A Chrome Ad-Block Addition? Really?

Rumors that Google is considering adding a built-in ad-blocking feature to its Chrome browser elicited a mix of shouts and shrugs across the digital advertising landscape.
The potential Chrome ad-blocking extension, first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, would block ad formats deemed unacceptable by the Coalition for Better Ads (CFBA), a cross-industry trade association founded last year to formalize digital standards.

Though the CFBA is uninvolved with the reported Chrome ad blocker, “it’s the logical extension of the goal we’re trying to achieve and in line with what stakeholders said they intended to do when standards were established,” said Stuart Ingis, a partner at the law firm Venable who represents the organization.

With so few details known and the product unconfirmed, companies across the digital media spectrum are holding their peace.

“We do not comment on rumor or speculation,” said a Google spokesperson. “We’ve been working closely with the Coalition for Better Ads and industry trades to explore a multitude of ways Google and other members of the coalition could support the Better Ads Standards.”

Digital Content Next, a trade group for digital media suppliers, “is 100% committed to the Coalition for Better Ads as the forum for addressing consumer concerns around ad experiences,” according to association President Jason Kint.

“We’ll wait to hear publicly from Google on what exactly they’re planning to roll out,” he said

The Wall Street Journal reported that autoplay videos with automatic sound and prestitial ads with countdowns (which are full-page takeovers before entering a site) are among the ad formats being considered for blocking by Chrome.

Some top media brands, including Forbes, carry at least one format that fail to meet those standards, said Ben Barokas, founder and CEO of the publisher technology company Sourcepoint.

“I’d guess it’s on purpose that there are no specifics,” Barokas said, “because on some things they may or may not have the mandate of the industry to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

The addition of ad blocking to Chrome “raises the perception of anticompetitiveness,” but isn’t expected to impact business, according to a CFBA member and Google competitor speaking on background due to nondisclosure agreements. Establishing ad standards “is really what the CFBA was created for.”

read more here:


Booming over-the-top video set to overtake TV within five years

Within the next five years, viewership hours of live linear streaming over-the-top (OTT) video will surpass those of traditional broadcast TV, according to the third annual OTT Video Services Study.

Based on responses from almost 500 media industry professionals, the study from Level 3 Communications, Streaming Media and Unisphere Research found that more than a quarter of participants expect OTT year-over-year revenue growth in 2016 to 2017 to increase as much as 25%, and about half of respondents anticipate growth of anywhere between 30-50%. Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated that OTT-related services will account for more than a quarter of their overall business over the next three years.

The latest study did find some new trends, notably that bandwidth limitation challenges are giving way to concerns around quality of service and quality of experience. In addition, while VR-video garnered notable attention in the previous survey, the 2017 OTT Video Services study found that respondents are focused on both higher frame rates (HFR) and high-dynamic ranges (HDR). Almost half of respondents offering or planning to offer both options, while an additional fifth were focusing only on HFR delivery, such as 1080p60, which is often used to smooth out sports content.

read more here:


How YouTube’s Shifting Algorithms Hurt Independent Media

At the age of 21, David Pakman started a little Massachusetts community radio talk program. While the young broadcaster got his show syndicated on a few public radio stations, it was a YouTube channel he began in 2009, “The David Pakman Show,” that opened up his progressive political commentary to a whole new digital audience. The show has since amassed 353,000 subscribers, and roughly half of its revenue now comes from the ads that play before his videos. He earns enough to produce the show full time and pay a lean staff.

Or, at least, he used to. Last month YouTube announced abrupt, vague changes to its automated processes for placing ads across the platform. Ads on Mr. Pakman’s YouTube channel evaporated, dropping to as little as 6 cents a day, and forcing him to set up a crowdfunding page to help cover $20,000 a month in operating costs.

“This is an existential threat to the show,” Mr. Pakman said. “We need that money.”

Since its 2005 debut with the slogan “Broadcast Yourself,” YouTube has positioned itself as a place where any people with camera phones can make a career of their creativity and thrive free of the grip of corporate media gatekeepers. But in order to share in the advertising wealth a user base of more than a billion can provide, independent producers like Mr. Pakman must satisfy the demands of YouTube’s unfeeling, opaque and shifting algorithms.

The architecture of the internet has tremendous influence over what is made, and what is seen; algorithms influence what content spreads further on Facebook and turns up on top of Google searches. YouTube’s process for mechanically pulling ads from videos is particularly concerning, because it takes aim at whole topics of conversation that could be perceived as potentially offensive to advertisers, and because it so often misfires. It risks suppressing political commentary and jokes. It puts the wild, independent internet in danger of becoming more boring than TV.

YouTube’s most serious ad change yet came in the wake of reports from The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal that ads were appearing on YouTube videos that espoused extremism and hate speech. When major advertisers like AT&T and Johnson & Johnson withdrew their spots, YouTube announced that it would try to make the site more palatable to advertisers by “taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.”

read more here:


Buyers Expect Advanced Advertising to Grow

Advertisers and media agencies plan to increase their advanced TV advertising activities, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of advertising software firm Videology by Advertiser Perceptions. The survey found that 57% of buyers said they have used advanced TV advertising in the past 12 months, with 75% saying they plan to in the next 12 months.

Of those currently spending in advanced TV advertising, 57% said they plan to increase their data-enabled TV budget this year.
Linear advertising was employed by 88% of the respondents in the past 12 months. Only 77% said they plan to use linear TV in the next 12 months.

A majority of respondents—64%—said they expect more than half of TV buying will be programmatic within 3 to 5 years.

“Advertisers and agencies are rapidly seeing the benefit of applying data and automation to their linear TV buys because it gives them the best of both worlds: the reach and viewing experience of TV, with the strategic targeting of digital,” says Scott Ferber, founder and CEO, Videology.

“While this survey focused on the demand side, we are seeing similar enthusiasm from media companies who see data-enablement as a way of capturing greater value from their audiences, both in TV and across devices. With buyers and sellers both recognizing the value in more addressable, audience-based advertising, the marketplace can now truly accelerate,” said Ferber.

Though the survey indicates advanced advertising is growing, there are still many buyers with questions.

More than half of the advertisers and agency execs said they don’t understand the difference between data-enabled TV and addressable TV. And 20% said their advanced advertising is still being funded from a test or experimental budget.

more here (including a link to the full report:


Who’s Watching TV’s Biggest Shows and How Their Interests Align With Brands

While digital campaigns can be targeted to consumers with uber-specific interests, television advertising, in comparison, can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. Sure, we know that an ad that runs during The Bachelor will reach a largely female audience, but what if a brand wants to reach millennial women with a passion for skin care and plenty of disposable income?

To help brands fine-tune their TV targeting, audience measurement and marketing company Quantcast pulled search data on the demographics of people searching for specific TV shows. “[It’s] a valuable insight for brands and content creators to use for identifying and engaging with new and sometimes unexpected audiences,” said Jag Duggal, svp, product management at Quantcast.

This type of data could also be helpful for shows looking for more viewers. “If there is a discrepancy between audience search demographics and who is actually watching these shows,” Duggal explained, “it could indicate that there is an audience that is ripe for engagement but has not yet converted into viewers.”

8 Video and Social Marketing Stats That Got My Attention This Week

It’s been an unusually strong week for video and social media data points, especially if you are Facebook Inc. Check out the eight stats that grabbed our attention in recent days:

1. Imitation works
Instagram has been relentlessly copying Snapchat’s video features in recent months, and that strategy appears to have worked. Instagram said it now has 200 million people using its Snapchat-like Stories feature on a daily basis. So that feature alone on the Facebook-owned platform is more popular than Snapchat’s app, which has 158 million daily users.

2. Getting the message
Facebook Messenger is increasingly popular, and its vp of messaging products, David Marcus, said the application now has more than 1.2 billion monthly users. The app had 500 million users at the end of 2014, so its growth has been impressive.

3. Everyone’s doing Facebook ads
Facebook announced Monday that it has more than 5 million advertisers worldwide, with nearly 50 percent of them creating their campaigns on mobile devices.

4. Billion-dollar aims
Nextdoor, an online community platform that essentially combines the classic message board with Craigslist, hopes to emulate a degree of Facebook’s success. The startup spent its first five and a half years building a sizable audience of social-media patrons more interested in what’s going on down the street than what their friends are up to in other time zones. With the possibility of getting to 100 million users by the end of the decade, it’s now rolling out advertising for the first time, and its own revenue forecast is noteworthy.

“We think it will be $1 billion by 2020,” said Nirav Tolia, CEO of Nextdoor. “Look at the Yellow Pages; it’s still a $40 billion business in the U.S. … Over the last nine to 12 months, we’ve been getting more than 1,000 incoming advertising requests per week.”

5. Cord cutters test the ‘Tube
YouTube TV has been widely available for eight days now, and 147,300 smartphone and tablet users have downloaded the $35-a-month service so far, according to mobile-data company Apptopia. For the sake of comparison, consider that Dish Network’s Sling TV, another option for cord cutters at $20 a month, reportedly has anywhere between 1 million and 2 million subscribers.

6. More OTT
Speaking of over-the-top TV, Netflix and Amazon currently dominate the game. According to a Forbes report, Netflix will have 128 million U.S. users this year, per eMarketer, encompassing 66 percent of OTT video consumers. The New York-based research firm, meanwhile, reportedly stated that Amazon will have 85.3 million viewers this year, representing 44 percent of the market.

7. Video explosion
Video content shop Studio 71 has 1,200 channels on YouTube with more than 6.7 billion monthly views and is claiming a 95 percent year-over-year growth in views. Read more about Studio 71’s NewFronts plans here, including a pitch about brand safety.

8. Direct growth
Instagram revamped its Instagram Direct messaging feature, which now has 375 million monthly active users, up from 300 million last November.

read more here:


Can hyper-local video help save rural operator triple play?

By Colin Dixon

Last week I talked about how Denmark’s TV2 is facing up to the global SVOD challenge. Local content is a key part of the strategy. It could also be the key to how local network operator in the U.S. survive in a very hostile video service market.

Local operators in the U.S. are struggling with pay TV services. Many entered the market in the last decade, deploying IPTV services on their DSL and fiber networks. Today, that business looks far less attractive than it did back then.

The toxic environment for pay TV services

Reduction in pay TV margins content costsEscalating content costs are a problem for all pay TV operators. Consider what has happened to Comcast’s content costs over the last seven years. In 2010, 39% of video revenue went to pay for the television channel license fees. In 2016, 52% of video revenue went to cover those costs. Few businesses could withstand a 13% reduction in margin.

For smaller operators, the problem is even worse. Lacking the huge bargaining power of Comcast, they likely have gotten a much worse deal from behemoths like ESPN. In other words, they have almost certainly seen an even bigger reduction in margins since 2010. For many, this has turned a marginal business into an unprofitable one.

Make no mistake, a video service still provides value to an operator as part of the triple play mix. The multi-service approach helps cement the customer relationship, and is a very effective churn reducer. However, the prospect of further above-inflation increases in content costs threatens the viability of the triple-play approach.

At the IP Vision Conference & Expo in St Louis Missouri this week, those smaller operators were looking for an alternative video strategy. According to Mark Chambers, Director of Sales, Telco for the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), there are 800 rural broadband providers and half them offer video services. As in the rest of country, rural providers are seeing their customers spend increasing time with services like Netflix. They’re also watching as virtual MVPDs like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue start to pick off dissatisfied pay TV customers.

Don’t exit the business, evolve!

With all the online competition and horrible pay TV margins, who could blame rural providers for simply abandoning video altogether. However, that was not the advice offered by panelists at the conference in a session entitled Your Video Future: Don’t Exit, Evolve. Mark Chambers was joined by Bruce Churchill, Sales Director at Ericsson, and moderator Daniel Brashear, Network Manager, Plateau Telecommunications. They discussed several options open to operators to evolve their video service. For example, operators can work with Roku on a white label streaming media player, or strike a co-marketing agreement with one of the new virtual MVPD providers.

But the one idea that most caught my ear was what the panelists called becoming “hyper-local”.

read more here:


Music Industry Predicts a Major ‘Wake-Up Call’ on Streaming

BMG says its artists receive more than 75% of music streaming royalties. Why are other artists getting 0%?

In the past few years, all three major music labels have posted higher financials thanks to one magic word: streaming. Revenue from music streaming has pushed major labels to their highest revenues in years. It’s off the charts!

So why exactly are artists still receiving such tiny royalty payments?

According to Hartwig Masuch, CEO of BMG, the reason may lie behind a “complex” excuse major labels use.

Streaming has provided a strong growth boost after sharp declines due to piracy and declining CD sales. Just two months ago, in Warner Music Group’s Q1 financials, CEO Steve Cooper proudly says:

“Our strong momentum continues with excellent first-quarter results including 11% constant-currency revenue growth on top of 11% growth in the prior-year quarter. While streaming continues to drive industry growth, we are outperforming the market thanks to extraordinary music from our artists coupled with first-class execution from our operators around the world.”

However, the BMG CEO warned that as major labels continue to report higher financials thanks to streaming, artists will soon demand a greater cut of royalty revenues. The simple reason is that the cost base can’t reasonably be justified.

Speaking with the Financial Times, Masuch said,

“I believe there will be some wake-up calls. I am very cynical about the view that the good days have returned. Every renegotiation [with an artist] will cut down massively on the margin.”

Artists have long complained about poor payouts from streaming platforms, including Spotify and YouTube. Citing one example, Chris Difford co-wrote hits like ‘Up the Junction’ and ‘Tempted’ with his band Squeeze. Yet, he has only received £1.50 ($1.87) for every 6,000 streams.

read more here:


YouTube TV’s DVR Has a Catch

The cloud DVR that comes with YouTube TV’s new OTT TV service comes with unlimited storage, but is apparently limited when it comes to letting subscribers fast-forward through ads in recorded programs.

YouTube confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that subscribers to the new offering, now available in five markets for $35 per month, will be forced to watch commercials in some popular shows recorded to the cloud DVR – a restriction that is not present in traditional local DVRs or cloud DVR offerings from Comcast or Sling TV, the Dish Network-owned virtual MVPD service.

Due to a “tangle of contracts” YouTube has with media giants such as Disney, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal, if a new TV episode is available via VOD (which disables fast-forwarding for ads), customers won’t have access to a cloud DVR-recorded version that would support ad-skipping, the paper said, noting that the ad-skipping restriction doesn’t factor in if a VOD version of a show doesn’t exist.

YouTube TV makes no mention of this limitation in its FAQ about its cloud DVR, which reads:
“You can record as many programs as you want at the same time, without ever running out of storage space. We’ll even keep each recording for 9 months. Stream from your library anywhere in the U.S.”
The WSJ said this restriction appears to be a special case in part because some believe YouTube “hasn’t done enough to battle pirated content appearing on its platform.”

YouTube TV also has not detailed the architecture of its cloud DVR, and whether its special rights arrangements with some programmers means it can let multiple subscribers access the same copy for certain programs, or if its system makes individual copies of all program recording requests.

YouTube has been asked for further comment and clarification on this point.
Though it’s extremely inefficient from a storage standpoint, network and cloud-based DVR services from Comcast, Altice (in the former Cablevision System properties) and others make individual copies of all recorded programs to ensure that they stay within the bounds of copyright rules.

read more here:

YouTube Gains On Netflix In OTT

Nowadays when people talk about over-the-top Internet-based TV, most are probably still referring to Netflix, the video-on-demand service so ubiquitous it gave rise to its own leisure activity/euphemism, “Netflix & chill.” And while Netflix still rules the roost, its main social media competitor is catching up fast, according to new data from comScore, which shows OTT viewers watching YouTube (as well as other OTT services) more often.

Overall households with access to OTT tend to be heavy users of the service, comScore found: among the 49 million U.S. homes that used at least one OTT service in December 2016, average consumption was 2.2 hours of OTT video per day, with OTT viewing sessions on an average 19 days out of the month.

Turning to specific providers, Netflix reached 75% of homes using OTT in December 2016, and was viewed on 12 days per month on average. Meanwhile YouTube reached 53% of OTT households, which viewed it on eight days per month. Further down the totem pole, Amazon Video reached 33% of OTT households and was viewed six days on average.

Interestingly, some smaller competitors rack up even more robust engagement stats. Thus, while Hulu is used by “just” 17% of OTT households, it exceeds Amazon and YouTube with an average of nine days of viewing per month. And Sling TV, with single-digit penetration of OTT households, generates 11 viewing days and 47 hours of viewing per month, ahead of Netflix with 28 hours.

read more here: