Category Archives: Media & Entertainment

Rethinking the 30 Second Spot

When I joined the agency world, Joseph Jaffe had just come out with Life After The 30-Second Spot but I doubt Jaffe realized that the new spot, if digital media has its way, is 6 or 15 seconds.

I came across an article recently on NPR about how Vine conceived the 6 second spot and it’s pretty much what you would expect:

“One day we did wake up and say, six seconds,” Hofmann joked. Well, one day after many days of experimentation.

He and the other co-founders tried various lengths — 10 seconds, nine, five. And five seconds wasn’t long enough.

“It was actually too short,” he says. Six seconds allowed for the aesthetic feel the creators wanted but preserved the quickness they wanted to promise users. The limit allowed the average person to easily share and make a video on his smartphone.

With 15 seconds of video on Instagram and 6 seconds of video on Vine, it’s at least 50% less length than a traditional 30 second spot.  These shorter videos are a near-perfect snack for consumer generated content.  Anyone with a smartphone can create and upload a fun clip and syndicate it out to Twitter/Vine and Facebook/Instagram with ease… and instant audience attention.

After spending time with entrepreneurs who are building everything from video servers for social media to creative directors executing multi-screen video briefs from Fortune 500 clients, one question that I have been thinking about is whether brands at scale will really start creating professionally produced shorter form content?  If an Instagram video is [at max] 15 seconds, then a pre-roll* for the platform must be no longer than 10 seconds to make sense.  Imagine a 3 second pre-roll.  Can you storytell in 3 seconds?

You might not have a choice.

In advertising, dollars flow to where eyeballs go.  There’s a bit more to that but if eyeballs are heading to Twitter and Facebook at scale, which they are, then brands and their respective agencies need to understand how to leverage these platforms for communicating and interacting with their audiences.

Retooling the creative brief, process and craft to deliver more punch in less time is going to be completely necessary.  It’s going to be interesting to watch how Twitter interacts with brands and how much of the creative process they bring in-house versus relying on their ecosystem partners.

Anytime you are on the cutting edge of innovation, you need to offer services and support to your clients to onramp them to execute on the edge.  Twitter did this in the very beginning with celebrities, basically offering a VIP management team to help increase the Tweets coming from celebrity influencers.  Think of this as a form of managed services.

This next evolution of video in digital media is going to be really fascinating to participate in.  Will Costolo and Zuckerberg force the redefinition of the 30-second spot?

 

* Preroll:  I used preroll video as an example of how advertisers are surrounding video content online.  Very similar to a commercial on television.  I am not arguing that preroll is the most effective way of doing video advertising, but rather, using it because it’s the most scaled way of doing video advertising.

Digital Media & Advertising Articles of Note

I’ll be traveling over the next 24 hours or so, but wanted to post a few articles that I’ve found interesting over the last couple of days:

Online Merchants Hone In on A New Demographic:  My friend Stephanie writes an article about a new audience for merchants… the imbibing consumer.  A glass of wine or beer after dinner while online shopping?  Sounds like merchants can have a lot of fun with this including potential wine pairings with individual online items.

SocialGuide unveiled their year-end look at SocialTV.  FOX is in the leadership position because of their sports & youth oriented programming.  Note however, there are 36,700 projected total socialTV related comments in December 2011, which still seems small, but can really only go up from here.

ComScore released their holidays sales numbers and showed a 16% lift last week from the same week in 2010.  Total online spending amounted to $2.83bn for the week or $36bn for the entire holiday season.

AdExchanger has their holiday reason list up on their site.  It includes industry reaction posts of major topics such as Adobe Acquiring Efficient Frontier, Mediabank-DDS Merger, and many others.  Certainly check it out if you have time to digest a lot of right (and wrong) opinions.

And lastly, a great interview with Antony Young, the new Chief Executive of Mindshare.  Why I specifically call out this interview is because he gives some good insight into his vision and needs within the media world, where many agencies seem to be undifferentiated.  As you can see after reading this, he’s striving for change and will invest and build in it.

Your Daily Soundtrack

So much of what we do on a daily basis is one dimensional from a sensory perspective.  As an example, this blog post is one dimensional.

Music/sound can play a huge role in your day, as a dimension overlaid on top of everything else.

For a while, I forgot this.

I was thinking recently while I was writing a deck on marketing technology infrastructure, “what if the brief for the deck included a soundtrack?”  Meaning, what if the tone of the deck took on the tone of a song, such as Poker Face by Lady Gaga or Save the World by Swedish House Mafia?  By doing this, it sets the expectation for how the deck should be written and visualized.

I’ve been listening to music a bit more as well – on the train during my commute and at the gym a few days a week.  It’s added a spark of creativity.

What’s your daily soundtrack?

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Kids & Content Consumption

My almost 3-year old son, David, loves watching Thomas & Friends.  We have countless DVDs, iPad apps, and other Thomas inspired entertainment.  When Thomas is on television, my wife either DVR’s it or David ends up watching it live.

However, when online, David watches Thomas & Friends, but it’s not the Thomas and Friends you’d expect.  There is a sizeable amount of professional content uploaded on YouTube but David prefers the custom home videos produced by kids about Thomas.  YouTube says there are about 123,000 results for “Thomas the Tank Engine.”

It’s amazing how long David will sit and watch UGC content of Thomas the train, which were created by kids and their parents.

A video called “Accidents Happen” has been viewed 13.4MM times… yes, 13.4 million.  All created by a kid and his dad for Thomas.  I’m sure David has been 50 of those views in the last 2 weeks alone.

There is also a ton of this content on YouTube, not just for Thomas & Friends but for plenty of other shows.

I almost think David prefers this kid-produced UGC over the professionally done content.

There’s something here… a hypothesis, an entrepreneurial endeavor, a marketing opportunity… just can’t put my finger on it.

You can learn a lot from your kids, be sure to keep your mind open.

Recent Launches in Content & Distribution

We’ve been head down at the agency (kbs+p & the media kitchen) with some recent launches that I’m extremely proud of.  Some of you who read this blog have been part of them (as a partner, colleague, or client) and know how exciting it’s been.

We’ve brought back documentaries to BMW.  If you remember BMW Films, we’ve brought back a similar film/documentary style approach to talk about the future of mobility.  My colleague and buddy Faris has a great writeup on his blog and it’s been written about by BMW Blog and in the press here and here.  Throughout the month, you’ll be able to watch new “chapters” that are released about the future of mobility from some of the top thinkers in the world:  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin; Futurist and conceptual designer for Blade RunnerAliens and TronSyd Mead; Google VP Marissa Mayer; ZipCar founderRobin Chase; Treehugger.com founder Graham Hill; Ridelust.com editor-in-chief Mike MustoReinventing the Automobile co-author Lawrence Burns; and Director of Environmental Affairs, Richard Mattila.

We have launched The Daily, a new operating unit of News Corporation that pushes the boundaries of digital journalism.  This has been a fun project to work on because we’ve gotten to see it from it’s very early days through yesterday’s successful launch.  When I downloaded The Daily to my home iPad last night, there were over 1200 reviews in the App Store!  There have been tons of reviews about it so if you type in “The Daily” into Google News, you’ll have your pick of reviews to read.  Here’s one by CNN.  Here’s a link to @daily twitter account if you want to sign up.

The common thread of the two of these projects:  high quality content and packaging.  While the Internet has no shortage of content, there is a vast variety of styles of content written and produced.  I think you’ll see with the two of these projects that the content stands out from most of everything else.

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Video Search: A Big Opportunity

Excite
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a startup idea that I think is ripe.  Time is now.

Lets try and learn from the past and apply it to the future. Alta Vista, Excite, Yahoo!, Overture, Dogpile, InfoSpace, Metacrawler, Gopher, Ask Jeeves, Webcrawler, Bing, Google (and many others) all evolved the way that we search for information.  Gone are the ways of card catalogs (I actually learned how to use one in grade school) and in are digital search boxes.

These search engines in varying degrees have been helpful to us when looking up textual based content and in some capacities, are helping us pull social, graphic, and video content.

As digital becomes less of a standalone channel and more of a backbone, I’d have to think that Video Search is going to be a huge business in the mid-future.  I don’t know the exact statistic, but X out of 10 televisions are being sold with either direct-to-Internet capabilities or STB’s that plug into a wireless routers which enables your big shiny new television as a portal to all the content on the web.  That “X” number will increase over time.

Since I find it hard to think I’m going to use my 70″ LCD TV to write Powerpoint documents from my bed, I’d have to think that the primary use will still be to view video content.

If Fred is correct, which I certainly believe, we should get together to build some beautiful video search apps for Android that will be positioned to deliver video search capabilities with potential for social interactions.

I’d have to imagine that the current big (and small) search engines were not created with video search capabilities as the technical infrastructure is fairly robust so either they will eventually come knocking.

My Tuesday morning thoughts.

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My Recent Bookshelf

One of my guaranteed impulse buy categories are books.  I’m a sucker.  If there is a book that I think might want to read, I’ll buy it; even if I’m half way thru a current book and still have 5 new ones sitting on the table.

99.9% of my books are paperback/hardcover (non-digital) and 90% of those are within business, strategy, marketing, and biography categories.  I admit I have a one track mind.

Here are some recent books I’ve read:

The Facebook Effect (David Kirkpatrick):  I really enjoyed this book.  I think I enjoyed it because it was a biography of how Facebook started, the people, and the drama.  It was less about the actual business in itself, and not at all about “social media‘ and “social” marketing.   I felt like parts of this book could be made into an HBO show… oh wait, there’s a movie coming out about Zuck.  This was a VERY fast read for me (and I’m slow!) despite it’s voluminous appearance.

Open Leadership (Charlene Li):  I totally respect Charlene Li but I found this book to be a dud.  Note:  I’m engrossed in social technologies on a daily basis but found most of this book to be very elementary to what I do and what we talk about inside of our agency.   For people who are leaders in non-marketing services organizations who are not early adopters, this book might serve them much better than it served me.

Here are some books I’ve recently ordered (but not read):

What’s Mine is Yours:  The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (Botsman, Rogers):  I got introduced to this book thru an Umair Haque tweet.  I highly respect Umair and generally follow along with his ramblings.  Once I read the description of the book, I instantly 1-click ordered it from Amazon.  Should be here later this week.

Everything I Know About Marketing, I Learned from Google (Aaron Goldman):  I actually forgot how I heard about this book but I do remember reading a review about it on someone’s blog.  I’m very curious to see what angle this book takes about Google as I think Google has failed in marketing quite a few of their projects (almost everything but Search).  The book actually arrived this past Friday and hope to start it over the coming weeks.

Are there any books I should be concentrating on?  Anyone care to share their reading list?

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Fantasy Football 2010

NFL KickoffIt’s that time of year again; time to devote your late morning weekends to setting and locking your fantasy football rosters in order to win the weekend’s matchups.  I write this post each year at the beginning of the season and it’s fun to go back to see previous posts and see how things have changed.

I’m in 3 leagues this year, which is 1 more than I’m used to.  I’ve found that 2 leagues can sometimes be bullish to manage but I may be totally in over my head with 3 leagues especially with a 22 month old and a new baby being born any second.

I’ve had a hard time this year figuring out which research I’m subscribing to:  last year I subscribed to Rotowire and The Huddle but this year, I’ve only subscribed to Rotowire.  I certainly think there is an opportunity to help people select which research they want to subscribe to as it’s all confusing to me. (que for entrepreneurs)  Back in 2008, I tried to visualize the statistics with a project I called GoalLine.tv but realized quickly that I didn’t have the time (though could easily bring it back with some Mechanical Turks – anyone want to help?)

What’s exciting me about this season is the amount of national TV advertisers that have taken to adding fantasy football into their creative strategy.  Brands are now recognizing that there are millions of fantasy sports fans and that the opportunity to bond with us is a big and often missed opportunity.

Lastly, I still don’t see enough innovation within the fantasy football space.  While there are a few more companies doing casual mini-games this year, I still don’t see the dominant players emerging.   Would love to hear about new companies tackling the space…as this is an area that I’ve been passionate about for some time.

Oh – and make sure you tune into tonight’s Minnesota/New Orleans game… the Dave Matthews Band is performing!

ESPN Will Lead Live TV into the Next Decade

It’s a bold statement in the title, but I believe that the only traditional television programming to exist in the future are based around live events.  Unless Ticketmaster/Livenation create a live concert channel which I would assume is not out of the realm of possibilities, I think ESPN and it’s associated brothers/sister channels will lead television into the next decade.

It’s just not fun to watch a time shifted sporting event.

Read this article in the Sports Business Journal about ESPN entitled, Industry Wonders Who Will Challenge ESPN?

Another great addition to live television is the use of social media and technology to enhance the experience.  Yes, you can use Hot Potato during an episode of The Hills, but watching a sporting event with updates via tweets/etc is much more enjoyable.  We’ve not even scratched the surface with what is avaialble here, but it’s an area I’m interested in and I’m sure we’ll see lots in the next two years.

In a recent article in Advertising Age, entitled Live TV is Alive as Ever, Boosted by Social Media, author Andrew Hampp talks about the undeniable link between social media buzz and TV ratings.

With a programming schedule dominated by live events, ESPN is in a nice position to win the television war into the next decade.

Note:  the TV war won’t just be on your beautiful 60″ LCD in your living room – it’ll be on multiple screens, including your mobile devices.

Opening My Wallet For Media Consumption

Being that I work in the digital media industry, there is rarely a day that goes by without some conversation around free vs. paid.  Some folks in the office say that they would gladly pay ~$20 for the NY Times online and others argue that they won’t pay anything because eventually they will hear the news anyway.  I think this argument is less about actually paying for the news but more about paying for timely access to it.  If you could read the news *first,* shouldn’t there be a price to that?

Much of these conversations are being sparked by the reports of the NY Times Online putting up some sort of paywall.

Here is what I think they should do:

Go to a pay model, but the pay model should be for the first 12 hours of any article/story.  Meaning, if the Times publishes an article about the latest angel investment I made, then for the first 12 hours of that article’s existence on the Times online, it would only be accessible by subscribers.

Why I think this works:

  1. Online subscription model generates revenue for the NY Times
  2. Stories go “public” after 12 hours, which allows for page consumption (and views) beyond the subscriber base thus increasing inventory for the NY Times sales force to sell against (advertising)
  3. Online subscription model creates a velvet rope, less-so about actually consuming the content, but more-so about recency of consumption (all about getting it first)

What are your thoughts?  Think this can work?  I think this model can move well beyond the NY Times, no?