Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 3, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
At Advertising Week yesterday, Google introduced Lightbox, a new interactive ad format — the first in a “new family of display ads” — that only charges marketers when a user engages with it. What first appears as a standard display ad expands to a super-sized canvas once a user hovers above it for two seconds (this is when the marketer would be charged). It appears as if the larger canvas can feature rich media content such as videos, photos, games, and more. Google says internal tests show that this “smart hover” feature eliminates nearly 100% of accidental expansions and increases engagement by 6-8X over standard click-to-expand display ads.
The company also released some internal data on its TrueView video ad units (the ones on YouTube that let you skip the ads after five seconds). Looking at sales impact during and two weeks after 92 different ad campaigns, Google says it found that on average every $1 invested in YouTube delivered a $1.70 return in sales. It also found that ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network drive a 36% increase in website visits and a 36% increase in search queries.
As the company hinted in recent announcements, Fandango is looking to get into the original content game. Now, it has taken the next step by green-lighting its first original video development slate. The current plan is for three new shows (working titles for now): Fanticipation, a weekly show focusing on the upcoming weekend’s top box office contenders and potential sleeper hits, based on the company’s internal data; Honored, an update, analysis, and countdown show during the awards season; and Unsung, a show which will feature top celebrities giving their lesser-known colleagues (character actor, dialect coach, costume designer, etc.) a share of the spotlight. All three shows will be hosted by the newly appointed Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger.
Participant Media (the company behind films like An Inconvenient Truth and The Help) has launched TakePart TV, a new socially conscious YouTube original programming channel. Focusing on a mix of daily news, short-form comedy, animation, and non-fiction original video series targeted to millennials, TakePart TV is designed to be “a creator and curator of clever, eye-opening, and optimistic content around big issues that face our planet.” Content at launch includes:
- Capitalism: Actor Henry Rollins goes on a talking tour, hitting all 50 state capitals. The series will end on the eve of the upcoming election.
- Story of Pines: A short animated film about the importance of the environment tied to Alison Sudol’s third studio album launch.
- American Savage: Featuring Dan Savage speaking and reporting on a wide range of topics, including religion, LGBT rights, politics, and more.
- Mission: The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant shines a light on the issue of homelessness in his home city.
- Brain Food Daily: TakePart TV’s flagship show, a daily series that will highlight stories largely ignored by the “Mainstream Internets.”
Evolve Media Corp.‘s CraveOnline has launched Prospect Watch, a new section on its mixed martial arts (MMA) site Sherdog devoted to introducing fans to new male and female MMA prospects. It includes a video series that will follow Sherdog editors as they embark on a six-week journey to gyms and training facilities across the US that are home to these prospects. Each video will offer a background on a particular facility and the MMA fighters that used to train there. Viewers will also be able to see the top prospects train for their next big match. In addition to the series, the Prospect Watch section will also offer an array of editorial and video content focusing on training techniques and health tips. NOS Energy Drink has signed on to sponsor Prospect Watch.
USA Today Sports is rolling out a new “content syndication module” this week called USA Today Sports Pulse across more than 100 local Gannett properties. The module is designed to pull in and aggregate relevant sports content from all of the properties within the USA Today Sports Media Group (so, USA Today, local Gannett media brands, Sports on Earth, The Big Lead, and more). The types of content that will be available through USA Today Sports Pulse include breaking news, commentary, video, photos, and social activity. USA Today says it expects to reach more than 20 million unique visitors each month through inbound traffic to the sites within the Sports Media Group. The module is also available for syndication beyond Gannett.
Video discovery start-up RAMP landed a $15 million Series C financing round led by NY-based StarVest Partners, with contributions from other new investors Hearst Interactive Media and EDBI as well as existing investors Fairhaven Capital, Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners, and Comcast Ventures. Per their deal, Deborah Farrington, Co-Founder and General Partner at StarVest, will join RAMP’s Board of Directors. This brings RAMP’s total funding to $40 million. The start-up, which offers media solutions for video search, content management, indexing, and publishing, will direct this new capital toward product and international growth. RAMP’s customers using its MediaCloud platform include Comcast, Fox, ABC, Meredith, Hearst, and the NFL, among others.
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OTT video solutions company Unicorn Media has launched Unicorn OnceLIVE, a server-side technology aimed at helping publishers and broadcasters deliver and monetize live content on any connected device. The product enables content providers to strip broadcast ads in real time and then replace them with targeted ads, which the company says can be inserted anywhere in the stream from the cloud without needing an SDK or plug-in, on a per-user basis. Unicorn says OnceLIVE also easily integrates with third-party ad networks and in-house solutions without requiring APIs or client-side code. OnceLive offers real-time analytics on video and ad performance. Supported connected device/platforms include iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Roku, Boxee, TiVo, game consoles, and connected TVs.
Interactive video ad company Jivox is collaborating with Federated Media Publishing to offer the IAB Display Rising Stars ad units to advertisers that want to run a campaign on Federated Media’s publisher sites. Advertisers can now create any of the Display Rising Stars units — Slider, Billboard, Sidekick, Filmstrip, Pushdown, and Portrait — within the Jivox platform. The ad company says its platform supports key features of all of the ad units. These include fully customizable layouts; the ability to insert rich media such as video and flash animations into the ads; and analytics through the Jivox Brandgage platform, which offers video metrics, purchase intent funnel analytics, and Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings data. All of the ad units will also be mobile ready, automatically switching to HTML5 when the ad is viewed on a mobile device.
The IAB has expanded its “Quality Assurance Guidelines” (QAG) compliance program from just networks and exchanges to now also include marketers, agencies, DSPs, SSPs, and trading desks. The QAG looks to guarantee advertisers that their ads will not appear next to inappropriate content. “A rigorous brand safety program that unites the entire interactive ecosystem is crucial to establishing a trusted environment to conduct digital transactions,” said Patrick Dolan, EVP and COO of IAB, in a statement. The IAB has enlisted The 614 Group, a digital consulting firm, to lead the initiative. The firm will oversee and manage the QAG 2.0 Task Force, which is currently comprised of representatives from companies like Adap.tv, BrightRoll, CBS Interactive, DataXU, Google, GroupM, Microsoft, NBCUniversal, SpotXchange, and TubeMogul, among others.
Earlier this week, comScore launched validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) for Video. Tapping into this growing trend of aligning online video ad measurement with that of TV, this new multiplatform service measures GRPs, demographics, and behavioral profiles of audiences reached by video ad campaigns, as well as how viewable those ads actually were.comScore says vCE for Video is available worldwide and has secured the support of numerous companies, including Adap.tv, AOL, Casale Media, Comcast Media 360, FreeWheel, Jivox, MediaMath, PointRoll, Videology, and VINDICO. Features of vCE for Video include:
- Overnight reporting of audience demographics and integration with comScore’s multiplatform audience data that includes TV.
- More in-depth demographic information on US audiences with the addition of household income, size, race, and ethnicity to age and gender data.
- Measurement against more than 70 different behavioral audience segments, such as auto, food, or travel enthusiasts.
- The ability to combine video metrics with those of digital campaigns using display and rich media ad formats.
The ThinkAnalytics Recommendations Engine has joined the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV partner program. As a result, ThinkAnalytics will help Mediaroom customers deliver TV recommendations for live, recorded, and on-demand programming to their subscribers across a variety of IP-enabled video services and devices. “Our ability to build multiple profiles per set-top box allows us to have unique recommendations for each person in a household. Bringing together live TV metadata with set-top box viewing histories, combined with Mediaroom TV services, delivers very compelling and richer discovery and recommendations results for any video-enabled device,” said ThinkAnalytics Founder and CTO, Peter Docherty, in a statement. Microsoft’s Mediaroom TV services are in use by more than 40 operators worldwide, reaching over 8 million consumer households.
116.5 million Americans owned smartphones during the three-month period ending in August, a rise of 6% over the previous three-month period, according to the latest numbers from comScore. Google’s Android led the way with a 52.6% market share of operating systems (+1.7%), followed by Apple’s iOS at 34.3% (+2.4%). It really is a lot of the same old as RIM continues to bottom out, dropping from 11.4% to 8.3% over the last two three-month periods. In terms of mobile content usage, comScore data shows that 53.4% of mobile subscribers downloaded an app, 52% used a browser, and 38.3% accessed a social networking site or blog during the three-month period ending in August.
According to a new report from online ad company Solve Media, 10% of worldwide online traffic is generated by bots — software programs that automate tasks such as clicking on something on a web page or on an ad. As a result, they often cause advertisers to pay for impressions that aren’t actually seen by someone with any intention of making a purchase. In the US alone, Solve Media found that 16% of total online traffic comes from bots. The US is also responsible for a majority of bot traffic, says Solve.
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TV Everywhere technology provider Clearleap has named Alex Emmermann as its new VP/Engineering. He will be responsible for managing the engineering team, product development, and architecting, as well as recruiting other enginnering talent to the company. Emmermann will report directly to Clearleap CEO Braxton Jarratt.
Social ad company 140 Proof has hired Sean Cowan to fill the newly created position of VP/National Sales. He will have leadership of the company’s sales teams in NY, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, LA, and SF, and is charged with growing 140 Proof’s current roster of 100+ brand advertising clients and expanding the company’s position in the social ad space. That’s not the only executive move at 140 Proof, as it has also promoted Michael Cascio to another newly created position at the company, that of SVP/Business Development and Strategy. In his new role, Cascio will focus on adoption of the 140 Proof Platform beyond its existing base.
NBC News Digital has appointed Executive Editors for NBCNews.com, Today.com, and MSNBC.com. Gregory Gittrich, VP & Executive Editor/NBCNews.com, will report to Vivian Schiller, SVP and Chief Digital Officer of NBC News. Jennifer Brown, VP & Executive Editor/Today.com, will also report to Schiller. Richard Wolffe, VP & Executive Editor/MSNBC.com, will report to MSNBC President Phil Griffin on editorial and to Schiller on operations. Wolffe will take the reins when MSNBC.com re-launches next year. Aside from these three, NBC News Digital also named Ryan Osborn VP/Digital Innovation. He will focus on social media and new extensions for NBC News in the digital media space. He will also report to Schiller.
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Tomorrow, October 4, 2012 || 1:30 3:00pm ET
Digital & Social Media Strategies for Kids TV:
How To Attract & Engage Kids and Tweens
Following a strategy that HBO has adopted with many of its original series, Showtime has made the seventh season premiere of Dexter and the second season premiere of Homeland available for free on YouTube. The difference between what HBO and Showtime have done is that, as far as I can tell, HBO used YouTube for new shows it launched this past year, such as The Newsroom, Veep, and Girls. Dexter and Homeland, on the other hand, are already established franchises. Looks like fans are still watching, however, as the Dexter premiere as of this writing has surpassed 100,000 views.
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