05/17/16: AT&T acquires Quickly Media; Twitter to exclude photos and links from character limit; Comcast has no plans for Internet TV



CYNOPSISDIGITAL
05.17.16

Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 17, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

TODAY’S CODEBREAKER
 

RFP: Short for Request for Proposal. An RFP refers to when a brand or media agency reaches out to a publisher or other firm to request a specific media buy on that property. Generally, a digital RFP outlines volume, spend, timeline, and ad units for a media plan.
 
 

TOP NEWS
 

While Twitter recently quashed reported plans to allow a 10,000 character limit in tweets, the company appears to be bending ever-so-slightly. According to Bloomberg, Twitter will soon be excluding photos and links from its 140-character limits. Links currently count for 23 characters, while photos generally count for about 24. Perhaps more than any other group, the move is likely to come as a godsend to social media marketers, who will now have more precious space to get their messages out.      
 
While some companies are scrambling to embrace the so-called skinny bundle by offering Internet TV services (Dish Network, AT&T, and Hulu are in on the action, to name a few), Comcast is in no rush to join them. So said CEO Brian Roberts at the INTX trade show. Roberts noted that, in Q1 2016, Comcast had the best video-subscriber additions in nine years. “Something is working,” he said. “I’m not sure you need to change it.”
 
A new regulatory filing from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed that the conglomerate acquired over 9.8 million shares in Apple during Q1. The investment, originally valued at about $1.1 billion, is now worth closer to $888 million. (Apple’s stock has notably declined since its underwhelming Q1 earnings report.) Still, Apple’s stock rose over 3% in early trading yesterday, largely due to news of the Berkshire stake.
 
Warren Buffett is making more news than usual. As initially reported by Reuters and later confirmed by Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway is considering offering financial backing to Dan Gilbert (owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the founder of Quicken Loans) in his bid for Yahoo’s Internet business. According to Re/code, Buffett and Gilbert have brought on two former Yahoo execs, Dan Rosensweig and Tim Cadogan, as advisers. The Yahoo-sale saga has dragged on for months, and the troubled company has found no shortage of bidders. Verizon has long been seen as the front-runner. But as news of the potential Buffett/Gilbert alliance demonstrates, the outcome is far from settled.
 


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ANALYTICS + MEASUREMENT
 

According to a blog post from the Instagram-focused marketing platform Latergramme, the Facebook-owned photo-and-video-sharing platform will soon emulate its parent company’s heavy-duty analytics features. Instagram has been testing Insights, a new tool that will provide detailed data to marketers. That will include follower data, including age distribution, geographic distribution, gender distribution, and follower activity by hour. It will also include info on top posts, including a display of all images posted within a specified time period, sorted by impressions. Instagram has become an increasingly vital tool for marketers, even though those marketers have, to an extent, been flying blind (or else they’ve been relying on third-party analytics vendors, if they have the cash). It’s safe to say that the new tools (official debut-date still unknown) could prove highly valuable to marketers.
 
 

PROGRAMMATIC ADVERTISING
 

Univision Communications is diving into the programmatic pool, with some help from AOL. Univision announced that it has chosen AOL’s One self-serve programmatic TV buying system to give clients automated-buying access to its ad inventory. “Our agreement with AOL empowers advertisers to customize data-driven targeting and buying plans,” said Keith Turner, Univision’s President of Advertising Sales and Marketing.
 
 

VIDEO ADVERTISING
 

Facebook has rapidly become one of the world’s most widely used video platforms, in large part because Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook execs have championed the format. And so it stands to reason that the social media giant would go to greater lengths to integrate video into its advertising efforts. Audience Network, the platform allowing advertisers to feed Facebook ads to outside apps and mobile sites, has added support for video content. And for the first time, Audience Network ads will be available on desktop as well as mobile. The feature debuts today, and will continue to roll out in the coming weeks.
 
 

MOBILE APPS + VIDEO
 

MTV announced that it has debuted the first episode of Pants Off, the network’s first series developed specifically for its Snapchat Discover channel. The eight-episode series, in which host Laci Green (MTV’s Braless) discusses sex and relationships, will continue to run weekly. Each episode will roll out as a full-day takeover of the network’s Discover channel. Afterwards, episodes will migrate to MTV’s Twitter feed and YouTube channel.

 

 

BRANDED CONTENT
 

PepsiCo announced that Creators League, its in-house content development arm, has launched its own NYC content studio. According to the company, the studio will function as an internal production arm for branded content, brand-inspired long- and short-form scripted films and series, reality & competition, music recordings, and OTT and digital content. At launch, planned content partners include Tip “T.I.” Harris, who will produce and star in a music-related feature film, and AOL’s Partner Studios, which will partner with Creators League to develop and produce a slate of branded and original content for distribution across AOL platforms, Microsoft properties, and PepsiCo’s owned channels. Simply put, PepsiCo is doing an end-run around publishers. After all, it’s publishers – not brands themselves – that have traditionally dominated branded content production. 
 

PLATFORMS + NETWORKS

 
That’s not all from PepsiCo: It would appear that the company is trying to control not just its content production, but some of its distribution as well. PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew has launched the Mtn Dew Green Label Multi-Channel Network – what PepsiCo is calling the first-ever brand-owned MCN. The MCN aims to forge exclusive partnerships with influencers who will create YouTube content across verticals related to the Mountain Dew brand, such as gaming and action sports.  Influencers already on board include hip-hop dancer D-trix and skateboarders Josh Katz and Nigel Alexander. PepsiCo says that the new arrangement will eliminate third-party fees, providing a new ad sales revenue stream, which will then be re-invested into the MCN.
 
 

OTT + SVOD
 

AT&T has grand plans for DirecTV’s OTT capabilities – but to see those plans through, first it needed the right infrastructure. Enter the Internet-video streaming services provider Quickplay Media, which AT&T is acquiring from the private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners. AT&T will use the service as its content-delivery platform for the OTT services DirecTV Now, DirecTV Mobile and DirecTV Preview, which are slated to launch later this year. The telco says it will retain all of Quickplay’s contractors and employees. Quickplay says that it delivers over 700 live video channels 4,000 live events every year. As the likes of Dish Network’s Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and even Hulu escalate their Internet TV ambitions, AT&T is preparing to heavily compete in the same space.

 

According to The Telegraph, the BBC is teaming up with local rival ITV to launch a new streaming service in the U.K. The service, still in early development, would likely include archived BBC content, as well as original series. The service’s working title? Britflix. As you may or may not be aware, Britflix is actually not the first streaming service with “flix” in its title. And the other one (hint: It’s Netflix) has already been active in the UK for four years, during which time it’s taken something of a stranglehold on the U.K. streaming market. So in the battle of the ‘flix-es, Britflix will surely have its work cut out for it.  
 
 

RESEARCH
 

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).
 
[] 
All Series (5/9/16 – 5/15/16)
   
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 with Wikipedia page 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.
 
OpenSlate
Engagement Data for the
Entertainment vertical, based on the engagement metric for the week ending 5/15.
Channel (Engagement) / Monthly Views / Total Subs / SlateScore
vegetta777 (9.8) / 162,238,410 / 13,792,077 / 785
McJuggerNuggets (9.6) / 70,312,470 / 2,956,179 / 714
iTownGamePlay (9.5) / 67,121,880 / 5,942,032 / 794
bersgamer (9.3) / 26,481,360 / 1,967,738 / 715
comedyshortsgamer (9.3) / 68,918,040 / 6,366,833 / 729
elrincondegiorgio (9.3) / 41,842,650 / 4,167,813 / 611
BuzzFeedVideo (9.3) / 315,369,540 / 9,750,871 / 771
apokalyptored (9.3) / 34,681,530 / 1,332,712 / 676
daifivetop (9.2) / 31,679,280 / 2,984,467 / 707
KSI (9.2) / 102,771,600 / 12,788,226 / 759
Source: The Engagement metric is one of OpenSlate’s component scores, and is a measure of a producer’s ability to evoke meaningful interaction with their audience. It is calculated on a scale of 1-10 with higher being better. The OpenSlate Engagement score uses a subset of the data incorporated in the SlateScore to perform a set of unique calculations. It factors in views, comments, likes, and more.
 
The programmatic video ad marketplace Tremor Video is releasing its Q1 insights. Among the company’s findings, which it garnered from its buyer and seller platforms:
 
– Live events drove mobile video views in Q1 including the presidential debates, award shows, and the Super Bowl
– Live tune-in drove mobile co-viewing: For instance, mobile viewing spiked plus-17% during Super Bowl Sunday (as compared to other Sundays)
– Overall, mobile video views doubled year-over-year, now making up 55% of all ads served
– 22% of programmatic impressions committed to mobile came from advertisers buying per screen; 66% of programmatic impressions delivered to mobile were the result of a “decision” made by automated cross-platform optimization technology
 
 

EXECUTIVE MOVES
 

Endemol Shine Group has made a new promotion. Joe Pietroni, previously the company’s Director of Technical Development for Apps and Games, will now serve as CTO. In his new role, Pietroni will oversee a new tech team focused on developing apps related to Endemol’s digital video business. He’ll also oversee server operations for Endemol’s gaming apps.
 
The multi-platform media company Fusion has brought on Jason Wagenheim as its new Head of Revenue. Between 2011 and 2015, Wagenheim served as Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer for Conde Nast’s Teen Vogue and TeenVogue.com. And joining the company from Studio@Gawker is Megan Gilbert, who will serve as Director of Branded Content for Lightworks, Fusion’s branded content offering. Gilbert and Wagenheim join the company at a pivotal moment; Univision, which co-founded Fusion with Disney, took full ownership of Fusion last month. That includes Fusion’s distribution and ad sales operations, which Disney previously oversaw.

 

TRIVIA
 

Earlier this year, Twitter nabbed the live-streaming rights to this coming NFL season’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts. But which company is slated to live-stream 180 MLB games this season? You can find the answer in tomorrow’s newsletter.
 
Yesterday’s Trivia Question: In March, Apple announced that it had greenlit its first original production, an unscripted series about app developers. What well-known musician helped to develop the series? Answer: will.i.am


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DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT
 

We’ve heard about most applications for virtual reality – gaming, 360-degree filmmaking and the like. But can VR also be used to improve an NBA player’s dismal free throw percentage? Maybe it can. Courtesy of Complex News, learn more here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich
05.17.16

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
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