04/01/16: Lionsgate and Kevin Hart partner on OTT service; Facebook and TubeMogul team up on targeted video ads; WWE strikes a deal with Snapchat


Good morning. It’s Friday April 1, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


TrueView Ads: A popular Google ad format, most widely used for YouTube’s pre-roll ads. The format gives viewers options – most commonly, the ability to skip the ad after five seconds. As many advertising experts will tell you, the act of manually skipping an ad can actually lead a viewer to mentally engage with that ad. It’s really a win-win.


Lionsgate is really throwing its hat into the SVOD ring. Its latest OTT effort comes via a partnership with actor/comedian Kevin Hart and his digital production unit, Hartbeat Digital. The service, dubbed Laugh Out Loud, will be the exclusive home for all content created by Hart outside of his live performances and film roles. (The partnership will also see the production of a new social media adventure game developed by the company Fifth Journey, which Hart will write and star in.) This marks Lionsgate’s third major OTT effort; The company partnered with Tribeca Enterprises on the Tribeca Shortlist movie service, and, on May 7, will launch a Comic-Con-themed channel in partnership with Comc-Con International. Suffice to say, not only are Lionsgate’s OTT efforts piling up – they’re diverse, probing a wide range of niches and audience interests. The OTT space may be crowded, but Lionsgate clearly still sees plenty of opportunities.

Brands and marketers can now buy targeted video ads for Facebook and Instagram using the programmatic advertising platform TubeMogul. The platform helps ad-buyers target their spends based on publisher data and TV viewership. For instance, during a beta program that 40 advertisers took part in, Expedia promoted travel packages by launching a TV campaign, learning about the demographics of who the campaign reached, then using TubeMogul to target whomever their TV spend had missed. It’s a step forward for Facebook, whose display ads are the most precisely targeted in the biz. Its video ads may catch up quickly.


What Programmers & Marketers Need to Know About Snapchat

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Variety reports that WWE has inked a multi-year deal with Snapchat. Under the partnership, Snapchat will produce and distribute Live Stories from WWE events, most notably Wrestlemania. The first Live Story distributed under the partnership will be April 3’s WrestleMania 32 event in Arlington, Texas. For WWE, the partnership makes a good deal of sense: Its fans tend to be young, and Snapchat, almost as a rule, is where you go to reach young the younger demos.

The online women’s media company SheKnows Media announced that it is set to acquire HelloFlo, a women’s health brand that offers videos, advice and products directed toward women and girls. The acquisition is set to close this April, at which point HelloFlo will become SheKnows Media’s flagship women’s health platform. Meanwhile, HelloFlo Founder Naama Bloom, who will continue to oversee the business ahead of the acquisition, has joined SheKnows Media as Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing. Under the SheKnows Media umbrella and the guidance of…Naama Bloom,” Samantha Skey, CRO of SheKnows Media, told Cynopsis Digital,the [HelloFlo] brand will continue to flourish, adding to SheKnows Media’s already robust branded content offering for advertisers who want to engage with the 81 million women who visit our sites each month.”


Sprint is now allowing customers to sign up for Amazon Prime as an $11 per month add-on to their monthly plans. While Prime Video and faster shipping are worth having, signing up for Prime service directly through Amazon costs only $8.25 monthly. So what’s the benefit of Sprint’s plan? As VentureBeat points out, signing up through Amazon requires a year’s commitment (after a month-long free trial), whereas Sprint’s plan allows for month-to-month renewal. So if you just want to binge-watch The Man In the High Castle and then call it a day, this might be for you.


In an effort to reach more millennials, Discovery Communications announced that it will soon relaunch Seeker, its website focused on science, exploration, and discovery. Seeker, which launched over a year ago, will relaunch its website in May, with the goal of rolling out more than 250 videos a month thereafter. Discovery will heavily promote the relaunch, including spots on linear TV. As part of the relaunch, Seeker will beef up its efforts in VR, live-streaming, and documentary.


CNN technically stands for “Cable News Network” – but you don’t hear that said too much these days. And as the network plows deeper into multi-platform and digital content, it’s easy to see why. Now, CNN has been added as a new presenter at the Digital Content NewFronts, taking the May 5 spot vacated by Federated Media. Meanwhile, the game publisher Activision Blizzard has been given a new spot as well, taking the May 12 spot vacated by TheStreet.


Mashable says it wants to ramp up its video production across platforms – including linear television – and increase investment in ad platforms, data, and technology. Those efforts necessitate both dollars and strategic partnerships, which is why the company’s new Series C funding round, led by Turner Broadcasting, was important. Mashable raised $15 million, upping its overall fundraising to $46 million to date. Under the deal, TBS and TNT will co-develop and distribute Mashable’s video content, and partner with Mashable on cross-platform ad sales. Kevin Reilly, Turner Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer and President of TBS and TNT, will join Mashable’s Board.

That’s not the only $15 million funding round to report on. The startup Playbuzz has raised the same amount in a new round led by Walt Disney Co. and Saban Ventures. The Playbuzz platform, which is open to publishers, content creators, and brands, is geared toward creating viral Internet content such as photo galleries and quizzes. Playbuzz says it will use the funding to expand its branded-content business and improve on its content-engagement platform. 83North, Carmel Ventures, and FirstTime Ventures – all existing Playbuzz investors – also participated in the round.


Disney may own Maker Studios, but direct collaborations between the MCN and Disney’s traditional media business are the exception, not the rule. Chalk this up as an exception then: Maker Studios has released 8 new videos from Disney XD by Maker, its talent incubation program for young creators. The videos will be distributed across the digital platforms of the boy-oriented cable network Disney XD, including its mobile and desktop apps, as well as connected devices and the Disney XD YouTube channel. The videos traverse genres such as gaming, comedy, and animation.  Of the new content, the videos produced under Maker Offers, the company’s branded-entertainment program for up-and-coming creators, were seeded with a max budget of $1,000. Budgets for the other videos aren’t being disclosed.


Netflix has greenlit a new animated series from DreamWorks Animation, part of its multi-year pact with the studio. The series is based on Home, the 2015 feature film from DWA. The series, like the movie, centers on Oh, an alien, and Tip, his earthling friend. It will debut on Netflix July 29.


The gaming live-streamer Twitch has signed a three-year deal with Super Evil Megacorp, maker of the mobile esport game Vainglory. Under the deal, Twitch will work to expand Vainglory’s presence on its site by promoting broadcast events, and will dedicate a full team to running an eSports event for the game. Twitch will also oversee sponsorship and merchandise sales. The deal will command a multi-million dollar investment from both companies.


HelloGiggles, Time Inc.’s mobile- and social-first women’s brand, has named Jacqueline Vignone as its new Vice President, National Sales & Marketing. Previously, Vignone served as Director of Sales for CBS Digital Media Group.

The digital studio Insurrection Media has hired Deborah Henderson as General Counsel and Head of Production, a newly created role. In addition to overseeing corporate, legal, and business affairs, Henderson will both launch and supervise Insurrection Media’s digital video production unit. In the past, Henderson has worked as a TV and film producer. Most recently, she served as General Counsel for Zodiak Americas, the Americas division of the media company Zodiak Media.


Twitch.tv, IMDB.com, and Audible.com are all owned by the same company. Which company is it? You can find the answer here.


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Netflix recently made NBC’s Friends available to French audiences. And the digital ad campaign supporting the launch, conceived by the agency Ogilvy Paris, is exceedingly clever: YouTube users found themselves watching pre-roll ads featuring Friends clips. And the content of those clips just happened to tie into the content of the video they were about to watch. Ogilvy Paris has a nifty video rundown of the campaign – check that out here.

See you Monday,
David Teich

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

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