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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Mediatel Media Playground 2011

My previous blog post covered my notes on Broadcast in a Multi-Platform World, which I felt was the best session of the day. Below are my notes from the other 3 sessions (I didn’t take any notes during the bonus Olympics session)

The data debate

Chaired by Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent for the BBC

Andrew Bradford, VP, Client Consulting, Media at Nielsen
Sam Mikkelsen, Business Development Manager at Adalyser

David Brennan, Research & Strategy Director at Thinkbox
Kurt Edwards, Digital Commercial Director at Future
Nick Suckley, Managing Director at Agenda21
Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive at BARB

Some of the issues touched upon in this debate were interesting but I felt they were dealt with too superficially (but as a researcher, I guess it is inevitably I’d say that).

David Brennan thinks we need to take more control over data and how we apply it. There is a dumb acceptance that anything created by a machine must be true and we’ve lost the ability to interrogate the data

Nick Suckley thinks the main issue is the huge productivity problem with manual manipulation of data from different sources (Google has been joined by Facebook, Twitter and the mobile platforms), but this also represents a huge opportunity. He thinks the fight is not about who owns the data, but who puts it together

Torin Douglas posited whether our history of currencies meant that we weren’t so concerned with data accuracy, since everyone had access to the same information. Bjarne Thelin unsurprisingly disagreed with this, pointing out the large investment in BARB shows the need for a credible source.

David Brennan said his 3 Es of data are exposure (buying), engagement (planning) and effectiveness (accountability)

Nick Suckley thinks people would be willing to give up information for clear benefits but most don’t realise what already is being collected on them

Kurt Edwards thinks social media is a game-changer from a planning point of view as it sends the power back to the client. There is real-time visibility, but the challenge is to not react to a few negative comments

David Brennan concurred and worried about the possibility of social media data conclusions not being supported by other channels. You need to go out of your way to augment social media data with other sources to get the fuller picture

Bjarne Thelin gave the example of BBC’s +7 viewing figures to show that not all companies are focusing purely on real-time. He also underlines the fact that inputs determine outputs and so you need to know what goes in

David Brennan concluded by saying that in the old days you knew what you were getting. Now it is overblown, with journalists confused as to what is newsworthy or significant

Social media and gaming

Chaired by Andrew Walmsley, ex i-Level

Adele Gritten, Head of Media Consulting at YouGov
Mark Lenel, Director and senior analyst at Gamesvison

Henry Arkell, Business Development Manager at Techlightenment
Pilar Barrio, Head of Social at MPG
Toby Beresford, Chair, DMA Social Media Council at DMA
Sam Stokes, Social Media Director at Punktilio

The two speakers gave a lot of statistics on gaming and social gaming, whereas the panel focused upon social media. This was a shame, as the panel could have used more variety. All panel members were extolling the benefits of social media, and so there was little to no debate.

There was discussion about the difficulty in determining the value of a fan, the privacy implications, Facebook’s domination across the web and the different ways in which social media can assist an organisation in marketing and other business functions.

Mobile advertising

Chaired by Simon Andrews, Founder of addictive!

Ross Williams, Associate Director at Ipsos MediaCT

Gary Cole, Commercial Director at O2
Tamsin Hussey, Group Account Director at Joule
Shaun Jordan, Sales Director at Blyk
Will King, Head of Product Development at Unanimis
Will Smyth, Head of Digital at OMD

Ross Williams gave an interesting case study on Ipsos’ mobi app, which tracked viewer opinion during the Oscars.

Simon Andrews’ approach to chairing the debate was in marked contrast to the previous sessions. He was less a bystander and more a provocateur – he clearly stated his opinions and asked the panel to follow-up. He was less tolerant of bland sales-speak than the previous chairs, but was also more biased in approaching the panel with the majority of panel time filled with Simon speaking to Will Smyth.

Will King things m-commerce will boost mobile like e-commerce did with digital. Near field communication will move mobile into the real world.

Gary Cole pointed out that mobile advertising is only a quarter of a percent of ad spend but that clients should think less about display advertising and of mobile as a distinct channel. Instead, mobile can amplify other platforms in a variety of ways.

Tamsin Hussey said that as there isn’t much money in mobile, there is no finance to develop a system for measuring clicks and effectiveness of all channels. Currently, it has to be done manually.

Will Smyth said the app store is the first meaningful internet experience on the mobile. The mobile is still young and there is a fundamental lack of expertise at the middle management level across the industry. Social is currently getting all the attention (“Chairman’s wife syndrome”) but mobile has plenty to offer.



The five questions that need to be answered about online video

I’ve recently put together a presentation deck on the state of the online video market. It consists of both the primary research that we have been conducting here, and the secondary research I have been able to source through subscription services, press releases and generous folk who put their work online – such as Ofcom and Universal McCann.

I’ve been taking the presentation around our various agency clients in order to spread the love (and of course use the face time to sell in opportunities). Thus far (touch wood) the presentation has been well received.

The general feedback I’ve been getting is that people are willing to experiment with online video, but the paucity of makes it difficult to justify a long-term investment. Any data showing the efficacy (or otherwise) of online video is therefore valuable.

Below are the five major questions regarding online video. I’ve tried to give a steer on them but currently there are no definitive answers.

1. Who is watching?

And indeed how many. This is the crucial question for agencies. With many (but not all) moving to online video from TV, the gap where BARB audience ratings should be is extremely conspicuous. Alas, JICIMS don’t have an immediate solution and so for the interim one or a combination of the below is used

  • Internal site stats. But even if they are externally validated (e.g. by ABCe) there is still the lack of transparency about whether the stats have been gamed and comparisons with other sites won’t necessarily be like for like. And of course the major problem is that it gives you numbers, but not demographics. I posted about many of the problems around online measurement here.
  • Users could be forced to register and share information before being allowed to view videos. But this contravenes the “openness” of the web
  • Comscore and Net Ratings give basic demographic details for video views and offer a competitive context. However their methodologies aren’t universally accepted. All impressions are equal – whether auto-rolls or each ad in an ad break being tagged as a separate impression
  • If none of these methods are viable, then we are forced to rely (at least partly) on survey data. And that opens up a whole new can of worms

2. Which advertising model is best?

Or, which is your favourite child?

There are a multitude of ad models and formats to choose from. I detailed many of them in a previous post here. Since writing that, I have read about two further types of ad format which add to the choice available.

Inskin Media wrap an interactive banner/border around content

MirriAd digitally incorporate brands and products into a show in post-production – whether a logo on an object, or a car driving off in the background.

Pre-rolls are the most common format (from memory, I read a stat saying two thirds of European video providers use pre-rolls), and their prevalence has driven acceptance. While people may have initially been turned off, familiarity has bred acceptance. The public generally agree that advertising is a reasonable exchange for free content.

However, not all content sites are equal. Ipsos have shown that people are less likely to find advertising reasonable on user generated content than professional. This is why I am eager to find out whether Youtube’s post-roll experiment works. Despite ads only being placed after partner content, Youtube has the stigma of UGC and I believe people will have trouble accepting ads on the site, no matter what content they are placed around.

3. How effective is my advertising?

This is the big question in all forms of media, and online is no exception. However, because audiences can’t be so easily identified, it is also a big problem. To my knowledge, there are three routes to go down

  • Pop-up/overlay advertising. We know respondents have just seen the ad (unless they are the control), but this is the downside. The questionnaire is served at the point of exposure. There is no window to allow the ad to embed into people’s consciousness.
  • Behavioural tracking. Whichever company does this first (and effectively) will become very, very rich. Obstacles include coverage (it is unlikely that all websites will participate, and even the most popular ad networks only cover a fraction of the web) and the sheer volume of data that would be generated. Analysis of longitudinal data would require a cloud/farm of Google or Amazon proportions
  • Surveys on online panels – again the can of worms of claimed, rational, after-the-fact responses among members of a panel

4. Why should I add online video to my media plan?

Indeed. But why should I add radio, or press, or cinema? Each medium brings a different audience and a different experience – if they are used in conjunction effectively then a stellar transmedia campaign can be executed.

My argument regarding online video is that it dovetails very nicely with television. Rather than cannibalising, it complements. TV has the mass reach and epoch-defining moments. Online video offers the shared experience asynchronously, allowing the attentive audience to interact on their terms. People tend to watch TV programmes online when they have missed them on TV, while short-form extras can deepen the experience (look at Heroes for example), and increase engagement among the TV-viewing audience.

For those that are interested in numbers, creating an accurate measure of incremental reach is vital. Touchpoints offers it at a platform level but isn’t granular enough for most situations. A tool that highlights incremental reach and frequency across a multitude of platforms and channels therefore needs to be developed.

5. Where is this going?

I don’t understand financial markets but I do understand the dangers of speculation. And that’s what any answer to this question would be. Forrester, emarketer and so on may predict future audiences and revenues. But who knows what the situation will be like next year, let alone in five. How long did it take Youtube to change the market? Or iPlayer/Hulu? And what effect will Kangaroo/SeeSaw have?

And as for the unified home entertainment TV/Internet experience? I’m not even going there…


How do you make money from online video?

That is the multi-billion dollar question facing content owners and distributors. Both in form and execution, how can one best monetize (SIDENOTE: should I be spelling it monetise?) this brave new frontier?

Evidently, there will not be one fix-all solution. Different video formats will be better suited to different models. Broadly speaking, there are three formats – TV shows or films as catch-up or VOD, specific made-for-broadband content, and user/consumer generated content.

There has been some research into this area. Work Research carried out an interesting qualitative piece into how people use different forms of online video content (though they segmented the market into catch-up, boutique and snippets), and which type of advertising would be most appropriate.

Furthermore, this chart from Ipsos MediaCT shows that the public have widely different levels of acceptance towards advertising depending on the type of content. However, we are still a long way from accepted formats.

With that in mind, here are some of the options that those in the sphere find themselves deliberating over – both advertising-based and non-advertising based. Multiple options can be used in combination, though one has to consider the extent to which users will be accepting.

A: Advertising models

1: Pre-rolls: The non-skippable adverts that play in-video before the content begins. Many of the big players utilise this method. Despite its acceptance, there is no consensus on the best length of pre-roll. One factor would be the length of the clip – who would want to sit through a 30 second advert to see a 20 second short? Even with longer-form, one would think that shorter (10-15 second) pre-rolls, would work best, but some advertisers are loath the pay the product costs of converting their 30 second TV spot and so these often appear. There is also the question of whether consumers will accept several short pre-rolls

2: Mid-rolls/post-rolls: Not as common as pre-rolls, these cut through long-form content (often mimicking a break as if one were watching on TV), and appear after the content has finished. One might question who would watch post-rolls, since the desired content has concluded, but data suggests that direct response advertising works better as a post-roll than as a pre-roll. This makes intuitive sense, since people would be unlikely to click through while they wait for their video to start, but one has to be careful to ensure that enough people hang around to view the post-roll(s).

3. Sponsorship idents: Sponsors of TV shows may negotiate a similar deal (or have it included in the original deal) to have their continuities included in the online catch-up or made-for-broadband spin-offs. I can see this being an area of growth as scheduled, online-only programmes increase in frequency.

4: Product placement: Currently banned on broadcast TV in the UK, this is where an advertiser pays for their brand or product to appear in a show. Big business in the US, the UK restrictions don’t extend to online. Prop placement, or product plugging, where products are provided for authenticity but no money changes hands, is currently allowed on UK TV, and so in theory this can extend to paid placements online. The LG15 group (who produced Lonely Girl and Kate Modern) seem to be pretty hot on this.

5: Brand integration: A step up from product placement, this is where a brand or product is incorporated into a storyline. To take another Bebo example, The Gap Year looked to integrate brands into the storyline. Advertiser funded programmes, or in-programme live ads, could fall under this banner.

6: In-stream advertising: The next big thing? Youtube toyed with it, and Sky look to be implementing it soon through Adjustables. It is where little strips (like the Sky Sports News ticker) or corner animations advertise brands while the main content continues to play. US TV stations use this to advertise upcoming shows. The trick is for it not the too intrusive. See this in-stream advert during Family Guy as an example of how not to do it.

7: Surrounding white space: This is unlikely to be used on its own, as CPM rates for white space are much lower than they are for online video. However, interstitials and superstitials (full-screen ads before and after a page is visited) could possibly be used as an alternative to pre and post-rolls.

B: Non-advertising models

1: Subscription: Where fee indiscriminate to consumption is paid. It could be purchasing a series or access to a walled garden where the video is but one feature. In some ways, the most popular catch-up service in the UK uses this model, depending on how you view the licence fee underpinning the BBC’s iPlayer.

2: Purchase: Where individual episodes are purchased, such as through iTunes. This is unlikely to be viable unless the show has a serious profile, either through having already appeared on TV/in the cinema, or featuring well-known celebrities.

3: DVD: The programme may be available online for free as a barebones show, but a DVD release brings together extras and behind-the-scenes looks. This is the model that Beyond The Rave will be using, though I think it is most likely to be used in conjunction with other models e.g. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog is available via iTunes (purchase) and Hulu (advertising).

4: Merchandising opportunities: I’m not aware of any specific examples of this, but if Dr Who can sell merchandise by the ton, there is no reason why a made-for-broadband show cannot. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be surprised if physical Dr Horrible comics are released.

5: Events: This would be an attractive option for the online expert. There are many stories of bloggers making money from lucrative speaking gigs as a result of their blogs (Content marketing) – I’m sure this can apply to vloggers

6: Get bought out: Alternatively, one could forget about a business model. Concentrate on finding an audience first. So long as there are venture capitalists, the business side can wait. And if you are successful, someone can buy you out, and you won’t need to worry about it. It’s worked for some people.

Interesting times lie ahead. Whether it is through industry-adopted standards, or research “proving” the efficacy of a solution to a format, at some point a consensus will (hopefully) emerge.

In the interests of exhaustiveness, I’d be grateful if anyone could point out any options that I have overlooked in the above summary.


Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29607812@N08/

Public accepting of advertising supporting free online video

New data from Ipsos MediaCT in the United States shows that the public are largely accepting of the ad-supported online video model.

Over four in five online video users think that it is reasonable to include advertising on full length TV programmes. To me, this is expected but what I did find surprising is that almost two thirds would accept advertising on short-form content.

The only format where a majority feel that this model is unreasonable is user generated content – an interesting result as Youtube consider various methods to shore up its revenue model.

As this data indicates, the question over whether ad-funded models can work online is largely settled. But while people may be in favour of the principle, the practice is still a huge cause for debate.

If someone knows the perfect method, volume and tone to distribute video advertising online, could you please let me know?