Tag Archive: TV

  1. The future is here: Samsung at CES 2020

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    It’s called the Consumer Electronics Show, but really, CES is a showcase of the future. Over three days across Las Vegas, attendees are shown how tech will create a strange, beautiful new world. Each year there is normally one brand that garners a lot of attention for its innovation and vision: this year it was Samsung, that most future-facing of organisations.

    Samsung launches #TheAgeofExperience

    So what better way to kick of this year’s show than with a keynote from the Korean tech giant? The President and CEO of the Korean tech giant’s consumer electronics division, Hyun-Suk Kim, took to the stage in front of an audience of thousands of delegates on Monday evening to explain Samsung’s vision for the future. That vision has the consumer very firmly at its heart, and ushers in ‘the age of experience’. In a world where 74% of us value experiences over products, Samsung has set out to provide consumers with meaningful experiences and memorable moments through the seamless use of innovative, unobtrusive technology.

    Help in the home

    H.S. Kim and some of his colleagues took delegates on a journey to show them how Samsung innovation will create these meaningful experiences for ourselves, in the home and in cities. We were introduced to Ballie, a small, spherical robot that understands you, supports you and reacts to your needs so that it can help you around the home. It can follow you around the home (without getting in the way) and can even help you look after your pets and instruct robot vacuum cleaners to clean dirty floors!

    A personal fitness assistant for all

    Another way in which Samsung has harnessed AI to support personal care is its fitness assistant, which pairs the existing GEMS outfit with other devices such as AI glasses and a smart watch to help users meet their health and fitness goals. GEMS and AI glasses can also be used to help people with disabilities to move and see, reinforcing Samsung’s promise to enhance people’s lives.

    The home as a living organism

    The GEMS demo showcased how the blurring of the physical and online worlds is allowing homes to act as other spaces too, including fitness studios, art studios and entertainment spaces. The home is becoming a living organism, an intelligent and deeply personal space that tailors experiences to our individual needs. Smart kitchens will be nutritionists, chefs and shopping assistants, giving meal recommendations based on your workout and what is in your fridge, putting missing items on a shopping list and even recommending wine pairings. Another exciting innovation revealed was the cooking assistant ‘Chef Bot’, a large pair of arms suspended over the kitchen worktop which can help you to whip up a meal.

    Building the smart cities of the future

    Samsung’s innovations demonstrate how the internet of things is expanding to make our lives easier in a personalised, non-intrusive way. But it is also growing its reach beyond the home and into the cities that so many of us inhabit. A key challenge facing us in the future is the rise of megacities (cities of more than 10 million people): it is predicted that by 2050, 70% of the global population will live in cities, with 42 megacities. This poses questions around how housing provision and transport will cope: and this is another area in which Samsung is finding smart ways to converge technology, building the cities of the future. Building structures will sense when there is a fault and send an alert before it becomes a problem, while residents will be able to manage deliveries, energy and other services with a simple voice command. Meanwhile, 5G vehicles such as the Digital Cockpit will communicate with one another and the passengers’ personal infrastructure for seamless, safe and clean transportation.

    Prioritising data privacy and security

    Of course, smart technology which so fundamentally affects and enhances our lives will require a huge amount of data, which Samsung will need to harness in order to ensure that its products deliver on their promises. H.S. Kim underlined the company’s commitment to data security and personal privacy, emphasising that they will be a top priority as technology advances and that customers will always have control over their information.

    Experiencing the future

    After Samsung’s keynote many in the audience were eager to visit Samsung’s space on the show floor and it didn’t disappoint. In their huge space we were treated to futuristic demos from the Chef Bot, Ballie and Bot Air, which cleans the air in your home, and witnessed a simulated demo of Digital Cockpit, which uses 5G to link features both inside and outside the vehicle, and provide connected experiences for driver and passengers. Dominating one end of the Samsung space was The Wall, a modular ‘as-big-as-you-want’ MicroLED screen – the iteration they had on display was a huge 7.4m (292 inches), and the colour, contrast and quality are mind-blowing.

    The GEMS exo-skeleton was also on display, as were a huge array of connected living devices and of course the high-quality laptops, tablets, smartphones and TVs that Samsung is so well known for.

    A bold vision for the future

    Samsung clearly feels huge responsibility: to provide meaningful experiences and memorable moments for consumers, to protect their data whilst making their lives better, to ensure that tech is a force for good, and to educate the next generation of innovators. It’s a big task but they are well positioned to deliver on it all, and more. The future is a strange place: Samsung’s innovations make it even stranger but also reassuring: technology will ensure that our lives run more smoothly and more healthily so that we can focus on what’s important. As H.S. Kim said in his concluding words, Samsung will dream big and defy barriers with people at the centre, for a better today and tomorrow. What could be more exciting than that?

    Image: Alex Matthews

  2. Insights from day 2 of CES 2020

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    The momentum doesn’t slow for a second at CES! On day 2 in Las Vegas we were treated to a smorgasbord of innovation – some ready-to-go, some just conceptual, but almost all are exciting and will transform how we as consumers go about our everyday lives.

    Hollywood meets Silicon Valley – but will it work?

    We started the day by attending one of CES’ flagship corporate keynotes. This one was from Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Disney Chairman and founder of Dreamworks, and Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard. They were unveiling Quibi, their mobile entertainment platform which they have positioned as the sweetspot where Hollywood meets Silicon Valley; they underlined the collaborative aspect of the creative process, where content creators and engineers work hand-in-hand right from the start to drive innovation. Quibi offers viewers a ‘revolutionary’ video-streaming technology that delivers portrait and landscape video at the same time, and allows creators to take advantage of other mobile capabilities such as GPRS, time, camera and interactivity. All content is in ‘quick bites’ (hence ‘Quibi’) of 10 minutes or less – so that it can be consumed in those historically hard-to-reach moments on the go. This means super-short series episodes and splitting movies into ‘chapters’.

    A lot of emphasis was placed on the opportunities that this platform represents for advertisers, especially the fact that it specifically targets the hard-to-reach millennial generation at a time when they are particularly hard to reach – on the go. Their low ad-load will also no doubt appeal to ad-weary generation Y. Quibi’s first-year advertising inventory, worth $150m, has sold out and they have many world-famous brands on their client roster, including AB InBev, Procter & Gamble, T-Mobile and PepsiCo; the latter was invited on stage to talk about the innovative, collaborative creative process and the brand-safe, brand appropriate environment.

    Quibi is undoubtedly an innovative new streaming platform and the idea of creating short-form video content for the on-the-go generation is a good one, but some questions remain. In the age of the streaming wars, how will this young start-up fare against established competitors such as Disney, Netflix and Warner? And will viewers really want to keep flipping their phones while they are watching a show to get the full Quibi experience? Furthermore, with content costing on average $100,000 a minute to produce and with plans to deliver a huge amount of content, is the business model sustainable? Quibi launches in April – after that, time will tell.

    A dose of futuristic technology

    After Quibi’s talk we made our way up the Strip to the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the world’s leading future-facing brands showcase their innovations. The Center is mind-bogglingly huge with the footprint of many exhibitors’ ‘stalls’ matching that of a mansion. We made a beeline for Samsung’s space, eager to see for ourselves the products that they revealed in their keynote speech. There’s so much to say about Samsung’s contribution to CES that we will be posting a separate blog about it tomorrow, but suffice to say that their space was seriously futuristic and shakes up what the future of the home, the city and even of you (and me, and all of us) looks like.

    It’s all about screens

    Screens were a big area of innovation. Our eyes were drawn by LG’s undulating display of their OLED screens – and as we entered the LG space we were shown just how slender these screens are. There was also a roll down screen on display – similar to the roll-up screen showcased a few years ago and which is now available to buy. Meanwhile, Samsung displayed its enormous MicroLED screen called ‘The Wall’. MicroLED technology allows screens to be built at any size, and The Wall is truly huge, at 292 inches or 7.4m. Its sheer scale and extreme brightness and contrast meant that it was truly a sight to behold!

    Flexible screens were another big talking point. Intel showcased its conceptual 17-inch foldable screen which works as a laptop or monitor, while Lenovo unveiled the ThinkPad X1 Fold. It seems inevitable that foldable screens will become far more commonplace over the next few years.

    Tomorrow: Samsung deep dive

    We’ll be posting a deeper dive into Samsung’s presence at CES tomorrow, including their keynote and seeing their innovations in action on the show floor. In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss anything at CES and how it affects marketers, please contact us on

    Image: Alex Matthews

  3. Insights from day 1 of CES 2020

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    Las Vegas, early January: it must be time for CES, time for 180,000 delegates to discover, quite literally, what the future holds. Alongside the famous show floor, where delegates can enjoy futuristic product demos from brands as diverse as Samsung, Nikon and Impossible Foods, there is a dazzling array of talks and discussions on a wide range of topics, from smart cities to health and fitness.

    We spent our first day on the ‘Future of TV’ tract, a series of panel discussions and talks featuring brands, agencies and TV experts discussing what the future holds for TV, and what that means for advertisers.

    A mantra for the new decade: progress before perfection

    The day started with a session on ‘The New Frontier of Television’, with the Editor of Forbes’ CMO Network, Jenny Rooney, interviewing Deborah Wahl, Global CMO of General Motors, about what developments in TV mean for her brand. Deborah talked about how GM has reaped huge benefits from the rapidly changing TV landscape – their effectiveness has increased by 10% over just three month – and how they are embracing the change by getting their teams comfortable with learning and failing. She noted – as have many over the week – that failure is inevitable, but that’s ok. If everything you do is working all the time, then you’re not doing enough, because there’s so much out there to play with. Deborah’s mantra epitomises this mindset: progress before perfection.

    Deborah also discussed how excited she is about the future of TV and how the huge amount of data available to advertisers now is helping creativity to become scientific. It’s delivering faster, better, more measurable results so that creative can be customised in almost real-time, creating content that is better for consumers – and therefore better for brands.

    When CTV effectiveness is fully measurable and provable, ad dollars will shift quickly

    Next up was a panel featuring Lynn Blashford of White Castle, Gustavo Alvarado of Activision and PepsiCo’s Kate Brady, facilitated by Innovid’s Stephanie Geno. The group discussed scaling success in connected TV (CTV), and started out by discussing what is holding brands back from CTV: it receives just 3% of media investment in the US, despite accounting for 30% of media consumption. The key reasons given were measurement, high CPMs, a lack of inventory and proven models from linear TV: investment in tradition TV has always led to an increase in sales, and it’s difficult to take money away from something that is proven to work. Brands are still looking for ways to illustrate success as clearly and quickly for digital devices and CTV so they can start shifting significant ad dollars to these platforms.

    Kate Brady mentioned how her ultimate goal is to harness data from CTV to optimise activity on a weekly basis – and ideally even more frequently – ‘the more data we can have, and the better we can optimise, the more it will help us’. She emphasised the importance of using data to work out what resonates with one customer versus another, so that personalisation can drive brand love as well as ROI. Meanwhile, Gustavo Alvarado discussed how direct response hasn’t been a focus on how we buy TV, but the opportunity to ‘add to cart’ direct from a CTV ad would be a really exciting development for advertisers. However – he said that whatever the future holds, it must be measurable. Measurement is key.

    What do the streaming wars mean for CMOs?

    With the launch or imminent launch of streaming platforms from Disney, Apple, NBC and Warner, we were particularly excited about the next session, about what the streaming wars mean for CMOs. Innovid’s Tal Chalozin interviewed Rich Greenfield from LightShed Partners about how CMOs can best navigate this new landscape. Rich noted how numbers for live TV are down by double digit percentages, and even when we do watch live TV we are not as engaged as we used to be, particularly during ad breaks. That’s true even for live sport, the saving grace of linear TV. This is partly because the ad experience on traditional TV is not nearly as engaging for viewers as it is on, say, Instagram. TV advertising has not kept up with the internet and isn’t customisable or shareable. He went on to discuss how expensive channel bundles are and how they force consumers to pay for channels they are not interested in. This, combined with a frequently heavy ad load, sends consumers straight into the embrace of the streaming platforms which are cheaper, offer content that they actually want to watch, and allow them to watch it seamlessly across devices.

    An interesting point that Rob raised was the fact that wealthier consumers are now effectively able to buy themselves out of advertising – so how do we reach them? The obvious answer is live sport, but there simply isn’t enough to satisfy the demand of the many brands for whom wealthier demographics are their target audience. It’s a question that has yet to be answered, but integration may be part of the solution.

    Moving from creating ads to curating experiences

    Next to take to the stage was the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Mastercard, Raja Rajamannar, in discussion with Innovid’s Beth-Ann Eason about Mastercard’s new approach to marketing. Raja started by emphasising that Mastercard now looks at consumers as people, for whom consumption is just a small part of their lives. What happens outside of that consumption – how they live their lives, their values, their passions – informs how and what they consume. People are bored of ads and care more about experiences than things, so Mastercard’s marketing strategy focuses on ‘nothing but curating experiences’, targeted in a highly effective way. Raja’s team divided people’s lives into 10 different passion points, such as music and food, and curated multi-sensory experiences at scale, with seamless and non-intrusive integration of the Mastercard brand. These experiences engage people completely and make them want to tell and spread the story of that experience – word of mouth for the 21st century. This strategy and razor focus on experience has helped Mastercard to move from number 87 to number 12 in Kantar’s ranking of the top 100 most valuable brands, and to be named Interbrand’s fastest growing brand across all categories.

    The future of linear TV in the US relies on NFL

    Innovid’s ‘Future of TV’ tract was wrapped up by Luma’s inimitable Terry Kawaja, who took us on a rip-roaring ride through the stream wars and the future of TV. He pointed out that the streaming wars have created Nirvana for customers, who have more choice at less cost, and that the future for linear television in the US essentially rests in the hands of NFL. NFL contracts are up in the next few years, and the big tech companies such as Amazon are getting ready to swoop – Jeff Bezos himself has said that Amazon wants to use live sports to drive value for prime customers. The big problem for the linear TV companies? Those big tech companies have a lot more money, and global reach. In order to defend themselves, the broadcast networks are turning to scale consolidation, direct OTT distribution and CTV tech acquisition – but they need to do it quickly.

    There are few losers in the future of TV

    One of our favourite slides of the day was one that we shared on our LinkedIn page here. In it, Terry showed his audience the winners and losers of the streaming wars. For agencies, tech intermediaries, big tech, content creators and consumers the streaming wars are undoubtedly great news, while for media distributors it is less positive. Terry believed that for brands it could go either way, but in a subsequent panel discussion that he hosted with brand CMOs and TV experts, he revised his opinion and decreed that the age of streaming was in fact a great opportunity for brands!

    An opportunity to bundle streaming service packages

    Another key takeaway from Terry’s talk was his prediction that the myriad options available to consumers would in time open up an opportunity for an independent third party to re-aggregate the streaming platforms, bundling up their services in order to make them more manageable – and more affordable – for consumers. His prediction for who that third party could be? Apple – who could well want to position themselves at the top of the TV ‘waterfall’ in the same way that Amazon is for shopping and Google is for search.

    More insights from #CES2020 tomorrow

    Day one at CES was an incredible opportunity to hear from experts about their vision and predictions for the future of TV: if you would like to discuss anything you have read here in more depth with our experts then please ">get in touch. In tomorrow’s blog we’ll be covering the keynote from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman on their new mobile entertainment platform, Quibi, and bringing insights and innovation from the CES show floor.

    Image: Alex Matthews

  4. What does TV fragmentation mean for US marketers?

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    ECI Media Management’s US Business Director, Victoria Potter, looks at the changing TV landscape and explores the ramifications.

    This week, eMarketer released an article stating that this year, there will be about a 3% decline in TV ad spend from 2018, and that trend shows no signs of slowing. By 2022, eMarketer is predicting that TV ad spend will drop below 25% of total us ad spending. Of particular interest is that, the typical “political year” bump that has been prevalent in previous years will not be as great in 2020, only accounting for about a 1% increase, followed by steady 1% decreases in the following years. Contributing to this decline is steady growth in cord cutters and ratings decline.

    Nielsen is showing steadily declining ratings over the past few years. In the desirable Prime daypart, C3 ratings have seen a 33% decrease from 2016 to present.  While ratings are declining, networks continue to show increases in pricing – with Nielsen reporting a 7% increase in spend during the same period. And, coming out of the latest Upfront, networks were seeing low-double digit increases, despite lower audiences.

    What does this mean for marketers? Linear TV still provides efficient reach build. However, the days of one-size-fits-all tentpole events are over, and not coming back. It is important to adjust the media mix to account for audience erosion and fragmentation.

    Connected TV increases

    Meanwhile, as we see Linear TV spend decreasing, another eMarketer report out this week predicts Connected TV spend will reach around $7 billion, a 38% increase vs. 2018, and projected spend of over $14 billion by 2023. Connected TV is defined as TVs, smart TVs and TVs hooked up to the internet via a set top box, game console or similar device.

    A reminder: the day is still 24 hours long

    The amount of new content available is staggering: Hollywood Reporter stated in June that 2019 was on track to top the 2018 year-long high of 495 scripted series. To add to the proliferation of streaming services already available (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), this month sees the launch of Amazon TV Plus and Disney+, the latest, but not last, entries into the streaming world, with PeacockTV (Comcast/NBCU), and WarnerMedia (HBOMax) to follow next year. However, the day is still only 24 hours long, meaning that all the new content is vying for the same attention, creating more fragmentation. It leaves many asking – what will the new TV ecosystem look like? Subscription services are currently ad-free, but there’s a big question on how much of an appetite consumers have to create their own “bundles” with so many standalone options. While cord-cutting was once thought of as a money saver, it is now a trade-off between the channels in the cable bundle vs. a personally curated streaming bundle.

    How do we measure it all?

    With the myriad options available to advertisers and consumers alike, the question becomes – how do I evaluate my reach across platforms? Many companies are proposing their solutions, most recently Roku and Innovid, which launched a combined solution currently being tested by several Innovid and Roku clients.

    It can be difficult to navigate the changing video landscape – to determine the right balance between scale and targetability. Here is some advice from ECI Media Management’s experts:

    • Establish clear Reach and Frequency goals, and put in place a standard for measurement
    • Be clear about target(s) and ensure your agency is prioritizing goals when putting together plans; keep fragmentation in mind and make sure your media mix is broad enough to adequately reach the audience, building reach and not just frequency.
    • Ensure you account for transparency within your agency agreement, as more media dollars are allocated to principal agreements.
      • Most of these principal-based buying situations are done as a service to clients, offering flexibility. However, a lack of transparency requires a great deal of trust, as clients do not fully know where, or even when, their ads are running.

    Image: Shutterstock

  5. In the news this week: Comcast wins Sky bid, and Instagram founders resign

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    There’s never a quiet moment in the media industry, and this week was no exception, with two major pieces of news that could have major ramifications for advertisers, albeit in very different ways.

    Comcast gains full control of Sky

    On 22ndSeptember, it was announced that Comcast, the American telecommunications giant that offers digital cable TV, internet and telephony services, had won the bidding for Sky, at a cost of $38.8 billion, beating 21stCentury Fox. Four days later it emerged that Fox would also be ceding its pre-existing 39% ownership to Comcast for $15 billion, giving full control of Sky to Comcast.

    A year of mega-deals

    This is the latest in a series of ‘mega deals’ over the last 12 months, where content distributors and creators are merging in an attempt to confront the existential threat posed by the rapidly growing streaming companies such as Netflix, and the tech giants who are ‘scope creeping’ into TV; in June, AT&T acquired Time Warner for $85 billion, and the following month Disney beat Comcast to buy 21stCentury Fox for $71 billion. In an industry quirk, it was then Comcast who effectively beat Disney, as 21stCentury Fox’s new owners, to the purchase of Sky; Sky was originally going to be part of the deal that sold 21stCentury Fox to Disney.

    A global footprint and more original content for Comcast

    Comcast’s purchase of Sky will be a major boost to their global footprint: Sky has 23 million subscribers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and has launched an over-the-top service in Spain and Switzerland, meaning Comcast will be better equipped to fend off the likes of Netflix and other tech giants. The acquisition also bolsters Comcast’s original content capabilities: Ovum’s chief entertainment analyst, Ed Barton, said ‘they could look at licensing content on a combined basis, which would lower the cost on a per-subscriber basis, if you have something you can show to a European and US audience.’ This merging of content would also mean a larger library to leverage as they roll out into other markets globally.

    Combining technical know-how

    The cultural affinity between Sky and Comcast could also be important for advertisers; it is likely, even inevitable, that they will combine their technical and data assets to forge ahead with an addressable advertising offering which will make TV as targeted as online.

    Instagram founders announce their resignation

    The other big news for the media and tech industries this week was the departure of Instagram’s co-founders from the company, which they announced on Tuesday and which sent Facebook’s share price tumbling. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger founded Instagram in 2010, before selling it two years later to Facebook for $1 billion – an almost unprecedented amount for a two-year-old start-up. It has since become the jewel in Facebook’s crown and its fastest growing revenue generator.

    A snub to Zuckerberg?

    Sysrom and Krieger said that they were leaving the company to explore their ‘curiosity and creativity again’.  That is being seen by many as a veiled snub to Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg, who have made a raft of unpopular changes to Instagram, in many cases in an attempt to boost traffic to the core Facebook platform. Sysrom and Krieger wouldn’t be the only ones to leave following differences with the Facebook CEO – last year, WhatsApp founder Jan Joum quit over privacy disagreements with his bosses, who were keen to monetise the service.

    Monetising the jewel in Facebook’s crown

    As discussed at length in the press and in previous ECI Thinks posts, Facebook has in recent years been battered by criticism of its approach to data privacy, fake news allegations and for allowing foreign interference into national election campaigns – and its user base is showing signs of disengagement as a result. Instagram has largely escaped these problems: it has more than a billion active monthly users and successful updates such as its stories feature, messaging and IGTV have seen off competitors from the likes of Snapchat. In this context, it’s unsurprising that Zuckerberg and his team are so keen to squeeze as many ad dollars as possible out of Instagram; Lynette Luna, a principal analyst at GlobalData, said “Facebook’s strategy has been to allow companies it has purchased to operate independently to garner growth, and then monetise. When they start monetising that’s when there’s a little conflict with the founders.” Systrom and Krieger may well have wanted to retain the independence to run Instagram as they wanted.

    It is not yet known who will replace Systrom and Krieger, but it will be interesting to see if changes to Instagram, particularly to its revenue model and integration with Facebook, accelerate in the wake of their departure

    Thumbnail image: Shutterstock

  6. Does mobile pose a threat to TV?

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    Audiences appear to be increasingly consuming video on their mobile devices. What does that mean for TV?

    A few weeks ago, we posted a blog asking if video streaming spelled the end of the TV industry as we know it. We concluded that TV would survive – even thrive – as long as it adapts and innovates. But the medium is not just fighting a battle on one front: mobile is another contender for the throne.

    The mobile decade

    Arguably, nothing has changed the face of media consumption – and therefore advertising – over the last decade as much as mobile. The statistics are familiar: in many developed countries, smartphone penetration is at around 70%, and mobile connection statistics tell a similar story: in 2008, there were 4.02 billion mobile connections globally, while in 2018 this had more than doubled to 8.53 billion – and in 2020 the figure is projected to be 9.02 billion. Human beings are duly becoming more reliant on their phones: in the UK for example, people spend around 24 hours a week on them, on average, and check them every 12 minutes, and this trend is reflected around the world. The mobile phone has replaced the television as the media device that we most miss; in 2007, 52% most missed the TV, while 13% missed their phone the most. 11 years later, the figures were 28% and 46% respectively.

    A bleak future for TV?

    Indeed, you could be forgiven for believing that the growth of mobile means a bleak future for linear TV. The young, mobile generation are increasingly tending to stream video content instead of watching traditional linear TV, and often do so on a mobile device. Many tech companies have noted this and are acting upon it: in June, CBS announced that it will be streaming NFL games on mobile devices from this autumn, while, shortly after closing their acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T announced the launch of their new mobile streaming service, Watch TV. These services will no doubt be popular, thanks in part to the smaller ad load for content streamed on a mobile.

    TV is still the most popular medium for video consumption

    However, Nielsen data released this week suggests that mobile is not denting TV’s success as much as it seems. Of 5.57 hours a day that US adults spent watching video in quarter one of this year, 4.46 of those were on live or time-shifted TV, while only 15 minutes were on a smartphone or tablet. Young people aged 18-34 were the only demographic who spent longer on a tablet or smartphone consuming general content (not just video) than on a TV. What’s more, even those households that don’t have a traditional TV don’t rely on their mobile devices to watch TV programming: 27% use a computer and 30% go elsewhere (to a friend’s or public place), compared to 16% using a mobile device.

    TV versus mobile in the future

    Will this change as the young, mobile generation grow older and take their mobile habits with them, replacing the more stagnant habits of older people? Or will they change their habits as they age to reflect those of their parents? Will increasing concern around mobile addiction and interest in digital detoxes encourage people to put their phones down and switch their attention to television? Time will answer all these questions, but we believe that TV is here to stay. One commentator said that ‘mobile is a wart on the ass of TV’: while we think that mobile is more significant in the video space than that, we can’t imagine that consumers will transform viewing habits so much that they will choose en masse to watch long-form content on a mobile over their television. TV is safe for now but, as always, needs to innovate and adapt to stay ahead of the game.

    Thumbnail image: Lolostock/Shutterstock.com

  7. Media audits: the big four or specialists?

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    In an increasingly complex media landscape, media audits are becoming ever more important; should advertisers choose one of the ‘big four’ firms or a smaller media specialist to carry out their audits?

    The media audit – understanding efficiency and transparency in media activity

    In an increasingly digital and competitive world, where brands are concerned about transparency and about the effectiveness of every single dollar invested in advertising, the media audit is a very important tool in the CMO’s toolbox. Not only does it help advertisers to ensure that their agency partner(s) are delivering on their marketing and business objectives in the most efficient and transparent way possible, but it also enables them to identify errors and troubleshoot effectively: particularly crucial in an age of automated buying.

    Choosing a media auditor

    Once an advertiser has decided that they are going to carry out a media audit with their media agency partner or partners and established the KPIs of the audit, the next step is to select the auditor themselves. The options here are not myriad – this is not a huge industry – but they can be more or less divided into two camps – big generalists, or smaller specialists. The former, comprising the ‘big four’ audit firms – KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte – carry out audits across many industries for blue chip clients across the world, and are often chosen by clients for their undoubted auditing and accountancy experience, or because they have successfully audited another part of the company. The other camp comprises the smaller specialists, among whom we at ECI count ourselves. While these specialists do not boast the vast scale of the Big Four, there is huge value in having media specialists audit media activity.

    The big four versus the specialists

    In 2016, Sir Martin Sorrell urged advertisers to choose one of the Big Four to carry out their media audit, largely because they are chartered accountancy firms and are therefore subject to regulation. Sorrell said that he was concerned about giving specialist media auditors access to his group’s privileged information, given that they ‘lack professional rules and regulations’. This is a view

    commonly held by media agencies, an unkind interpretation of which is that they are nervous of having their activity audited by media specialists – some of whom may have even worked agency-side and know which stones to turn. In any case, we are convinced that, in an industry renowned for complexity that increases by the day, it can only be to an advertiser’s advantage to have experienced media practitioners examining and analysing agency practices – because they do indeed know what they are looking for.

    Impartiality issues

    In the wider business world, the big four are having to answer big questions about their work, having been involved in the auditing of failing or failed businesses such as Carillion in the UK, which went into liquidation earlier this year. Their impartiality has also on many occasions been called into question; PwC and Deloitte’s creative offerings (PwC Digital Services and Deloitte Digital respectively) are among the largest creative agencies in the world, putting them directly into competition with the holding companies that own the very agencies they are being hired to audit. Meanwhile, Accenture – not one of the Big Four but similar in offering and scale – has recently launched its programmatic offering, negating, in our view, impartiality for its audit function: this is indicative of a wider industry trend.

    In the end, the choice is of course up to the advertiser themselves, who should make their decision based on their specific needs and preferences. The key is to ensure you study the media agency contract carefully and agree on the scope of the audit with both the agency and the chosen auditor. Ultimately, it is about ensuring that every media dollar is used as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to drive higher media value.

    Thumbnail image: chase4concept/Shutterstock.com

  8. The Digital World Cup

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    There are few events that unite audiences like the FIFA World Cup. The passion, excitement and anguish evoked by the beautiful game crescendos for one month every four years, and this year fans from Poland to Peru and Saudi Arabia to Senegal have turned their attention to Russia, pinning their hopes on their national team and praying that this will be their year: the fans of all but one country will have those dreams dashed. Even Americans, whose national team failed to qualify and who are traditionally less interested in soccer, are still gripped by the drama that unfolds daily.

    Sports audiences are turning their attention towards digital channels

    Of course, such focus and emotion makes the World Cup fertile ground for brands who are looking to coherently engage a global audience. Once, TV was the obvious choice of channel for these brands, who would plough millions upon millions of dollars into sponsorship, premium TV spots and experiential activity. However, the increased adoption of digital and social media in recent years has forced advertisers to take a step back and consider how to best to reach those who have migrated away from TV: while 62% of the 3.2bn-strong audience still plan to watch the games on TV, 30% will stream them online – a figure that increases in developing countries and likely in countries with a dramatic time difference to Russia. Over half of the TV viewers will use social media while they are watching. Some had feared that the all-important millennials were drifting away from sport in general but, as this McKinsey study found, they are in fact simply fragmenting their viewing habits, streaming games and using social media to check highlights, scores and news. This is backed up by a Google study which shows that there has been a 90% increase in searches for highlights videos in the last year. This is compounded by the fact that many social platforms are becoming increasingly video-heavy – see Instagram’s recent announcement that it will allow users to post videos of up to 60 minutes.

    TV is losing broadcasting rights as well as audiences to tech giants

    All this is happening against a backdrop of an equally seismic shift in the live sports landscape: the buying up of broadcast rights for sporting events by non-traditional entities such as telco companies and even tech giants such as Amazon, is having a profound effect on traditional broadcasters and, by extension, on advertisers. Not only do the broadcasters lose viewership during the sporting events, but also afterwards as they lose the opportunity to market for future programming to the large sporting audience: smaller viewership means fewer eyeballs on ads. At the same time, the new players like Amazon finance the purchase of their rights through means other than ads, for example subscription fees, thereby removing a huge message distribution opportunity for advertisers. This means that the pricing of what remains increases, particularly around high-value programming.

     

    So, what does this all mean for marketers who might previously have relied on international sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympic Games to reach the often elusive younger male audience, as well as the others who only engage with sport every few years?

    Advertisers must respond by adapting and innovating

    The answer is, as so often, to follow the consumer and to innovate. It goes without saying that advertisers need to look at allocating a large proportion of their budget to digital channels; however, they should also be looking for ways to enhance the enjoyment of the event for consumers and give them what they want by creating exciting new products for added value. We know that millennials have short attention spans thanks to the huge range of options available to them, so products such as fun contests, easily shareable gossip and opinions and ‘whip-around’ highlights could be great ways to engage with them and hold their attention.

    Sporting influencers are a huge opportunity

    Sport by its very nature creates influencers with huge followings: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo drove 570m social engagements between January and May this year, while Neymar drove nearly 300m (both figures from Nielsen). Savvy brands are capitalising on these figures: McDonald’s in Brazil incorporated Neymar and his Twitter activity into their #prepara World Cup campaign, while Vodafone has not only featured Egyptian Mohamed Salah in their World Cup activity, but harnessed his social following as well. Visa’s global campaign features six influencers, most notably Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and makes the most of his innate charm and popularity.

    TV is still important – but it no longer monopolises audiences

    TV is by no means dead and still commands the lion’s share of audiences for live sporting events, including for major ones such as the World Cup and the Olympics. However, advertisers need to be mindful that the trend of audience migration to more digital viewing behaviour shows no sign of abating, and should respond accordingly.

    Thumbnail image: Pasko Maksim/Shutterstock.com

  9. AT&T, Time Warner and the battle for the future of entertainment

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    The court approval of US telco giant AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner will have huge ramifications for the media and entertainment sector; in fact, it already is...

    AT&T finalises acquisition of Time Warner

    The entertainment, media and technology worlds watched with bated breath this week as a US court deliberated over whether to allow AT&T’s $85bn takeover of Time Warner this week. On Tuesday, the wait came to an end: a federal judge approved the communication giant’s purchase of the entertainment company with no conditions, and the US government, which had argued that the acquisition would harm consumers, has since stated that it will not seek an injunction to stop the deal.

    AT&T now owns the rights to Time Warner’s vast range of media and entertainment assets, including major sports leagues and film franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Time Warner’s TV content, now also owned by AT&T, is arguably unrivalled, including as it does Game of Thrones, The Wire, True Detective, The Sopranos and many more. Channels HBO and CNN are included in the deal, as is HBO’s SVoD app which boasts 130 million subscribers who each pay about $15 a month. There’s also Time Warner’s video game assets such as Lego, which bring in $2.5bn a year in revenue.

    Consumer behaviour is driving seismic shifts in content distribution and production

    In short, the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner is one of the biggest and most significant mergers of content producers and distributors ever, and represents a seismic shift for the media and communications industries not only in the US, but across the world. It is the culmination of dramatic changes disrupting the media and technology spaces, driven by changing consumer behaviour. Consumers are increasingly consuming content on mobile devices and over internet connections, so distributors who could previously rely on provision of cable services for revenue are scrambling to adapt; this will only be made more urgent by the advent of 5G. Companies such as YouTube, Amazon and Netflix – the latter now the world’s most valuable media company – are upping the stakes even more; indeed, AT&T argued that they needed to acquire Time Warner so they could remain competitive against these and other SVoD providers.

    Comcast and Disney are in a bidding war for 21st Century Fox

    This dramatic shift in the media industry is the driving force behind a flurry of mergers between content distributors and producers. The trend started with Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal in 2011 and last week’s announcement about AT&T and Time Warner is expected to accelerate that trend. Indeed, Comcast are once again in the spotlight having announced just days after the AT&T news that they have made an all-cash offer of $65bn for the large portion of 21st Century Fox that

    Rupert Murdoch has put up for sale. That’s a significant increase on the $52.4bn offer that rivals Disney made in December and demonstrates how desirable the Fox assets, which include the film and TV studios, cable networks and a stake in streaming service Hulu, are to distributors. It remains to be seen how Disney will fight back.

    Mergers between distributors and producers will open up opportunities for cross-promotions across different parts of a business, for example the exclusive screening of proprietary content on a distributor’s networks (although this has been explicitly prohibited in past deals), as well as opportunities to increase revenue by licensing shows to other distributors and fleshing out existing pay-TV offerings.

    The meaning of these acquisitions for advertisers

    Of course, such big news in the entertainment sector will inevitably have a profound impact on advertisers. AT&T has for some time been working on an advertising and analytics unit, headed up by ex-Group M North America CEO Brian Lesser, that will create an ‘automated advertising platform that can do for premium video and TV advertising what search and social media companies have done for digital advertising’. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has openly stated that his company’s goal is to enable TV advertising to target consumers and households more specifically in order to compete against the likes of Facebook and Google. It’s ambitious, but when you consider that AT&T collects data from its nearly 160 million wireless and 40 million pay-TV subscribers, and will own content from Time Warner networks like HBO, CNN and TNT, it suddenly seems more than feasible – particularly as it will be one of the few US companies that will be able to follow consumers across their TV screens, computers and mobile devices. AT&T’s move into this area (and we imagine Comcast isn’t far behind) is yet another demonstration of the fact that the ability to gather consumer data, analyse it and transform it into value for the consumer – and therefore advertiser revenue – is a huge financial opportunity.

    Once again, we’re seeing the effects of technology on the media and communications industry. The AT&T acquisition of Time Warner and the outcome of the 21st Century Fox bidding war between Comcast and Disney will have a profound impact on the US media scene for years, if not decades – and we expect that similar vertical mergers will become the norm in both the US and across the world. The lines between the media, entertainment, technology and communications industries are becoming increasingly blurred.

    Thumbnail image: Atstock Productions/Shutterstock.com