Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 4, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Click-through rate: In digital advertising, “click-through rate” refers to the percentage of people visiting a page who access a link to a particular ad. It’s a vital metric for judging the success of an online ad campaign.
Instagram is upping its ante in the advertising world by offering marketers the option to bring videos to their Carousel ad format with a simple swipe. “We think this combination of video and carousel is very powerful,” says James Quarles, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development. “The immersive nature of sequential video allows people to be inspired by a business and then progressively learn more about how it fits into their life.”
Skydance Media is getting its game on. The Paramount Pictures production company that has brought films like World War Z and Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation to theaters has acquired leading game developer The Workshop Entertainment, and given birth to Skydance Interactive, a new subsidiary that will create and own original video games and virtual reality experiences. The buy-up offers limitless possibilities for Skydance Media, which will now have the capability of integrating property across different platforms.
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“We really embrace new technology, new platforms, and new distribution outlets,” Amy Emmerich, Chief Content Officer of the female-oriented digital lifestyle media company Refinery29, told Cynopsis Digital in a December 2015 interview. “It’s exciting and invigorating to lead a team that can move so quickly, that isn’t afraid of change, and utilizes data to create new types of content and new ways to tell stories.”
As the digital media industry plunges deeper into 2016, the company is taking those words to heart. At its NewFront event in NYC’s Chelsea district, the company announced several new content initiatives, spanning multiple platforms and genres. An expansive new slate of R29 Originals will feature social-first, scripted, and unscripted content. That will include the new ShatterBox Anthology, a series of 12 short-form original scripted films created by female directors, writers, and animators. Women at Sundance and Killer Films founders Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler will provide creative and advisory support to ShatterBox creators. And a selection of the ShatterBox Anthology films will also be distributed through ad-supported short-form digital video service Comcast Watchable, in addition to running monthly on Refinery29 this summer. Shatterbox directors will include the actesses Kristen Stewart and Gabourey Sidibe.
Refinery29 also announced the launch of two new YouTube channels loaded with original content: Brawlers, dedicated to women in sports, and Riot, dedicated to women in comedy. The presenters pointed out that, while women comprise a huge share of the world’s athletes and comedians, they garner a disproportionately small share of the public’s attention. In fact, throughout its NewFront presentation, R29’s presenters repeatedly made clear that the company is spearheading a broad goal: Helping women claim their power. The two new YouTube channels – and Refinery29’s expanding overall mission – are the latest sign that the company’s ambitions are spanning beyond the beauty, fashion, and style content that helped it make its initial mark. In addition to comedy and sports, R29’s hefty slate of new originals will delve into topics such as pop culture, sex, and global social issues.
R29 prides itself on having an audience that responds favorably to its brand partnerships. (In December, the company told Cynopsis Digital of an internal study showing that two thirds of its audience members will purchase something as a result of seeing it on Refinery29, and that 63% trust the brands advertised on Refinery29.) New R29 partners include Smartwater, which is attached to the Brawlers channel, and Clinique, which will partner with Short Cuts, R29’s Facebook channel focused on DIY beauty tips. The company also also announced The Empathy Lab, a new focus group-heavy data mining program launching in partnership with the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab. The program is designed to help inform future creative choices and programming decisions.
R29’s upcoming 2016 content slate includes Strangers, a long-form scripted comedy EP’d by Girls director Jesse Peretz, What We Teach Girls, a long-form docu-series co-EP’d by Morgan Spurlock, and numerous other originals.
Refinery29 was initially launched as an editorial-heavy site; only in recent times has its video operation exploded. But 43 million video views on, and the company is diving with fervor into new video content and formats.
Speaking of new formats: The company is also launching VR29 Studios, a virtual-reality and 360-video focused programming and production studio. Like The New York Times at its NewFront event, R29 is dispelling with the notion that VR is just for gamers and tech geeks. “At Refinery29, we are dedicated to experimenting on different platforms and mediums to form the deepest possible relationship with our audience,” Emmerich told Cynopsis Digital yesterday. “We see the VR space as a way to make our content even more immersive while creating opportunities for women in the field. This is consistent with our mission to engage and understand our audience, and to support women in claiming their power.”
The OTT platform Xumo has reached deals to add ten new channels to its service, including Mashable, Reuters, and PBS Digital Studios. Channels already on the platform included BuzzFeed, AOL News, and numerous others. Xumo has been a Time Inc. property since February, when Time Inc. acquired Viant, Xumo’s parent company.
Amazon Prime Video has headed across “the pond” to pick up its latest series, the British period drama series Doctor Thorne. The series was adapted by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, in an agreement with The Weinstein Company. Doctor Thorne is based on the classic 1858 novel by Anthony Trollope and stars Tom Hollander (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Ian McShane (Ray Donovan), and Alison Brie (Mad Men). Streaming is scheduled to begin on May 20.
ESPN is partnering with Vice Media in their hybrid Vice Sports, which will produce new original series, both for digital platforms and for television. Vice Sports content will air across ESPN. In addition, Select 30 for 30 documentaries from ESPN Films will air on Vice’s new TV network Viceland. The Vice-produced shows will mainly center on athletes and championship events that are normally not broadcast in mainstream markets. Vice and ESPN are also developing a short-form animated series.
NBC Sports is taking its exclusive coverage of the Kentucky Derby one step further by integrating Snapchat. NBC Sports will be shooting anything and everything leading up to and including the big event on Saturday, May 7. As part of its sweeping social media coverage, GoPro cameras will also be mounted around Churchill Downs to capture the action as it happens.
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The ListenFirst Television Interest (TVI) Rating (TM) is a standardized measurement of the most buzzed-about TV programs on linear TV and streaming services. A complement to ListenFirst’s other syndicated data products (such as the ListenFirst Digital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating are the purest form of showing interest digitally, since they’re organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
Streaming Series (4/25/16 – 5/1/16)
Source: ListenFirst. The TVI Rating aggregates metrics that measure organically generated activity by fans of the TV show. The metric includes total volume of official hashtag mentions on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, along withWikipediapage views (as a proxy for organic search volume) for a show as a percentage of the total volume of the same activities for all shows.
Periscope is spreading its wings. In its latest growth spurt, the Twitter-owned video-streaming app has brought in former Wired.com editor in chief Evan Hansen to assist with curation. The aim is to get the most engaging live streams in front of an audience while competing with the likes of Facebook Live.
Adam Wiener has been named Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Local Digital Media. Wiener, who joined CBS Local Digital Media in 2010, will be responsible for overseeing the digital operations of CBS’s 29 television stations and CBS RADIO’s 117 stations nationwide. He will also work closely with CBS Interactive President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lanzone, tapping into the resources of CBS Corporation’s online content network.
Digital agency TheAudience has named Mike Dodge as CEO and Debbie Menin as EVP of Strategic Partnerships, in which capacity she’ll oversee the agency’s sales team. Dodge joins the company from the digital lifestyle publisher Evolve Media, where he served as COO. Menin previously served as Head of Strategic Partnerships at Media General’s Federated Media.
Prior to founding YouTube, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim all worked for which company? You can find the answer in tomorrow’s newsletter.
Yesterday’s Trivia Question: Netflix’s Chief Content Officer has played a major role in the streaming giant’s massive push into the world of original content. What’s his name? Answer: Ted Sarandos.
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CNET’s got a solid, succinct overview of the currently virtual reality landscape for consumers. You can check it out here.
See you tomorrow,
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