Cynopsis Live from CES 01/09/20



Cynopsis Long Story Short
Thursday January 9, 2020


Mark Cuban is big-time on the AI bandwagon, Twitter relishes its role in the new world order, and audio is bending ears as a brand strategy centerpiece. It’s Thursday, January 9, 2020—the 13-year anniversary of the iPhone launch—and this is your daily Cynopsis dispatch from CES.

Mark Cuban is really jazzed about AI. “If you don’t know AI, you’re the equivalent of somebody in 1999 saying, ‘I’m sure this Internet thing will be OK but I don’t give a s**t,’ ” the investor and entrepreneur said at the Entertainment Summit at CES. Noting he’s been taking classes to help him get a better handle on machine learning, Cuban enthusiastically suggested all business-minded brethren get schooled as well. “If you want to be relevant in business, you have to, or you will be a dinosaur very quickly,” he said. “There’s going to be AI haves and have-nots.”


Twitter takes very seriously its role as a central hub for discourse among a certain world leader (who went unmentioned during the panel) and his counterparts. “World leaders made Twitter their go-to way to reach their constituents,” said Matt Derella, Twitter global VP of customers. “It’s an amazing thing that’s happening, but it comes with a lot of responsibility… We think it’s important when leaders are communicating that there is a record of what they said so the world can respond and create a pubic conversation about it.” Why did the platform ban political ads as we moved into an election year? “So we can focus on the earned aspects of Twitter,” Derella said, noting Twitter should be a place to engage with potential voters.

Verizon chose CES week to launch a more customized pricing model for Fios TV. The new structure enables customers to select channels and services they want in their TV package, and eliminates expenses including regional sports fees and video franchise fees. All packages in the new Mix & Match plan, which evolves the service closer to a la carte, include local broadcast nets such as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Telemundo and Univision. Verizon says the plan, which signals an end to its “triple play” bundle of phone, data and TV, may end up being more expensive for some subscribers.

NBCU this week announced a new structure to unite linear and digital ad inventory, but sales chief Linda Yaccarino didn’t focus on that at the company’s keynote yesterday. Instead the panel played out like a breezy episode of Today, with the show’s West Coast anchor Natalie Morales hosting a broad-strokes conversation with Yaccarino and talent Terry Crews, Kate del Castillo, Ester Dean and Mandy Moore about technology’s effect on the entertainment business. “The future is all about personalization,” Yaccarino said, and the ability “to reach beyond the screen and form personal relationships with the right ad with the right content. That’s when the magic happens.”

Regarding the magic of streaming, Crews noted of his show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The truth is, we will probably be more popular in 15 years than we are right now. That’s what streaming is doing, because every new generation can binge-watch for years to come.”

Credentials sharing continues to be a hot topic in an increasingly digital world. Here’s what Orly Amsalem, product manager, AI/ML-based video security and antipiracy solutions at Synamedia, had to say on the topic: “The most difficult thing about stopping credentials sharing is figuring out when the sharing is casual—friends and family—vs. when it is fraud—hacked/compromised credentials sold for profit, or passwords shared with thousands of people,” she told Cynopsis. “Both are problematic for video service providers, but when it is actual pirates selling compromised credentials online, reselling unauthorized access to premium video content to the masses, the theft becomes exponentially more serious both from a security and revenue loss standpoint.” As streaming services continue to multiply, she said, “it’s crucial providers become more vigilant about assessing and addressing the risk posed by credentials-based attacks, to secure their customers’ personal information and protect their bottom lines.”

Spotify is launching a proprietary targeted podcast ad technology fueled by the large amount of user data it collects. Streaming Ad Insertion initially will run inside its exclusive podcasts, and potentially could evolve to other audio network’s content. The company will begin inserting ads in real time based on information about its users including their age, where they’re located and what device they use.


The future is bright for ad-supported streaming services, according to Andre Swanston, CEO of Tru Optik. “People have a false sense that there is consumer loyalty to SVOD services. There is not, especially when consumers have access to free quality content when they turn on their connected TVs,” he told Cynopsis at CES. Citing Viacom’s purchase of Pluto TV as a “pivotal moment that signified the importance of AVOD in media companies streaming services,” Swanston said, “As consumers continue to the cut the cord and look to supplement pay connected TV with free options, AVOD will not only survive, it will thrive while the SVOD market continues to become oversaturated.”


Audio consumption—from podcasts to audio logos—is hot at CES, hot IRL. On Spotify alone, podcast consumption increased 39 percent from Q2 to Q3 last year. Cynopsis dives deeper in conversation with Joe Belliotti, former head of global music marketing at Coca-Cola and co-founder of The Music Division, an indie “outsourced music department” for emerging and established brands, agencies and creatives.

Audio is in the spotlight this year. Why now, and what promise does audio hold for 2020 and beyond?
JB: Companies are realizing the need for a comprehensive enterprise sound strategy. There are several forces driving this. First, the technology landscape is rapidly changing. The combination of streaming audio, AI, voice control, smart speakers, location-based and other technologies are opening new ways of creating and delivering amazing sound experience. Also, the rise of platforms is reshaping the music industry and creating new opportunities to harness more efficiently and effectively key stakeholders—customers, employees and ecosystem partners. And finally, the creative landscape is changing. Companies can now engage in creative communities in ways that were not feasible in the past. This is making it possible to innovate and drive greater value.

What is the biggest benefit to companies using audio as a key part of their brand strategy?
JB: Companies have focused their energy and resources building their brands through consumers’ eyes. Now with the growth of attention and engagement in sound, brands are realizing they now need to build their brands through the ears. Given the amount of time and attention people are giving to audio, the brands that quickly prioritize sound will have an advantage.

Can you share an activation in which The Music Division is involved, and learnings from that activation?
JB: The Music Division recently partnered Orangetheory with the artist Krewella to create a new anthem song for the brand’s 2020 “Welcome to More Life” campaign. The song will also be the new single from Krewella’s album coming in January 2020. We follow a simple guideline—build relationships, not transactions. The more we can harness the power of collaboration between brands and music the more impactful the outcomes.


More with Hulu’s VP/head of ad platforms on the company’s move into an advertising universe that includes pause ads, binge ads and more, and how technology is making it all possible.

What metrics or consumer and advertiser pain points led Hulu to evolve your ad strategy?
JH: We fundamentally believe in giving viewers choice and control. They have the option of taking an ad-supported service or an ad-free service. If they’re going to have an ad-supported service it’s important to them that the experience is just as good as an ad-free service and that the advertising is relevant to them. From an advertiser perspective, what they’ve been asking for from Hulu is, Show us innovation. Show us ways in which we can connect with audiences in this environment where there’s increased fragmentation, increased competition for attention. And so the approach we take with advertising has to stand out, has to be more innovative.

Which tech has come across the transom that’s enabling these new ad formats to succeed?
JH: We’re entering a phase of creativity where it’s the combination of great messaging with the use of data science and machine learning and taking advantage of lots of different form factors that now exist in the living room. It’s about, How can we use data science to anticipate the behaviors of consumers, and then think carefully about what’s happening at the moment that advertising and content consumption is occurring. If you’re sitting in the living room—and that’s where 80 percent of Hulu viewing happens, on a large screen—almost always the person also has their mobile device in their hand, or some sort of voice-activated device in the living room. So how do you use those things together to enable these new experiences? That’s the power of technology and how it’s influencing the transformation of advertising.

Vegas doesn’t sleep, and neither does Cynopsis when we’re covering CES for you. If you have news to share, please hit me up at

Cathy Applefeld Olson

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
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Kerry Smith
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Roberta Caploe

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