Rollmob is where your audience is going

  • How Instagram Stories became the growth engine for Teen Vogue’s Woke Letter

     by Max Willens

    Instagram Stories is more than a Snapchat rip-off. It’s also a good way to drive newsletter subscriptions, as Teen Vogue has recently discovered.

    Since the Condé Nast-owned publisher launched Woke Letter, a weekly news- and politics-focused newsletter, a little more than three months ago, the biggest engine of its subscriber growth has been Instagram Stories, which it uses every week to entice people to sign up. The sign-ups Woke Letter has gotten overall have encouraged site staff: Woke Letter has an open rate more than twice as high as its other newsletters, which include a shopping deals newsletter and a digest of links to Teen Vogue stories, according to the company.

    The publisher declined to disclose how many people have signed up for Woke Letter.

    “Instagram Stories felt like a natural fit,” said Terron Moore, the director of social media at Teen Vogue and Allure.

    Woke Letter was launched as part of an effort to build on the breakaway success Teen Vogue saw for its politics coverage during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. While Teen Vogue began covering politics in 2015, columns like “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America” tore across the internet during last year’s race, and the publisher decided to emphasize politics and national affairs coverage afterward. As a result, traffic has perked up: In June, it attracted nearly twice as many unique visitors — 6.8 million, according to comScore — than it did during the same period last year.

    While detractors have accused Teen Vogue of dabbling in politics for clicks, much of Woke Letter consists of links to other publications, as well as an essay exclusive to the newsletter. It is also, to the extent that headlines permit, about things other than the 45th president. “We didn’t start Woke Letter to be a weekly Donald Trump newsletter,” Moore said.

    To build its audience, Moore focused on the platform where Teen Vogue’s audience is most engaged. Teen Vogue has over 2.1 million followers on Instagram, a far cry from the 5.9 million it has on Facebook, but it regularly ranks among the top-performing beauty and fashion publishers when it comes to engagement on Instagram, according to NewsWhip data.

    From January to June, Teen Vogue’s Instagram posts have gotten more engagements than lifestyle publishers including Cosmopolitan, Elle and Vanity Fair; overall, engagements on Teen Vogue’s Instagram content are up 93 percent year over year, reaching a high of over 3.5 million engagements in June, per NewsWhip.

    Teen Vogue owes some of that success to the addition of politics coverage. On Instagram, its followers will now get links to a story about what rights people have when they get arrested, as well as coverage of the Teen Choice Awards. “We want to present politics on the same level that we present beauty hacks,” Moore said.

    Two tiles from a recent Teen Vogue Instagram Story

    Driving newsletter sign-ups from social platforms has gotten easier in recent years. Both Facebook and Instagram now offer ad units that enable advertisers to capture email addresses, and Facebook recently began testing a feature that allows publishers to grab readers’ email addresses inside of Instant Articles.

    But for now, neither of those are options for Moore. Teen Vogue has not yet allocated an ad budget to build the audience for Woke Letter, and Condé Nast is one of a handful of large publishers that have either abandoned Instant Articles or at least scaled back their use because they yield less revenue than visits to publisher sites.

    “There’s only so much we can do on Facebook without paying for it,” said Moore.

  • Telemundo is broadcasting FIFA’s esports World Cup

    AUGUST 16, 2017 by Sahil Patel

    Ten months before it broadcasts the 2018 men’s FIFA World Cup, Telemundo is livestreaming a gaming competition among the top FIFA video game players in the world.

    Starting Wednesday and running through Aug. 18, Telemundo will broadcast all 16 hours of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, an annual video gaming competition organized by FIFA and EA Sports. This is the first time Telemundo is broadcasting any live esports competition and the first time the FIFA Interactive World Cup, which features 32 of the top FIFA video game players in the world, will be broadcast in both English and Spanish.

    Telemundo will host two livestreams each on its Telemundo En Vivo video app and on Facebook and YouTube. The competition will culminate on Aug. 18, when Telemundo airs the finals on its Universo cable network as well as the aforementioned digital channels starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. The finals coverage will also include a preview studio show.

    “Esports gives us an opportunity to connect with the Hispanic, multicultural gaming audience,” said Peter Blacker, evp of digital media and emerging business for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “Esports consumers tend to be more millennial, and Hispanics are the most engaged in that group.”

    Blacker cited a recent study by PwC, which said Hispanic esports viewers average 23 days of esports viewing per year versus 19 days for the average esports viewer. Additionally, Hispanics play video games for 12 hours per week on average, compared to 9 hours for non-Hispanics, according to the study.

    Telemundo is dedicating significant resources to its esports coverage, which also includes being the Spanish-language arm of NBC Sports’ Rocket League gaming tournament later this month. More than half of Telemundo’s digital team will be dedicated to this coverage, which won’t be just empty feeds of competitions but hosted coverage that includes Telemundo on-air talent Karim Mendiburu and Alejandro Pérez.

    Beyond the live broadcasts, Telemundo is also producing several hours of “incremental content” such as player profiles for both the FIFA Interactive World Cup and NBC Sports’ Rocket League tournament, Blacker said.

    “Our heritage as part of NBCU means we’re the Hispanic home of the Olympics, which have been a great place for us to shine a light on athletes and their journeys,” he said. “We’re going to do that in the esports area as well.”

    In the past year, esports has captured the attention of sports TV broadcasters, including ESPN and Turner. ESPN broadcasts live gaming competitions and has reporters covering esportsnews and tournaments. Turner, meanwhile, has an esports league that completed its third season in the spring. Even Disney’s cable networks are airing shows about esports and gaming.

    For Telemundo, the exclusive rights to broadcast the FIFA Interactive World Cup has an additional benefit: marketing for the men’s FIFA World Cup next year, which Telemundo has the exclusive Spanish-language rights to.

    “It’s both an opportunity for us to cement a leadership position in the esports area and use as a marketing opportunity for all of our platforms,” said Blacker. “Anyone coming to us for either of these tournaments will see the FIFA branding, the World Cup countdown clock and an opportunity to get more information about our coverage next year.”

  • ‘Video budgets are fluid’: Facebook Watch could chip away at broadcasters’ revenue

    This week, Facebook announced Facebook Watch, and if it succeeds in making the social network a destination for TV shows, it becomes another competitor to established broadcasters.

    In the short term, Facebook Watch will likely chip away at broadcasters’ video-on-demand ad revenue, say industry insiders. In the longer term, Facebook could make more ambitious content investments, like longer-form programming and live, global sports rights, bringing the quality of content more in line with TV.

    Facebook is commissioning some of the content, using its massive reach of 2 billion monthly users to attract content creators. The feature is available only to people in the U.S. so far, with international expansion planned over the coming months.

    Facebook is offering mid-roll ads in Watch’s shows, which offer an alternative for advertisers to the video ads in Facebook’s News Feed and also could compete for video-on-demand ad budgets from the U.K.’s main broadcasters Sky, ITV and Channel 4, even if the quality of the programming and the environment lag.

    “The content might seem like it’s more in the YouTube or Snapchat realm, but video budgets are fluid, and if the format and targeting works like VOD, then it could draw money from these budgets,” said Mark Holden, head of strategy at Arena Media. “This will confirm [broadcasters’] fears or add to their concerns,” he said, adding that the growing power of digital platforms pose an ongoing threat.

    Beyond advertising, Facebook’s move to get deeper into video could cause some broadcasters to stop distributing their own content on Facebook, according to Nigel Walley, managing director of Decipher Media Consultants.

    “The people who will be confused and worried are the broadcasters who have previously used Facebook as a marketing and audience-acquisition channel and have so helped Facebook emerge as a competitor,” he said. “What broadcasters would find scary is that Facebook is bringing TV to a global scale. Most broadcasters have operated in a single country market. With Facebook distributing to 200 countries at once, it can bid big for TV,” said Walley, pointing to the fact that Amazon reportedly paid $250 million (£193 million) to license Jeremy Clarkson’s “The Grand Tour” for three seasons.

    Still, Facebook’s success in getting people to spend more time in Watch will rely on the quality of its content. Facebook is funding some of the shows, but the goal is to grow this ecosystem so the majority of shows are not Facebook-funded. Differentiating will be its challenge: Nearly 500 scripted shows are in production in the U.S., up from 200 in 2008, according to Enders Analysis.

    Facebook’s app is available on some Smart TVs, but another question will be what percentage of viewing is on TV rather than logged-in user devices. That could change Facebook’s value as a marketing channel for advertisers.

    Facebook’s logged-in data on mobile devices allows advertisers to target ads. Extending campaigns to the TV screen, where more than one person is watching, makes planning campaigns more complicated if the advertiser wants to know who is watching, and, ultimately, leads to broader reach rather than more targeted messages.

    “When you’re selling advertising people care who and how many have seen it,” said Walley. “It will be harder for Facebook to control that when it comes to the big screen.”

  • Why Cheddar is looking to local markets to build an audience

     by Max Willens


    The widest runway for Cheddar’s audience expansion might be network newscasts. In July, the digital financial news startup announced it would begin airing segments during newscasts on KXTV, a Tegna-owned station located in Sacramento, California, as well as the seven stations in the News 12 Network, a local news network serving the New York tri-state area that’s owned by the French telecommunications company Altice.

    The move raised eyebrows in some digital media circles: Why would a financial news network for millennials head for the hinterlands of local news? But for Cheddar, which claims to reach 1 million people daily with its live programming across numerous platforms, local TV broadcasts are a faster way to build its brand and its audience than OTT platforms.

    “I think it’s a really smart way to build an audience,” said TV industry analyst Alan Wolk. “If they get 5 percent of the [local news audience] doing that, then it’s a big win for them.”

    While local TV news audiences have slid in recent years, they remain far larger than the audiences available across all the OTT platforms that Cheddar has been colonizing. The combined average viewership of the evening newscasts for the four major broadcasters — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — exceeded 20 million, according to the Pew Research Center. By comparison, Sling TV, the largest OTT platform in the United States, has just 1.3 million subscribers, according to parent Dish Network.

    That 20 million is smaller than the total audience platform behemoths like Twitter and Facebook offer, but those services also count their viewers differently from broadcasters and can put video in front of their users whether those users want to see it or not, which makes many analysts at least somewhat skeptical of their eye-popping view counts. “I would argue [local broadcast news] is even bigger than Twitter,” Wolk said.

    And on those digital platforms, startups like Cheddar have to compete for views not just with broadcasting goliaths like CNN but entertainment and lifestyle content as well.

    It’s the opposite in local broadcasting. While competition between incumbents is fierce, newcomers are few and far between, and the value of local news and programming to each station’s audience is clearly defined. A survey of pay-TV subscribers conducted by Parks in 2016 found that 70 percent of respondents said that their local channels, including news, would be hardest to give up, harder than sports, entertainment or even cable news channels.

    Cheddar’s move into local was spearheaded by an investment Altice made when it participated in Cheddar’s $19 million Series C round of funding in May. Jon Steinberg, Cheddar’s founder and CEO, said Altice was interested in ways for the two companies to collaborate, which led to Steinberg pitching minute-long news summaries that are taped before and after the close of the New York Stock Exchange.

    These segments now air twice a day in the eight markets airing Cheddar content. They are an easy sell to newscasts, especially because they are free. While Cheddar would not comment on its arrangements with Altice and Tegna, Steinberg said Cheddar will always have a free tier of this service available to the local markets.

    “If people want more, or if they want customization, we start to charge them,” said Steinberg, though he added that at this early stage, he sees the programming on local news as little more than marketing for Cheddar’s brand.

    While local affiliates and broadcasters have long sourced news segments from third parties, they do not have a long history of sourcing content from digital-native companies like Cheddar. Many have only just begun to find ways to integrate third parties into their digital operations. Tegna, for example, partnered with Megaphone TV to add live polling and participation to its newscasts.

    It could take years for this move to yield any additional revenue for Cheddar. In the meantime, it gives the company a runway with lots of space, less competition and a chance to connect with a new audience that might not be millennial but could help nonetheless.

    “This makes them seem more real,” Wolk said.

  • Facebook moves closer to YouTube and TV with new shows, Watch platform

     by Sahil Patel


    Facebook wants people to spend more time watching videos on its platform, as they already do on YouTube. Starting Aug. 10, it’s introducing a new video destination called “Watch,” which aims to do exactly that.

    Watch is essentially a remake of Facebook’s video tab, available online and across Facebook’s apps for mobile devices and connected TVs. It will offer a library of longer form and episodic video shows made by publishers, celebrities and digital video creators. Shows on Facebook Watch will fall into two tiers: TV-sized half-hour programs launching on Facebook later this year and shorter “spotlight” series with episodes running between 5 and 15 minutes.

    On Watch, Facebook will offer original shows from more than 30 content partners, including Tastemade, Mashable, Hearst, Attn, Bleacher Report, A+E, Refinery29 and Condé Nast Entertainment. Some partners have multiple shows funded by Facebook, including: Tastemade, which is producing six series including “Kitchen Little” and “Struggle Meal”; Mashable, which is doing two series, “What’s Your Mutt?” and “DIY Costume Squad”; Attn, which is producing “Health Hacks,” which will star Jessica Alba, and “We Need to Talk”; and Business Insider, which has four shows including “The Great Cheese Hunt” and “Rising Stars” with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Not all of these shows will be available from Day One, as some are scheduled to appear later this year, according to publishing sources.

    Original content also will include live sports, with Facebook broadcasting an MLB game every Friday night.

    “Video hasn’t been promoted on Facebook in this way before,” said Greg Gittrich, chief content officer of Mashable. “Watch is going to be a place where people go to watch shows and series, which makes it exciting for us.”

    As a video-viewing destination, Watch is clearly designed to get people to find new shows to watch and continue watching new episodes of them as they are released, as well as find related programming. A “watchlist” tab on Watch’s main page will let users keep track of new content from their favorite shows. And when users complete an episode of a show, either subsequent episodes of that show or related content will start playing in the video player. (A user’s watchlist will also be featured on the right-hand rail next to the Facebook news feed.)

    “As people are watching more and more video on Facebook, they want a place they can go to reliably and dependably watch video,” said Daniel Danker, director of product at Facebook. “A year ago, we launched the video tab, which did that, but it did not necessarily make it easy for people to keep up with the creators they know.”

    It’s in this way that Watch can be seen as a more directly competitive to Google-owned YouTube, where users are used to searching for and finding all sorts of videos and shows.

    Facebook’s move is also reminiscent of YouTube’s initial investments in original video programming in 2012, when the company spent more than $100 million to fund original content channels from media companies, celebrities and digital video creators.

    “Prior to this, if you were to have just a bird’s eye view, the difference between YouTube and Facebook was that YouTube was a search video platform — you were looking for a specific thing, found it and then found yourself in a rabbit hole still watching videos two hours later,” said Oren Katzeff, head of programming for Tastemade. “Facebook has been more of a discovery platform, where you find stuff in your feed. You’re not necessarily going to Facebook for video. This is more of a shift toward getting people to purposely go to Facebook to watch a show. As a programmer, that’s incredibly exciting especially when Facebook has said they are going to invest a lot of equity and energy into this.”

    While Watch currently exists as a section inside Facebook, Danker consistently referred to Watch as a “platform,” which indicates how the company views the product and its potential future. Danker would not comment on plans for Watch, but it’s likely that the company will follow the Facebook Messenger playbook: That is, if the section can get enough people watching videos on a daily basis, Facebook can spin it off as its own video app.

    Getting people to watch shows on Watch will be a big task for Facebook, which in the past has struggled to get people to use video products such as suggested videos and Facebook Live.

    It’s important to note that Watch will be strictly a home for shows. While it will include shows funded by Facebook, publishers and video creators that create official show pages will also be able to feed content into Watch. Right now, Watch is rolling out with a small number of video partners, but eventually the plan is to make the platform available to any video producer with a show page, the company said. Facebook’s expectation is that over time a vast majority of the shows inside Watch will not be funded by Facebook, a spokesperson said.

    “What’s Your Mutt?”, one of two shows produced by Mashable for Facebook.

    At the moment, shows funded by Facebook are getting prime placement on Watch, in the top two sections. (Facebook is funding two types of original series: TV-sized original shows, which are expected to premiere later this year, and short-form spotlight shows, which are rolling out starting today.) As Facebook expands Watch, it plans to offer “hundreds” of shows, followed by “thousands,” a spokesperson said.

    Mid-roll ads — Facebook’s other big experiment in video — will also be part of Watch with a limited set of partners, though that’s expected to expand to more video creators and shows over time. Publishers and creators will also be allowed to run branded content on Watch.

    Facebook is offering Watch to a limited number of people in the U.S. as it undergoes testing and refining. Over the next few weeks and months, Watch will be released more widely in the U.S., followed by an international rollout.

    “Now, Facebook wants to be in the same place, where at the end of a long day, you might sit down to watch something on Apple TV, and Facebook is now an option, too, alongside FX, YouTube, and others,” said Eric Korsh, president of Mashable Studios.

  • WTF is RTB 3.0?

     by Ross Benes

    Ad tech is constantly moving to the next new and shiny thing. And with that, we bring you real-time bidding 3.0.

    Since programmatic buying has gotten more complex and remains ever murky, an Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab working group is designing new procedures to bring more clarity to the byzantine digital ad-supply chain. Digiday spoke to three members of this working group, who broke down how it works.

    WTF is RTB 3.0?
    It is a new protocol that could change the automated buying and selling of ads — if exchanges adopt it. The structure of RTB 3.0 cuts down duplicative code, which will drive faster bidding. It also requires everyone in the supply chain to provide an authenticated signature to the impressions they touch, which will give ad buyers more visibility into where the inventory they’re buying originated from.

    What is the difference between this and other RTB guidelines?
    RTB 2.0, which came out in 2012, set guidelines around mobile programmatic buying. But it did not forecast the rise of header bidding — which lets publishers simultaneously offer inventory to multiple exchanges before making calls to their ad servers — or the complexity of today’s supply chain, said Ian Trider, director of RTB platform operations at DSP provider Centro. RTB 3.0 attempts to address the problems that these trends created.

    How does it do that?
    Header bidding led to an explosion in bid requests, which strains programmatic platforms since they have to process these requests. With current RTB protocol, there are different specs for the open exchange, over-the-top video and programmatic guaranteed inventory. So if a publisher was pushing open-market and programmatic-guaranteed deals through the same exchange, the exchange would have to run multiple specs for that publisher.

    But many of the variables in these specs, like the publisher’s ID and the category of their content, overlap. With RTB 3.0, the specs will be restructured so these variables aren’t repeated in the exchange’s code.

    “This reduces the compute load to process traffic, which should make bids run faster and require fewer servers to process them,” said Bill Simmons, CTO at DSP provider DataXu.

    OK, but how does RTB 3.0 address the complex supply chain?
    It will demand that each link in the supply chain signs off on every ad impression they touch. The technical details are still being worked out, but the idea is that publishers and vendors will stamp their encrypted IDs onto impressions so that buyers can ensure the true source of the supply, said Curt Larson, vp of product at native ad firm Sharethrough. The hope is that this will cut down on shady practices like domain spoofing.

    Isn’t that what ads.txt does?
    Sort of. Ads.txt is a lot simpler implementation since it only requires companies to upload and update text files. RTB 3.0 is more of an overhaul since it requires exchanges to restructure their underlying code to provide encrypted signatures. Ideally, the two will work in tandem to provide more clarity around the opaque supply chain.

    What does RTB 3.0’s timeline look like?
    Nothing formal has been announced because the technical details are still being debated among the IAB Tech Lab working group. Larson suspects the protocol will be opened to public comment in the next month or two and a beta version of it to debut around January.

    This sounds great. Are there any drawbacks?
    Any company wanting to implement the protocol will have to devote engineers and developers to restructuring their platforms. And like ads.txt, success of RTB 3.0 also depends on network effects.

    “It can have amazing benefits,” Larson said. “But it is a change that people would have to adopt, and there is a lot of momentum in this industry.”

  • ‘We are not that dusty aisle’: Boxed uses social media to elevate grocery shopping

     by Ilyse Liffreing

    Boxed, the e-commerce site that sells grocery and home products in bulk, wants to change the way people think about shopping for the home, and it’s leaning on social media to convey this.

    “We are not that dusty aisle full of traffic and screaming families anymore,” said Jessica Rotondi, senior social media manager at the 3-year-old company. “We are this beautiful online streaming service.”

    In March, Boxed rolled out the tagline “Bulk is Beautiful” to promote the idea that people can save time and money buying bulk products online and began to grow its digital marketing team. What began as one person sharing content has now evolved into a 22-person team, including designers and an animator, who collectively work on social content.

    Since March, Boxed has seen its social engagement across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn increase by 125.7 percent to 83,029 engagements and its volume of fans grow by 17.1 percent to 259,198 fans, according to Rotondi. Boxed focuses on paid and organic posts on Instagram and Facebook because of their popularity with young parents and mothers.

    The “Bulk is Beautiful” strategy is the clearest on the brand’s Instagram account @boxedwholesale, which has 49,600 followers. Boxed posts there twice a week, showing photos and GIFs of Boxed items in whimsical scenes of what consumers could be doing with the time they save shopping with Boxed. For example, one post shows Venus razors relaxing by a hotel pool, while a glass filled with yellow Eos lip balm balls resembles lemonade in another.

    “If it’s an image of those razors by the pool that can make them laugh a little bit, but also remind them that they need to shave their legs that day, then that’s a win for Boxed and a nice thing to pass on for the customer,” Rotondi said.

    Boxed also uses Instagram to showcase the bulk size of its products, which sets it apart from Amazon and Walmart. One post displayed bulk-size Heinz ketchup, relish and mustard bottles enjoying a cookout. A post for Father’s Day compares a bulk-size Sriracha bottle to its mini counterpart.

    On Facebook and Twitter, Boxed shares time-saving hacks at least three times a week, often through partnerships with other brands. Last month, Boxed and Food52 produced a Facebook Live video about grilling tips. Last week, Boxed held a back-to-school giveaway on Twitter with Shopkick, a shopping rewards app. With the hashtag #Shopkick2School, users could win prizes from Boxed.

  • E!’s newest Snapchat show stars Kylie Jenner

     by Sahil Patel


    Maybe it was only a matter of time until E! and a Kardashian made a show together for Snapchat Discover.

    On Aug. 12, the NBCUniversal-owned E! will debut a new show on Discover called “Ask Kylie.” “Ask Kylie” will have the Kardashian sister answering fan questions on topics ranging from online bullying to family drama to her cosmetics empire. The show will be a companion to the “Life of Kylie” reality TV series, which was set to debut on E!’s cable channel on Aug. 6. “Ask Kylie” will have six episodes lasting three to five minutes and will air weekly on Saturdays leading into new episodes of Jenner’s TV show on Sundays.

    “Ask Kylie” is the second Snapchat show from E!, which also airs the twice-weekly entertainment news show “The Rundown” on the platform. E! has another half-dozen or so Snapchat show ideas and formats in development, said John Najarian, evp and gm of E! News.

    “We look at Snapchat as a way to reach an audience that we can’t necessarily reach because they don’t necessarily watch TV,” said Najarian. “It’s a great opportunity to have the E! brand reside on a platform that’s certainly tapping into a new audience.” NBCU is an investor in Snap, parent of Snapchat.

    A successful first show on Snapchat Discover with “The Rundown” seems to have validated E!’s decision to create original content for the platform. Since premiering last fall, “The Rundown” has had 70 episodes, and episodes are now averaging 8 million viewers, according to E! Some episodes have topped 10 million viewers, with about 75 percent of viewers between the ages of 13 and 24, Najarian said.

    These numbers make “The Rundown” one of the most popular shows on Snapchat Discover, alongside Vertical Networks’ “Phone Swap,” which averaged 11 million viewers per episode during its first season; and A+E Networks’ “Second Chance,” which averaged 8 million viewers per episode.

    With E!’s next show centering on a Kardashian, it expects to find an audience for “Ask Kylie.” With 175 million followers across Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, Jenner is one of the most popular celebrities on social media. Snap and E! wouldn’t break out how many followers Jenner has on Snapchat, but the reality TV star is a popular presence on Discover, with many Daily Mail Snapchat Discover editions leading with her on the cover photo.

    “The Kardashians grew up on our air, and Kylie’s obviously a big part of the Snapchat ecosystem in terms of her own personal account,” said Najarian. “With the TV show launching on our network on Aug. 6, it made sense to think of doing something that’s dedicated to the Snapchat audience.”

    “Ask Kylie” will have more of a reality-TV show feel than the zippy news-rundown style of “The Rundown.” As such, E! hired four people to produce the show. (For comparison, “The Rundown” has six producers.) These are just the people entirely dedicated to the shows, however, as they also receive support from E!’s editorial and production departments when needed.

    “We wanted to bring in a producer who was passionate about Kylie and the Kardashians, but they’re all working with the rest of the E! News digital infrastructure,” said Bryce Kristensen, head of NBCU’s digital content lab.

    One thing “Ask Kylie” won’t do is aggressively try to drive tune-in for the “Life with Kylie” TV show.

    “The audience doesn’t need to be hit over the head,” said Kristensen. “Her presence is so big you don’t need to use traditional tune-in [tactics] that a lot of people use.”

  • Why few ad buyers are satisfied with their programmatic training

     by Ross Benes

    Ad tech changes quickly, leaving education courses scrambling to keep up.

    In an Adobe survey of 600 brands and agencies, due out Aug. 7, only 18 percent of respondents were “very satisfied” with their programmatic training. About half of the participants said they probably wouldn’t recommend the training courses they took.

    Digiday asked advertisers about the shortcomings of programmatic training. They said that for those courses to be effective, they should include both buy-side and sell-side clients, be hands-on and avoid focusing on a single vendor’s products.

    Train with other companies
    Some small agencies handle all their training in-house, but in doing so, they risk not seeing how other buyers approach programmatic. Andrew Finnan, director of accounts at ad agency The Prosper Group, said training alongside CPG advertisers got him to think about using programmatic for long-term branding rather than just for short-term “get out the vote” drives.

    Large agency holding companies can do their training in-house and still bring together buyers from different agencies with a variety of clients with a range of KPIs. They get a limited view if they don’t learn about what’s developing on the supply side, though. Liane Nadeau, vp of programmatic media at ad agency DigitasLBi, said the most useful training she’s had included reps from publishers, supply-side platforms, demand-side platforms and advertisers.

    Those trainings taught her how publishers prioritize advertisers at different levels within their ad servers. So rather than assuming her clients were getting equal access as other bidders to publisher inventory, she knew to negotiate for better placement in the ad server when setting up private marketplace deals.

    “If you only focus on the buy side, you are missing half of the picture,” she said.

    Be hands-on
    Sometimes ad tech becomes so theoretical that it might as well be theology. In Adobe’s research, 36 percent of respondents whose training involved in-person instruction were “very satisfied” with their training — more so than those whose training was online, self-taught or on the job. Brit Sundberg, programmatic media manager at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, said programmatic training should be hands-on and relatable. His approach is to train people in person and demonstrate campaigns.

    Limit the vendors
    Vendors including Adobe, Google and Quantcast have increased their investments in programmatic training, and for marketers who already use these vendors, their training courses can be helpful. But outside of vendors, few programmatic training options exist for agencies that don’t do their training in-house. Vendors’ training programs are biased toward the vendor’s own products, and they usually fail to provide education on the overall industry, said Yeliza Centeio, associate media director at ad agency CTP Boston.

    “Unfortunately, the trainings that I have been a part of are one-on-one with the platform’s customer service team,” she said. “They sound so automated, as if they’re speaking from a transcript, and if you ask a question that they’re not prepared for, they have to ‘get back to you.’”

  • The newest place to premiere shows: Amazon Prime Video

     by Sahil Patel


    As Amazon recruits video companies to distribute content on its platform — and make money from day one — some companies are beginning to use Amazon Prime Video to premiere new programming.

    Earlier this week, Funny Or Die premiered a new eight-episode, short-form comedy series called “The Real Stephen Blatt” on Prime Video. Earlier in the month, comedy studio Jash debuted a new season of “Norm Macdonald Live,” a video podcast/talk show hosted by the famous comedian, on the platform. Earlier this spring, digital publisher HowStuffWorks pushed into longer-form documentaries by releasing eight films on Prime Video, including the 55-minute “The Great North American Road Rally.”

    Funny Or Die and HowStuffWorks are releasing the new content exclusively on Prime Video, while Jash is making “Norm Macdonald Live” available on Prime Video the same day it streams live on YouTube and other platforms. In essence, Amazon is becoming a “first window” for a growing group of digital video producers making video shows and short films and looking for ways to effectively make money from them.

    “‘Norm’ will be the first show where we include Amazon in our first window,” said Mickey Meyer, co-founder of Jash, a comedy studio backed by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera and Reggie Watts, among others. “Traditionally, we’ve looked at Amazon as a place to put our library, but this is the first time we’re uploading on Amazon the same day that we put it up on YouTube.”

    Last year, Amazon launched its Video Direct program, which allows video owners to freely upload their content to Amazon’s platform. Partners have multiple distribution and monetization options within Amazon’s ecosystem, but most choose to upload titles directly to the Prime streaming platform and make money based on how much time people spend watching their videos. Amazon pays 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents per hour abroad and doesn’t demand exclusivity, which means video owners can make money from Amazon on day one while also making money from the same video elsewhere.

    Since joining Amazon Video Direct last year, Jash has uploaded more than 400 hours of material to Prime Video. While declining to report revenue numbers, Jash said Amazon has significantly contributed to the money the studio is making from platforms. Other publishers including HowStuffWorks have previously noted that revenues from Amazon Video Direct have the ability to approach and exceed what they can make from YouTube pre-rolls.

    This made it an easy decision for Jash to premiere new episodes from the new season of “Norm Macdonald Live,” which will feature guests such as David Letterman, Sarah Silverman and Jerry Seinfeld, on Amazon alongside YouTube, according to Meyer. In doing so, Jash now has two ways to make money from “Norm Macdonald Live” on day one, without incurring any extra costs.

    “Video Direct is a smart option for many video companies because it gives them — especially smaller ones — the opportunity to get broad reach while also experimenting with ad-supported, purchase and subscription business models,” said Peter Csathy, founder of media consulting firm Creatv Media.

    With “The Real Stephen Blatt,” Funny Or Die is premiering a new show exclusively on Amazon for the first time. Starring Justin Long, the show centers on a 16-year-old kid who becomes obsessed with social media after receiving an iPhone for his birthday.

    Amazon said Funny Or Die ranks as one of Video Direct’s best-performing digital partners in terms of time spent. This made it an easy choice for Funny Or Die — just like with Jash — to premiere new content on Amazon.

    Similarly, HowStuffWorks has seen Prime Video users spend time watching its documentaries, which mostly run in the 10- to 20-minute range. With the revenue boost from Amazon, which also offers bonuses to partners with the highest-performing titles, HowStuffWorks and other video companies have spent more time thinking about how Amazon can fit into the video distribution mix.

    Plus, there’s a guarantee with Amazon that the content will be in a high-quality environment with desirable audiences, said Jason Hoch, HowStuffWorks’ chief content officer. “It’s cool to be able to put something on a platform where you also see some great movies and TV shows, and for all of that to sit together — that’s pretty appealing for us,” he said.

    Releasing new content on Amazon also allows digital video companies to play with business models that film and TV have long used — specifically, the “windowing” of content to generate multiple revenue streams for individual titles. By putting shows exclusively on Amazon, video companies still have the ability to put those same videos on other platforms such as YouTube at a later date. Once again, this practice creates two dual revenue streams from the same video.

    “With Amazon, I still control distribution without having to make any creative sacrifices,” said Meyer. “There’s nothing stopping us from being able to do more except our own bandwidth.”