02/09/16: Verizon has AOL CEO explore possible Yahoo acquisition; Facebook “Free Basics” plan quashed in India; Google looking to build VR headset


Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 9, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Looks like Verizon is considering a major acquisition – and they’re using the CEO of their last major acquisition to explore the opportunity. According to Bloomberg, Verizon has tasked AOL CEO Tim Armstrong with looking into a possible acquisition of Yahoo. (The latter company has been enduring some well-documented struggles lately.) The Bloomberg report clarifies that Verizon has not actually made an official offer to Yahoo. Neither Verizon nor Yahoo have commented on the story, which relies on an anonymous insider.



You didn’t think Google would stay satisfied with a piece of cardboard, did you? According to the Financial Times, the company is a developing a new mobile-based virtual reality headset that will compete directly with the Samsung Gear VR. The headset will include better lenses, as well as sensors will help improve upon the Cardboard viewer experience. The move doesn’t come as a huge surprise. As Cynopsis Digital has noted, Google recently moved to create a designated VR division. Plus, some of Google’s recent jobs postings made it clear that the company looking to build VR hardware.


The Pirate Bay is getting a little more ambitious, which is never a good thing. The infamous torrent site has added a new feature – still listed as being in beta – that allows users to stream torrents without having to download files or external software. Yikes.


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– The relationship between TV chatter and tune-in

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Snapchat apparently has a video chat feature, very similar to FaceTime. The trouble is, locating and using the feature requires more arcane knowledge than ordering an In-N-Out Burger. Luckily, Tech Insider has a rundown of how to access it. Check it out here.

A big blow for Facebook in the world’s second-most populous nation. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued a ruling that will effectively kill Facebook’s plans to launch its Free Basics plan in the country. Free Basics offers free access to certain websites (but not others). The regulatory agency’s new ruling, which doesn’t mention Free Basics by name, takes a net neutrality stance, blocking all services from providing certain types of Internet content but not others. In effect, the ruling will make it impossible for Free Basics to operate in India. It’s no small deal to Facebook: The company has reportedly spent almost $45 million promoting the feature.

Reminder to Internet Service Providers: Netflix is measuring your Netflix streaming speed, and publicly ranking it. The January rankings saw some changes from December. Among other moves, Bright House fell two spots to ninth place, Mediacom moved up two spots to 5th, and Comcast moved up one spot to 4th. Cablevision – Optimum (third), Cox (second), and Verizon – FiOS (first) remained unchanged from last month.

Starting February 24, Design Squad, PBS KIDS educational website aimed at teaching kids design and engineering, will be going global. The Design Squad Global site will feature games and videos. According to a release, the site will “connect U.S. kids to their peers in other countries, challenging them to solve global engineering problems and expanding their cross-cultural understanding.”

Plain and simple: programmatic is the future. Magna Global estimates that the global programmatic market will increase to $61.9 billion by 2018, up from from $29.3 billion in 2015. The question is, what are the best ways to take advantage of the programmatic marketplace? Hear from AOL, Dentsu Aegis Network, DISH Media, TiVo and more on March 24th at our Programmatic TV Summit: cynopsis.com/event/march-programmatic-tv-summit. Register by March 4th and save!



Studio 71 announced that it has signed YouTube stars Sara Lynn Cauchon (better known as The Domestic Geek) and Chef Matt Basile (aka Fidel Gastro) as part of the launch of a new food-oriented vertical. Studio71 also announced that it has partnered with Basile and his producer Kyla Zanardi to launch a new 1500 square-foot kitchen/production space in Toronto, which will be open to creators looking to develop food-related digital content.


Super Bowl 50 is over, Cam Newton is still nursing a wounded ego, and Peyton Manning is still polishing off a Budweiser (or so he says). But who won the ad wars? The ad tech company Unruly has released its post-game list of the most shared Super Bowl ads of 2016. Here it is:

1. Doritos
Agency: Peter Carstairs
Total shares: 893,465

2. T-Mobile –
Restricted Bling
 (Extended Version)
Agency: Publicis Seattle
Total Shares: 346,854

3. Budweiser
Agency: Anomaly
Total shares: 301,317

4. Pokemon
#Pokemon20: Pokemon Super Bowl Commercial
Agency: Omelet
Total shares: 297,706

5. Heinz
Wiener Stampede (Extended Version)
Agency: DAVID Miami
Total shares: 295,805

6. Hyundai
First Date
Agency: Innocean Worldwide
Total shares: 245,656

7. Mountain Dew
Agency: BBDO
Total shares: 158,481

8. T-Mobile
Restricted Bling (30 Sec)
Agency: Publicis Seattle
Total shares – 124,551

9. T-Mobile
Drop the Balls
Agency: Publicis Seattle
Total shares – 113,668

10. Heinz
Wiener Stampede (30 sec)
Agency: DAVID Miami
Total shares 111,643

Unruly’s Super Bowl Top 10 is based on data from the Unruly Analytics™, which ranks Facebook and YouTube videos by the number of shares they attract on Facebook and the blogosphere as opposed to the number of views.

As such, it’s a true measure of a brand’s viral success, ranking branded content by the volume of active pass-on rather than the more passive metric of video consumption (views).

Stats were compiled on February 8, 2016.

No shortage of data from Super Bowl 50. The video advertising platform Tremor Video put together some research of their own. Here’s some of what they found:
– During the game, average CPMs rose (10%) across all screens.
– This growth in CPM value is being driven by the rise in mobile web, where at its peak during halftime (the 8PM hour) average CPMs rose about 53% over the rest of the day.
– Auto, Food & Beverage, and Entertainment were among the highest advertisers on Tremor’s platform, and were on the list of top 5 categories of ad spend on the Super Bowl.
– Auto had a strong sustained digital presence between 2PM and 11:59PM in digital
– Food and beverage peaked before the game (at 4PM), during half time (in the 8PM hour), and immediately after the game (at the 1PM hour).
– Web & Tech, which was a major player on the Super Bowl’s live broadcast, similarly pumped up their digital presence, with high impression volumes immediately before the game and up until half-time.

Yet more Super Bowl data? Well, it is the biggest TV event of the year. The ad metrics measurement company iSpot.tv found that, as of 11 AM yesterday, advertising for the Super Bowl had generated 513 million online video views, and 8.1 million social actions across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The company released its list of the top ten game-day ads ranked by digital response (organic views and social actions). You can find that here.

All told, Super Bowl-related Facebook and Twitter activity actually dipped significantly compared to last year’s contest. On Facebook, worldwide activity related to the game dropped 25%, while Twitter posts were down 49%. 16.9 million tweets related to the telecast were sent out by 3.8 million unique users – down from 25.1 million tweets last year, according to Nielsen. There could be any number of reasons for the dip – one of them a relatively anticlimactic game, especially compared to last year’s thriller.



The cinema advertising company Screenvision has added a digital heavyweight to its team. Bob Lord, the former President of AOL, has been elected to the company’s Board of Directors. “Bob has an invaluable amount of leadership experience within the technology space,” said John Partilla, CEO of Screenvision, in a release. “He will be a key addition to our board of directors, especially as we look to augment our unrivaled on-screen impact through expanded alliances with emerging digital and tech companies.”



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One last Super Bowl spot before we bid the 2015-2016 NFL season adieu. Heinz Ketchup, thanks for the adorable memories. Check out ad here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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JOB OPENING: VP or DIR/GLOBAL TV SALES/Jim Henson Company/LA: Seeks a VP or Director-level executive for global program sales to television and/or digital clients. Kids’ television experience preferred, sales experience essential. Resume: jobpostings@henson.com (2/16)

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