11/16/16: Reports: Snapchat files IPO


Good morning. It’s Wednesday November 16, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


SEM: SEM, or search engine marketing, refers to online marketing in which websites are promoted by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages. SEM marketers tend to use paid advertising.


Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, has confidentially filed for its IPO, according to sources who spoke with Reuters and Bloomberg News. Snap will reportedly seek to raise as much as $4 billion, with a company valuation of about $25 billion to $35 billion. No final decisions have been made yet, and details could still change, according to the sources. It’s previously been reported that Snapchat could make its initial public offering as early as March.


Twitter has received mountains of criticism over the prevalence of bullying and abuse on its platform – and over the company’s perceived failure to curb any of it. (This reportedly played a role in Twitter’s failure to keep prospective buyers like Disney at the table.) Now the company is taking new steps to fight harassment. Twitter will allow users to automatically block tweets that contain specific keywords, phrases, hashtags, emojis, or usernames from appearing in their push notifications. The change will be rolled out in the coming days, according to a new blog post. On top of that, Twitter says that it’s updating its Hateful Conduct Policy, presenting users with a menu to help them report on harassment with more specificity. (For instance, users might select “It directs hate against a race, religion, gender or orientation,” as a reason for reporting a tweet as harassment.). More than anything else, the Hateful Conduct Policy update is designed to provide more information to the Twitter employees who assess the reports, giving them a better idea of how to handle the situation.
Hulu is out to sharpen its title recommendation features. The streamer has acquired the Video Genome Project, a tech company backed by the venture-capital firm Segel Group Limited. VGP’s system is designed to find common contextual attributes within the metadata of TV shows, identifying relationships between titles that go beyond, say, genre, cast, or director. Hulu says that 75% of its viewership is driven by recommendations. "The future of television is not just going to be about where and how you watch, it’s going to be about how personal your viewing experience can be,” said Ben Smith, Hulu’s Head of Experience, in a statement. “With this strategic acquisition of The VGP’s technology, we’re gaining important data and personalization capabilities that will allow us to serve our users even better as we expand into live programming.”


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Snapchat just infused a hefty does of location-based targeting into its ad offerings. Under a new partnership, Foursquare will provide extra data for geofilters, Snapchat’s location-based graphic overlays. Snapchat advertisers will gain access to all of Foursquare’s data points (about 90 million locations) during geofilter campaigns. Though geofilter advertisers have already had access to location data for about a year, the idea is to offer them something more targeted, enabling them to pinpoint specific locations (such as individual shops or restaurants). Previously, location-based Snapchat ads have had to target broader spaces.
Yes, UK TV nets have Upfronts too. At Channel 4’s Upfront, the broadcaster announced new interactive ad formats for connected TV. The formats, powered by the tech partner Innovid, will allow advertisers to alter their ad units based on demographic data or an audience’s viewing habits. The first such ads will launch for Roku devices later this month, with other devices and smart TV platforms to follow. For viewers, the new interactive formats will open up new e-commerce possibilities, enabling them to directly interact with their TV screens. Channel 4 says that the new initiative is driven by an increasing viewership shift away from desktop and toward bigger screens. According to the broadcaster, its connected TV viewership has overtaken on-demand viewership on other devices.


The comedy-oriented digital media company Funny or Die has a major new backer. AMC Networks Inc. will invest an undisclosed amount in the company. (One other TV group, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, is also a minority investor in Funny or Die.) This isn’t the first time the two companies have been involved with one another: Funny or Die is currently developing Brockmire, a new comedy series for AMC Networks’ IFC channel. As part of the investment, IFC President Jennifer Casta will be joining the Funny or Die board of directors.  


For quite some time now, Fandango has strived to be more than just a movie ticketing service. The NBCU-owned company’s original content efforts culminated in the March launch of FandangoNow, a movie- and TV-streaming channel. And the service has now launched for Xbox One devices, including the Xbox One and the Xbox One S. FandangoNow was already available on the web, via iOS and Android devices, and through smart TVs from LG, Vizio and Samsung.
In other Xbox One news, the console now features Tablo, an app that allows users to record over-the-air content from broadcast networks like CBS, ABC, and NBC. Microsoft previously had its own plans to introduce DVR functionality for Xbox One, but wound up scrapping the plans. The Tablo app fills that hole. Note, however, that the app alone isn’t enough; users also need to buy Tablo’s networked DVR device, which stores recordings and streams them to mobile and connected-TV devices. The Tablo DVR costs $180 and up, depending on the device’s configuration.


Vimeo just landed a whole lot of British content. The IAC-owned video site has inked content deals with the U.K. distribution companies BBC Worldwide and All3Media. Vimeo’s on-demand service will gain comedy, drama and documentary titles, including all four seasons of the drama Fresh Meat. “The partners each bring a unique array of content from the U.K.’s finest creators that we’re excited to have on our platform for viewers around the world,” said Vimeo exec Sam Toles in a statement.


A number of high profile tech companies have already made their mark on the world of AR and VR, but Apple has been conspicuously absent. That may soon change, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently testing wearable augmented reality glasses. The glasses, which could launch as soon as 2018 according to the report, would work with iPhones to display images and other info. This shouldn’t exactly come as a shock: As recently as July, CEO Tim Cook confirmed that Apple is investing in AR. “We are high on AR for the long run,” he said.


To determine the TV ads generating the most digital response, iSpot.tv measures digital actions across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all major search engines. Here, a look at the brands that backed Sunday’s 60 Minutes, which gained a viewership windfall thanks to a highly promoted interview with President-elect Donald Trump.
“The top 5 marketers that backed the Trump edition of 60 Minutes: Apple (for the new iPhone), Cialis, FIAT, Pacific Life and Ancestry, in that order, ranked by estimated spend. When it comes to engagement, though, there was only partial overlap. Apple generated the most digital buzz, followed by FIAT, Ford, Sony Pictures (for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) and Keurig. And the honor for the most engaging single ad overall also goes to Apple, for its iPhone 7 spot, ‘The Human Family: Shot on iPhone.’” – iSpot.tv
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 capture 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 (11/7/16 – 11/13/16)

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.


It’s not uncommon to see newer tech companies field talent from the old guard. But sometimes the reverse happens too. Google has landed Jia Li, Snap Inc.’s Head of Research. A high-ranking exec at the Snapchat parent, Li and her team were in charge of developing new innovations for the app. In her new position, she’ll oversee the Google Cloud Machine Learning group.   


What Fullscreen-owned digital media company is responsible for sci-fi and fantasy shows such as Red vs. Blue and RWBY? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)
Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston voices a character in which animated streaming series? Answer: SuperMansion, a stop-motion animated series on Crackle. Kudos to Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg M and S Entertainment, Inc./CA, Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, and Mathew Tombers-Intermat, Inc./NY


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Media professionals’ commitment to community is honored in the Cynopsis Social Good Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations who give back to the public through innovative linear TV, digital and marketing campaigns. We’ll be celebrating promotions for diversity, environmental initiatives, anti-bullying and much more.


Blank on Blank, PBS Digital Studios’ series of real-life interviews put to animation, chose the late and exceedingly great Leonard Cohen as its most recent subject. Check out the short here.

See you on tomorrow,
David Teich

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