Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Micro Moment

We are averaging 250,000 video views per day on our wildlife network MaxAnimal, and this month will pass the 100 million view mark since we launched last year.  As expected, roughly 75% of the views are happening on smart phones.  Our intention from the start was to keep the clips short (1 minute on average) and thrilling, so to connect with an audience that has a limited attention span and will readily share.

Some recent data shows how well we are positioned, but also how nimble we need to be to keep growing at this pace and expand to longer form content.

Google issued a study last month titled "Win Every Micro Moment With A Better Mobile Strategy" that reports people now check their phones 150 times per day and spend 177 minutes on the device, resulting in dozens and dozens of mobile sessions averaging a little more than a minute each.

And a much circulated presentation from the recent WSJD conference included this fascinating slide:

Short Attention Span Theatre.  The Attention Apocalypse.  Micro Moment Warfare.  Everyone has a name for this moment in time when GIFS are the most popular new media form, some brands are posting 50 times per day on Facebook and Vine Stars are the new YouTube Stars.

Our goal (as well as the goal of some of the media companies in the slide above, particularly Vice) is and always has been to use the short stuff as a gateway to longer, richer content experiences (and building an engaged community.)  Because, on the other side of the spectrum, there clearly is a craving for long-form journalism, podcasts, documentaries, high quality TV dramas and other more immersive content experiences. 

How much attention we have for both is the question, and can the publishers most effective at the bits, bytes and bursts engage their viewers for longer sessions.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Future of Advertising at VidCon

Dozens of the independent creators featured at VidCon this year have reach as big as cable and broadcast television networks. But more importantly, because they have such an authentic and passionate relationship with their subscribers, (see picture of screaming fans) advertisers are striking marketing partnerships with them at an extraordinary rate.

It seemed like every other company I spoke to during the conference was in one way or another providing services that connect brand advertisers with “influencers.” (marketing speak for social media stars.) And many of the bigger creators - now representing every imaginable programming genre from gaming to science to entertainment - are producing content as good and often better than most of what you can find on television.

They have talented writing and production teams, state-of-the-art equipment and operate like highly efficient production companies, studios and networks. Brand advertisers find them nimble, creative, and collaborative, often developing relationships similar to the ones they have with their traditional ad agencies. Perhaps even more importantly, these creators are testing and then conquering (or discarding) every new emerging distribution platform, providing the brands a unique media lab.

For a brand to be able to sit down and collaborate with an individual creator that has a real time relationship with an engaged community of millions, and has the team and production expertise to deliver a targeted and compelling brand integration in a matter of days, is truly revolutionary.

The advertising industry is need of an efficiency make-over.

VidCon provides a snap shot into the future.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Content Was Never King

Content was never king, and it is certainly isn't today.  Distribution was and is the most important ingredient for a content based media company to succeed.   Cable networks programmed epically awful content in their early days, but were allowed years to find their voice and audience on the back of TV distribution oligopolies.  The content eventually got good (great in some instances) and many cable nets became multi-billion dollar global media brands.  But it was all about the distribution.  It always was and always will be.  Ben Franklin demonstrated as much when he launched the country's first magazine and used his role as postmaster general to ensure it ended up in everyone's home.

Today's media distribution currency isn't channels controlled by cable companies, but streams controlled by social media companies.  Danny Sullivan in a recent Marketing Land Post, describes an emerging "Stream Revolution" empowering media brands like BuzzFeed to insert themselves into a "constant parade of content that is pushed at viewers" on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

And last week a senior ad sales exec at Google penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal describing "micro moments" - new opportunities for advertisers to "micro-target" in the stream.
Our research has uncovered a fundamental change in the way people consume media: the old days of predictable, periodic media sessions have been replaced by numerous short bursts of digital activity throughout the day. The old model was a four-course meal in the same restaurant. Today’s is a series of constant bite sized snacks all over town.

This is a pretty seismic change for advertisers. There are no longer just a few sporadic “a-ha!” moments of truth; now there are countless moments that matter.
The challenge for content companies, new and old, and the advertisers who are the real King in all this, is that the stream is flowing faster and faster, and playing in it requires enormous effort and time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Questioning the Value of a Facebook Video View

The consumer and trade press (driven by Facebook's PR machine) are abuzz about FB's extraordinary video growth.  With such an enormous and engaged user base, they can focus and then dominate whatever new sector of the market they want, and quickly.  (It was just a short while ago they were being criticized for lacking a mobile strategy.)

What initially blew me and my partners away about YouTube was the ability it provided talented content creators (albeit with a lot of practice and work) to deliver network television size audiences in a matter of hours.  And how it was scaling at a mind-blowing rate, feeding itself with better and better content, driving more and more users.  (100 hundred hours of new content is uploaded every minute.)

But we are now seeing equally impressive viewing #s on Facebook, and we have a clear view into their focus and determination to dominate this market.

Instead of linking to YouTube or our website video player for this recent post, we used Facebook's video player:

Because we have a relatively small fan base on FB for this new channel, these posts in the past would generate a few hundred video views, at most.  But this post generated 14,000 views in a few hours.  FB is clearly favoring - not just favoring, but smothering with love - posts that use their video player.

It is not entirely clear what the value of these views are, other than leading to some additional likes and comments on Facebook.  (And many of the views were muted auto-play.)  We would much rather see the views on YT or our website, where we can monetize, link to other videos, showcase an expanding audience, and take advantage of other "channel" effects.

But such enormous scale can't be ignored and we plan to continue experimenting, and look forward to Facebook providing media companies like ours a strategic plan to manage our video audience on their platform.