05/24/17: Facebook starts opening data to publishers for targeted video ads

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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 24, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing!

Word Cloud: A word cloud is an image composed of words used in a specific text, speech, or other subject, in which the size of each word reflects its frequency or importance.
LeEco ’s westward expansion is pretty much dead, at least for now. The Chinese consumer tech company set its sights on the U.S. this year, but the brand failed to catch fire, and was later forced to abandon its planned acquisition of TV-maker Vizio. Now the company has laid off 325 members of its U.S.-based staff. In a statement, LeEco acknowledged that it’s undertaking “a significant restructuring and streamlining of our business, operations and workforce.” The company insisted that it’s still committed to it U.S. business, but said that it will have to solve its current financing troubles before it can expand further.  
Facebook is opening up its data to publishers. The social giant has launched a beta version of Audience Direct, a new product designed to help digital publishers sell targeted video ads using Facebook’s location and demographic data. Facebook is betting that publishers using Audience Direct can hit their intended demos more precisely – and therefore provide more satisfaction to their ad clients – than they can when they use their own data. Facebook says that, in a recent test, publishers using Audience Direct delivered the right ads to 90% of their target, as compared to a 59% industry average. At launch, Audience Direct’s beta testers are ESPN, A+E Networks, Scripps Networks, and Hearst.
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Twitter has debuted a new ad product. Called Direct Message Cards, the format allows advertisers to send customizable bots to users’ Direct Message feeds. “Using a Direct Message Card, businesses can capture people’s attention with engaging image or video creatives, and include up to four fully customizable call-to-action buttons,” the company explained in a blog post. The first brand to make use of the product is Patron Tequila. Its bot (which Patron is calling a “Bot-Tender,” naturally) asks a series of questions, then makes cocktail recommendations based on users’ responses. Twitter says that other advertisers will roll out their own Direct Message Cards in the coming weeks.
Media giant Havas Group has announced the launch of Client Trading Solution (CTS), a new programmatic offering designed to give advertisers more visibility and control over their campaigns. The CTS platform lets Havas clients track media planning, ad serving, partner negotiation, optimization, and other campaign elements. And the tool lets clients measure the quality of their campaigns using their own metrics, such as visibility, brand safety, and fraud control. CTS was developed by MFG Labs, a data science firm. Havas calls the product a “control tower” for programmatic trading.
There’s a new streaming app in town. Blackpills, an OTT service focused on millennial-oriented short-form content, is now available for iOS and Android devices. At launch, the app features 12 original series exploring topics such as digital privacy, racial diversity, and politics. Most episodes run about 10 minutes in length. The company says it will launch over 50 shows by the end of 2017, featuring creative and on-screen talent such as James Franco, Logan Paul, and Bryan Singer. The service is also available on the web.
Amazon announced that Amazon Channels, its video subscription ad-on program for partners like Showtime and HBO, is now available in the U.K., Germany, and Austria. Available to Prime members, the platform launched in the U.S. in December of 2015.
The Late Late Show ’s James Corden will take on hosting duties for a new show. This one will be on Snapchat’s Discover platform. A reality TV spoof called J ames Corden’s Next James Corden , the six-episode short-form series will land on the app this fall.  While Snapchat has already amassed a wide array of TV-like content pacts with partners like A+E Networks and NBCU, this is the first time the platform has inked such a deal with CBS.
Would mobile audiences like Game of Thrones better as a 20-minute series? That’s what AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson suggested at J.P. Morgan’s Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on Tuesday. “I’ll cause [HBO CEO Richard] Plepler to panic,” he said, according to Variety. “In a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode [of a show like Game of Thrones] might not be the best experience.” His remarks may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but he was getting at a serious point: AT&T expects mobile video to become one of its primary revenue-drivers, especially once it completes its acquisition of HBO parent Time Warner. Pretty soon, companies like HBO and Turner will have to think harder than ever about crafting shorter-form content for mobile audiences. Randall Stephenson, after all, will be in charge – likely by the end of this year. 
Anytime Instagram rolls out a new feature these days, there’s a good bet it’ll be reminiscent of something Snapchat did first. Case in point: Facebook’s photo and video app is now launching hashtag- and location-themed Stories. For instance, a photo or video tagged with the “Boston” locations sticker could appear in a location-based Story alongside other posts using the “Boston” hashtag. Snapchat has a nearly identical feature, called Our Story, which ties videos and photos to specific locations and events. The big difference here is that, while Snapchat’s feature relies on some human curation, Instagram’s new product uses only software algorithms. The goal is to create Stories at a fast clip, the company says. Instagram won’t sell ads against the new Stories feature at launch, but it’s highly likely that it will do so eventually.
Facebook announced two new features for its live-streaming product. One of those, called Live Chat with Friends, lets users open up a private chat room during a live video, allowing friends to watch and discuss the stream without the general public intruding. The other new feature, called Live With, lets users pull their friends directly into their live-streams; while a Facebook user is live-streaming their own video, a live-streaming friend can join as a picture-in-picture video, enabling the two to interact.
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 ListenFirstDigital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating capture organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
Streaming Series (5/15/17 – 5/21/17)

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+, 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.    

Our Last Trivia Question: The titular character of IFC’s Brockmire first debuted as part of a digital web series in 2010. On which website did the character originate? Answer: Funny or Die. Kudos to Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY, Michael Rosato-AMC Networks/NY, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Tom More-Kalt Productions/CA, and Jamie Bugner-AMC Networks/NY
Brockmire Star Hank Azaria has been part of The Simpsons’ main cast since 1989, voicing a slew of characters. Name three of them.
(Email   [email protected]  with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)  
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If you’re a poli-sci student, good news: Netflix has some test-taking tips for you, and they involve a whole lot of lying and cheating. Appropriately enough, it’s a couple of House of Cards stars – Michael Kelly and Neve Campbell – who deliver the advice. Check out the video here.

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