Break Down the Silos of TV and Online Video

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.  

read more here: econtentmag.com

Companies Rethink The TV Ad Model For OTT

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.”

read more here: www.mediapost.com

How to combat growing ad fatigue amidst the rise of OTT video

Show of hands: How many of you have watched TV via the internet?

Keep your hand up if you’ve watched the same ad repeated multiple times, or even ads for competing brands, within the same ad break while watching online TV?

I suspect many of you still have your hand raised. With explosive growth in over-the-top (OTT) video offerings — such as catch-up TV, live TV streaming, and video-on-demand services — ‘competitive separation’ is a challenge that many publishers face.

Yet for both publishers and advertisers, there are automated controls that can be deployed to prevent your message from being spoiled by frequency or competition issues.

Quality control

For the delivery of online video ads, quality has many variables from the audience to placement and load time to viewability. Controls must be in place to manage this array of factors.

Competitive separation — giving media owners the ability to separate creatives whether the campaigns are executed traditionally, programmatically, or from third-party tags — is one such control issue with which many have trouble getting their heads around. As OTT video audiences have grown, so has the chance of ad fatigue for many publishers. Competitive separation helps solve this issue by allowing publishers with long-form content to fulfil an ad break with creatives from various sources and de-duplicate categories or advertisers (landing page URL) across sources.

For instance, a publisher could ensure that if the first ad is a Coca-Cola ad from a direct-sold demand source, subsequent ads in the pod would not be from competing brands — regardless of the source. Competitive separation controls, the likes of which are available in the SpotX ad serving platform, give audiences a relevant and diverse set of ads each time, preventing the ad experience from being spoiled by excessive repetition.

Using podding to control frequency and placement

Engaged in a TV-like viewing experience and watching their choice of premium highly engaging content, OTT audiences are highly valuable to advertisers.

Without programmatic controls, however, ads delivered in this environment are placed randomly, rather than in a controlled and optimised fashion. With the aid of podding technology, publishers can fill an ad pod with multiple ads from a single ad request. They can be programmed to play in a particular sequence, as the diagram below shows.

From a publisher’s perspective, podding maximises efficiency and fill, offers more control and is a better experience for the audience. The system eliminates duplication by using a single ad call to fill multiple ad slots, rather than individual requests for each ad within the pod.

Not only does this erase the possibility of ads repeating or running next to competitors’ ads, it also means fewer ad calls between various platforms, easing latency and infrastructure loads. Pods can also be configured to maximise ad revenue – for example, a 90-second pod could be programmed to ad call lengths of 15-second, 45-second, 15-second and 15-second.

From the advertiser’s perspective, podding delivers more control and greater effectiveness by facilitating de-duplication and competitive separation. Coupled with the use of standard identifiers, SpotX enables advertisers to control frequency across all environments, even those without advertising identifiers like some smart TVs.

Ask your technology partner the right questions

Simply calling three ads at once is nice, but it doesn’t really resolve the issues mentioned above. At a minimum, to truly reap the benefits of podding, your technology partner should be able to provide the following features:

Tight controls over ad delivery, such as:

– Maximum pod duration
– Maximum duration per individual ad
– Minimum duration per individual ad
– Maximum number of ads

Tight controls over ad content, such as:

– Automatic ad deduplication
– Competitive separation

read more here: www.thedrum.com

Internal Emails Shine Light On Facebook’s Approach to Sharing and Selling Data With Developers

Your personal data has always been the key to Facebook’s business — and Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have used access to that personal data to strengthen strategic partnerships and hurt competitors over the years. At one point, Zuckerberg even considered selling users’ personal data to outside app developers.

That much was clear from a new trove of internal Facebook emails and other documents released by British lawmakers Wednesday. The documents had previously been sealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Facebook in California, but were made public by Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which collected the documents last week.

“I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents,” tweeted Damian Collins, the committee’s chair. “They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data [sic], their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.”

The emails, which mostly date from 2012 to 2015, include conversations from Facebook’s top executives about the company’s developer tools and data-sharing practices before widespread changes were made to limit access to some user data in early 2015.

A Facebook blog post says the emails were “cherrypicked” from the lawsuit and represent “only one side of the story.”

“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post published Wednesday. “But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do — including the explanation of these internal documents — doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives. This was an important change to protect our community, and it achieved its goal.”

read more here: www.recode.net

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:

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

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