Networked Insights Hopes to Fine-Tune Social Data for TV Advertisers

  • Nielsen data is no longer enough for effective TV planning and buying, suggests Networked Insights, a company that “analyzes social data to uncover trends and consumer engagement opportunities.”
  • Networked Insights recently published reports that focus on the value of television viewers’ social data. One such report examined top social TV shows from FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS and CW. Viewers were grouped by TV Fans, Millennials, Gamers, Electronic Consumers, Moms and Sports Fans, while general sentiments from each group were analyzed.
  • “What’s impressive is how the company looks at specifically where ad money is being spent to analyze the conversations around the show,” reports Lost Remote. “For example, before the show even premiered, they described NBC’s ‘massive ad campaign’ for ‘Whitney’ as a ‘Social Turkey,’ and that ‘over-hyping a show is underwhelming potential fans.'”
  • Another report revealed opportunities for a Toyota Corolla TV ad to improve its digital strategies, specifying where targeted spending would be most effective. Respondents included fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The article suggests that the case study “is pretty compelling proof that social data can help you get the competitive advantage in TV planning and buying if you listen in the right places across the social web.”
  • Networked Insights recently announced $20 million in series B funding from Goldman Sachs.

Are Popular Online Brands Leading to the Rise of Digital Monopolies?

  • France recently banned TV and radio show hosts from naming Facebook, Twitter, or other specific sites unless directly referencing a news story involving the companies. The regulation was created to reduce bias for the popular social networks over other striving, lesser known sites.
  • Apple’s iTunes has benefitted from the phrase “Now available on iTunes” commonly tacked onto advertisements where it was previously customary to simply say “Now available in all good music stores” — which could today be updated to say “online music stores” in order to include other music providers.
  • Additionally, the phrase “Now available on Amazon.com” has become standard for book promotions, which basically provides free advertisement for the site while ignoring other providers.
  • Similarly, “Follow us on Twitter” and “Like us on Facebook” have dominated commerce. “Social networks only work when people use the same ones. In other words, they naturally lend themselves to being monopolized,” suggests The Next Web.
  • Some brand names have now become part of everyday language. Google, for example, has grown so popular that it is commonly used as a verb when describing the act of searching online. TiVo is also regularly used as verb, and sometimes replaces “DVR” in conversation.
  • The article casts doubt on the actual effects regulation would have on social media monopolies: “…users will typically go where all the action is taking place.”
  • “The Internet isn’t a monopoly though. It’s an oligopoly consisting of multiple monopolies from different digital industries, and the reason this is happening really isn’t all that complicated,” adds The Next Web. “Success breeds success, something which underpins most monopolies, whether we’re talking about dominant languages, biological species or, indeed, Internet technology companies. Hegemony stems from success, and it’s certainly not unique to the Internet age.”

Tout is Like Twitter for Video: Is This the Next Chapter in Social Media?

  • Social startup Tout offers a Twitter-like microblogging service, but enables users to publish 15-second video clips instead of 140-character text fragments.
  • “In other words, now anyone can be famous for 15 seconds,” suggests San Jose Mercury News.
  • When asked how it’s different from the Facebook feature that lets users post video chats, CEO Michael Downing explained the “abbreviated and near-instant nature of ‘touts’ makes them like mini-conversations.”
  • Endorsements from high-profile users such as Shaquille O’Neal, Mitt Romney and ESPN are helping the service build momentum.
  • O’Neal is one of many celebrities who have taken to communicating via Twitter (he currently has more than 4 million followers). “But what I’ve been noticing about Twitter lately is that you don’t know who the person you’re talking to really is,” he said. “When you can see my picture, you know it’s me.” O’Neal is so impressed with Tout that he took an ownership stake.
  • Since launching in mid-April, the San Francisco-based startup has attracted 4 million unique visitors. “It took Twitter two years to hit 1 million visitors,” explains Downing. “We hit it in under 12 weeks.”

Viewership on the Rise: Online Video Ads Reach 50 Percent of U.S. Population

  • American consumers cumulatively watched about 2.5 billion minutes of online ads in August, according to a new report released by comScore.
  • The report indicates that 86 percent of U.S. Internet users watched at least some online video content last month, and more than half of that content was accessed via YouTube.
  • Also worth noting: Facebook, already the largest photo site on the Web, was the third largest video site in terms of unique viewers.
  • The rankings “find Facebook retaining third position in August, with 51.6 million unique viewers, trailing VEVO in second (with 62 million) and Google Sites (i.e. YouTube) at 162 million,” reports TechCrunch.
  • According to comScore, video ads accounted for 13.4 percent of all videos viewed — and Hulu generated the highest number of video ad impressions (996 million in August alone), compelling figures for advertisers when you take into account that Hulu does not allow you to skip over videos.

Ooyala Everywhere Goes Social with TV Platform for Facebook Users

  • Ooyala Social, a new HD-quality Social TV platform (and additional entry point for Ooyala Everywhere) allows Facebook users to “share video with their friends and family, live chat while viewing, discover new content and watch video across multiple screens and devices,” according to the company’s press release.
  • It supports several business models including rentals, subscriptions, purchases and advertising.
  • Discovering new shows is based on user’s social circles. Viewers can share videos they “like” with their friends, or “loan” a show for later viewing.
  • Users can watch from tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs. They can purchase, rent, or subscribe to content by using Facebook Credits, PayPal, a credit card or a mobile phone number.
  • “Broadcasters, distributors and Hollywood studios can capitalize on the Social TV trend by using Ooyala Social to make premium on-demand and live video widely and easily available on Facebook,” suggests the press release. “The solution offers built-in social features and other tools that enable media companies to grow audiences, boost viewer engagement and realize new revenue streams.”

Facebook Doubles Revenue: The New Operating System for Online Ad Delivery?

  • Facebook’s revenues have doubled the first half of 2011 to $1.6 billion, putting the social network on course to possibly earn $4 billion this year.
  • “It’s simply too late for anyone, perhaps even Google, to create a social network that can compete with Facebook,” writes Robert Hof in a related story.
  • Reuters suggests this news underscores the social networker’s appeal to advertisers. “We really see Facebook as becoming like the operating system for delivering ads on the Internet,” said Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media.
  • Williams added that Facebook’s “like” feature, that now helps endorse products and companies, provides valuable data that other online services can’t match.
  • “Companies like Yahoo are relying on third party user behavioral data based on things like cookies. On Facebook that’s data that users have revealed about themselves,” he said.
  • “The price that companies pay for every consumer that clicks on a Facebook ad increased 62 percent between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, according to Efficient Frontier, another firm that helps companies deliver ad campaigns on Facebook,” reports Reuters.

Content Swamps Yahoo: How Can Online Services Earn More Ad Revenue?

  • Yahoo and other content aggregators are finding that the more content they have, the less value it has. Ad rates for Yahoo and AOL have plummeted. Meanwhile, services that find interesting content like Google are doing exceeding well.
  • Moreover, advertisers have a wider range of competitors to reach their target markets. And they are increasingly working with advertising exchanges that buy ad space inexpensively across multiple properties.
  • Even smaller publishers like Salon and Slate are not consistently profitable.
  • “It’s a simple rule of any market,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The more information that is created, the more the value is reduced. And despite attempts to woo spending with bigger, bolder and more targeted ads, services that help consumers navigate that content, namely search, remain the big money makers online.”
  • “Most people make money pointing to content, not creating, curating or collecting content,” suggests Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer at Vivaki, the digital-media unit of Publicis Groupe SA.

Illegal Online Ads: Google Settles Federal Case for $500 Million

  • In a case that indicates the U.S. government will hold websites liable for any illegal advertisements shown on their pages, Google settled its case over illegal online pharmacy ads by paying a $500 million fine.
  • The investigation (first revealed in May) led to this week’s settlement that has reportedly decreased Google’s quarterly profits by 22 percent.
  • “The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole. “This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history.”
  • “Obviously, such a decision has far-reaching consequences beyond those of just the illegal pharmacies, as Google faces threats from a number of illegal and malicious entities who want to leverage its search engine to expose unsuspecting users to their ads,” reports TechCrunch. “Traditionally, Google itself has filed lawsuits against advertisers it suspected of breaking its rules, but this has clearly not been enough of a deterrent.”

MySpace Founder Believes Google+ has Facebook on the Defensive

  • Tom Anderson, former founder and president of MySpace, details the key advantages Google+ has over Facebook in a recent guest post on TechCrunch.
  • Anderson suggests Google+ can attract game developers by taking a smaller cut, and may not need any advertising at all. “Google has plenty to gain without ever showing an ad and, put simply, Google doesn’t need the money,” writes Anderson. “Facebook’s got to know this, and it’s got to have them just a little bit concerned.”
  • Facebook is testing out a “real-time” feed, as opposed to its current default “Top News” algorithm (which Anderson has criticized). Facebook is having to deal with complaints from advertisers and app developers. “It seems that the ‘Top News’ stream is killing the virality of advertisers ‘content’ and of apps that are trying to find new users,” he adds.
  • Anderson addresses Google’s decision to block business accounts and suggests both companies have some challenging decisions to make: “How do they balance what’s best for the regular guy (you & me), advertisers (big brands), small local businesses (who can never afford the big spend), platform developers with non-competing services (games & music, which it appears FB won’t get into) and platform developers with potentially competitive services (like business networking and dating, which FB/G+ may want to get into themselves someday).”
  • “Over the long haul (5-10 years), the company that makes the right choices in these areas may just end up winning,” he concludes.

New York Billboard Offers Interactivity, Powered by Twitter

  • Jell-O has unveiled a Twitter-powered billboard on the corner of West Broadway and Grand in New York City, enabling consumers to serve as active participants in the company’s advertising.
  • The billboard features an enormous distorted face that appears happy or sad depending on the number of positive or negative emoticons posted via Twitter.
  • It is essentially an outdoor physical version of Jell-O’s Pudding Face website, and is paired with a campaign that distributes coupons to cheer up random downcast Twitter users “whenever overall smileyness dips below 50 percent.”
  • The billboard, from ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, went up last week.

Op-Ed: The Internet Cannot Remain Free Forever

  • Brian Barrett of Gizmodo provides a compelling and timely opinion piece that addresses various issues related to the current and future cost structure of online media (“The Biggest Lie the Internet Ever Told: Free Everything, All the Time”).
  • Barrett’s post reminds us that the Internet is still in its infancy — and online media is still essentially in beta, and as it continues to grow we should accept that not all content can remain available for free.
  • We’ve seen an interesting collection of revenue and advertising models in recent years that were designed to keep up with online media distribution and related technological advances (all of which are really still in beta form) — as well as a steadily climbing level of consumer demand.
  • Barrett points out that in order to move forward we may need to recognize the need for paid subscriptions and get past the philosophy that everything on the Internet is meant to be free.
  • He cites recent examples of online media approaches that have drawn criticism (“each one a flaming arrow launched straight at the heart of free”), such as Hulu Plus, the New York Times paywall, the TIME magazine paywall, and Fox’s recent decision to delay new episodes from streaming.

Entertainment Media Companies Not Ready for Digital Opportunities?

  • Most media and entertainment company senior execs believe they are not fully leveraging customer data that would make it possible to deliver customized content, suggests a new study by consulting firm Accenture.
  • The research indicates that 91 percent of these executives are not taking full advantage of the data, and as a result, are not adequately prepared to identify revenue opportunities related to current and future digital technologies. Additionally, 95 percent do not have strong digital customer relationship management capabilities.
  • If fewer than 10 percent of the companies have a fully integrated view of their digital consumers, a new operating model may be necessary for sustainable digital growth (Accenture recommends a shift from legacy vertical, channel-oriented structures toward a horizontally-layered operating model).
  • Only 55 percent said their companies had a clearly defined social networking strategy in place, while 80 percent believe the industry is still in a state of flux. And 42 percent anticipate that advertising will serve as their main source of revenue in the next two years.
  • Accenture’s “Global Media & Entertainment High Performance Study” canvassed 130 executives across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific from industries including television, gaming, film, music, publishing, portals and advertising.

Virtual Advertising Finds its Way into TV Syndication

  • Virtual advertising is making its way into re-runs.
  • An episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (that originally ran on CBS in March 2007) recently aired in syndication featuring a magazine cover that mentions a new movie, “Zookeeper.”
  • The Kevin James comedy that appears in the four-year-old episode premieres today.
  • The digital ad is an example of “virtual advertising” that inserts messages into video that wasn’t originally there — not a new technology, but perhaps an interesting approach for repurposed content.
  • The article includes links to images before and after the digital insertion.

Amazon Launches Ad Network in Partnership with Triggit

  • Amazon announced it is now selling ads using data it has collected from its shoppers.
  • “The e-commerce giant has started what is effectively an ad network where it buys Web advertising inventory and resells it to marketers at a premium.”
  • Amazon is using Demand Side Platform (DSP) technology from San Francisco-based ad tech company Triggit.
  • Its partnership with Triggit enables Amazon to track users with cookies and feed them a custom ad.
  • The approach has the potential to track the ad from the user to an actual purchase on Amazon.

Immersive Labs Introduces Recognition Software for Targeted Billboard Ads

Manhattan start-up Immersive Labs is introducing artificial intelligence software created to analyze viewers of digital billboards in order to customize “smarter” messages with targeted ads. The system takes into account age, gender and facial features of passers-by as well as environmental conditions and online data (on a cold day, for example, imagine targeting ads for a hot cup of coffee at a nearby Starbucks). The company has already tested the ads in New York’s Sony Style Store, and has plans for a Hudson News Kiosk in John F. Kennedy Airport.

Facial recognition is not new, nor is the ability to detect the composition of a crowd, but Immersive uses the information to deliver targeted advertising based on these characteristics teamed with online information (such as whether a nearby sporting event has recently concluded). Additionally, the software considers other local data including weather conditions and social media updates from sites like Twitter. It also measures how long someone looks at the billboard. According to Immersive Labs, by collecting data the software actually “learns” and improves over time.

For those worried about the “creepiness” factor, Immersive CEO Jason Sosa explains that mapping facial recognition is strictly anonymous. “We take privacy very seriously,” he says. “The information we’re collecting is purely numerical. It’s nothing that’s going to be identified to any one individual person.”

Immersive Labs emerged from TechStars, a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program.

Related CNN Money 2-minute video report: “These ads know exactly who you are” (4/13/11)

Related Huffington Post 2-minute video report: “At Immersive Labs, Ads Watch Who Looks At Them” (4/26/11)

Related Network Advertising Initiative study: “Study Finds Behaviorally-Targeted Ads More Than Twice as Valuable, Twice as Effective as Non-Targeted Online Ads” (3/24/10)

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