Google+ Hangout Reveals YouTube’s Media Disruption

The recent Google+ Hangout was billed as an “insights jam” discussion of YouTube moderated by Tara Walpert Levy and included Rob Norman (GroupM), Evan Ellman (Anheuser Busch), Allison Stern (Tubular Labs) and Josh Spanier (Google). As it ended, I realized that the trends propagated by YouTube - from “YouTube celebrities” to program memes to reinforcing the value of major brands - have the capacity to upend our industry little by little. Read on, traditional media mavens, and quake.
YouTube has been a game changer in the world of video content and continues to change the rules through its innovations. The entire notion of celebrity and the dominance of big brands for attention have been disrupted by YouTube’s easy-to-do and cost effective self-promotion, especially among younger viewers. And YouTube is a full media company - Tara Walper Levy noted that “YouTube ads are better and more impactful every year.” 

Where is the YouTube impact the greatest? Here are my top areas of disruption:

Celebrity Disruption
The concept of celebrity among younger viewers is very different from previous generations. Rob Norman pointed out that the Variety survey in August of top talent contained many YouTube stars. “There is a demand among younger people with more relatable talent instead of superstars. The era is giving way to a more democratized form of talent. There are the social aspects of YouTube and the flexibility to transfer and share.” There is impact from the “relatable nature of the new celebrities where viewer engagement different from anything we have seen before” according to Levy.

Brand Disruption
Josh Spanier noted two trends this year. “If you want to reach millennials, this is the year you can discover talent and enable careers to happen. It is a transformation (of celebrity). Talent is coming out of the younger generation and a lot of brands have recognized that. Having VICE news in your corner is better than having traditional news in your corner, at least among young people. And on the technical side I am amazed at growth of real time video. RTB for video is up 50% year to year and is equivalent to programmatic. Brands are getting smart of getting ahead of advertising opportunities and technologies.”

Content Creation Disruption
Content creation, control and curation are shifting. Spanier spoke of the “new modes of production which work at a different pace and speed. It changes the paradigm. It has to be authentic and connected to me and someone I can relate to. Give up control and understand the pace that we are moving. You need to approve ideas and let things run.” 

Unlike traditional media, the YouTube ecosystem has content memes that are at once baffling and amusing. Take for example “unboxing” that refers to videos where the host un-wraps gifts and shows them to the viewer. According to Levy “Unboxing is one of the hot retail trends. There is an explosion of videos of people unboxing around the holiday shopping period. There are vastly accelerated results in a campaign.” Stern suggests that content providers consider “the time of day that their audience is engaged such as unready videos – taking off make up – and can be part of that conversation.”  It can almost become programming to one based on your personal activity at the time of viewing.

Consumption Disruption
Mobile is becoming vastly more important since, according to Levy, “Millennials are less distracted on the mobile platform than on linear TV. Over 50% of viewership of YouTube is on mobile.” And Norman noted that “Is it possible that more attention is paid to ads on YouTube because they are less diluted by multitasking? Pure numbers by Nielsen indicate that TV has not reached a crisis point but on an attention basis the numbers may look different.” Allison Stern from measurement firm Tubular said that “there is a huge shift to mobile where viewers are consuming snack-able content to watch when they want to watch.” But content has to be in context as Ellman noted, “Is it consumed on a commute? That is different from content you create for the Superbowl.”

Ultimately the paradigm for media will change as the IP-savvy next generation of viewers and consumers moves into cultural dominance. Those of us following the bleeding edge trends know that the consumer is totally in control. As Norman said, “Content is dictated by consumer not the company.”

This article first appeared on

Ch Ch Ch Changes. TV of Tomorrow

There is only one thing that is constant whenever I attend the TV of Tomorrow conference and that is the discussion of change. But it is the rate of change that is especially dizzying today. As advanced technology permeates all aspects of consumer life, the impact on media is more like a revolution instead of an evolution. And that is what makes our industry so exciting.... or do I mean worrying? It all depends on where your business and your leadership sit in the ecosystem. Traditional media companies (whether in content curation or sales or measurement) need to keep up with the advancements or risk eroding their business.

Tracy Swedlow, Founder of TVOT explained that “this is an exceptionally changing year…. because there is so much disruption... investment, new ideas, platforms. Companies have to aggressively change their strategies even faster than they had to before.”

Even companies in the highly traditional measurement space are now expanding and modifying their systems to better address today’s measurement needs. Whether acquiring a competitor (like Nielsen and Arbitron or Rentrak and Kantar) or expanding via partnerships (like Nielsen and Adobe), the consolidation of efforts can result in more efficient and insightful measurement capabilities.

See a short video of some of the highlights of TVOT here:

For those of us in the traditional TV sector, changes can be divided into “Positive” and unsettlingly “Disruptive.” Here is how they parse out for me:

Positive Changes
We Are Speaking the Same Language
Back in 2010 CIMM commissioned me to write a Lexicon, to facilitate the standardization of measurement terms and definitions and help create a common language. Now terms like Digital Programmatic, Big Data and First Party Data tend to have generally accepted definitions. When we talk about census level data, there is general agreement as to what that means. It was not always so. Speaking a common language will facilitate further positive change.

Measurement Getting More Focused and Transparent
With all of the big and small data sets available and the advanced technology to drive analytics, we are now able to get to the core of consumer tracking behavior instead of relying on age and gender proxies.  CIMM’s Jane Clarke believes that there are two big positive trends in measurement - profiling and access. "One big trend is to profile customers based on the data and linking datasets across platforms such as linking purchase data with media use data. The media data revolution started in digital and is now moving into TV. The second trend is the proliferation of ways to access data. Planning and buying are evaluating effectiveness across platforms. This is driven by the desire to move away from linear rating points, away from surrogates of age and gender, to target consumers."

Now We Can Measure Sales Funnel Instead of Demographics
Along those lines, we can now attribute actual sales results to specific media campaigns. This frees us to valuate audiences based on actual purchases. Dunnhumby’s Lung Huang explains, “It is all about big data. We are ultimately doing matching exposure to purchase based on a verified household or person. We are taking the guesswork out of it. When Ted Turner first started CNN and it wasn’t rated, he sold ginsu knives. He didn't care about ratings. He wanted to see how many knives he sold. It is freeing today not to be tied to legacy. There are many different audiences and we can show you that they saw the ad and bought it.”

Disruptive Changes
The Long View Is Much More Important
We tend to have a short attention span in the TV business. We tend to look at content development and upfront sales a season ahead. Occasionally we plan ahead but generally we are looking down the block rather than across town. Facebook’s Patrick Harris noted that “We tend to overestimate in short term and under estimate in the long term. Where is the content where you are living three years from now? The creative bar has changed. It is now adding value when it used to be getting attention.”

Is Programmatic Destined to Include TV?
Can we expect programmatic to expand to television any time soon? Beth Rockwood of Discovery believes that “The television business is different in that the inventory is generally tight and therefore enjoys very high CPMs, especially in broadcast” while Visible World’s Seth Haberman states that “It already is.” Dave Morgan of Simulmedia sees both sides. He says “If programmatic TV means that a large portion of TV advertising will soon be bought and sold on a data-driven, audience-denomiated basis on metrics other than sex/age demographics, the answer is yes. That day is coming fast. However, if programmatic TV means that TV ads are about to be bought and sold machine-to-machine on a dynamic, real-time auction basis like online display. No. That kind of programmatic TV is years and years away."

Everything Takes Longer Than Expected
Despite our need for speed, transitions in the industry often take time. Rentrak’s Cathy Hetzel explained, “We are undergoing MRC accreditation now. We are changing the way TV is bought and sold but it does not change overnight. It happens when you achieve success. Rentrak started with unmeasured networks and the local stations embraced us. But to be part of the ecosystem we need to move up the chain.”

Technology Brings Its Own Timing Challenges
Mike Willner of Penthera noted the technological challenge of streaming ad supported video content.  “When you add advertising to downloaded content it becomes more complicated because of the ad flights. Christmas ads can be streamed in December 24 but viewed on December 26. So we would need to download next flight of ads. We have technology that helps to do this, we can ID the user and what content they are viewing and we can coordinate with the advertiser. But we can only upload new ads in streaming environment - not when it is downloaded for future use.”

Despite the dizzying spiral of change it is possible to carve out a path to assured future success for television in the evolving media ecosystem. The secret is to stay on top of the trends and take calculated long term risks. Don’t kick the vacuum tube down the road.

An excerpted version of this article appeared on


In Store Advertising. Q&A with Rick Sirvaitis

Rick Sirvatis is a sales legend in the media industry with stints at Blair, NBC Network, WDIV, Turner, Fox Family, ---- and GM Mediaworks. Now, as President of StoreBoard Media, he is involved in an entirely different form of advertising in a place where one might never have seen ads before – at the entry ways of stores wrapping the security pedestals. At a time when one might think that advertising is everywhere, there are apparently more opportunities to place a message than we thought. And at a time with more technology built into every out of home ad, the simplicity of this type of advertising is notable.

In this interview, Sirvaitis talks about his company and how it is measured, the impact of outdoor advertising, the fragmentation of television, C3 versus C7 and programmatic. In addition, Sirvaitis gives an astute overview of where he sees the future of media.

There are four videos that can be viewed at

Subject                                                 Length (in minutes)
Background and StoreBoard Media           (6:57)
Research and In Store                                (5:26)
TV Fragmentation and C7                         (5:50)

Predictions                                                 (4:19)

CW: Tell me about StoreBoard Media.

RS: It is a very simple concept. Virtually every major store has pedestals at the entrance that prevent people from stealing product. There is an RFID tag on every product that sounds an alarm when they try and exit without it being deactivated. Very simply, we put ads on those pedestals. So everybody entering and exiting the store can see the ads and they can’t be missed.

Charlene Weisler interviews industry veteran Rick Sirvaitis who talks about his extensive media background and his newest venture StoreBoard Media in this 6:57 minute video:

CW: Rick, how do you measure exposure?

RS: I have always gone by the premise that an impression is simply an opportunity to view and we estimate the number of transactions that that average retailer might get over a four week period. We then multiply that by 2.76 to come up with an average number of impressions over a four week period. We sell it on a four week basis. A client gets all of the ads whether there are two pedestals or twelve in a particular store for that full four weeks. We factor the 2.76 as follows – we count going into the store as one, going out the door is two and we add a factor of .76 for people that shop and don’t buy or shop with somebody. We have had that data verified by people counters.

Charlene Weisler interviews Rick Sirvaitis who talks about in store research methodologies for StoreBoard Media in this 5:26 minute video:

Rick Sirvaitis talks to Charlene Weisler about TV fragmentation and C3 vs C7 in this 5:50 minute video:

CW: What is your opinion about fragmentation in television?

RS: I think what is happening in the real world with DVRs is a little different from what some of the numbers may be showing. Right now you are talking about 50% penetration on DVRs and we did a number of studies when I was at Mediaworks about what the impact was. I contended at that time that for every point of penetration of a DVR the marketplace in effect lost half of that in GRPs of commercial value. We can all talk programming; Program delivery in television is at an all-time high in viewing but I would ask the question – do we really know how much of it is commercial viewing versus programming viewing? And how much of today’s viewership, especially by Millennials, is non-commercial? Look at binge viewing. Look at Netflix. Look at HBO. Look at all of these trends. Most people who get a DVR feel that it is the consumers’ right to avoid commercials and they will figure out how to skip through them as fast as possible. They are going to watch more programming but it is getting tougher and tougher to get a commercial message in front of the consumer.

CW: What are your thoughts about going from C3 to C7?

RS: I am a little surprised that there is such a trend towards C7 because to me it is really missing the big issue which is that most of those delayed viewers are skipping commercials. So how you can really count a commercial message beyond a few days is tough. I think the best way to count them is what a lot of networks are doing with VOD now where they might have a shorter commercial load but that’s probably of greater value to most advertisers because you can’t fast forward it and they know it is short so the viewer will pay attention. It probably has a lot more impact.

In this final 4:19 minute video, Charlene Weisler asks RIck Sirvaitis to forecast the changing media landscape over the next five years: