How Beneficial Is an OTT Platform for Content Owners Like Disney?

The line between traditional media and over-the-top (OTT) streaming is blurring as more content originators begin testing streaming services. Companies like Disney, Hallmark, and Discovery are all exploring OTT platform options—from joining Netflix and Amazon to striking out on their own.

But what exactly are they after?

The Path to OTT
The core cable television model has always had two major revenue streams: affiliate fees and advertising sales. Although the advertising sales model has been sorely tested recently (with the proliferation of devices and increased content sources), it’s the affiliate fee side of the revenue equation that has been especially pressed.

Read the full article at the Videa blog.

Welcome the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The TV of Tomorrow Offers an Exciting and Dystopian Future.

Where is TV headed? What is the TV of tomorrow? That was the question on my mind while attending the TV of Tomorrow conference held in NYC last week.

Many issues are hitting the industry now. “People are trying to aggregate data in order to organize the KPIs and monetize them while understanding all of the barriers involved how to bring all that data together,’” noted, Tracy Swedlow, Editor-in-Chief of ITVT and Founder of the TVOT Conference. In the realm of social media, many companies are grappling with “YouTube and their changing algorithms, libraries that are being de-monetized and the creation of greener pastures,” she added. 

One thing is clear; the TV ecosystem of today will definitely not be the TV ecosystem of tomorrow. Millennials are cord-nevers who didn’t grow up in a world of TV networks. Don’t expect them to change their habits as they age. And they don’t see the media landscape the way older viewers do. As Helen Katz, SVP/Global Director of Media and Insights, Publicis Media, explained when she asked her daughter what her favorite TV channels were, replied, “What is a TV channel?” 

For those of use with years invested in the industry, the changes discussed at the TVOT are at once exciting and dystopian. Here are my takeaways:

Increasing Technological Dominance
This drumbeat of technological change is leading to what Stein Erik Sorhaug, VP Product Strategy, Vimond, terms the Fourth Industrial Revolution where, through artificial intelligence (AI), we will drive human behavior and human thought. AI, as applied through Machine Learning, has the future capability to craft the most engaging content, map the most effective media plan and measure everything everywhere through the consumer journey. Ideally there will be room for both AI and human input where computers "create an inference layer" according to Mika Rautiainen, CEO/CTO, Valossa Labs, followed by "human curators editorially creating playlists and new channels," Sorhaug added.

Skill sets need to keep pace
Certain jobs could disappear in this new media ecosystem or will require different skill sets. "No question that people in yesterday's supply chain will be wiped out," stated Dave Morgan, CEO, Simulmedia, "marketing managers today don't have hard science background and will lose jobs to those who do." Swedlow suggested future media mavens, “create their own channel with their own ideas for original content. There will always be an opportunity for great content with real personalities and people who have a compelling story to tell.” 

Measurement Still a Challenge
“The lines between linear and digital are blurring,” explained Jenny Burke, SVP Sales Strategy, NBCU, “so we are concentrating on content; distributing it to whatever platform the consumer prefers.” How can this consumer journey be best measured? Aaron Fetters, SVP National Agencies and CPG Business, comScore, noted that, “times are changing and measurement must change with it. We need to future proof measurement with the growth in IoT, OTT and wearables.” But how can we accomplish this when there are walled gardens and silos of data and no industry standard content identification system in place? Until we can agree on the best way to track content, through content identification and ACR, full cross-platform measurement will continue to be a challenge and will become more complex.

OTT is Growing and Cuts Out the Advertiser
Ignore the influence of OTT at your peril. “Four major OTT services account for 80% of viewing time in OTT households with Netflix at 39%,” stated Katz. And it is growing. Since much of OTT is subscription based, this can shut out advertising. Fetters added, “We see that viewers are spending 25 hours per month with Netflix on their TV screen and that is 25 hours per month that is not available to advertising. We need to find ways of adjusting the advertising plan to reach those households.”

ATSC 3.0 Brings TV into the New Age
Although still in the arena of the engineering wonks, the advent of ATSC 3.0 will prove to be a game changer for local TV. This new protocol will, as Swedlow explained, “enable regular digital television over the air – local television and every other broadcaster - to be able to explore the relationship between linear over-the-air and interactivity on-demand.” How fast and how profound ATSC 3.0 will be depends on timing – when will all of the new chips be installed? It will take a while, she explained, because there is no deadline by the government, “but I think it will pick up steam,” she concluded.

We have to be “savvy enough to take advantage of all of these new technologies because everything will be interactive. There will be shows that will be voice activated and there will be shows that will require you to interact with another person or deal with blockchain to monetize your content,” explained Swedlow. The best advice I can give is to embrace change and be nimble. The future of television will demand more of us but it will be an exciting journey.

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com


TVB Forward 2017: In a Drifting Landscape, Local Plunges Ahead

Local television—and its ability to adapt to an increasingly digitized ecosystem—has become quite the hot topic. 

At the recent TVB Forward 2017 Conference, industry experts shared their views on how local broadcast television can not only adapt, but thrive. Local TV acts as a powerful influence in communities because of its trust among viewers, its connectedness to the community, and its ability to forge closer relationships with brands.

TVB Forward 2017 was full of highlights—from new measurement protocols and adapting social media to local TV brands to ascertaining the financial health of certain important sales categories.

Toward a Better Measurement
TV measurement capabilities are certainly seeing meaningful strides forward: The big announcement at the start of the meeting was that Live Viewing +1 will be the new local currency to measure delivery. This should more closely match local TV with national measurement and has the capacity to post additional impressions to help meet delivery goals. The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) has also been working with the Media Rating Council on a best practices document for conducting an audit.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


A New Way to Buy Media in a Time of Shifting Viewer Patterns

This could be termed the era of consumer empowerment where brands must work hard to gain attention and purchasing patterns that lead to loyalty. Brand affection is pivotal. 

Gary Reisman, Founder and CEO of LEAP Media Investments , recently released an article on brand loyalty among airlines. But emotional attachment to brands extends to every product category. “It’s important for anybody, not just airlines ... the point is, as we've always said, that people buy things not based on being 18 to 49 or having done something six months ago or two days ago. They buy things because they have a desire. And that desire is built on a need,” he stated.

This, coupled with that fact that viewing patterns are shifting,  is leading the industry down a very dangerous path, according to Reisman. “By relying too heavily on data and technology while chasing scale for scale sake to drive revenues, we are killing the industry drip by drip” he laments. “I’m sensing that agencies and ad tech vendors alike seem to have forgotten why we are all here in the first place – to help marketers develop and execute strategies that build consumer relationship and sell product.”

What is the solution? For one, it is taking a step back and considering the value of the brand affection of the consumer beyond the raw data and the technology that drives it. From the marketers’ perspective, how do we discover which content, among the vast array of choices out there, bests connect with their brands' most passionate high potential consumers? And how do we narrow down the overabundance of choices even on a single media outlet? 

“By flipping the current TV model on its head," declared Gary Reisman, Founder and CEO of LEAP Media Investments, who offered the following strategic media recommendations:  

      1.       STOP buying content the way you are used to. Funneling money to content providers (e.g. networks) or specific content (such as shows) and “hoping” your most-likely prospects will be present and engaged. This is old school thinking. Historically, in a reach-based world this may have made sense but, today, not so much. These only act as surrogates for actual audiences because you are essentially seeking content that you infer may have a high concentration of your desired consumers. In fact today, there are more savvy ways to effectively target those consumers who you believe to be brand engaged and open to your brands messaging. In this way you are no longer targeting “proxies” but actual, high potential consumers. 

      2.       ACCEPT the fact that your brand targets are going to flow through numerous media platforms (TV, social, mobile, et al) at will. You have absolutely no control over it and cannot model for that behavior. But you can prepare for this consumer journey but crafting your message in a way that connects to your prospective consumer segments you have and then …

      3.       USE a “Customer First, identity-driven Approach” that identifies consumers more likely to engage with your brand messages and tags those prospects. This way you can follow your high potential targets, regardless of which content they chose to engage with. Follow these tagged consumers throughout their customer journey in linear, digital, social and mobile media.

Reisman added, “That’s why we developed our marketing and branding based model at LEAP. That is, to enable advertisers to first identify and tag their brand’s engaged and emotionally connected consumers and then serve ads to those customers throughout the media ecosystem. It’s identity-based marketing and where the market needs to go.”  Importantly, we should be leveraging the vast array of data and technology at our disposal, but toward goals primarily aimed at connecting with consumers that matter most to our marketer clients. 

As Cindy Davis, Executive Vice President, Consumer Experience, Disney | ABC Television Group stated recently, the next generation of viewers is different from previous generations and the survival of certain brands is at stake. Reisman agrees: "While change is difficult, the world has changed," he noted, and added, "brand marketers, agencies and media companies must all change our ways or we might just be left in dust."

This article first appeared in www.MediaVIllage.com


The State of TV Data Measurement: Interview with Videa’s Brad Smith at TV Week 2017

The current and future state of TV data measurement continues to be a hotly debated question. Brad Smith, senior vice president of revenue and operations at Videa, discussed his views regarding programmatic television, current challenges, the need for open standards, and the successful path forward to growing the television business, in an exclusive interview at the 2017 Television Week conference.

What would you say is currently the biggest challenge for programmatic in the marketplace?

Brad Smith: It’s partially education and the need to push for open standards, allowing systems to talk to each other. I also think a large part is change management. You have to be able to show people how this is going to positively affect them.

You have sales folks who are subject matter experts, and if you’re unable to give them the tools to empower them to do more, they’ll be afraid of it and slow down the process.

How do you think we can realistically get to an open standard, seeing as it’s still such a competitive environment?

Read the full interview at the Videa blog.


Television Prepares For the Brave New Technological World at the TV of Tomorrow Conference

The New York TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) conference is coming up on December 7, 2017 and promises to offer the most cutting edge trends in media today. I sat down with Tracy Swedlow, co-founder and CEO of TMRW Corp., the parent company that owns InteractiveTV Today and the TV of Tomorrow Show conferences to find out what to expect from this year’s meeting:  

Charlene Weisler: What makes this TVOT different from previous TVOTs?

Tracy Swedlow: This year we have a very broad array of participating companies, including many companies that are participating in the show for the first time, such as Amazon, Visa, MGM and IBM Watson Media, which I think attests to the growing importance of the advanced-TV/video industry as a whole, and the increasing number of areas that are impacted by it.

Weisler: Why are these companies now deciding to join the TVOT participant ranks? 

Swedlow: We believe it's because our presence and influence is growing, and more and more companies are starting to understand the value of being a part of this event. Each show focuses debates and sessions on new timely industry topics, new controversies and the hottest TV trends.

Weisler: What are the major trends and topics for this year?

Swedlow: We always cover OTT, advanced advertising, content, measurement, data, etc., this year we are also doing a mini-track on potential repercussions/effects of ATSC 3.0--which is a broadcaster tech that people believe will transform the TV industry at large.

Another area is artificial intelligence (AI)--the way it is being deployed, how it is being utilized, and what companies are planning to do with the technology. Data and the use of AI software are going to influence every aspect of TV experience--with everything from content being suggested to you, to how your TV is programmed, to the kinds of advertising you see. It will be the blood in the veins of the industry. AI will be broadcasters' and networks'--and really any content distributor's or advertiser's--superhero power, providing a turbo boost to data analysis, and allowing companies to use data incredibly dynamically and creatively.

Some other areas we'll be focusing on are the rise of diginets, the increasing importance of social-video creators/influencers, 360-VR film making, and the future of the TV viewing experience. And, of course, measurement continues to be a hugely important topic: among other things, this year we have leaders from multiple ad-industry organizations--the MRC, the 4A's, the ANA , the IAB, Ad-ID and EIDR--discussing the latest work they're doing on setting new standards for cross-platform measurement.

Weisler: What are the major challenges to TV in the next three years?

Swedlow: ATSC 3.0 is coming on very strong and could transform the entire TV industry--but how will that happen? It has the potential to completely change the local TV landscape, but the challenge lies in how will the industry be able to collaborate on the standard. Devices will need a special chip to make ATSC 3.0 happen--and how long will it take for that to reach critical mass? Will consumers be willing to buy the new ATSC 3.0 chip devices? So while ATSC 3.0 has huge potential, it still has adoption challenges to overcome.

Another area is in OTT. While it is a trend/topic we discuss every year, it seems that right now OTT still has a lot of issues to iron out. There is a huge amount of content on the market with so many platforms (i.e. Showtime, CBS All Access, Netflix, YouTube, Apple and more) trying to scale and find a customer base, while customers are trying to figure out what service works best for them. The result has been a lot of confusion for consumers and the creation of the dynamic of binge-and-bolt, where people sign up for a particular service to view one series and then cancel it once that series is over. So, ultimately all of these platforms are dealing with retention issues and trying to figure out how they can better manage these relationships and prevent all these cancelations--or else develop new business strategies that embrace the fact that high churn rates are now normal.

Then of course there is measurement, tracking and data which is always a challenge, with companies still trying to figure out how best to track viewership across platforms, how best to relate viewing data to purchase behavior, how to better manage data, how to share it, what to share (i.e.: privacy issues). We believe AI will play a significant role in the future of this area.

Weisler: Is linear TV dead, evolving or doing just fine as it is?

Swedlow: No it is not dead. In fact it is doing more than just fine. Right now, for example, diginets are emerging as a major new area of innovation in content and advertising. Also, ATSC 3.0--which basically brings IP to broadcast--has the potential to bring rich interactivity to linear TV. It likely means that linear and interactive and onDemand are going to combine in unusual ways.

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com


The Changing Landscape of Advertising. Mindshare’s Media Multiverse Study

As media morphs and fragments, and as content creators become more adept at maximizing the reach of their content across platforms, the basic business model is changing for advertisers. Mindshare has embarked on an ambitious and fascinating study on the emerging Media Multiverse and how consumer usage is impacting the major entertainment franchises.

According to their press release, the Media Multiverse is “the industry shift towards franchises that live across a mosaic of platforms, and away from linear storytelling on one channel.” The study examined 35 of the most popular properties to ascertain their power and their impact on brands.
I sat down with Joe Maceda, Managing Director, Invention Studio Lead, Mindshare North America, and asked him the following:

Charlene Weisler: Why do this study?

Joe Maceda: We noticed that more and more franchises were building extensions across multiple channels and platforms and taking up more of consumers’ time. We think that is indicative of the entertainment companies focusing more on audience depth rather than audience reach. And by depth we mean the ability to get a core group of fans so interested that they will follow your franchise wherever you take it - in terms of channel and whatever format. Recognizing that, we thought it was important for us to understand who those biggest players are that have the most power when it comes to cultivating those audiences and inviting them into those franchise extensions.

Weisler: The study indicates that the biggest companies have the greatest resonance.

Maceda:  Yes. Those who have managed to cultivate a brand in a way that is consistent, such as Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel; those who have an air of special-ness, especially those who are able to extend it from the theater to the TV format and eventually into more extensive digital formats.

Weisler: What do you see as the future for advertisers in this Multiverse?

Maceda: Advertisers need to think about the ecosystem of the major franchises. If you have a core group of millions of fans who are engaging with a franchise in eight to twelve different formats over the course of time, there are implications as to how we message when there are advertising opportunities. But further down the line, as it gets more ad-free, brands and advertisers might think about flipping the script entirely and becoming entities that help create and become partners to create more buy-side content and unique experiences to become an entry point into some of these franchises or revive previously dormant franchises.

Weisler: How immersive do you see it all going?

Maceda: I like to think about immersive as less about the formats of the content itself (like whether it is AR or VR) and more in terms of how deeply a fan of that franchise can engage. I think it will be fully immersive to the point that it might not be linear at all anymore. For example, more and more movie releases are accompanied by real world experiences that partly promote the property itself but also an extension of the property. 

Weisler: Were any of the results somewhat surprising to you?

Maceda: We were surprised at how powerful Game of Thrones is given that its heritage is fairly deep in the fantasy genre and to date, the existence of Game of Thrones is only on premium pay cable so it is entirely behind a paywall. But it is the franchise that most people want the most of (54% want to experience more GOT). So we are seeing the birth of a mega-franchise here which we haven’t seen since Harry Potter 20 years ago. If this follows, we would expect to see, in 10 or 15 years, multiple iterations or extensions of the story in terms of video content. We can almost be certain that there will be theme park extensions and other real world experiences as well as continuing in the written format and the emerging formats.

Weisler: How would advertisers know about which content has the greatest resonance, such as a Breaking Bad?

Maceda:  What we found from our study is the very first thing is whether people want to talk about the content after consuming it because that is a major indicator of how much more they want to experience it. So the more someone talks about it, the more we can assume they want to enter into that world and consume more deeply. So Breaking Bad is a great example in that it was never created to be a great franchise but at the same time it captured people in a way that almost required giving them more. I don’t know if you can set out to create or identify resonant content at the start but that initial reaction and the way fans engage once it starts to take off is the biggest indicator. 

Weisler: What are the next steps for this study?

Maceda:  We plan to make this an annual study. I am very excited to see what year two looks like as more and more of these franchises continue to build out their fan bases and their formats. We anticipate that, as we looked at 35 properties this year, we might remove some and add some more. I am most excited to see, as with Game of Thrones, the trajectory and the velocity of some of these franchises as time go on.  We in the Invention Studio are using the study for brainstorming techniques. We want to identify what types of ideas we can bring to partnerships with these franchises and understand all of the ways people are engaging in these properties. Our Partnership Teams use this data to identify which formats and platforms are most powerful for our consumers. 

This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com