Good morning. It's Monday, August 20, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis editions online, click here.
Ad viewability and viewable impression metrics seem to be the new big thing in digital advertising. Just take a look at the whitepaper comScore released last week, making the argument that viewable impressions are the key to moving the industry forward in building real value for all key stakeholders. PointRoll, a Gannett company that specializes in display and rich media advertising, has also planted a stake firmly in the ground of viewable ads and impressions. I recently chatted with Catherine Spurway-Hepler, SVP/Strategy & Marketing at PointRoll, on this trend, the company's OnPoint product, and more.
Tell me about OnPoint...
It's a next-generation ad-serving and analytics platform. We have built it around what digital advertising is today and what it will become tomorrow; it features components that are geared toward dynamic creative versioning and optimization (DCO), which is an important concept and more than a trend. It's technology supporting marketing efficiency and effectiveness. DCO lets marketers tailor a campaign's message and creative to a specific consumer segment to deliver a more relevant and action-inspiring digital advertising experience that drives results. Although we have had such capabilities for more than five years, we've implemented more programmatic and self-service DCO to make it even easier for brands and their agencies to deliver thousands of ads in real time, customized to each audience and so they are able to learn and optimize from each impression served.
Our analytics capabilities are extremely robust and allow our clients to see how their ad is performing across more than 150 different metrics as well as how it is resonating with the audience. We've recently added viewable metrics as part of the MRC/3MS initiative enabling our clients to better understand what their audiences are seeing and for how long. This is in addition to the existing brand time metric we've offered for over 10 years, which indicates the duration of activity users are taking within the ad. There is ongoing debate around viewable impression metrics in the industry and the overall MRC/IAB/3MS initiative is still in the pilot phase, and we are happy to be a part of it. The good news is that we have found a lot of applicability with these metrics in the early stages.
Since OnPoint's release we've seen a great response from advertisers. We will continue to add features into the platform, but are primarily focusing on delivery and measurement. We officially launched it in April, prior to which it had been in beta for the first part of the year with several clients who were using the tool and its analytics capabilities. The platform allows them to measure ad campaigns down by demo, geography, and any other sort of segmented audience information.
Can you quickly describe what makes an ad viewable according to those standards?
In the guidelines that we have adopted for our viewable impression metric, at least 50% of the pixels have to be visible and for at least one second within the loaded webpage. Given the device you're on, you have to be able to see at least half of the ad in the viewable window, and it can't be something you can move away from in under a second. For our metrics, we not only calculate what has been viewed, but the rate in relation to the overall campaign and for how long that impression was viewed.
What about viewable impressions make it such a hot topic in ad measurement?
Where you see a lot of excitement is from the media and publishing sides. With these new models, a publisher is able to make sure that their inventory is maximizing the ability for a brand's ad to be seen. It puts another nail in the coffin of the click as it places a greater emphasis on viewability, and from our perspective, more can then be placed on interactivity with the ad on the page. For example, a viewer can roll over a PointRoll ad unit and actually engage with a brand without the need to click through to the site. And this is possible with mobile, tablet, and in-stream video. National Car Rental just did a great campaign that illustrates this. Their "make it to the meeting" iPad campaign enabled the user to tap the ad to expand it, and then use the iPad's accelerometer to play a driving game within the ad. They are getting that experience without having to click-through to another page or website, which is also valuable for the publisher.
But then how much of that viewer engagement can you attribute to viewability, and not to just the value of an interactive tool such as the one you described. What is the interplay between the two?
Well, if the user doesn't see it then there isn't a chance to interact with it. Viewability is important; as consumers use mobile devices -- or any device for that matter -- it's important to know your impressions are reaching your audience and visible on the screen. Publishers will redesign and think about their sites in the context of new devices and emerging platforms. They'll focus on getting more content and inventory in visible spaces that don't require the user to scroll around to see it. This is also where media planners and buyers value the metric to ensure they are maximizing their spend. And that's what we're going to see in the future. Publishers will increase the visibility of ads on their sites and media buyers will leverage viewability metrics to ensure efficiency.
What other trends are you seeing currently?
The thing to me that is most exciting -- I guess I'll use the word exciting -- is the idea of connecting different ad formats into a single experience. There are times when brands, agencies, and we in the industry talk about social advertising, and then talk about in-stream video advertising, mobile advertising, etc. and essentially silo these formats and devices. What I'm enjoying is seeing social functionality within in-stream video, or gaming within mobile, or more interactive video within display that also includes social sharing. It's exciting to see savvy marketers enhancing their campaigns to not only make them more interactive, but to drive reach with social features. There's one particular ad I can recall that L'Oreal did about a hair color product. It enabled users within the ad to upload their own photo and see what they would look like with a particular hair color, post that picture to the product box, and then share that on social networks or via email. It's moving away from the idea of thinking about digital advertising as individual formats and features, or more importantly, having specific Facebook strategy, or a specific video strategy where you're simply repurposing TV spots. It's about bringing these elements together to further your strategies and not just create a marketing mix, but mixed marketing that delivers a more interactive and/or social ad experience, increased reach, and return.
What's on the horizon for PointRoll?
This month we're releasing enhanced video and audience analytics capabilities. Both are advancements that we feel are going to help our advertisers, agencies and our publishers.
With video, we've built technology into our system that will allow our clients to create in-stream video ads that are auto-aware of the publisher/ad network's video player, will recognize their video spec requirements, and automatically encode the video and generate a tag based on those parameters. We gathered information from hundreds of publishers/ad network video players to build this.
With audience analytics releasing in OnPoint this month, our clients can now better understand their audiences including reach and overlap across media placements as well as find more of their audience.
Beyond these innovations that provide both efficiency and more effective ads, we've been a huge proponent of the IAB's Rising Stars program, supporting and delivering all of the formats that were chosen as new standards in the display round and submitting and winning two categories in the recent Mobile Rising Stars.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WITC
Another report from The Wall Street Journal divulged more information on what Apple's cable set-top box might look like. According to the WSJ, Apple's main goal for such a device is to eliminate the difference between live television and on-demand programming. To that end, this cable box would feature a DVR functionality that would store programming in the cloud. This would then allow viewers to start any show at any time, on any (Apple) device, including the iPhone, iPad, and Macbook. It would also include a "Start Over" feature that would allow viewers to watch a show from the beginning, even if it's already in progress (Time Warner Cable offers a service of this type). It's unclear in the report how or if such a cable box would integrate with Apple's existing Apple TV device, or an oft-rumored HDTV set from the company.
Sony's Crackle video service is now available for free on Windows Phones and Barnes & Noble's Nook tablets. Crackle also says an app for Amazon's Kindle Fire is coming soon. The app offers a selection of ad-supported full-length movies and TV series, as well as an array of original series from Crackle itself. Since it launched in the spring of 2011, Crackle has been downloaded over 11 million times across all of the mobile platforms on which it's currently available. For these other mobile platforms, Crackle has re-launched its app, replete with an update to its user interface. The service is also available on the Xbox 360, Roku streaming players, Google TV, and of course, a number of Sony connected devices.
WIGS, a women-centric premium channel on YouTube that is a member of the video site's original programming initiative, has premiered Leslie, a new series starring Catherine O'Hara (Best in Show) and directed by best-selling author Mitch Albom (Tuesday's with Morrie). The three-episode series centers on an aspiring actress who is vying for the part of Mother Theresa, but then is given the opportunity to play the role in real life. WIGS was co-created by filmmaker/producer Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia.
Cinedigm Entertainment Group plans to release A Cat in Paris, the 2012 Academy Award-nominated animated film from independent distributor GKIDS, in the US across cable VOD, digital platforms, DVD, and Blu-ray on October 9. Starring Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston, and Matthew Modine, the hand-drawn noir film follows a cat that lives among both detectives and thieves in Paris.
HP plans to open a new Mobility Global Business Unit, which will oversee the development of consumer-facing tablets and the expansion into "additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers," according to an internal memo leaked to The Verge. This new unit will be headed by Alberto Torres, who joins HP as its new SVP/Mobility, beginning on September 3. HP's existing notebook units, including its "soon-to-be-launched commercial tablet," is still under the leadership of the PC Global Business Unit, which is led by James Mouton.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
comScore has released its online video rankings for the month of July. Here are the important nuggets:
The WWE has launched a free second-screen app for iOS and Android devices, featuring live polls, videos, and other content that viewers can access while watching the company's flagship weekly program, Monday Night Raw. The app also pulls up the social media streams of every WWE wrestler as well as latest news from WWE.com. Users will also have the ability to order tickets local events, buy merchandise via WWEShop.com, and follow local social media conversations via the app. The app is powered by Bottle Rocket Apps.
Ustream has plans to release a new mobile app called Broadcast For Friends (BFF), which will allow users to record a video and stream it live directly to their friends' news feeds on Facebook, according to The Verge. The process appears to be pretty straightforward: After the app has been linked to the user's Facebook account, the user can hit the "Broadcast" button, after which the app will ensure that the user's network has the bandwidth to support the video as well as give him or her the option to select which group (self, friends, general public) to share to. Once it begins recording, a post will appear on friends' news feeds, which will allow them to view, "Like," and/or comment on it. On the mobile app itself, the user will have access to a library of past streams, but The Verge notes that the current version does not offer the option to delete any of them.
Social video discovery service Showyou has launched an updated iPad app that now includes support for the device's retina display and, maybe more importantly, the ability to multitask when using AirPlay to shoot a video from the iPad to the Apple TV. As the company says in a blog post announcing the update, this means the ability to tweet, use Instagram, play games, and check email, among other things, while watching a video from Showyou on a TV. Support for AirPlay mirroring had already been available for all iOS versions of Showyou. This new multitasking capability essentially enables users to turn the iPad app into a remote control, allowing them to watch and search for content, including those from partners like Funny or Die, The Daily Show, or TED, on the TV screen, while also giving them the option to leave and do other things on the iPad.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Nissan is hosting a potentially fun social video campaign today, promoting the fall rollout of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Teaming up with improvisers from Second City, the automaker has launched "An Improv-tastic Road Trip," which plans to feature 12 hours of musical improv on the Pathfinder's official Facebook page all day today. Beginning at 8am CDT today, you can visit said Facebook page and submit suggestions for the improv troupe to use in creating a personalized music video spanning all sorts of genres, including country, rock, hip-hop, and pop. Videos of the performance will be posted on a custom tab on the Pathfinder's Facebook page between 11am and 11pm CDT. Those who submit a suggestion will be entered for a chance to win one of two trips for two to see Second City in Chicago or Toronto. There would be no Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre if there first wasn't Second City; so give it a look.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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