Although Apple’s iOS operating system still sees the bulk of TV Everywhere (TVE) authentications, new analysis from Adobe Digital Index (ADI) shows TVE consumption slowly moving toward connected devices, such as Apple TV and Roku. According to ADI’s “Q4 Digital Video Benchmark” report, iOS share of TVE decreased 20% year over year (YoY), while connected devices saw 31% growth.
Among Adobe’s key findings:
Overall growth in TVE video viewing has doubled YoY (102%)—a trend ADI expects to continue.
The number of TV Everywhere (TVE) users has increased 22% quarter-over-quarter, particularly due to special programming (i.e. fall TV premiers) and sports-related content.
Broadcast & Cable genre grows more other content categories for the first time (up 11% YoY) due to seasonal TV programming events.
The Total number of TV video views doubled its growth year-over-year.
Roku share increased 14% QoQ as a result of major broadcasters adding their channels in mid-November.
All access types, with the exception of browser, continue to see growth in viewing frequency.
Adobe Digital Index publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from over 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising. This report is based on consumer video viewing from October 2014-December 2015.
On Friday, February 26, Jason Kint, CEO of DCN, wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to lay out the perspective of premium publishers with regard to their upcoming privacy rules for broadband providers. The letter urges the FCC to require broadband providers to provide consumers with transparency and meaningful choice with regard to the collection and use of personal information especially when this data will be used for purposes that fall outside of a consumer’s expectation and outside of the context of the interaction where the data was collected.
For example, a reasonable consumer would expect a mobile broadband provider to collect data about how a consumer uses their mobile device so the company could make improvements to the broadband service or ensure efficient management of the network. However, consumers would not expect (or even know) if a mobile broadband provider was using this same set of data to tailor advertising to consumers on websites or apps.
As several news outlets reported, at least one mobile broadband provider was inserting a unique identification header every time a consumer’s mobile browser fetched content from a website. This header was used by advertising partners of the mobile broadband provider to identify individual consumers, track their online behavior and target advertising based on that behavior. However, neither the mobile broadband providers nor their partners meaningfully disclosed to consumers’ information about this activity or the ability to opt out. In addition, it was later discovered that the header was being used without the knowledge of the broadband provider by some of their advertising partners to respawn cookies that a consumer had deleted – effectively reversing a consumer’s choice for privacy.
Consumers have different expectations with regard to 1st party, direct relationships versus other types of transactions which are indirect and out of context. The FCC’s privacy rules should account for the differences in these relationships. As our letter points out, greater transparency and choice will help rebuild consumer trust and help the digital economy reach its full potential.
History reminds us that often, some of the most impactful ideas in the media industry were inspired and developed not in valleys or alleys, but in ivory towers.
Today, most of us view Silicon Valley and Alley as the hubs of disruptive technology and the successful start-ups born and raised there as the leaders in a quickly evolving industry that will continue to revolutionize the world. But history reminds us that often, some of the most impactful ideas — specifically, those in the journalism and media industry — were inspired and developed not in valleys or alleys, but in ivory towers (aka universities).
Many of us may know that Samuel Morse pioneered the commercialization of the telegraph in the U.S., but we may not know the inspiration behind his research: the work of his friend, electromagnetism researcher, Charles Jackson.
William Paley, the broadcasting tycoon responsible for the early success of American media staple Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), injected innovation in his business with the introduction of color television — specifically, the field sequential color system — developed by Peter Carl Goldmark, a scholar at University of Vienna who later led CBS Laboratories.
Jonah Peretti, a father of social content, used his research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in tandem with key learnings from the field of network science developed by his friend, then Professor Duncan Watts, to create BuzzFeed.
These real-world examples illustrate that innovation is, in some cases, the application of academic research. Morse, Paley and Peretti tapped into the knowledge hub of academia to disrupt the market, launch new businesses and discover creative solutions to existing challenges. For those of us in today’s media industry, these examples should remind us to not simply look toward Silicon Valley for solving tomorrow’s problems, but rather universities that stay grounded with a longer-term approach.
Two types of Innovation
The futures lab can be seen inside the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Photo courtesy of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
The challenge of industry-academia collaborations stems from the existence of two types of innovation: the innovation of media practitioners and firms, and the innovation of academia — one looks for answers to specific problems, the other aims at the creation of knowledge.
The solution is to develop a third approach — a mutually beneficial approach to research and development wherein incentives and timelines are aligned and projects are those that look at exploring high value concepts and challenges on behalf of a media firm, yet outside of the company’s mainstream activities. This challenge is broad enough to appeal to an academic, but still has the real world impact potential a media practitioner and/or firm is looking for. New fields such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and automation are some of the prime candidates for this model.
For professors, the goal is to prepare their students to be well-equipped for their post-educational careers.
“More than ever, journalism education needs to focus on experiential, project-based learning.”
—Reynolds Journalism Institute futures lab director Mike McKean.
Collaborative research projects require open lines of communication between universities and media organizations so they can better address the challenges faced by both parties.
“Students will be the industry’s future leaders — and consumers — so it’s essential that as news organizations experiment with new formats and techniques, they’re doing so in a way that’s relevant to new generations.”
—AP interactives editor Nathan Griffiths.
Universities gain an avenue to apply insights learned in the classroom while professionals are exposed to new thinking.
“Journalists can learn from students about younger audiences — how they consume news and the best ways to engage them.”
—Berkeley Lovelace Jr., a journalism student who recently worked on project with the Associated Press.
Facilitating partnerships do not require significant investments, especially compared to the addition of a new academic department or a new research lab within a company.
One such initiative is an experiment The New York Times run in partnership with NYU and CUNY to study hyper local news. Another is Hearst Corporation’s partnership with students from Parsons New School of Design to develop Glossy.io, a new approach to surfacing archives of digital magazines.
This academic-practitioner partnership approach to research could be a new model for innovation. History and present day initiatives like those above reveal that when academics and practitioners work together to analyze data and apply key findings, impactful insights are formed, innovative strategies are implemented and new businesses are catalyzed.
Indeed, innovating our approach to media innovation — looking beyond valleys and alleys to ivory towers — will be worth our while.
I’m the Strategy Manager for The Associated Press and fellow at Columbia Journalism School. I write about media, storytelling and innovation. Let’s connect. (@fpmarconi)
Snapchat has gone from being a strange ephemeral video platform for teens to send sexy shots, to a walled garden of content where publishers and brands can reach millions with short-form content. With a user base of 100 million, and video views in the billions, it’s no wonder that Snapchat’s ad business is growing as fast as the company itself. But can Snapchat become a transformative platform for mobile advertising, as Facebook has, or is it just a flash in the pan?
For companies and brands looking to reach a young mobile audience, Snapchat offers a lot: The majority of its users are under the age of 25, it’s slated to improve ad targeting, and it is rumored to be testing longer-form sponsored videos for media channels on its Discover platform. It’s also possibly building its own application programming interface (API) and has recently partnered with Viacom. But these speculations of advertising growth come after the company has long been criticized for unstable pricing on advertising, failing to provide data critical to targeting users, and no guarantee on the ad viewership.
Launching an API? One major indicator that it might have staying power is that Snapchat is reportedly building its own API which would help automate the targeting and delivery of ads to specific users. Snapchat has yet to comment on these endeavors, but an API could also address key concerns among marketers, including ad targeting, tracking visitor browsing and searches outside of the app (which would help it collect data on its users). Better tracking could help publishers and brands figure out how many people are actually watching their ads.
In building its own API, Snapchat is following in the footsteps of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — companies that have matured as major ad players in the digital marketplace. An API would also allow for more kinds of ads on Snapchat, including those that include a “call to action” for consumers, such as downloading a new app. This is especially important given that Snapchat has previously been selling ads the so-called “old-fashioned way” — by working directly with brands and agencies. But an API, with its ability to execute effective campaigns and automate different orders, would help measure how successful these advertisements actually are.
The API would also help Snapchat grow out of a closed mindset. “The first thing an API does is allows them to create a partnered ecosystem that is technology driven,” Sean O’Neal, president of the online service platform Adaptly, told Digiday. “There’s only so much that a company is going to be able to develop themselves as it relates to their own native ad solutions.”
Viacom partnership Not only that, but Snapchat and Viacom have also recently struck an advertising deal that allows Viacom to sell ads on Snapchat’s original content. With its mobile video capabilities, Snapchat, after all, is an ideal destination for television and entertainment companies, while Viacom has more experience with larger brands that might not know Snapchat well. The deal wouldn’t just help an aging company like Viacom reach the coveted millennial audience. “Snapchat executives have repeatedly talked up their desire to pull in TV ad dollars, seeing themselves as the video epicenter of smartphones,” the LA Times reports.
However, despite the hype surrounding the potential for advertising on Snapchat, publishers would be right to remain wary as the company sorts out its goals, philosophy and practices. Part of the reason why Snapchat didn’t emerge as a major advertising player to begin with is that its sales team was small, and by some accounts, too old to understand how its digitally native audience would respond to ads on the platform. The fact that it’s most popular among a younger demographic was also a concern for some brands, who feel their core older audiences are more concentrated on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter anyway. And those companies, unlike Snapchat, offer much more data on their users than Snapchat does, which would make it easier to guarantee a return on investment.
Part of the problem is that ad pricing has been erratic on Snapchat. When Snapchat first offered advertising in January 2015, it asked brands to pay at least $750,000 for a one-day ad, according to CNBC. Prices have now dropped far below that threshold, with some saying ads could be had for $50,000 and even others getting ads for free because Snapchat liked the idea. It’s hard for marketers to jump in, when they might figure prices might drop in the near future.
While some folks contend that Snapchat is having its “Facebook moment,” with popular Discover content and attention to ads, it would be wise to proceed with caution until a potential API and more mature ad pricing takes hold.
Weather: The universal conversation starter. Weather may well top the list of daily content go-to’s worldwide. Perhaps because it has global and local implications. In fact, what could be more hyper-local? Deciding whether to plant the tulips or to send the kids to the park this weekend? Figuring out if your Monday work outfit requires you to rock the rain boots or the Manolos? Yet as any content provider knows, the demands of local content are complex.
Steve Smith, president of digital media for AccuWeather knows the challenges presented by the company’s continued global expansion: AccuWeather has a global audience of 1.5 billion and two thirds of them are outside the U.S. “While a lot of people talk about ‘going global’, we’ve been living it,” says Smith.
Weather information and its related news, editorial and video has to be localized. And to do so, AccuWeather often partners with local media companies to incorporate their content into its product and also to understand the needs and expectations of customers in a given area.
But localization goes well beyond content according to Smith. Delivery, UI and UX all need to be customized for specific audiences as well. For example, in much of Europe, weather content is map-based and employs what would be a dizzying array of icons and symbols to audiences elsewhere. Whereas in Japan, weather animations are extremely popular.
While the company does market research and user surveys to understand specific markets, Smith says that AccuWeather’s longstanding partnerships with global companies like Samsung, LG and Sony have been extremely helpful in enhancing their learning. Samsung, for example, has many country-specific offices that Smith and his team visit to show them products and concepts and solicit their feedback. “Use the partnerships you have,” Smith advises. Though he also feels that “the digital toolkit available today makes it much easier to test products across audiences.”
The company’s global strategy is not entirely focused on meeting the needs of its diverse audience while they are at home, of course. Smith says that consumers also have an expectation for a personalized experience wherever they are. “In many ways, language and location are big indicators of intent,” says Smith. And AccuWeather looks at these factors to determine whether, for example, your phone is German so that your information is presented in the metric system no matter where you are traveling. There are also subtle language distinctions that contribute to this experience. If you are American, the day might be “partly sunny,” but if you are British that same day will have “cloudy spells” instead.
“We’re living in an age where we all have supercomputers in our pockets equipped with high-powered GPS,” says Smith. As a result, customer expectations are growing more intense. Typing a location, he says, will soon be a thing of the past. Even the notion of location being city-based is also fading. AccuWeather already offers weather on a neighborhood basis in many cities. In New York City, for example, Manhattan isn’t nearly specific enough; the app knows if you are in Chelsea or the Upper West Side. The company is rolling out this level of specificity worldwide on a city-by-city basis and in 100 languages. The investment is a sound one, says Smith. “We have found that if we don’t get the location right, consumers don’t trust anything we tell them.”
Given how personal weather is—no matter where you live—Smith sees a time in the near future when your trusted weather ally has access to your calendar and sends you useful information before you ask. And then, you won’t even need to consider whether or not to pack that umbrella.
News organization everywhere are competing for attention. In a continuously changing media environment, journalism is challenged more than ever before to connect to its audience. In its report, the Digital News Project 2016, Reuters Institute examined how news organizations, across Europe and the United States, analyze their audience’s behavior in order to inform and develop their editorial voices.
The Guardian and The Financial Times, both subscription-based business models, developed proprietary metric tools. The Guardian’s real-time analytics tool called Orphan offers minute-by-minute data on individual articles like pageviews, social shares, and attention-time for each article published in the last two weeks. Orphan can also show whether the article has been pushed via the Guardian’s social media channels and/or if it was promoted on the homepage. The data can also be broken down by different segments, such as time, section, device, browser, country, referrer, loyalty, and attention time. The editors can use this data to inform decisions on headlines, pictures, placement, and how to promote across social media channels.
Similarly, the Financial Times’s is developing a dashboard for its analytics called, Lantern. The Financial Times see editorial analytics as a step to its newsroom and its reporters being audience-first journalists, integrating engagement objectives into the editorial process. The tool will focus mostly on engagement-related metrics such as time spent, recirculation, volume of articles read per visit, and number of comments.
The report identified a few third party analytic tools available to news organization:
Chartbeat known for real-time analytics that focus on audience attention. Its dashboard advices on homepage structure and helps to refine headlines and formats. Editors can modify content in real-time.
Ly tracks in real-time as well and helps to identify topics audiences have responded well to in the past as well as where readers are coming from, where they’re headed next and on what devices.
NewsWhip is also a real-time tool that offers social media tracking like tweets, shares, and comments. It also allows newsrooms to monitor what stories are trending and breaking news.
In addition to Chartbeat, Parse.Ly and NewsWhip, the more standardized report of pageviews and visits are available in analytics tools like Omniture, google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and twitter Analytic.
Usage of multiple data sources is also common among news organizations. The Huffington Post, an advertising based business model, uses an Omniture dashboard, which includes traditional metrics like visits, pageviews, and unique visitors as well as referrals from specific sources and video data. They also use a customized version of Chartbeat tracking real-time split testing where different versions of an article (copy, headline and/or pictures) are tested to see which performs best.
Importantly, even in the most data-driven analysis, decisions often involve qualitative assessment. It’s a mix of art and science. It’s also important to ensure personal assessment is included especially in terms of how the data is leveraged for both short-term and long-term operations.
There has been a noticeable rise over the past two years in the percentage of people in the emerging and developing nations surveyed by Pew Research Center who say that they use the internet and own a smartphone. From 2013 to 2015, the percentage of those across 21 emerging and developing countries that use the internet occasionally or own a smartphone rose to 54%, with much of that increase coming from large emerging economies such as Malaysia, Brazil and China. By comparison, a median of 87% use the internet across 11 advanced economies surveyed in 2015, including the U.S. and Canada, major Western European nations, developed Pacific nations (Australia, Japan and South Korea) and Israel. And Pew reports that overwhelming majorities in almost every nation surveyed report owning some form of mobile device, even if they are not considered “smartphones.”
A fortuitous result of the ever-proliferating sources for news has been that Americans are consuming more of it than they have in a long time. And the majority of Americans—nine out of ten—follow news about their local area very closely or somewhat closely. However, the proportion of Americans who get news from traditional media platforms—television, radio and print—has been stable or declining in the last few years (though for local news, television still holds its own).
Along with a glut of “news” content we’re also seeing content consumption habits evolve: more and more people consume news on mobile—which is not simply a result of the popularity of mobile devices, but reflective of consumers’ anytime, on-demand expectations. This proliferation of news sources and changing consumption patterns has created issues for content companies and consumers alike. Certainly, it increases competition. But it also causes quality issues, as it can be difficult to find trusted and reliable information, particularly for an audience unlikely to sit down to watch the evening news every night at six.
However, broadcast media veterans are not standing idly by. NewsON—launched by ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General, Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., and Raycom Media (with Sinclair Broadcast Group joining as a partner)—was founded to provide local news to mobile consumers nationwide. As CEO Louis Gump put it, “In an age where fragmentation is common, we believe creating something that makes it easy for viewers to find trusted news brings great consumer benefit.”
The NewsON app provides access to live and on-demand local newscasts and local news clips. The free, ad-supported app features flexible navigation that encourages discovery, offering instant access to broadcast-quality video. It also enables people to search by market via an interactive map and for curated content that links coverage of breaking news events from multiple stations. NewsON is available for Apple iPhone and iPad, Android phone and tablet, and on the Roku platform.
While many of the broadcasters with whom NewsON works have individual apps and make much of their content available digitally, Gump points out that the app has the advantage of offering information from multiple sources within a given local market, which allows consumers to dig in on topics of interest. It also allows people anywhere to find locally-produced video on a given topic, which is likely to offer insights and depth not available from national sources. As examples, Gump sites the New Hampshire Presidential primary and weather events such as the January 2016 blizzard that affected several east coast states, with distinct coverage being offered in local markets.
For the broadcasters that work with NewsON—120 stations in 92 markets, covering 76% of the U.S. population—Gump says NewsON delivers expanded audience reach across all demographics. While Gump would not comment on specific financial terms, he says “the economics at NewsON are weighted heavily in favor of the stations.”
A third benefit, which Gump describes as “kind of extra credit,” is shared learning. “Any TV station group that doesn’t have a strong digital offering and isn’t investing in innovation probably has some big problems,” he said, also pointing out that NewsON provides additional opportunities for experimentation and shared learning among participants. He’s seen confirmation that there’s an increasing desire to time-shift news viewing, but also sees behaviors that debunk the popular notion that people only want to watch short-form video.
NewsON, says Gump, was founded on three main principles: “Do the right thing; serve our customers; and move forward.” As he points out, people are looking for content that meets their needs, on their terms and it is essential to focus on those needs and expectations—with a consistent future-focus. And to that end, he says we can expect to see more partnerships this year, with the goal of increasing local content offerings in existing markets and adding new markets to the mix, as well as significant product updates and evolved advertising capabilities.
Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital Officer for GroupM, recently spoke at Industry Preview 2016 in January. He said, “If privacy and the policies that create an advantage for some are reexamined and unbundled the extended ecosystems of targeting, ad deployment and attribution are going to start to look like a Swiss cheese. They will be full of holes with bells on. Real context – and this is good for the publishers and the creators of content – I think will rise in value.”
Given that digital advertising on the wider web is the least trusted form of advertising and that increasing numbers of consumers are boycotting it altogether, Norman’s point is correct: context is key. For advertisers and publishers, delivering relevant advertising within an appropriate context is going to rise in value.
But, just as importantly, context is key to meeting consumer expectations. When a consumer’s data is collected and used only to enhance their experience within a single website or experience, they are much more likely to trust that site. Unfortunately, consumer trust is low today. As noted in TRUSTe’s 2016 Consumer Confidence Index, “74% (of consumers) have limited their online activity due to privacy concerns.”
In recent years, public policymakers have called on industry to give more controls to consumers over how their data is collected and used – in short, to respect context. President Obama’s Privacy Bill of Rights framework noted that “consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.” To the extent that a consumer’s personal data will be used outside the context where it was collected or for reasons not disclosed at the time of collection, the President called on companies to provide transparency and choice to the consumer.
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report, entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change.” The FTC’s report noted that “whether a practice requires choice turns on the extent to which the practice is consistent with the context of the transaction or the consumer’s existing relationship with the business…”
This much is clear: consumers are not happy. As noted by TRUSTe, they are taking active steps to limit their online activity. And without transparency and meaningful controls, they are downloading ad blocking software in record numbers. Even advertisers are not happy because there is little transparency about where their ads are being shown and whether they are being shown to actual humans.
Our industry needs to do more to provide transparency and meaningful tools for consumers to express choice. By respecting context in this way, we can improve consumer trust in the digital ecosystem.
Marketers are focusing on a newly valued audience segment know as ad blockers. Consumers using ad blocking software tend to be more tech savvy and in the millennial age range. According to a new report published by the International News Media Association (INMA), this premium audience segment offers a new opportunity for advertisers to engage with consumers who care and interact with valued advertisements.
PageFair, which sells services to measure ad blocking and offers alternative non-intrusive advertising to consumers, contributed to the INMA report, “What to do about ad blocking?” PageFair has also estimated that the total lost revenue from ad blocking grew approximately from $5.8 billion in 2014 to $10.7 in 2015.
The INMA report recommends specific strategies for publishers to avoid:
Do not use undeveloped anti-ad blocking technology like domain rotation.
Do not rely on native advertising since this can also be blocked.
Do not depend on advertising partnerships with walled gardens like Facebook or Apple News.
Do not refuse to show content to ad blockers.
Importantly publishers need to respond to ad blockers. This is the time to talk to ad blockers, the time to try new ad formats and the time to discover what specifications need to be included in advertising 2.0.