Curated by David Bloom
Bonus coverage: Heard Jessica Jackley speak last night, on the one-year release anniversary of her book, “Clay Water Brick.” Jackley is co-founder, former CMO and former board member of Kiva.org, the pioneering 11-year-old site that connects crowd-sourced lenders with entrepreneurs in developing countries who need micro loans as little as $25. Repayment rates are well north of 99 percent and Kiva donors can then reinvest the repaid loans in new projects.
The company is on target to pass $1 billion in loans later this year, though Jackley’s involvement is considerably more limited these days.
More recently, Jackley headed another crowd-funding site, ProFounder, for three years, and now teaches Social Entrepreneurship at my former employer, the USC Marshall School of Business. Expect a new venture (“a tool for people to contribute on what they care about”) from Jackley in the next few months. In the meantime, some key quotes:
- A big part of Kiva’s success was not only allowing donors to loan money to entrepreneurs, but to let them loan to a specific entrepreneur for a specific project and amount (I’ve been a donor for years). That opportunity to invest in a narrative builds long-term engagement and emotional connection among donors willing to provide money that is repaid (to the donors) at no interest. “We were about providing this experience, about feeding this story about strength and empowerment. That was the basic idea of Kiva: here are these amazing stories. Would you lend, not give?”
- It’s still early days in the world of crowdsourcing equity investments, after the SEC finally approved enabling regulations about a year ago. “People will figure out how to be innovative” with the options provided in the regulations. “I wish the process was simpler. I wish there was more trust. I think it’s a very good first step, but what is the right fit (for a company)? Do you want 1 million people to give you a dollar apiece? Or is what you do on Kickstarter (where equity isn’t available) better?”
- If you think your entrepreneur’s journey has been tough, consider the man behind her book’s title: Ugandan refugee flees village with nothing after rebels kill nearly all his family. Begins a business literally by scratching the ground until he finds clay deposits. Starts making bricks. Saves enough to buy a brick form, so he can make more and better bricks more efficiently. Then saves enough to buy a kiln, so he can make even better, more valuable bricks. Now he’s employing several people and has bought a home. “What he did with so little blows me away. I think about entrepreneurs who are grumpy because they only raised $1.5 million or $2 million. I’ve seen people figure it out and that’s really meaningful to me.”
Crowdfunding conference: Long-time acquaintance Darren Marble, another crowdfunding pioneer with what is now called CrowdfundX, and two colleagues announced the Crowd Invest Summit, scheduled for December in Santa Monica. Here’s the release. “This will be the first large-scale event in the crowdfunding sector focused on companies and investors raising real money and closing actual deals. We want all Americans to know that any of them can become venture capitalists now.”
More data points: The event was hosted/moderated by Jason Nazar, who is restarting his Startups Uncensored monthly talks in Santa Monica with tech CEOs. Nazar founded DocStoc.com and sold it in 2013 to Intuit. His new company, Comparably.com, is a competitor to GlassDoor, providing people a place to rate their companies and see how their pay compares to those of similar positions. After a considerable hiatus, the long-running series has now scheduled several months of talks in West LA/Santa Monica venues..
Also, Jackley’s husband, Reza Aslan, was present at the talk. Aslan, a professor of creative writing at UC-Riverside, has been a best-selling writer and media darling with his controversial deep readings of the history and birth of both Islam and Christianity. They’re quite the post-modern power couple.
More, more data points: After Jackley’s talk, I chatted with a nurse who specializes in reproductive endocrinology in a Beverly Hills clinic. Half their clients are wealthy Chinese nationals seeking in-vitro fertilization. And overwhelmingly those clients want boys, and want to be sure the implanted embryos are male, she said. With the loosening of the country’s One Child family-planning restrictions, now these families want two boys.
It’s a small and elite sample size, but suggestive of larger demographic challenges in a vast country with a middle class of 700 million people (i.e., more than 2X the entire United States). China birth ratios under One Child created a country where already there are 115 males per 100 females (in parts of the world without such restrictions and cultural prizing of male children, the balance is reversed, typically with around 101 females to 99 males).
If these wealthy families are suggestive in any way, particularly as IVF and family wealth become more common in China, the distortions in population will continue. So, food for thought: What does it mean to have a giant, aging, increasingly wealthy population with an excess of men who can’t find mates and who are intensely reliant on their smartphones and WeChat to conduct many parts of their daily lives (see my report last Friday from VidCon Day 1, especially the presentation by Magid Advisors President Mike Vorhaus)? Something to ponder as we head into the long holiday weekend.
Congrats to former MGM colleagues Bruce Tuchman and David Bishop, who are joining the board of TV data company Parrot Analytics.
Live Streaming, Advertising, Digital Media
Insights: Is Live Streaming Becoming A Real Business?
By David Bloom
Is the business, which broke into the zeitgeist a couple of years ago at SXSW, turning into an economically viable platform where an emerging set of creators and companies can build an audience and a living? I’d say yes.
A spate of smaller companies – including YouNow, Upclose, Stre.am, Flurry, Live.ly, Live.me and Kanvas – are among those trying to create their own unique spin on a live experience, for creators and sometimes for enterprise-level customers. I can’t guess their prospects. Pioneering streaming app Meerkat already blanched at the competition and pivoted out of the sector.
Advertising will have to adapt as well, with more all-show sponsors, branded content, graphic overlays and – just as in radio and podcasting – live-reads of sponsor messages. Facebook recently enabled branded content, but opposes “interruptive” pre-roll advertising in its feeds (the graphic overlays should be a way around this). Live.ly, like Twitch, allows fans to “tip” a star with digital currency. It’s safe to say these business models will evolve quickly, and some sites and their ad-tech partners likely will find a foothold even in the face of Facebook’s vast scale and bank account.
Streaming Video, Journalism
Sure, people like online video, but that doesn’t mean they want to watch your hard news videos
By Laura Hazard Owen
A report released Tuesday by Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism finds that “interest in video news does increase significantly when there is a big breaking news story.”
But the rest of the time? Online video news is less of a force than publishers might hope. The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2016, which came out earlier this month, noted that only about a quarter of 50,000 respondents across 26 countries watch online news video in a given week.
Streaming Media, Ratings, OTT
Nielsen Unveils Streaming Ratings for ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Seinfeld’
By Amol Sharma http://www.wsj.com/articles/nielsen-unveils-streaming-ratings-for-orange-is-the-new-black-seinfeld-1467217573
The presentation cites three examples of shows that performed well—data that the TV studios were willing to share.
The fourth season of “Orange is the New Black,” a Lions Gate production available on Netflix, came out of the gate strong between June 17 and June 19. The premiere episode was watched by 6.7 million people in the U.S., which would be comparable to the second most-viewed cable drama on TV behind HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” while the second episode was watched by 5.9 million people, according to the data Nielsen presented to clients.
Reruns of “Seinfeld,” which are available on Hulu, reached 706,000 U.S. viewers in the first five days they were available, growing to 334,000 viewers on the fifth day from 186,000 on the first day, the presentation data showed.
Unsurprisingly, the audiences for streaming services tend to be younger than for traditional TV. Some 44% of streaming viewers of “Better Call Saul,” a production of Sony Pictures Television available on Netflix, are between the ages of 18 and 34, compared with 24% on traditional TV.
And the streaming juggernaut has said comparisons to traditional TV are difficult, since online viewing is all on-demand and stretches over longer time frames. Netflix’s service is global, and Nielsen’s figures only reflect U.S. viewing.
Social Media, Publishing, Content Marketing
Facebook is cutting traffic to publishers in favor of user-generated content
By Kurt Wagner
Facebook is tweaking its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts that come from users’ family and friends, which means you’ll soon see more posts from actual people like your cousins or your college roommates.
But seeing more posts from friends and family also means seeing fewerposts from non-human accounts, specifically publishers like BuzzFeed or the New York Times, newsrooms that rely heavily on Facebook’s massive audience for web traffic and ad revenue.
The other is that tweaking the algorithm is a clear business move. If organic reach decreases for publishers, they may be more likely to pay Facebook to promote a post instead.
Social Media, Publishing, Content Marketing
Serving Our Public on Their Terms, on Facebook
By Jeff Jarvis
The better reaction to Facebook’s announcements would be to adjust how we do our work to better inform and serve Facebook’s users on their terms. As I learned at Vidcon, we have to see that in a social context, content is not an end in itself — the destination for a click — but a social token people use to their ends in their conversations.
Digital Content, Social Media, Live Streaming
Refinery29 is building a 10-person Facebook Live team
By Sahil Patel
Refinery29 publishes 15 live videos per week across its eight Facebook pages, including the main page as well as targeted sub-communities such as Short Cuts (for beauty tutorials) and Refinery29 Wellness. The team it’s building will be responsible for content and strategy across all of those pages.
The decision to create an entire team for Facebook Live comes as Refinery29 moves from experimenting with the format to creating more recurring content. Instead of simply using a smartphone or tablet, the company is also looking to do more polished live-streams shot with better-quality cameras. It’s also building a multi-purpose studio space with shooting more Facebook Live content in mind. All of this requires specialists, according to Refinery29 chief content officer Amy Emmerich.
Creators, Digital Content
What I Learned at Vidcon
By Jeff Jarvis
Despite its name and close association with YouTube, I don’t think Vidcon is really about video. It’s about relationships and communities in a way that no other medium can claim. The seventh annual Vidcon brought 25,000 people to Anaheim last weekend not to consume content but to commune around it.
The worldview of most of the execs on the third floor was still decidedly mass media: We make a product called content. It is our job to attract as big an audience — and we mean audience — to it as we can. We see people as metrics. We optimize for emotion (actual phrase). We try to fool Snapchat’s metrics by asking people to send us snaps we don’t actually care about. We try to fool Facebook’s algorithm into thinking we’re real people by including emojis and typos in our posts (wouldn’t it be easier just to be human?).
Ad Tech, M&A
S1s Expected Soon From AppNexus, The Trade Desk
By Zach Rodgers
Both AppNexus and The Trade Desk are close to submitting S1 forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating plans to go public in the coming months and releasing key financial details.
In the case of The Trade Desk, the company may already have filed confidentially under the SEC’s “emerging growth” rules, according to sources. Those rules allow companies in rapid-growth sectors to keep the details of their financials quiet in the run up to their IPOs, for competitive reasons.
AppNexus has not filed its S1 yet but has been working for the past year to prepare for that outcome, as AdExchanger previously reported.
Digital Media, Investment
Male-Oriented Web Publisher Woven Digital Raises $18.5 Million
By Mike Shields
Woven Digital, which owns a stable of young male-focused websites like BroBible and Uproxx, has raised $18.5 million in series B funding to invest in more video production and more content verticals.
The funding round was led by WPP Ventures, an investment arm of WPP. Other investors include Institutional Venture Partners and Advancit Capital.
Traditional Media, Digital Content
Time Inc. CEO: ‘I hadn’t even gone to the MySpace website before we bought the company’ — ‘but it’s a pretty good website’
By Lara O’Reilly
Ripp said: “The whole point of MySpace is it gave you permission to reach 1.2 billion people. You combine that with the permissions Time Inc. has from its audiences: We reach 250 million adults in the US. We basically reach 80% of the adults anyone is trying to reach with the permissions that we have to reach them and track them and follow them, so MySpace has really been all about permissions.”
“By thinking of ourselves as a content company, we now distribute on social, on video, on digital — our digital audience is up 83% in the last two years — and it’s because we redefined ourselves by not only focusing on print. Print is still very effective, we now know it’s very effective as an advertising vehicle. It’s still an important part of our business, but it doesn’t mean we have to ignore all these other parts. It’s not one or the other.”
Time Inc. published around 40,000 videos this year and has created new mobile ad units that are “much more engaging and a lot more fun,” in a bid to break away from the “annoying” ads that consumers are increasingly blocking.
As for the types of companies Ripp does think might add value to Time Inc., he said he was interested in native content products and more ad tech.
MRC Says Mobile Ads Take Too Long to Load
By Mike Shields
According to the Media Rating Council—the ad industry’s overseer of research methodology—ads on average take five seconds to load on mobile websites and apps. That’s roughly twice as long as it takes for ads to render, meaning that they appear in full, on desktop websites.
There are a number of factors contributing to mobile advertising’s sluggish nature, said Mr. Ivie, such as bandwidth and network speeds. But in general, mobile ads are too heavy, he said.
The Art of Recognizing Good Ideas
And why managers are so bad at it
By Rebecca Rosen
So why is this? Why do managers tend to find flaws, not reasons for praise? To answer that, Grant turns to the example of Seinfeld, which was rejected by executive after executive at NBC before Rick Ludwin, who didn’t work in sitcoms, to say, as Grant paraphrased it, “you know, I realize that this show makes no sense and it’s really about nothing, the plotlines never get resolved, and you can’t identify with any one of the characters. But it made me laugh and that’s what a sitcom is supposed to do.” The managers, by contrast, were too focused on whether Seinfeld looked like what had succeeded in the past to recognize its novel brilliance. Years of experience had trained them to believe that a certain type of show would be successful, and biased them against something that broke that mold.
One conclusion from this would be to eliminate managers from certain decision-making processes. But since that’s not typically possible, perhaps instead managers can be taught to think like peers, and Berg found that that can be done—and relatively easily. “All he did,” Grant explained, “was he asked managers to spend five minutes brainstorming about their own ideas before they judged other people’s ideas.” That, Grant said, “was enough to open their minds. Because when they came in to select ideas, they were looking for reasons to say no. Get them into a brainstorming mindset first, and now they’re not thinking evaluatively, they’re thinking creatively.”
Pay TV, Digital Media
Sony’s Vue Web TV Service Said to Surpass 100,000 Subscribers
By Lucas Shaw
The service has been adding customers at a faster rate since Sony began a nationwide rollout in the U.S. three months ago, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private figures. Sony, based in Tokyo, declined to comment on the number. One person put the total near 120,000.
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Traditional Media, Digital Content
Marc DeBevoise Named CBS Interactive President, COO
By Tony Maglio
More generally, DeBevoise will lead strategy and operations for all of CBS Interactive’s 25-plus brands in entertainment, sports, news, technology and gaming and media, among other verticals. He’ll continue to run the digital media businesses of the CBS, including the development of original content for digital platforms.
VR, Sports, eSports, Gaming
Sacramento Kings Exec Explains Why Team Is Exploring VR, Video Games And ESports
By John Gaudiosi
At the Kings, we are huge believers in VR. In fact, last year we announced a strategic investment in VOKE, a leading VR innovator. We believe this technology has enormous potential and the possibilities for its application are endless.
We were the first team in the NBA to experiment with VR two years ago to help us provide fans, potential sponsors and ticket holders an opportunity to experience the innovative design features of our new arena, Golden 1 Center (opening in October), in an innovative and creative way. It powered our ability to completely sell out of all suites, courtside seats, and club spaces largely before construction even commenced.
VR, Traditional Media
How Sony Plans to Incorporate Virtual Reality Into Its Movie Business
By Jonathan Vanian
Sony Pictures Entertainment, the U.S. entertainment subsidiary of Sony Corporation, is doubling down on virtual reality initiatives by appointing an executive to a new role specifically tied to creating virtual reality content for the company’s motion picture group.
Jake Zim, who was previously the senior vice president of digital marketing, will become the senior vice president of virtual reality, according to this week’s announcement. Zim previously worked on VR marketing for the company’s films, including a recent VR promotion for the new Ghostbustersmovie coinciding with its release.
Programmatic Advertising, Traditional Media
Programmatic TV Ad Spending to More Than Double This Year
Programmatic spending on TV ads is poised to experience explosive growth over the next several years, according to eMarketer’s first forecast on the topic. This year, programmatic TV spending will climb 127.8% to $710 million. And that will come after spending triples this year.
Publishing, Adblockers, Security
What media companies don’t want you to know about ad blockers
By Trevor Timm
Advertising networks have served malware onto the computers of unwitting news readers over and over in the past couple years. Ads on Forbes, for example, attacked their readers in January, right after the magazine forced readers to disable ad-blocking software to view its popular annual “30 Under 30” feature. As Engadget reported, “visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information.” It wasn’t the first time this had happened at Forbes, either. And it’s not just in the US. A couple months ago, almost every major news site in the Netherlands served malware through its ads to its users.
Creators, Content Marketing
PewDiePie Aims To Quell YouTube Clickbait By Debunking Thumbnail Tactics
By Geoff Weiss
So how does one crack down on such a trend? Kjellberg’s suggestion is simple: by spoiling popular devices employed by creators that emptily serve to amass eyeballs.
These include: thumbnails promising sexual or violent content that never arrives; a question mark in a title — which, according to Kjellberg, means the statement is automatically untrue; makeup or photoshopping used to fake injuries; hyperbolic phrases like ‘cringiest’, ‘extreme’, and ‘I can’t believe’; and ‘Storytime’ video titles that aren’t actually about the storyteller. One creator posted a video titled My Friend Died Because Of Me, Kjellberg notes, that was actually a retelling of the story of Easter.