Social Video Standards Need to Look More Like TV

Current social video measurement presents no way to standardize views cross-platform, which means publishers with large social video audiences are held back from full revenue because they can’t prove the complete picture of their audience.

Every month, 14.9 million creators (including media and brands) upload 100 million new videos, generating more than 2 trillion views across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch. Social video keeps expanding as a viable means to grow global business for both brands and publishers, alike. But without measuring the content similarly to the way TV inventory is evaluated, it’s hard to tap into those same billion-dollar budgets.

This ever-changing media environment has been pushed along by sweeping technological advances. Audiences are more global, mobile, and social than ever before. And anyone can be a creator, whether they’re traditional or digital-native publishers, brands or influencers, or building up media empires from scratch.

Because they’re shareable in nature, social videos have previously been evaluated along the lines of likes, comments, and views. Those metrics remain part of the conversation, sure. But relying solely on them is what holds social video back – especially as these platforms are progressing toward more premium inventory.

Mismatched Metrics

Current social video measurement presents no way to standardize views cross-platform; some platforms have adopted IAB and MRC standards of at least two consecutive seconds, while others have not. For Facebook and Instagram, it’s three seconds. YouTube counts video views once play is initiated, but ad views are counted differently (30 seconds, or the duration of the ad). That leads to inconsistency from platform to platform, plus there’s no way to deduplicate audiences or gain further insights about their viewing habits.

Content creators are forced to grade their own homework, relying on mismatched metrics and small panels that don’t reflect digital realities. Publishers with large social video audiences are held back from full revenue because they can’t prove the complete picture of their audience – which today includes social – to advertisers.

Establishing Social Video Value

It’s time for an evolved approach to measuring social video. To show social video audiences at parity with those of traditional media channels, there need to be uniform market standards that attach similar values regardless of global location, screen, or platform. Deduplicated audience engagement and time-based metrics like total and average watch time normalize attention and reach globally, clearly reflecting how an audience cultivated through social platforms can stand toe-to-toe with some of traditional media giants… and how agile traditional media companies keep pace digitally.

With trillions of video views generated across the world’s largest social platforms, it’s essential for the buy- and sell-side to have TV-like time-based metrics to transact on and deliver ROI with confidence. On TV, metrics like watch time, average minutes watched, and unique viewers have long been a staple of how money (and lots of it) exchanges hands. When these standards grow into essential social video measurements, combined with audience demographics and location, what’s truly stopping all of this video content from being viewed with the exact same revenue capabilities in mind?

Social video doesn’t have to stop being itself. It has advantages inherent by design, just as traditional TV does. But in order for social video’s strengths to be valued on par with TV’s, measurement needs to look more similar. Known standards will give publishers and brands access to a massive audience (and resulting revenues) they’ve previously missed out on because they’ve lacked a way to understand that audience and model ROI.

Media Outlook 2019: Spell Marketing with a ‘D’

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

Bruce Biegel, senior managing director at Winterberry Group, keeps everyone engaged, taking notes and thinking about their own experiences in the mix of statistics regarding digital, mobile, direct mail, TV and programmatic advertising.

“We will be OK if we can manage the Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit,” he noted, all of which weigh on business confidence.

Suffice it to say, marketing organizations and business, in general must navigate an interesting journey. Biegel reports estimated U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.3 percent in 2019 down from 3 percent in 2018, while total marketing spending growth in 2018 had dipped below its historic level of exceeding two times GDP growth.

In 2019, we are poised for 5.3 percent growth in advertising and marketing spending a slight gain from the 5.2 percent growth of 2018 over 2017.

Watch the Super Bowl, By All Means But Offline Dominance Is Diminishing

Look under the hood, and you see what the big drivers are. Offline spending including sponsorships, linear TV, print, radio, outdoor and direct mail will spot anemic growth, combined, of 0.1 percent in 2019. (Of these, direct mail and sponsorships will each post growth of more than 3 percent, Winterberry Group predicts.)

But online spending growth display, digital video, social, email, digital radio, digital out-of-home, and search will grow by 15.5 percent. Has offline media across all categories finally reached its zenith? Perhaps. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Digital media spend achieved 50 percent of offline media spend for the first time in 2018. In 2019, it may reach 60 percent! So who should care?

We do! We are the livers and breathers of data, and data is in the driver’s seat. Biegel sees data spending growing by nearly 6 percent this year totaling $21.27 billion. Of this, $9.66 billion will be offline data spending, primarily direct mail. TV data spending (addressable, OTT) will reach $1.8 billion, digital data $7.85 billion, and email data spend $1.96 billion (see Figure 2.)

Figure 2.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Tortured CMOs: Unless She’s a Data Believer

Marketing today and tomorrow is not marketing yesterday. If marketing leadership does not recognize and understand data’s contribution to ad measurement, attribution and business objective ROI, then it’s time for a new generation to lead and succeed. Marketing today is spelled with a D: Data-Driven.

Unfortunately we don’t have all the data we need to manage Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit. That’s where sheer luck and gut instincts may still have a valid role. Sigh.

Pepsi Fumbles Context of NFL Playoffs

Context and relevancy are supposed to be the next big things. But even in the world of TV, where programming is known months in advance, brands still drop the ball — like Pepsi did in the NFL conference championship broadcasts last week.

Context and relevancy are supposed to be the next big things. But to actually serve contextually relevant content isn’t just a challenge for personalized, digital media. Even in the world of TV, where programming is known months in advance, brands still drop the ball — like Pepsi did in the NFL conference championship broadcasts last week.

For Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Philadelphia, played between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles, Pepsi seemed to run just one commercial: A Dallas Cowboys spot that ran at least three times during the game in the Philadelphia area:

So, OK, somewhere the ad buyer said, “This is an NFL game, run our best performing NFL commercial.” What’s the big deal?

Well, that was silly for a bunch of reasons. Not least of which is that the Cowboys didn’t even make the playoffs this year. So, most of their fans aren’t tuning in.

What makes it even worse is this was a game that drew heavy Minnesota and Philadelphia audiences. Sure, fans from across the country watched too, but I bet Philly and Minnesota fans made up half of the audience.

And all of those viewers have one thing in common: They don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.

Minnesota fans have some history with Dallas.

And Eagles fans … well former Eagle Bennie Logan said it best:

Former Eagle Bennie Logan on the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.
Former Eagle Bennie Logan on the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.

Pepsi running this commercial over and over again to Eagles and Vikings fans isn’t just ineffective, it’s insulting. Pepsi might as well have run a Coke ad.

The thing is, in the past, this was OK. You may even think it’s OK today. But it’s not going to be OK tomorrow.

If we’re going to meet the challenges of relevance at the personal level, we need to get our heads out of the sand about marketing at the macro level. You’re never going to bring effective relevancy to your digital content if you can’t recognize that a Dallas commercial was a bad idea this playoff season.

Understand what’s going on with your audience when they’re engaging with your marketing. Why are they there? What do they need? What’s happening around them? That’s what’s going to make your marketing stand out in the years ahead.

Think Before You Marketing Metric — We Must Stop Chasing Our ‘Tails’

Not so long ago, in a data-driven marketing seminar I was giving for some Brazilian Microsoft executives, I asked how many of the more than 40 participants “have a subscription”? Fewer than 10 hands were raised. Then I asked: “How many of you have Netflix?” Nearly all of the hands went up.

subscription
“Subscribe,” Creative Common license. | Credit: Flickr by Dominic Smith

Not so long ago, in a data-driven marketing seminar I was giving for some Brazilian Microsoft executives, I asked how many of the more than 40 participants “have a subscription”?

Fewer than 10 hands were raised.

Then I asked: “How many of you have Netflix?” Nearly all of the hands went up, and you could see on their faces the growing wave of recognition: While they hadn’t thought of their Netflix access as a “subscription,” they realized that they had “subscribed” for services to be paid for on a periodic basis, with or without a time commitment. Not a bad definition of a “subscription.” They also realized that not only were their insurance policies, cell phone contracts and utility connections all subscriptions, but Microsoft’s move to the “Cloud” business model was a classic example of subscription marketing.

So why should their software customers have to decide to purchase new versions of the tools when they can receive them automatically, without any new investment, as part of their monthly — yeah — subscription?

Had you measured the penetration of “subscription” possession in our group before that “eureka” moment, the metric would likely have been in the 25 percent range. After a different presentation of the question, however, it would have raised the rate to at least 80 percent. Does it matter? It certainly does.

So much of today’s marketing is driven by greater and greater amounts of data. And those of us whose job it is to plough and harvest this hayfield can be simply overwhelmed by its volume.

In trying to find the haystack needles to accurately inform marketing strategies that should deliver the best results for the lowest cost, we risk missing critical insights. Blame it on too much pressure or too little time; it has the same negative result and we wind up unproductively chasing our tails.

How many times have we heard advertising professionals argue for spending the lion’s share of the budget on TV because “we’ll reach more eyeballs, more often, at less cost per thousand”? It’s the same thinking that drives us to defend the proposition that because email is so cheap, we should broadcast our message with greater and greater frequency, rather than pay the price of quality analytics resulting in fewer eyeballs but the right ones.

Imagine that you are the responsible marketing executive for Pampers. You know that you are going to have to pay for a 30-second national TV spot at approximately $25 per thousand impressions. And let’s assume (an impossible assumption) that 100 percent of your viewers are going to be women. Thanks to Google, we discover that the national average of pregnant women in the U.S. population at any given time is 4 percent. That means that if you reach each of them — another wild assumption is that they are all at least thinking about “disposables” — as well as reaching the additional 8 percent who have kids 0 – 2 years old, as you can see from the diagram, you will be paying $208.33 per thousand — almost 10 times the rate card price to reach your target audience.

Image from Peter Rosenwald for subscription postWithout building a media plan, it is obvious that if you can afford $200-plus per thousand for reach, you have a lot of additional media that might be more efficient and cost-effective than TV spots. Certainly, a single viewing is unlikely to have maximum impact. So that cost of $200 will need to be multiplied by the frequency of broadcast.

What metrics do you use to determine the real commercial value of the marketing spend, the ROMI? How do you gauge whether one medium with a higher CPM will bring you customers with a greater lifetime value than one with a lower CPM? Without a direct and measurable purchase metric, traceable to the specific media spend and message, we’ll never really know for sure. Sadly, that’s the reality.

The metrics specialists will have fancy computers full of PowerPoint slides, defining and dashboarding each step in the customer journey and providing KPIs and benchmarks for clicks, open rates, etc. But in my experience, however, no matter how conscientiously these have been developed, they will have major distortions which are the result of failing, somewhere during the development process, to address basic questions like the meaning of words like “subscription” or “engagement.” The “specialists” will get away with their fantasy solutions more often than not because management tends to look at the big picture, not the details.

Perhaps the best preventive for this is for marketing managements to task their planners to provide not just their “objective” recommendations, but to cook up and serve a smorgasbord of choices and, wherever possible, to reference these choices to solid metrics.

Otherwise, we are likely to spend a great deal of time, effort and money chasing our tails.

Streaming Video Will Beat Addressable TV to the Punch

For years we’ve been hearing about addressable television, the ability to target TV ads to individual viewers much like you would online ads with targeting, and potentially even retargeting. But in my opinion, addressable TV is at least 3 years too late.

For years we’ve been hearing about addressable television, which is the ability to target TV ads to individual viewers much like you would online ads with targeting, and potentially even retargeting. In fact, eMarketer just released a report predicting that the addressable TV market will grow from $1.26 billion this year to $2.25 billion next year and $3.04 billion in 2019!

Those numbers sound amazing. But they’re not. In fact, even at $3 billion, addressable TV will only represent 4 percent of all TV ad spend, and the rate of increase is clearly declining.

eMarketer US Addressable TV Ad Spending, 2015-2019In my opinion, addressable TV is at least 3 years too late.

In the time broadcast television has taken to catch up with online advertising, not only has online advertising lapped it repeatedly in most forms of effectiveness (save only brand impression), online streaming services are stealing TV’s entertainment thunder, too. Streaming services from YouTube to Neflix and Hulu now attract not only top talent, but prime time viewership and awards. And with more competition on the way in Facebook Watch and Disney streaming (to name just two of many), television could well be staring down the barrel of an Adpocalypse. (For more on that, see our video from Monday.)

With all of these online video sites coming up, addressable TV looks less like the wave of the future and more like the whimper of a declining ad channel. Will TV ever catch up to the targeting capability of online advertising? And even if it did, will it ever catch up to the interactivity and ability to launch a direct conversion?

Even though Adobe added TV ad management and addressability to its marketing cloud, that feels more like the exception than the rule. Like tacking an analog tail onto the digital donkey.

What seems more likely to be the state of things in 10 years? That TV adopts the capabilities of digital, or that smart TVs and other home devices based on streaming displace traditional TV in living rooms?

Well, I still have TV with cable, but a quick survey of office Millennials shows what their choice is, and it ain’t the triple-play. Younger folks aren’t just cutting cords, they’re wondering why the hell anyone had cords in the first place.

In fact, the package deal is exactly what’s wrong with TV for viewers and advertisers alike. It’s 2017, you can watch exactly the media you want on dozens on online channels, and yet on cable you can only get content by channels packaged with dozens of other channels you probably don’t want.

It’s the same with your advertising. The people you want, packaged with thousands you don’t.

This is following the same script online transformation has in a dozen other industries. Taxis couldn’t give people what they wanted, so we got Uber. Stores couldn’t give people what they wanted, so we got Amazon.

Give people what they want, or the Internet will swallow your industry whole.

And for TV, it’s way too late to try to get addressable now.

Defined by a Screen

I grew up with TV. My eyes prefer a larger screen. I focus on what I watch. I can’t multitask between screens and I have no tolerance for audio from multiple devices chiming at me concurrently. Who can even watch stuff on a tiny screen? Well, plenty do.

chet tv picWhen one watches TV as much as I do, it’s indeed tough to break the habit.

Sports, public television, movie classics, local and national news and weather — I consume a lot of content. Habitually, when I wake up, the TV comes on. When I go to bed, the TV goes off … unless I fall asleep first.

And while laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets (and movie screens) are also a part of my life, for work, info in transit, games and entertainment, it’s the home television that is my preference to consume content. I’m less scheduled to the TV these days than I used to be thanks to on-demand programming and the media bingeing that goes with it. However, I’m still, most of the time, passively engaged nonetheless by whatever channel is programmed to send to me at whatever hour of day or night.

It’s a matter of demographics. I grew up with TV. My eyes prefer (or were trained to prefer) a larger screen. I’m immersed in TV as if it’s a miniature experience inside a movie theater. I focus on what I watch. I can’t multitask between screens and I have no tolerance for audio from multiple devices chiming at me concurrently. Who can even watch stuff on a tiny screen?

Well, plenty do.

As reported by eMarketer, “Millward Brown, which surveyed — via smartphone or tablet — more than 13,500 16- to 45-year-old multiscreen users across 42 countries, found that half of all video viewing happens on TV sets — split between live TV and on-demand TV. The other half comprises mainly mobile devices, which includes smartphones and tablets. Smartphones take the largest digital share, encompassing 22 percent of total daily time spent viewing video.”

Personally, I prefer my TV at home — I like to watch the world when I’m outside my house. Mobile video, however, is exploding. The survey states, “The rise in mobile video viewing is part of a larger transition to multiscreen usage. In fact, mobile users worldwide spend 52 percent of their daily internet and viewing video time on mobile phones. To compare, the share of daily time spent with computers makes up 21 percent, while TV accounts for 27 percent.”

Less tethered. Less structured. Less scheduled. Smaller screens. More on demand, with one exception. What’s happening to video content today is largely leaving me behind.

But, not for long.

Those other devices are creeping more and more into my leisure mainstream.

  • When I watch sports on TV, the tablet concurrently gives me real-time stats.
  • When a TV commercial pops on (and on and on), I clear my email on my smartphone.
  • I use caller ID to screen calls — and often send a text in response.
  • I reach for a mobile app when I hear a song on the TV (or radio) and I want to download it later.
  • And four out of five TV breaks most often involves Words With Friends or some other tiny screen pursuit.

I’m really getting tired of paying $200 per month for cable triple package, plus $170 per month for a smartphone/tablet and mobile wifi — and watching my 15 gigabytes of monthly data get chewed up in one or two movie downloads. This is not sustainable and it’s pretty dumb not to do something about it.

You know what I’m gonna do? I’ll look to cut the cord tomorrow, because right now I’ve got to get back to my program.

Why Millennials Don’t Consume Mass Media … And Why That’s OK

Every semester, I ask the students in my undergraduate classes: “Does anyone read the newspaper?” No hands raised.

Every semester, I ask the students in my undergraduate classes: “Does anyone read the newspaper?” No hands raised.

“Does anyone watch the network news on TV?” No hands raised.

“Does anyone listen to the radio?” Some who commute by car raised their hands.

As someone who has two newspapers delivered to the house every day and faithfully watches the network news on TV, I was disturbed by this, smacking my forehead with a “these kids today!” exclamation. I feared that the world view brought to them by social media was very narrow and limited to the viewpoints of people who were just like them. A few of my Facebook friends have very different political views from mine (their posts sometimes annoy me), but most of those in my social network are aligned with my views. I believed that young people would have an even less diverse pool of opinions from which to draw.

So I did some research to confirm my point of view, ignoring David Ogilvy’s warning that many agencies and clients “use research like a drunkard uses a lamp post – not for illumination but for support.” What I found was illuminating.

The social networks of Millennials are not as homogenous as those of older people: “31 percent of Baby Boomers on Facebook who pay attention to political posts say the posts they see are mostly or always in line with their own views, higher than both Generation Xers (21 percent) and Millennials (18 percent),” according to Pew Research Center Journalism & Media.

A study by The American Press Institute (opens as a PDF) finds that most Millennials report that the people in their social networks have diverse views. “Contrary to the idea that social media creates a polarizing ‘filter bubble,’ exposing people to only a narrow range of opinions, 70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of diverse viewpoints, evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time — with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

The news is not a destination for Millennials, but rather something that’s woven into their daily social media activity. “Millennials consume news and information in strikingly different ways than previous generations, and their paths to discovery are more nuanced and varied than some may have imagined … just 47 percent who use Facebook say that getting news is a main motivation for visiting, but it has become one of the significant activities they engage in once they are there. Fully 88 percent of Millennials get news from Facebook regularly, for instance, and more than half of them do so daily.”

Of course, it’s not just Facebook … YouTube and Instagram serve the same purposes for Millennials. As marketers, we need to stay tuned-in (sorry) to how the most populous generation consumes news, social and lifestyle information simultaneously on social media platforms, and how we can best make our messages relevant there.

HULU.COM: An Intriguing Advertising Opportunity

Hulu is a fascinating Web site. Not only can its content be riveting to the viewer, but also represents a highly efficient medium for advertisers, enabling them to close the loop and measure actual ROI.

When I read that Hulu is drawing huge audiences, I went to the Web site and clicked on a movie—”Abel Raises Cain.” It is a 82-minute documentary about professional hoaxer Alan Abel, who was famous in the late 1950s for dreaming up and publicizing the “Society of Indecency to Naked Animals” with the mission of clothing naked animals. Over the years he has duped the media and made talk show hosts look like chumps and generally made a hilarious nuisance of himself with a slew of nutsy-fagen schemes, many of which are chronicled in this film.

This unique Web site offers full-length television shows and motion pictures; viewers remain on the site for a long time, sometimes a couple of hours—a boon for advertisers.

I sat through the entire film, which was presented with “limited commercial interruptions.” The TV-type commercial advertisements ranged in length from 10 to 30 seconds. Among the advertisers:
“Angels and Demons” (upcoming Tom Hanks film)
Nestea Green Tea
Honda Insight
Healthful Cat Food, Purina
Sprint Now Network
Swiffer Cleaner
Coldwell Banker

Returning to “Abel Raising Cain” on another day, I found additional advertisers:
American Chemistry Council
BMW Z4 Roadster
Toyota Prius
Panasonic Viera
Plan B Levenorgestra
Citi

At the end of this blog is a screenshot snapped during the BMW commercial. As you will see, the moving picture area takes up about half the computer screen, leaving a blank area above. At upper left is the film title, running time and the number of stars by reviewers. At upper right is a small response box that shows the car, the BMW logo and the headline:
The all-new Z4 Roadster
An Expression of Joy.

In light gray mousetype are two words: “Explore now”—the hyperlink to more information.

Once the commercial is finished and the film resumes, this little box remains on screen until the next commercial interruption. Then the next commercial’s response box stays on the screen. For the advertiser, this represents his presence onscreen for far longer than the 10-30 seconds allotted in the commercial.

Further, Hulu combines the razzle-dazzle of action-packed TV commercials with the advantage of direct marketing. The prospect clicks on the box, the advertiser has a record of the response to that commercial and that venue. This closes the loop: ad — response to ad — further info requested — and (hopefully) sale. The advertiser can do the arithmetic, measure the sales and determine whether the ad more than paid for itself or whether it was a financial loser.

This is far more valuable than running an ad on old-fashioned TV and hoping that people (1) have not left the room for a potty break and (2) will remember the thing when they are at the car dealer or supermarket.

What a direct marketer would do differently:
1. The response box at upper right is tiny compared to everything else going on. If Hulu wants happy advertisers, it should at least double its size, so that it is immediately obvious what to do.

2. The advertisers must make a terrific offer—something Free, for example—so the movie watcher is impelled to leave the film and go for the freebie. Or download a $500 certificate. With the tiny box and mousetype, these advertisers seem almost ashamed to ask you interrupt your movie to see what they have to offer. “Learn more” or “Explore now” in teeny-tiny light gray mousetype is not a compelling call to action.

3. My sense is that Hulu may be a tremendously efficient and relatively low-cost medium for testing TV commercials. Run an A-B split where one viewer gets the A commercial and the next viewer gets B and so on. The commercial that wins—gets the most responses—becomes control and is rolled out on TV, in movie theaters and anywhere else … until it is displaced by new commercial that tests better on Hulu.

With the Hulu model, razzle-dazzle TV-type commercials are combined with an immediate direct response mechanism. Trouble is that it is obvious the advertisers are allowing the general agencies that created the great commercials to handle the direct marketing element, which they know nothing about.

Old rule: never use a general agency for direct marketing.

But do spend some time at Hulu and think through how you might use it—either for sales or for testing.