02/26/16: Nielsen to measure Snapchat ads; Facebook launches “Canvas” in-app ad format; Maker Studios launches digital content initiative



CYNOPSISDIGITAL
02.26.16

Good morning. It’s Friday February 26, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

TOP NEWS

Nielsen is on board to measure Snapchat’s video ads, and it’s a big deal for both companies. It marks the first time that Snapchat’s video ads will be measured by an independent third party – and as such, marks a growing confidence on Snapchat’s part that their numbers are good enough to share. (Only weeks ago, Viacom made a deal to sell U.S. advertising for Snapchat, and bundle it with TV packages.) For Nielsen’s part, this marks a coup for its still relatively young Digital Ad Ratings division, just as the company is trying stake its claim in the digital measurement arena. Under the partnership, Snapchat will report mobile audience reach, frequency, demographic composition, and gross ratings points for its “3V” full-screen video ad campaigns.
 
Facebook is making it easy for advertisers to keep their content in-app. Facebook’s Canvas ads for its iOS and Android apps are now available to all advertisers. (It began testing the format last year.) Under the ad format, when users click a Facebook News Feed ad, a full-screen, rich media page will come up inside the Facebook app. (As it stood before, users would be redirected to an entirely new webpage that often took as long as five or ten seconds to load; users often closed the page without ever seeing the ad.) Canvas ads load more quickly, and the format allows for interactive elements, such as animations, carousels, and videos. 
 
Maker Studios
, the MCN and digital studio owned by Disney, has been ratcheting up its efforts lately. Last week came the announcement of its upcoming linear series for History, Crossroads of History. Now the company has announced Maker Studios Spark, a sprawling initiative that will invite digital creators from the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to pitch concepts that can be funded and developed into cross-platform franchises or new series. Spark has quietly been in operation for the past few months, working with creators including YouTube prankster Magic of Rahat and The Ellen DeGeneres Show alum Sophia Grace. You can watch the inaugural Spark vids, almost all of which went live yesterday, here.
 

NEW PROGRAMMING + DEALS

Netflix is on the verge of landing the Jason Bateman drama series Ozark, according to reports. The project, from Media Rights Capital and Bateman’s production company Aggregate, was first announced in September 2015. Created by Bill Dubuque and starring, directed, and EP’d by Bateman, it’s set in the world of drug money laundering. Netflix hasn’t publicly confirmed the reports.
 
Acorn TV
, the SVOD service that specializes in bringing UK programming to North American audiences, announced that it has acquired Detectorists, Series 2 from the London-based TV distributor and sales company DRG. All six Series 2 episodes of the comedy-drama will debut on Acorn TV April 4.
 
iTV provider FilmOn announced the addition of three ethnic channels, as well as an interactive gaming channel. FilmBox Russia will focus on Russian movies and TV, while Kino Polska International will focus on Polish TV and movies, and Kino Polska Muzyka will focus on Polish music. MadscreenBox is a new interactive game channel that combines TV, mobile, and tablets.
 


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VIRTUAL REALITY

Every other media company seems to be jumping on-board VR these days, and Netflix may be next. In a conversation with TrustedReviews at Mobile World Congress 2016, VP of Product Innovation Chris Jaffe said that Netflix is eyeing virtual reality content. “[W]e think virtual reality has a great place in gaming,” he said, “and we’re very interested in where it could go in storytelling.” 
 
 

PLATFORMS + TECH

YouTube just made it a lot easier to protect the anonymity of video subjects. The video-sharing site has improved its blurring tool: The updated version allows users to choose only specific objects (such as faces) within their videos to blur out. The blur effect will then obscure those objects throughout the video, without affecting anything else on screen. The blur feature – far less precise in the past – has been used since 2012, largely by professional and citizen journalists attempting to protect sources.
 
Want to learn how to design apps for the Apple TV? Apple is happy to walk you through it. The company released a series of Apple TV Tech Talks – videos for developers, exploring topics ranging from design to media playback – through its web portal. As successful as Apple has been at pulling in a torrent of third-party app submissions since the relatively recent launch of the tvOS operating system, this is a clear sign that the company is still trying to bring in as many quality submissions as possible. Check out the vids here.
 
 

NEW PROGRAMMING + DEALS

Skybound Entertainment, the studio behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, will be producing Five Years, a new dramatic series about a family facing the apocalypse. It will air linearly on Korean television, and everywhere else on the SVOD service Viki. Skybound, founded by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, is only the latest U.S.-based to get behind native-language regional SVOD content. (Netflix and Amazon have both greenlit German-language series in recent days.) As SVOD services gain ever-greater international reach, look for the trend to ramp up.
 
 

RESEARCH

Following a speech from Scott Mirer, VP of Netflix’s Device Partner Ecosystem, Adweek assembled key takeaways about viewing habits in some of the 130 countries where Netflix lives. Some of what they found:
– India and Japan favor phones as viewing devices, while the U.S. and South America prefer TVs; parts of the Middle East and Africa most commonly use desktop and laptop computers.
– U.S. and Canadian users tend to prefer iPhones to watch Netflix, while Mexican users use Android phones.
– While the majority of the developed world uses Wi-Fi, some countries, such as Sudan and Tanzania, have a higher degree of reliance on various carriers.

 

Wibbitz, a startup that specializes in helping online publishers create video summaries of articles, released its inaugural quarterly report, which included a survey analyzing U.S. news consumption habits. (Results from September 2015.) Among other findings, the survey concluded that by a narrow plurality, Americans aged 18-59 receive their news from desktop computers more than any other device. The study also concluded that 44% of millennials prefer to consume news on the go, making smartphones their most popular device. See the full study here.
 
 

EXECUTIVE MOVES

Millennial-oriented multi-platform media company Fusion hired Jigar Mehta as VP of Digital Operations. Mehta previously served as Engagement Lead at AJ+, Al Jazeera’s online news channel. "My focus is on audience growth, data and social with a priority to grow digital video,” Mehta told Cynopsis Digital. “Fusion was born out of a television network, but still has a lot of opportunity to expand its reach through digital platforms."
 


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DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT

We all know who starred in The Martian: John F. Kennedy. At least, that’s what a youngin’ from a new Fandango Movieclips video seems to think.  With this Sunday’s Academy Awards fast approaching, Fandango saw fit to ask a group of kids about this year’s crop of nominated films. And while their knowledge of the movies may be limited, a Hollywood exec or two could stand to take some inspiration from their energy and originality. Check out the video here.

See you Monday,
David Teich
02.26.16

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

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