netflix, Prime Video, or Hulu.
– The online pay-TV audience is similar to the OTT audience—they are younger and quicker to adopt new technologies when compared to traditional pay-TV households.
– Over the past three years, OTT churn rates have gradually fallen each year from 31 per cent of OTT subscriptions cancelled each year in 2015 to 28 per cent in 2018.

read more here: advanced-television.com