"Who paid for this content?!"

Ryan Skinner

Imagine this scenario:

Only days before the New Hampshire primaries, an article appears on the Des Moines Times-Courier website: “Candidate Chris Christie Hiding Past As Exotic Dancer,” and quickly goes viral, appearing in millions of Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, and email inboxes. Most people see the headline and shake their heads – “Politicians!” As a result, Christie loses the New Hampshire primary, even though the New York Times had revealed that the Des Moines article was a piece of native advertising paid for by a competitor. Christie’s campaign crumbles – from presidential favorite to footnote.

This is the kind of native advertising horror story that’s got old-school journalists hiding under their beds. They ask: “What happens when people don’t know who paid for the content?”

The example, and any horror story like it, is hyperbolic. It’s not going to happen. (And if politicians wanted to tar an opponent, there are far slicker ways to do it.)

In fact, native advertising’s been going on for decades. The original soap operas were native advertising. So are those boring “Invest in Tackyvania” inserts in The Economist.

The journalists and editors are worried about the skyrocketing popularity of native advertising online for a couple of reasons:

1)    Online, it’s often not clear what’s a native ad and what isn’t.
2)    They worry about how it reflects on their editorial content (and authority).

An Advertiser Paid For This Content

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Mini content curation masterclass: A fortnight in content marketing

Ryan Skinner

I read a disconcerting amount of content about content; you wouldn’t expect less from Forrester’s content marketing analyst. So I thought: Why not do something with it? I’m going to curate and occasionally publish a great little list of content links.

As introduction, here's my formula for curation.

Tight focus on audience: This is for marketing leaders who work with content in one way or other. If you don’t work in marketing or think about content, this will be of less value. My goal’s to give people who think about or work with content a list of recent articles on the topic, out of which at least a couple will be solid gold. (N.B.! I explicitly avoid the “16 golden tips for [this, that or the other]” types of linkbait posts. Duh.)

Process: I rock Feedly with a pile of RSS feeds from content sites, a private Twitter list of content influencers, a stack of email newsletters, and a host of other sources pretty much every day. I make a list of the best stuff as I browse. After a couple of weeks, I give each piece on the list one to four stars. Four stars and some three stars make the cut. Then I give each a succinct treatment and a comment to frame it. Serve cold!

Without further ado, here’s the best news, ideas, and opinions on content in the last fortnight! (P.S. If you want me to send the Content Marketing Fortnight to you next time, email me).

Retail + content = hard

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How are you thinking about video content these days?

Jim Nail

As I get deeper into the changes impacting television and online video, their convergence, and the possibility of entirely new forms of video entertainment content, I'm thinking about content in the following categories:

  • Long-form professional video -- i.e., produced originally to be broadcast on TV
  • Professional clips -- news, sports highlights, scenes from programs
  • Short-form professional -- i.e., Maker Studios, et al, producing videos shorter than 30 minutes, specifically for Internet distribution
  • Brand videos -- i.e., content marketing done in video form, such as Home Depot's do-it-yourself instructional videos
  • Consumer-generated videos

Then there is the medium by which they are distributed:

  • Linear, i.e., at broadcast time
  • DVR, where the consumer takes control
  • VOD through the cable box
  • Online streaming, from either the cable/satellite provider, the programmer, or a streaming service like Hulu Plus

And, of course, there are the devices on which the content can be viewed:

  • Traditional TV
  • Computer/laptop
  • Tablet
  • Smartphone
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Analytics - The Key To Measure Your Mobile Performance And Unlock The App Economy

Thomas Husson

The app economy is blurring the lines and opening up new opportunities, with a lot of new entrants in the mobile space, be it with mobile CRM and analytics, store analytics, dedicated gaming analytics, etc. A bunch of players have raised more than $250+ million among the likes of Flurry, Urban Airship, Crittercism, Kontagent, Trademob, Apsalar, App Annie, and Localytics, to name a few. Expect a lot of innovation and acquisitions in that space once mobile is more naturally integrated into digital marketing strategies.

On average, mobile now represents more than 20% of overall traffic to websites. For some companies, including many in media, more than half of all visits come via mobile devices. In some countries, such as India, mobile has surpassed PC traffic. Marketers are integrating mobile as part of their marketing mix, but too many have not defined the metrics they’ll use to measure the success of their mobile initiatives. Many lack the tools they need to deeply analyze traffic and behaviors to optimize their performance.

Thirty-seven percent of marketers we surveyed do not have defined mobile objectives. For those who do, goals are not necessarily clearly defined, prioritized, and quantified. Half of marketers surveyed have neither defined key performance indicators nor implemented a mobile analytics solution! Most marketers consider mobile as a loyalty channel: a way to improve customer engagement and increase satisfaction. Marketers must define precisely what they expect their customers to do on their mobile websites or mobile apps, and what actions they would like customers to take, before tracking progress.

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Time-Warner and CBS Settle -- And Set the Stage for the Future of Online TV Viewing?

Jim Nail

After a month of haggling, snarking, and outright marketing war, CBS and Time Warner came to terms. While details were not disclosed (though this CNBC article has some intriguing hints) both CEOs -- Les Moonves at CBS and Glenn Britt at Time Warner -- had soothing words about how this agreement is good for everyone. 

I think the winner is the future of online viewing.

Digital rights were the second biggest sticking point (after a roughly tripling of retransmission fees that CBS initially sought). Time Warner wanted a continuation of the 2008 contract, which gave them digital rights as part of the contract; CBS wanted a separate payment. In other words, in 2008, no one thought digital amounted to anything so CBS threw them in at no cost. Now both sides see enough value that they become worth arguing over. And by retaining digital rights, CBS is free to pursue that value by licensing its content to other services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and is rumored to be talking to Sony for its yet-to-be-announced video service.

Prior to this agreement, CBS had no incentive to think about digital distribution because they had signed away the rights; Time Warner had little incentive because they didn't pay anything for those rights. They have dabbled with TV anywhere, but it was a sideshow to their real business of cable delivery of video. 

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MICROSOFT'S ACQUISITION OF NOKIA'S DEVICES AND SERVICES UNIT: THE END OF THE OLD MOBILE ERA

Thomas Husson

Eventually, Microsoft announced its decision to acquire Nokia's devices and services unit for € 5,4 billion.

After all these years of speculation, now was the time to invest. Indeed, despite the collapse of the Nokia handset empire, Nokia still has numerous assets: a wide portfolio of patents, Nokia’s product engineering and global capabilities in manufacturing, marketing, and distributing mobile phones. Microsoft is thus not only acquiring the Lumia brand but also the Asha one – bearing in mind Nokia still sold close to 54 million devices in Q2 2013.   

Nokia will now focus on its three core technologies: the network infrastructure with NSN, its maps and location-based service ecosystem with HERE, and Advanced Technologies. There were early signs of the new approach when, a year ago, Nokia started to build brand equity beyond mobile phones with HERE (see my take on this blog at that time) but also more recently when Nokia announced its decision to acquire Siemens’ take to fully own NSN. Microsoft will pay Nokia a four-year license of the HERE services, bringing some regular revenues to the now much smaller company.

To avoid parts of the company to be acquired by some Far East Asian manufacturers and due to the diminishing investments from other Windows Phone licensees, Microsoft had to adopt a vertically integrated strategy. They are indeed the best placed to generate synergies with Nokia following the more than two years agreement. And as All Things Digital puts it, Stephen Elop is now the Microsoft CEO candidate to beat.

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Deals and IPOs in video entertainment and advertising: an inflection point or bubble?

Jim Nail

A spate of events this month argues that the industry that revolves around video entertainment and advertising (I no longer call it the "television" industry!) has entered a period where long-delayed change will burst out:

  • Video ad networks/technologies YuMe and TremorVideo both went public. While neither was blockbuster, these IPOs signal that investors have enough confidence in the future of digital video that they'll put some chips on the table. They see advertisers using online video to extend their TV campaigns and this sector growing at rates far higher than the advertising market as a whole. 
  • Two $400 million + deals for cross-device video ad technologies. The much-hyped AOL/Adap.tv deal and the quieter Extreme Reach/DG deal reflect different corporate strategies, but both are rooted in the idea that the distinctions between TV and digital video will continue to diminish. Marketers increasingly realize they must put their sight/sound/motion messages on every device if they hope to achieve the reach that TV alone used to deliver.
  • CBS/Time-Warner dispute. The mutual benefit of carriage fees has made the programmer/distributor relationship cozy for years. Now this relationship is fraying, and outright wars that include blackout of stations like the current CBS/Time-Warner fight have become increasingly common in the past couple of years. The lure to programmers of streaming their programs online increases in direct proportion to how contentious this relationship becomes.  
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Five Trends That Will Disrupt Europe's TV Ad Market

Jim Nail

My new report, Convergence Disrupts Europe's TV Ad Market, looks at the fascinating landscape of TV advertising in Europe. The bottom line: disruption is coming that will make established TV buying strategies and practices ineffective. Marketers need to understand this change, and over the next three to five years, adopt new tools and strategies in order to achieve the reach and results they want from their video advertising.

While each country has unique attributes that both drive and hold back this evolution, five trends are unmistakable across the region:

  • On-demand viewing -- While on-demand is a small percentage of viewing time now, consumers are embracing the ability to catch up on missed favorite programs or discover other content on streaming services like LoveFilms. Younger viewers especially flock to these new viewing options and make up an increasing percentage of the classic 18 to 44 age demographic.
  • TV anywhere -- As relates to on-demand viewing, consumers find they're not always in their living room when they want to catch up on their favorite show. Programmers, networks, and distributors are all offering apps and services to make viewing on tablets, smartphones, and computers easy.
  • Original online professional content -- YouTube isn't just cat videos anymore. There is an explosion of high-quality professional content that won't ever be broadcast. I'll be watching these experiments closely to see how well they engage viewers.
  • Addressable advertising -- The dream of delivering different video ads to different viewers to match their interests is a marketer's dream. Long talked about -- and long delayed -- we will see the first broad market implementations this fall.
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AOL and Adap.TV -- Audience, not Content, is King

Jim Nail

I talked with several reporters yesterday about AOL's $400 million purchase of online video technology company Adap.TV. A popular question was "Why is a media company buying a technology company?" as if they had no business being combined. The published coverage focused on the value of their technology for programmatic buying and its future application to TV as the digital evolution disrupts today's television advertising industry. Important, but I think misses a more fundamental issue: Content may be king for consumers, but the consumer is king for advertisers. And to deliver consumers to advertisers in the way they want, content companies will need to have strong technology backbones.

AOL has always trumpeted that content is king -- I remember the Bubble 1.0 days (pre AOL Time-Warner, even!) when Ted Leonsis virtually coined this phrase. Even since the Time-Warner split, AOL has continued to pursue the content-centric strategy with the acquisition of The Huffington Post, Tech Crunch, and video syndication firm 5min Media. Until now.

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How To Measure Your Social Media Efforts In China: Which Stage Are You At?

Xiaofeng Wang

Are marketers in China measuring social media properly? Our data says NO. Marketers, if you are wondering at which stage you are for social media measurement and how you should improve it, the report “Social Media Measurement In China” is right for you.

In the report, we surveyed interactive marketers in China and found that most marketers are still at the early stage of social media measurement.

  • Social measurement is not new but very challenging. Nearly every social marketer we surveyed is measuring their social efforts. However, most consider effective measurement to be their top challenge in social marketing.
  • Marketers are measuring the wrong things. Most marketers we surveyed in China say increasing brand favorability is their primary social marketing objective, but most don’t conduct brand-impact surveys to measure it. Instead, the top three metrics that marketers use are number of fans/followers, number of comments, and number of shares.

We state in the report that marketers in China mature through three stages of social measurement:

  • Stage 1: Measure volume metrics, such as number of fans and number of shares.
  • Stage 2: Measure engagement, such as participation rate and fan activity.
  • Stage 3: Measure business success, such as brand awareness and sales contribution.
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