Curated by David Bloom
Many bits of news coming out of big social-media platforms these days, as they jockey to offer new ways to monetize and connect, especially through video. Twitch, the king of tipping, creates a virtual currency, while Live.ly, the live-streaming spinoff from smash-hit karaoke app Musical.Ly, sings something of the same tune.
Today’s list also includes some engrossing long reads, such as the one by Antonio Garcia Martinez about his dance between potential acquirers Facebook and Twitter, and what he did to his co-founders. -DB
OTT, Streaming Video
4 signs of the splintering OTT video economy
By Colin Dixon
We are entering a new phase in the evolution of OTT video. The market is splintering on many levels, and it threatens to slow or even derail the explosive growth we have seen in recent years.
Here are 4 signs that the OTT video economy is splintering into many different proprietary pools of influence.
Social Media, Streaming Video
Instagram Looking to Boost Video Consumption with New ‘Picked for You’ Channels
By Andrew Hutchinson
“The total time people spent watching video on Instagram increased 150 percent over the past six months. As video continues to grow, we’re adding new channels to Explore to make it easier for you to discover videos you’ll enjoy.”
That 150% increase stat kind of came out of nowhere – earlier this week in an interview with Bloomberg, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom noted the figure as part of the discussion. Yet three months ago in March, when Instagram announced the expansion of on platform video length from 15 to 60 seconds, they quoted this stat:
There are some obvious channel topics in there, for sure (Comedians, Singers) but the narrow focus of many of these areas (Special Effects Makeup, Pitbulls) highlight niche interests where, obviously, Instagram is seeing significant community activity – significant enough to build entire channels around them.
Social Media, Monetization
Twitch Unveils New Tipping Functionality Called ‘Cheering’ With Animated Jewel Emotes
By Geoff Weiss
Twitch has introduced a new chat functionality called ‘Cheering‘, whereby viewers can tip streamers with animated, jewel-shaped Emotes — which is the gaming platform’s parlance for emojis — called ‘Bits‘. The new feature is designed to celebrate the fact that “the moments we share on Twitch, and the streamers who create them, are the glue that binds us together,” writes programming manager Robin Fontaine in a company blog post.
Having launched yesterday in beta, Bits can be bestowed with five different Emotes. 100 Bits cost $1.40. Users can tip in increments of 1 Bit, which appears as a small, gray pyramid; 100 Bits, which appear as two dancing purple diamonds; 1,000 Bits cost $14 and appears as a large teal gem; 5,000 Bits are priced at $70, and appear as a rotating royal blue jewel; and 10,000 Bits cost a whopping $140, and manifest in chat as a six-sided red star.
Live Streaming, Apps
Musical.ly May Be the Spoiler in Livestream Race with Launch of Live.ly
By Andrew Wallenstein
Musical.ly, a Shanghai-based social network that has astonished the industry by amassing a global audience approaching 100 million mostly teenage users in less than one year, is spinning off a second app, Live.ly, that will also focus on livestreaming. After a soft launch in May, Live.ly went live in the iTunes app store Friday, and began trending instantly despite zero promotion because of the word of mouth from Musical.ly’s rabid user base.
Both apps will be integrated with each other; once Musical.ly starts to formally introduce Live.ly to its users, a livestreaming category that has plenty of big entrants but no clear winner yet will get a new player capable of scaling as quickly and massively as the others.
Branded Content, VR, Marketing
Is Branded Virtual Reality Content the Next Frontier in Marketing?
In Cannes, media companies like Gannett, AOL pitch marketers on their ability to help create and distribute sponsored VR content
By Jack Marshall
Publishers and media companies also were joining in, pitching marketers on the idea of branded virtual reality content, which they hope to produce and distribute on behalf of paying brands in the latest frontier for marketing.
Salespeople and VR experts from Gannett’s USA Today Network, for example, spent time this week demonstrating a sizzle reel for its upcoming weekly VR show called “VRtually There,” as well as branded VR content it’s already produced for companies such as Honda.
It also demonstrated a new VR ad unit it created, which it’s calling a “cubemercial,” that effectively places the viewer inside a virtual-reality room. Brands will be given the opportunity to showcase videos or products on each of the cube’s six sides, said Gannett’s chief revenue officer, Kevin Gentzel.
Ad Blockers, Digital Media, Advertising
Scaremongering in digital: Why ad blocking isn’t as dire as you think
By Rob Rasko
What I discovered is that while ad blocking is a big concern that publishers need to take seriously, it may not be as big a business problem as some predict it to be. Here’s why.
To develop a realistic projection of how big the ad-blocking problem is, we cut up the revenue and projections into three categories — search, display and digital video — and in our opinion, the only ad formats that are truly at risk for being susceptible to ad blockers are traditional display banners and rich media units.
Social Media, Algorithms
Facebook’s News Feed: Why you see what you see
By Kurt Wagner
Why we see what we see in News Feed, though, has always been a bit of a mystery. We know News Feed is powered by a computer algorithm, a set of signals created by Facebook to show you, the user, a personalized list of items the company thinks you’ll like. But what all of those signals are and how much one signal is weighted versus another has never been entirely clear.
Facebook is trying to fix that, at least in one small way. On Wednesday it published its “News Feed Values” for the first time, a set of guidelines it claims to adhere to whenever it tweaks or changes the almighty algorithm.
The timing of this is not random.
For starters, Facebook tweaked its algorithm Wednesday in a way that will hurt news publishers that rely on News Feed for distributing their content. The list of values are Facebook’s attempt to explain to those publishers why this is happening.
Social Media, Apps, Advertising
Snapchat is slashing its ad prices for brands, sources say
By Garrett Sloane
Snapchat’s ads API — application programming interface — could cost advertisers $100,000 at minimum, which is significantly lower than Instagram’s minimum of $500,000 when it first opened the platform to ads, according to sources familiar with Snapchat.
Snapchat started selling ads in late 2014, and early products — one that went to every user and disappeared within 24 hours — cost about $750,000. In 2015, Snapchat brought down the price for video ads to 2 cents a view, or $20 for 1,000 views. This year, prices were back up with premium animated lenses that could cost millions depending on how many an advertiser bought in a given day, and interactive ads, where users can swipe up for more content, cost about $55 for 1,000 views.
Social Media, Publishing
The Huffington Post hacks a Snapchat button to drive followers from its website
By Garrett Sloane
The Huffington Post had to build its own for Snapchat because the app is almost intentionally difficult to follow. “Snapchat is not the easiest platform to surface content on,” said Kiki Von Glinow, director of growth at Huffington Post. “We have to tell the user coming to us on desktop that they can experience HuffPo in a completely different way on Snapchat.”
Since adding the button, HuffPo has seen a 140 percent increase in daily average signups, Von Glinow said. The publisher would not say how many followers it gains daily or how many it has in total.
Social Media, Small Business
Introducing Twitter Dashboard
By Noah Pepper of Twitter
Today we’re offering a free tool to give all businesses an advantage in the way they use Twitter. With an iOS app and desktop web experience, Dashboard offers a single destination to get things done. It gives business owners a clear picture of what’s being said about their businesses, lets them schedule Tweets, and offers insights about their Tweet performance.
SVOD, Traditional Media, Pay TV, Set-Top Boxes
Advice to Big Ops: Add Streamers to the Box
Set-top apps could help SVOD tap into older demo, says analyst
By Mike Farrell
Integrating apps from subscription video-on-demand services into cable set-top boxes could go a long way toward tapping into an underserved demographic for subscription video-on-demand — older viewers — while providing pay TV with another retention tool, according to some analysts.
That could be a key demographic for Netflix in particular. After a strong first quarter of domestic subscriber growth — it added 2.2 million customers in the period — Netflix said subscriber increases would slow in the second quarter to about 500,000. Netflix could make up the difference by targeting older pay TV customers, Swinburne said.
Traditional Media, Streaming Video, Social Media
Adult Swim Posts A Full Episode Of Brad Neely’s New Show On Vine
By Sam Gutelle
In order to promote Neely’s incredibly-titled work, Adult Swim went to Vine, where it took advantage of the Twitter-owned platform’s recent expansion past its signature six-second format by posting the entire first episode of Harg Nallin Sclopio Peepio.
Viewers who head over to Adult Swim’s Vine page will find a short clip from Harg Nallin. Should they click a “Watch More” button in the loop’s bottom-right corner, they will load up a wider video player that shows the animated sketch show’s full 10-minute premiere.
Social Media, Streaming Video
Vine Premieres Its First Long-Form Original Series, ‘Camp Unplug’, Starring Lauren Giraldo, Cody Ko
By Geoff Weiss
Micro video platform Vine — which recently announced changes that will allow certain creators to post longer videos, thus opening the door to monetization opportunities — has quietly released its first long-form original series. Told in a series of 36 Vines ranging in length from 6 seconds to more than 2 minutes, the show is called Camp Unplug and is about a group of 13 Vine stars who grudgingly attend a digital detox summer camp.
Streaming Video, Social Media
Samantha Bee’s Facebook Experiment: AT&T Works to Stream ‘Full Frontal’ Preview
By Brian Steinberg
As part of a sponsorship deal with AT&T, Bee will offer users of the social-media outlet a look behind the scenes of her edgy comedy show as it gears up for a taping this evening in front of an audience. Facebook users will be able to see Allana Harkin, a member of the show’s staff, warm up the audience, and then catch Bee as she greets the audience and even takes questions from both the crowd in front of her as well as Facebook users. The hostess is expected to acknowledge AT&T as the sponsor of the new access granted to fans in her own words as part of the agreement.
AT&T is just one of several advertisers trying to make new connections with TV’s late-night audience. Last week, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola arranged a joint deal that put products from both companies into the popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment on James Corden’s “Late Late Show” on CBS. NBCUniversal recently enlisted Seth Meyers to do a live ad for Chrysler’s Pacifica. Apple in October used a performance by Ryan Adams on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” to run an ad at the bottom of the screen during the program for its streaming Apple Music service. These deals are just two of many that have begun to crop up across late-night programming, as Madison Avenue craves a more obvious presence while Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and the rest deliver riffs on the headlines and interview celebrities.
Politics, Policy, Technology
Hillary Clinton’s tech agenda is really a huge economic plan in disguise
By Brian Fung
The agenda released Tuesday reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for investing in computer science and engineering education, expansion of technologies like 5G mobile data and hooking up more public places such as airports and train stations with cheap, abundant WiFi. It would continue efforts to curb abusive patent lawsuits, which the tech industry says are stifling its ability to innovate. And it commits to defending the government’s net neutrality rules, which were recently upheld by a federal appeals court and aim to ban Internet providers from unfairly manipulating Internet content.
The proposal from the presumptive Democratic nominee also promises to give recent college grads a three-year reprieve from their student loan payments, as long as they spend that time creating new startups and small businesses. And it includes an extra incentive that allows young entrepreneurs to wipe out up to $17,500 in student debt if they launch their businesses in “distressed communities.”
Digital Media, Funding
Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital Closes $10 Million Funding Round Led By Third Wave Digital
By Geoff Weiss
All Def Digital (ADD) said today that it has closed a $10 million funding round led by venture capital firm Third Wave Digital. Other participants in the round included WPP Ventures (the investment arm of British advertising goliath WPP) and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as existing investors Nu Horizons, Greycroft Partners, eVentures, and Advancit Capital. This brings total funds raised by the Russell Simmons co-founded digital media company to $15 million.
ADD, which says it aims to capture urban-centric youth culture, boasts 100 million fans across YouTube and Facebook. It also recently launched a branded content studio called ADHD, which has partnered with consumer electronics brands, car and beverage makers, and movie studios.
New funds will be used to scale cross-platform growth, and will be allocated toward original programming in comedy, music, sports, news, and poetry, ADD said. It will also help to accelerate branded and sponsored content initiatives.
M&A, Traditional Media, Litigation
Jeffrey Katzenberg Sued Over “Side Deal” to DreamWorks-Comcast Merger
By Ashley Cullins
Jeffrey Katzenberg is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit that claims he agreed to the $3.87 billion sale of DreamWorks Animation to Comcast because of a lucrative side deal,
DreamWorks shareholder Ann Arbor City Employees Retirement System is accusing Katzenberg of breaching his duty to minority shareholders. AACERS claims Katzenberg was offered a 7 percent share of profits from the company’s new media business in perpetuity, and if he hadn’t taken that deal Comcast would have had to pay more for the studio to secure his support.
As part of the acquisition, Katzenberg will serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal and become chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which controls the company’s interests in AwesomenessTV and NOVA.
Social Media, E-Commerce
Pinterest tries to one-up Amazon with new shopping features like AI-enabled search
By Tim Peterson
On Thursday — almost a year to the day since Pinterest rolled out buyable pins in the US, which it’s now bringing to the web — the company is adding a host of new e-commerce features. Some are standard. There’s nothing new to a cross-platform shopping cart and merchant profiles. But others attempt to make searching for products by typing in text and scrolling through results seem outdated.
People can now put items from different merchants in a shopping bag that they can access and check out from any device. And Pinterest is adding merchant profiles so that people can see what specific sellers have on offer, including what’s popular and what’s on sale. Again, standard.
Live Streaming, Digital Media
THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF LIVE & COMMUNAL ENTERTAINMENT
By Tal Shachar & Matthew Ball
These two changes have fundamentally transformed media consumption and in the process, disoriented the network business and left Hollywood confused about the value of television content and the future of the industry. After all, live communal “appointment” viewing has always been considered the “core” product of the TV offering. On-demand is simply an add-on, as TV Everywhere access demonstrates (Time Warner Cable customers still can’t watch any of Disney’s non-ESPN channels or Time Warner’s non-HBO cable networks over-the-top). Moreover, weekly releases have long been viewed as critical to the consumer experience (by way of reviews, tweets and water cooler chitchat). And as Empire’s first season showed, the momentum that can accrue from weekly releases can be essential to audience growth. Networks also rely on distributed series viewing to drive the rest of their programming portfolio via lead-in/lead-out programming. And of course, 50% of network revenues come from selling live audiences to advertisers. This has made a pivot tough.
M&A, Social Media, Shameless Self-Accounting
How I Sold My Company to Twitter, Went to Facebook, and Screwed My Co-Founders
By Antonio Garcia Martinez
In this excerpt adapted from his new, take-no-prisoners Silicon Valley memoir Chaos Monkeys, Antonio García Martínez explains the harrowing exit of his one-year-old Y Combinator startup company. As we begin our narrative, García Martínez is CEO and unofficial strategist of AdGrok, which is in the midst of the “trough of despair” following launch and preceding significant revenues. His two co-founders, Matthew McEachen (MRM) and Argyris Zymnis, aka“the boys,” provide the engineering. (They are the book’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)
Publishing, Monetization, Digital Media
Newsonomics: The Financial Times’ CEO on trial subscriptions, the platform age, and living in luxury
By Ken Doctor
The company now can rightly claim to be more digital than print. I’ve often pointed to the FT as an exemplar of how high-quality journalism is making the transition into the new age, but I’ve been equally impressed by how hard the journey is, even for the exemplar.
Advertising, Ad Tracking
Uh Oh: Google Expands Its Ad Tracking. But, Yay: It’s Opt-In
By Brian Barrett
The prompt includes an option to let Google use all of the information associated with your account—search, Chrome, YouTube, the works—to inform the ads you see across the web. Google already does this within its own services, but until now it has used cookies for anything beyond that.
This new setting would change that.
Opting in gives you more granular control over how ads work across devices signed into your Google account. If a search for boat shoes (you know, the grey ones with white laces) haunts you across the web, you’ll be able to kill it everywhere, all at once, rather than going device by device.
Live Streaming, Music, Crazy Icelandic Bands
Sigur Rós is livestreaming a 24-hour drive through Iceland with a soundtrack generated in real-time
By Abhimanu Ghoshal
On ‘Route One’, the group is driving through Iceland for 24 hours and livestreaming the journey. The accompanying soundtrack is a single continuous piece created using Bronze, which is described as ‘generative music software’. The app will take cues from Sigur Rós’ latest track ‘Óveður.’
Design, Illustrated in 3 Charts
By Julie Zhuo