Good morning. It's Monday, October 22, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
The 2012 New York Television Festival (NYTVF) takes place this week. On the docket this Friday is the independent television festival's fifth annual Digital Day (shameless plug: If you plan to be at 92YTribeca on that day, I will be participating in a panel with other media members in the afternoon). The day will focus on the evolution of the digital entertainment ecosystem, and where it stands today for independent writers and content creators. Last week, I spoke with Terence Gray, Founder of NYTVF, about Digital Day as well as opportunities currently available to those looking to create original programs for the web.
Digital Day for the New York Television Festival is this Friday. What will you be discussing within the context of what NYTVF is about?
This year marks the eighth annual New York Television Festival, and the fifth annual NYTVF Digital Day -- but don't let that initial three-year gap fool you, digital entertainment and online video have been a significant factor in the way we've grown and evolved the organization since day one. The digital space provides a viable opportunity for talented artists to gain exposure, build an audience, and develop their craft. The internet democratized entertainment and on a very small scale, the NYTVF is trying to do the same, with a specific focus on creators of serialized content that can be enjoyed on smaller screens.
For Friday, we've assembled a really exciting slate of participants that represent interests across the space -- interests, I should note, that compete, clash and widely differ from speaker to speaker. On a basic level, we'll be discussing topics that are very much applicable to any creator: Project development, on- and off-camera talent, and distribution. I believe that we've structured the day in a way that whether you're an early-career producer with a few videos on Vimeo, a brand representative tasked with accessing a new audience online, or a studio head controlling a slate of high profile YouTube networks, there's knowledge to be shared and connections to be made.
There's always a lot of discussion about the unique opportunities that digital can offer indie producers and content creators. What would you say is one of these opportunities or features that clearly separates digital from being just another distribution channel?
I think the feature that clearly separates digital from traditional content is freedom of expression. When people create and self-distribute for the online space, they are less encumbered by any number of things that exist with creating for television: Network/brand identities, studio partnerships, etc. Once people start making online content for money, of course, this all changes, but at its very core, the internet exists as a medium for expression and creativity. I think you see that television is moving more and more in that direction, but there's less pressure on creators when they are making content for 100,000 fans on YouTube as opposed to 10 million fans on a network.
Ultimately though, 100,000 doesn't pop as much as 10 million. So would you say that digital video can also be a gateway of sorts for a writer, creator, or producer to land a gig with a studio or online/TV network?
I think that's absolutely the case. There is something to be said about how in the 1960s you would traditionally have a young writer or star doing an off-off-Broadway show. And then in the 80s and 90s you would say that same type of person is doing independent films. Today, web series and digital overall give writers and creators a great opportunity to build their own fan base, and then take that fan base as part of their pitch to a studio, network, or brand. Digital allows them to demonstrate that they have the skills to create an episodic series, or in other words, the ability to deliver for and keep an audience on a weekly basis. It's a very powerful tool when presenting to a development executive.
When it comes to digital distribution and audience development, is audience more important than platform?
To me, the two are intrinsically linked. You want to find a platform that helps you reach the most people, and also the right kind of people. When you post on YouTube, you are going after a more general audience than on, say, My Damn Channel or KoldKast, or MSN. It's all about targeting and maintaining a devoted audience, and that is very much linked to platform. Of course, you can do all of that on general sites like YouTube and Vimeo, but there are platforms that exist that aide in that fan creation. One of our goals on Digital Day is to tackle some of this head on -- with targeted discussions on development, talent, and distribution.
One of the things I've noticed so far when it comes to original web series, there are some pretty big names behind them. Whether it's established stars from film and TV, to "social media stars," to big media brands. How can indie creators play in this space where the big players, at least right now, seem to be going for the big names?
There are big name production companies and brands that have deals with major online platforms, true. However, given the budgetary parameters, there is a tremendous opportunity for indie producers to create content at a lower cost. They are uniquely able to be a part of this trend. Point blank, what everyone wants -- TV, digital, brands, studios, everyone -- are talented storytellers.
Additionally, the 'social media stars' are very much something that can still be created -- they're an example of building a fan base. It's all about making good content.
How important is YouTube for indie producers and content creators, especially if they're not part of the site's original programming initiative?
Obviously YouTube is important because it allows creators to self-distribute. It can help indie creators build an audience as well as learn to be disciplined in the delivery of new content to that audience. Looking at YouTube now, with its focused programming approach, there is such a great chance for content-creators to earn the opportunity to make and distribute their content with real monetary and social networking opportunities.
And you know what? With hundreds of new supported channels being added, there is a sizable need for new streams of creativity, for hours of content, and for talented producers that have the chops to deliver.
Would you say there's a lot of interest from the TV industry in those who are creating original digital content?
There's boundless interest. I say that because at the end of the day, what everyone is looking for, is great storytellers. When we first started this festival, we were looking for pilots that would come in at the more traditional 22- and 44-minute lengths. Now, our minimum is four minutes. When it comes to development execs, they're looking for great characters and great stories, and that doesn't matter if you can demonstrate that in four minutes or 12 or 22. They're focusing more on how the character or story idea would fit their studio or network. Digital has sort of liberated the timeframe of developing a new piece of content that can serve as a starter piece for a serialized story.
For a writer or producer considering venturing into developing digital content, what would be the first piece of advice you'd give?
Spend a great deal of time on the development of your show. Know the show you want to make and know the show you're passionate about. Once you've written it, know the parameters of your budget. If it's a series, and you're committed to making that series, you have to arc it out. Is it a seasonal thing? How many episodes will it require?
Also, know your goal. There is a difference between saying, "I want to make this series on my own terms and with my own money," and developing a series with the intention of selling it. For the latter, and this is something for which NYTVF can be very helpful, it's okay to just make a pilot and try to get into a festival like ours.
Comedy Central's Indecision 2012 campaign recently launched 30 Seconds Over Washington, a new web series, starring comedian Kyle Kinane as he analyzes and pokes fun of real campaign videos and political ads from the past and present. Segments include "Crazy, Bullsh#t, Makes Sense"; "We The People" (focusing on user-generated political content from actual American voters); and "I'd Vote for That Guy" (spotlighting serious, unintentionally funny videos which "win" Kinane's vote). The series is based on the HBO original that premiered before the 1996 elections, starring Bill Maher and Dennis Miller. In fact, the guys behind that series, Doug Warner, Edd Griles, and Rick Newman, are also executive producing this one.
PK4 Media has inked a deal with Newsy to bring content from the video news service to its Bishop Video Platform. Newsy produces roughly 200 short-form news videos per week, which aims to provide users with a quick understanding of important stories from around the world. PK4's Bishop video-syndication platform is comprised of an ad-supported video player, a video content library, and a distribution network that reaches over 1,000 "hand-selected" websites. PK4 focuses mainly on using its video platform to provide advertisers with the ability to deliver targeted ads to its distribution network. For content creators, the company offers them a revenue-sharing system that's based on rewarding content by online video views across its distribution network.
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RTB video provider SpotXchange is making more than 2.5 billion impressions specifically available for political advertisers through Election Day. Available via the company's marketplace, political campaigns will have the ability to target users based on congressional district and ZIP codes, as well as segments based on demographic, behavioral, and voter registration data from political consulting firms like Audience Partners. The company says its RTB marketplace reaches an average of 200,000 new and unique voters who identify as Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Currently, it says political campaigns are targeting females, seniors, "national security-oriented audiences," and Catholics, as well as audiences based on political affiliation and those who reside in swing states. "The political season often brings last-minute budgets to digital, as TV inventory dries up and campaign strategies involve in late October and early November," says Michael Shehan, CEO of SpotXchange, adding that "online video accommodates the ebbs and flows of a campaign when every last minute is essential and quickly evoke a call-to-action for targeted campaign audiences."
Last week Facebook gave all mobile app developers the ability to run mobile app install ads on the social network's mobile news feed. It also announced that one of the ways developers can measure campaign performance is to enlist the services of one of its Preferred Marketing Developers (PMDs). One of those PMDs is Apsalar, which has announced that it offers the ability to measure the downstream performance of traffic coming from Facebook's mobile app install ads. This can be done via the mobile measurement company's free marketing solution, Campaign Source Insights, and integration of its SDK. Among its features, Apsalar says Campaign Source Insights allows clients to attribute app installations to the proper acquisition source and offers aggregated campaign data in terms of impressions, clicks, downloads, and associated user spend. Campaign Source Insights currently only works with iOS devices, with support for Android coming soon.
AppNexus is in talks with Microsoft to buy its Atlas digital ad product, according to Ad Age. The report indicates that Microsoft is looking to sell Atlas by the end of the year as the company transitions its digital ad strategy from owning ad technology to partnering with external vendors. AppNexus isn't the only suitor for Atlas, however, as companies like Adobe and Mediaocean could also be the potential future home of Atlas.
KISSmetrics has settled a lawsuit that accused the analytics firm of using ETags, a type of "supercookie" to track consumers online, even after they had deleted their cookies. In the settlement, KISSmetrics has agreed to not use any type of supercookies without first notifying consumers and giving them the choice of opting out, per MediaPost. The company has also agreed to pay $2,500 each to the two consumers who sued it as well as roughly $500,000 in legal fees. You might remember the name KISSmetrics from a lawsuit filed against Hulu last year, which accused the online video company of violating the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) by sharing consumers' browsing/viewing information to third parties such as ad networks, measurement firms, and social networks. The VPPA makes it illegal for "videotape service providers" to disclose a customer's movie-viewing history without permission. Hulu had requested a dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that it's not a videotape service provider as its business is in distributing digital content and not physical goods. The judge denied that request and the lawsuit is still ongoing.
80% of men are streaming content from free websites, while 63% are doing so using internet-connected gaming consoles. This data comes from Break Media, a provider of digital video and editorial content for men, which released "The Definitive Guide to Men" via its trends and research portal, Acumen. The study consisted of an online survey of 2,000 men ages 18-49 conducted in June 2012, as well as ethnographic interviews with 16 men in NY, Kansas City, and Portland, plus consultation with four men's experts. Among the other digital-centric findings in the all-encompassing study, 63% of men are streaming content via tablets and smartphones, and over 54% of respondents agreed that these devices as are their "primary source of entertainment." In addition, 74% for respondents said that they watched recorded TV, while the same percentage also indicated that they watch the same or more live TV. For advertisers and content creators, the study also covers how men view themselves in terms of being at home, their careers, as consumers, and how they're portrayed in the media.
According to Futuresource's Global Tablet Tracking report, 25.5 million tablets were shipped globally in Q2 2012, representing a 92% year-over-year growth. "The USA continues to lead the way in tablet adoption, currently accounting for 46% of global ownership," says Joe Mugan, Market Analyst, "and the region is on track to achieve an installed base of nearly 90 million devices by the year end." Mugan ads that even though Europe has seen slower uptake, it's on track to account for 43 million devices by the end of 2012. Overall, Futuresource expects the global tablet market to achieve 124 million shipments in 2012, which would represent 95% year-over-year growth. In addition, while consumers are the main segment driving tablet growth, Futuresource notes that the enterprise and education segments accounted for an 11% share of the global tablet market during the second quarter.
Join us on November 14, 2012 at the Cynopsis Digital Video Measurement Summit in NYC to see speakers from the likes of AOL, comScore, My Damn Channel, Nielsen, Vuguru, YouTube, and others speak on the topic of effective measurement for digital video. REGISTER NOW.
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Cynopsis: Sports Special eReport:
Hispanic Sports Audiences: Engagement + Sponsorship
Published: OCT 31
As leagues/networks double down on resources to embrace the rising tide of Latino sports fans, we'll take a look at how Hispanic networks are adding additional sports programs to reach this influential audience. Plus, how sports leagues, advertisers and digital platforms are changing the broadcast relationship to further interact with this demographic.
Ad space is limited! Contact VP of Sales & Mktg: Mike Farina | 203.281.6480
Today's edition began with a discussion about what independent writers and creators could do in the digital space, so we might as well end it with a spotlight on an independent comedy web series developed and produced for the sheer passion of creating something funny (of course, if it leads to bigger things for any of the writers and actors, that's not so bad either). Incognito is a pretty funny show about two unlikeable people, Alison and Andrew, who unwittingly witness a murder and must go into the Witness Protection Program. Luckily for them, the killers are even dumber than them. The show was created by and stars several performers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. Check it out, you will laugh.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
Denise O'Connor: Group Publisher, Media Entertainment
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group
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