Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2nd Screen Trends in Broadcasting

2nd Screen Sunday has come and gone with the rest of NAB, and now I finally have a moment to recap the session that lasted all afternoon last Sunday, April 6th.  There was a lot of discussion, about a variety of topics, so I tried my best to whittle the conversation down to the most important themes of the afternoon.

Twitter is the King of the Second Screen  

Twitter is the bar for Turner for second screen apps.  To be relevant, [an app]needs to equal that usage.  Right now it's the fail safe...
The announcement of video capabilities recently added to Twitter Amplify only increased the sentiment among panelists that Twitter was still the network of choice for promoting second screen content.  Twitter was first to market in the entertainment space, and seems to be building upon its lead as the entertainment king.  As the highest volume channel, by far, for discussions around broadcast entertainment, Twitter seems to be the "go to" platform for the entertainment ecosystem.  The phrase, "why reinvent the wheel?" resonated when discussions turned to external platforms for the second screen.  There are so many users on Twitter that it just makes business sense to use it over trying to build another channel or forum.  Twitter has such a stranglehold on the market, that everyone seems to be focusing on optimizing the Twitter experience vs. trying to create new platforms.
  • Video Cards on the Twitter Amplify platform generate 4x more engagement  
  • New companies and business lines are being created around content for Twitter Cards (e.g., WatchwithconnecTV)
  • Twitter capitalized on the pre-roll in video, Facebook hasn't done this yet

Monetizing the Social Television Experience

The 6 second clip is the next version of the 30 second spot
As we saw with the Twitter card example, the method for monetizing content is changing.  Short form ad content is becoming more popular.  TV vs. Online vs. Mobile content?  It's all relative, according to most of the panelists.  The industry needs to cater to the specific event.  For example, watching ESPN on your tablet fits a broadcast model, where Youtube on your television fits an online model. All else the same, Publishers don't seem to care.  A video is a video is a video for the purpose monetization.  Advertisers place their currency where the return comes in a familiar model.  They understand broadcast TV, but not the "digital speak".  They are concerned about is the mechanism for purchasing and tracking advertising on all these platforms, and finding a standard method of measure.
  • A programmatic means of automating ad buys for campaigns is developing.  Similar to Adsense ads, this will reduce time and energy spent on ad servicing.  
  • Brightcove Once - is a cloud based ad insertion platform for video ads

We need Standards

Standardization was discussed on two different fronts.  The first relating to measurement of the viewing audience.  The second, relating to metadata the supporting data used for analytics.  Both will have lasting impacts on the industry.

Measurement Standardization

The general consensus was that standardization of data is important, the Nielsen system is not sufficient.  With Nielsen representation on the panel, GRP was a debated topic.  Is GRP the best measure of total audience?  Can Twitter help with that?  What is the standard?  All of these issues were discussed without real resolution, except that we need to build bridges between data sets to be able to let publishers make decisions (broadcast vs. online).
  • Gross Rating Point (GRP) is the size of the audience measured
  • The future standard - We begin to transact across channels on impression, not GRP 
  • Or, we upsell using the several means available (engagement, time viewed, etc) 
What are buyers looking for?
  1. More money going to the transaction, 
  2. Data sets enable "Market of One" types of profiling

Metadata Standardization

It's not just big data, it's good data - Rachel Payne, FEM
The discussion over metadata was particularly interesting.  One of the panelists said, "The data is currently the exhaust of the user experience"  However, some programmers are using it as gas.  A key to the future is getting ahead of it, and using it to help make decisions.  Using second screen can start to tell us which ads don't work (this includes TV), so we stop spending big ad buys that don't generate the return.

There is no 1st and 2nd Screen

The TV is for sports and live events...everything else is video
The second screen has become the first screen.  There is no 1st or 2nd screen anymore, and this will play out even more in the coming years as more people 'cut the cord' and turn to their devices as the primary method of consuming content.  Even with live sports and events, many people still prefer to watch on other devices than their TV.  This flips the whole model, and creates a real question as to whether or not the television is still the "1st screen".

The Universal Question: How to Drive Viewer Engagement?

We aim to do two things: Increase ratings and increase revenue - Dan Albritton, Megaphone TV
The show was filled with opinions on driving engagement.  For example, Miles Weaver from Piksel presented on the gamification of the second screen.  Piksel believes that one can enhance ad monetization with a companion viewing experience.  Most believed that engagement has evolved beyond a simple "check in" experience from that of Getglue, etc.  People need incentive to engage with a program on the 2nd screen.  For example, Google is working with American Idol as a voting channel.  XBOX glass, works to give backstory and extra info for the on-screen characters.
  • 50% of all tweets are about sports, 40% searching for info, 20% engaging on Twitter/FB, rest playing games
  • 66% of users prefer to consume content from the "mobile web" vs. in app - A.J. McGowan, Brightcove

We also Need Filters

22.7% of ad supported video and web traffic is stopped by ad blockers - A.J. McGowan, Brightcove
That figure above is skewed for gaming content with younger demographic vs. older demographic.  That's because 15-20% of the time mobile ad calls will fail.  This illustrates one of the problems with mobile ad delivery in that ad blockers prevent content from playing.  Another point was that the massive amounts of social data out on the web necessitates the need for filters.  While most technologies are able to grab, or listen, for social data, the real secret sauce is in the ability to filter for relevance.  Tomorrowish utilizes a proprietary algorithm to filter up relevant content.  They want audiences using their platform to only view posts from big influencers about the real conversation at hand.  The inverse of that is that the algorithm filters out spam content.  A great example of this was for a 2012 Healthcare.gov promition effort.  During a tel-a-thon, a spamming effort funded by the Koch brothers was aimed at infusing the conversation with anti-Obamacare tweets.  Using their filters,  Torrowish was able to filter out the spam so that audiences were only viewing relevant tweets.

Listen to your MAM

Delivering timely, relevant content requires having relevant media at the disposal of your marketing team and spokespeople.  Twitter's video cards provide a great way to expose viewers to quality engaging content.  However, Media Asset Management (MAM) appears to be the key to allowing this content to also be timely.  Otherwise, it may take too long to properly find and format content for social delivery.  For example, UFC is trying to build a MAM for mobile to promote fights, etc. on the fly, use images with tweets, etc.

Did the Companion Content hypothesis Fail?

Companion content was a hypothesis that failed.  Social video sharing is reality.
One of the panelists stated that the companion content hypothesis failed. Many disagreed with this statement.  Microsoft, for example, noted encouraging results from their Xbox companion app, providing interesting detail for viewers to read alongside movies and co-pilot gamers to play inside their video games.  I wouldn't call companion content dead by any means, but it needs to serve a definite purpose to stay relevant.  Shows like Game of Thrones, and Walking Dead have developed quality companion apps in this regard.

It also needs to be timely. To that effect, automatic content recognition (ACR) left an impression at the session.  Alex Terpstra  noted that his company, Civolution, is synchronizing ads to a specific topic during a program.  Their studies have shown that this creates an increase in engagement, both with the specific brand of topic, or with the topic in general (which includes competitors).

Content Discovery is definitely a Reality

If any topic left an impression, it was content discovery.  Reps from BuddyTV, Roku, FEM Inc and IRIS.TV all shared similar sentiment about the importance of content discovery technology.  Andy Liu cited a statistic that the average person spends 10 minutes trying to find something to watch, and what they usually end up with is sub-optimal.  His company, BuddyTV, has a goal to help people find great content in 40 seconds over channels like Amazon, Netflix, etc.

There are different methodologies around how to handle content discovery.

  • BuddyTV says "give me the cheapest options first, then the paying options down the list"  
  • IRIS.TV has a philosophy for "The Cold Start" (the very first play upon login).  This is addressed through personalization settings elected by the consumer.  
  • BuddyTV has other use cases, like their "VIBE" setting which allows you to choose your mood (e.g., date night, kids watching, action) to trigger the types of programs that will be recommended
  • Another idea was recommendations based on the time of day.  Knowing that people are creatures of habit, if I know you always watch CNN in the morning, then that helps me queue up relevant content for you at that time.  
  • Social media can be used for "trending" or "popular" titles, as peer pressure tends to encourage people to want to watch a show.  For example, no one wanted to be left out of the Breaking Bad discussion last season.  However, most panelists agreed that the consumer doesn't really care what a particular friend on Facebook watches.  
  • FEM's algorithm is based on discovering content based on characters in the show you love.  What are the dimensions of the characters?  They'll find other shows with characters with similar dimensions.   
  • Finally, the autostart was listed as a best practice.  TV has always been good in this way as it just keeps playing.  Companies like IRIS.tv and Hulu have found success in this practice.  

Metadata, again, came up in the conversation about search.  Higher quality metadata enables better search.  A service like TMS has become a standard in  metadata for companies like Roku.  Boxfish is a data company that captures every word spoken on TV.

Finally, content discovery can be optimized.  This concept generated mix feelings.  Do you try and deliver only the best, most relevant content to a person?  Or will you "sell out" and allow for sponsored placement.  Companies are already paying Google for placement "sponsored discovery" at the top of a search.

Content Delivery is going to be HUGE

By 2017 we will churn 70 terabytes per second - Will Law, Akamai
The final topic of interest was in content delivery.  Will Law of Akamai illustrated the complexities of content delivery.  His company needs to figure out which of the 48 versions of episode 219 of the Big Bang theory to deliver to a particular user.  Data consumption keeps increasing, making CDN's a vital part of the ecosystem.  CDN's will creep out of servers, into networks, into your router, trying to get closer to you.  There is a tradeoff between storage and bandwidth, which the industry is still trying to figure out.  Regardless, this topic is going to impact everyone that wants to watch a program online.

  • 80% of people watch 20% of content

What's Next?

In closing, I'll leave you with a quote from Syncor VP of Solutions, Greg Jarvis.  He used the term "unsucking the experience" to describe the converging television experience.  This quote described the notion that  fixing the common problems, the boring technologies to make it seamless, will make a huge impact in the future.  Those non-sexy apps will be popular.

Friday, February 7, 2014

New Logo for Marketeneur

I took a leap of faith today and was pleasantly surprised with fiverr.com.  I paid my $5 and asked for a new logo.  Here's what I got.  What do you think?

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Customer Brand Score and the Future with Big Data Analytics

Let me preface this post by admitting that I don't always read everything that comes out of Cognizant's publishing machine.  I work for a company that employs around 170,000 people, and many of those people are overseas and are focused on different industries and/or technologies than mine.  Simply put, I don't always find everything from Cognizant relevant or useful.  However, I recently read a whitepaper that makes a lot of sense.  Titled "The Customer Brand Score" by Vijay Raghunathan, this paper focuses on the interaction of data captured from social media, and how it can be tied to CRM data.  In my opinion, Vijay has hit the nail right on the head.
Figure 1 - Mapping Social Identities
The Customer Brand Score makes perfect sense to me.  Figure 1 above, taken from Vijay's whitepaper, shows how external data such as likes, shares, comments, and blog posts can be collected from social media, fed into a database, and linked with data collected from CRM systems like dollars spent, repurchases, purchase frequency.  Linked together, this can be extremely valuable data.  We have come to a point in the maturity of the industry where we have capable listening and analtyics products that can collect and identify much of this social data (e.g. Radian6, Adobe Social, Crimson Hexagon, Sysomos,etc.).  We also know that there are great traditional CRM technologies out there that are tracking the internal data of customers (e.g. Salesforce, Netsuite, Infusionsoft, etc.).

The one thing we haven't seen a lot of is the ability to make that connection between the two.  This is where the term "big data" starts.  Vijay's paper suggests that there are ways to link these two together using sophisticated integration in databases.  That information is then dissected, and customers are given scores based on those different levers mentioned before (shares, spending, likes, etc.).  The company then comes up with a strategy, and targets customers with certain scores.  Customers can be divided up based on social sentiment, and handled differently if they are thought to be detractors vs. advocates.

There are so many possibilities for this concept. The companies that are able to make that connection will have extremely powerful data.  They can then use the data to help marketing, customer service, R&D, sales (basically every department in an organization). The new digital marketplace poses significant challenges to new and established companies.  However, it also provides opportunity for all companies to capitalize on real, accessible data that can be used to better serve customers, provide increasing loyalty, and make more money.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Treat Social Media Like a Grown-Up Data Point

A colleague of mine recently published a whitepaper titled Tracking What Matters: Best Practices and Common Pitfalls in Social Media Measurement.  She raised a great point in the article, that a majority of companies don't treat social data like a "mature up data point".  Let's face it, we're still early on in the adoption phase of social media.  Most companies are starting to utilize social media for marketing and outreach purposes, but few are using social media data as they do other data.  They find it useful it getting a message out, but then don't want to really want to unleash the true power of social media: the data it can provide.  It's almost like how a parent treats a child, making the child sit at the kids table at dinner while the parent goes to socialize at the grown up table.  Think about it, if you find social media useful as a promotion tool, then what does that say about the medium?  It means that other people are using it.  More importantly, it means that your customers are using it.

Let's put it into context.  For those of you who own a brick and mortar shop, we know that you spend a significant amount of time and resources worrying about satisfying your customers needs.  So you don't run out, you make sure that your store is fully stocked with those items that are most popular.  You make sure those items are in the most convenient places.  You make sure that you advertise about the fact that you carry those items.  If your customers ask for something that you don't sell, you consider making that item part of your next order (if not, then you should).  These are the things that good business owners do.  This is why the lack of focus on social media data strikes me as ignorant.  There are things being said on social media about you, your competitors, and your industry, that could probably help your business.  They can help you learn more about your customer, and what your customer wants.  They can help you become a smarter business.  So do yourself a favor, even if you think it's still "too new" or that your customers aren't on social media, treat it like a grown up data point and integrate it into your knowledge funnel.  Chances are you just might learn something new.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Housing or Technology - Which is a Better Solution to Homelessness?

A story surface recently about Patrick McConlogue, a developer in New York who recently propositioned a homeless man to teach him how to code.  I find this to be a fascinating topic because I often wonder about the best strategy for eradicating our homelessness/joblessness situation in our society.
photo courtesy of http://gma.yahoo.com
What's interesting is that McConlogue has received criticism for this proposition.  Critics argue that McConlogue (and people trying to help) should focus on food and shelter first.  Patrick contends that he is offering what he can, which is knowledge.  The same can be said about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg's internet.org initiative to make the internet available to everyone on the planet.  Do people in 3rd world countries really need internet before things like roads, running water, and farming equipment?  This is obviously not an easy question to answer.  If it were, then the smart people that have been working on these problems for decades centuries probably would have made more progress by now.

That being said, initiatives like internet.org have much more potential given technology today.  The internet offers the one thing that I've always said is the most important thing to upward mobility - Knowledge.  The world wide web is full of free tutorials, user guides, tips, DIY videos, blogs, and manuals on just about every topic known to man.  Google and wikipedia have opened the door to self-discovery, which leads to empowerment.  If those less fortunate, who are interested in learning, have the same access to these sources of information that the rest of us have, then I believe this will eventually lead to less poverty, violence, and disparity among people on this planet.  Plus, as I've learned through volunteering for great organizations like Habitat for Humanity, housing is time, labor, and resource intensive.  The internet may be a more scalable and sustainable solution.

Now, let me be clear in saying that I understand that many other variables come into play.  Some people either don't want to be helped, or have other circumstances like addiction and mental instability that prevent them from helping themselves.  I've been told anecdotally from former homeless not to give money to the homeless because 99% of them are going to try and buy drugs and alcohol with it.  I have no idea if that figure is correct or not, but the point is that there isn't a silver bullet to solving this problem.  However, at least there are people out there trying.  I applaud Patrick for his efforts.  He is going out of his way to help someone.  I find it to be refreshing and invigorating to read about.  I encourage you to read up on this experiment via his blog Medium.com to see what the outcome is.  I am really hopeful that the experiment leads to success for, at least, one man.  Furthermore, I hope it serves as a blueprint for helping many more in the future.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Does my Brand Need a Social Media Presence?

I recieved a message from a friend the other day about whether or not his brand should have a social presence.  Although this question seems obvious to, I'm realizing that there are many out there who don't see the value in social media.  They are actually looking for excuses to not use social media.  I this to be fascinating, relevant and interesting, which has inspired me to post on the topic.  Here's the basic email that was sent to me:


I’ve been asked to prep a deck explaining why BrandX should avoid social media, and wondering if you might have any data we could use.
  1. What does it take to have a current social media presence. (which brands, what it takes, how much does it take to do those? – what is the bar for success.)
  2. A ‘Ghost town’ is more harmful than not having a presence
  3. We are B2B – Vast majority are not on social media – few outliers 
  4. We’d need a bunch of resources - $$ - to do this.  Hence Bar is very high – This point in time doesn’t seem like a worth while investment
There are good questions, let's address them one by one:
1. How to Get Started with Social - Getting started can seem daunting, but don't let it scare you.  Just start with the the big 4 - Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.  Although there are other niche sites out there that may have decent traffic for specific market, you'll get the biggest bang for your buck with the big 4.  I would plan for about 4 - 8 hours or so to simply stand up the accounts with unified images and info, and then any number of hours kicking off the accounts by adding connections to your networks.  This estimate can grow with any number of factors.  First, do you work for a company with social media guidelines?  If so, you'll want to add in some time to review all the rules and guidelines, if not actually discuss the presence with the marketing/communications groups at your company.
    1. Once the accounts are setup, you'll want to start by dedicating 20 minutes a day to review accounts, respond to messages, and make sure all your information is current.  Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, SocialBro, and even Buffer can reduce the time you spend reviewing these accounts by consolidating for you.  When you first start, your influence will likely be small, so managing these accounts will likely require less time than once you've established your presence and really get people wanting to engage with you.
    2. The bar for success - This totally depends.  I would start by looking at your direct competitors' social accounts.  The competitive person that I am would say to not stop until you've dwarfed their social presence.  However, different companies have different strategies and tactics for acquiring customers and managing relationships.  As we are just starting out in social media, I say just get your accounts up, and develop a sustainable process for you to be able to manage.
      • Just for fun, let's say you represent a new Digital Asset Management product.  You've identified the following companies as competitors, and you'd ideally like to be competitive in that mix:
        1. North Plains - 754 Twitter followers, 508 Linkedin followers, and 56 facebook likes
        2. Alfresco - 8,941 Twitter followers, 3190
          Linkedin followers, and 5845 facebook likes
        3. Screendragon - 146 Twitter followers, 21 Linkedin followers, and no facebook account
      • Keep in mind that it's not all about followers and likes.  I'd focus on building meaningful relationships, and thoughtfully engaging with prospects on social media, rather than trying to attract any and everyone on the web to follow you.
2. A 'Ghost Town' is more harmful than not having a social presence - I understand the hesitation here, but I disagree.  As you can see with the Screendragon example, as a consumer I'm more concerned with the company that makes no effort to build a presence on one of the big social networks because I interpret that as a company that is not paying attention to the new market.  Facebook is one of the most popular website in the world.  Why on Earth would you not try to be there?  Which leads me to my next answer...
3. We are B2B and our customers aren't on social media - This is a very popular excuse, but this is untrue.  Think about it, every company is made up of individuals.  If you were to survey the individuals in that company I would all but guarantee that the vast majority of them have a social media account on, at least, one of the big four social networks.  Those individuals are the ones who will be doing research for a new vendor.  You want to make sure they find you.  Establishing your brand on social networks increases your chances of being found in that research - and that's purely by having an account.  Growing your social footprint will only increase your odds.
4. It's expensive to manage social media accounts - I alluded to this earlier.  No, it's not.  When compared with traditional forms of advertising it's dirt cheap.  Setting up accounts on the big four is free.  Purchasing a social media management tool will cost you anywhere from $6 on up to about $40 per month on the higher end of the professional accounts designed for small teams.  After that, I'd recommend you find someone, perhaps one of the junior associates at your company, to take ownership of the program.  They'll likely be excited to get to work with social media, and would be more than willing to dedicate their time to establishing the program.  As I said earlier, this really shouldn't require more than the time it takes for your coffee to cool down in the morning to manage initially.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chromecast - Google's OTT Breakthrough

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am all about "Over the Top Television" (OTT).  Roku, AppleTV, Google TV and BD Players all helped push the market to a point where a product could truly allow OTT to be accessible for every household.  Surprisingly, it's Google who has released this innovation into the market.

Welcome Google into the Living Room

Cord cutters must be excited about the unveiling of Google's Chromecast this week.  It's a tiny, $35 dollar dongle that plugs into your television via an HDMI port and turns your television into a smart tv.  Now, it's easy to be skeptical of Google when it comes to over the top television.  It is well documented that they have already had a few failed attempts at penetrating the home entertainment space.  This time, it feels different.  Chromecast is simple and affordable -- two things that should help it catch on (although it appears as though it's already catching on).  They are already out of stock at Amazon, and further investigation indicates that there is a potential waiting time of up to one month to get your hands (and eyes) on one.  This is a good sign for Google.

Starting Small

Google's strategy with Chromecast is intriguing.  Lately, we've seen products unveiled with a big list of agreements in place.  After all, that was one of the main factors considered years ago when Marketeneur reviewed early generation OTT products.  Chromecast, however, only comes with agreements in place for Netflix and Youtube.  It has yet to bring Hulu, HBOGo or Pandora into the lineup.  Starting small like this would usually be a deal breaker for this reviewer.  However, at $35, the risk is low for purchasing the product, and one has to be optimistic that the others aren't far behind.

Big Potential

Chromecast will really work if the likes of Hulu and HBOGo join the platform.  However, even without those agreements, there are already workarounds in place.  Chromecast allows you to watch these other networks by using your mobile device as a mirror.  Quality isn't as great using this method, but at least it will work.  Plus, Google has made Chromecast compatible with IOS and Android devices alike (which gives an advantage over Apple's AirPlay).  Google has also opened up its API for developers, hoping to spur app development for the platform.  Overall, Chromecast seems to be a good buy.  Yes, it's not perfect, but at such a reasonable price, this product has a ton of potential.  Don't hesitate to get in line and put an order in for this product.

Not Sold on Chromecast yet?

Check out reviews from some reliable sources: