Nike finally start selling through Amazon, but an ex employee argues against top brands getting too cosy with Amazon. She talks from a fashion background and the key issue is how Amazon like to discount but we find a general acceptance that Amazon is a tough – but essential –partner, in most categories.
Just like the rest of GAFA, the best strategy is to really understand the opportunity and the threats, so you can get more than your fair share of value from them. It’s a bit like that old joke about running away from a lion – you don’t need to be faster than GAFA, just faster than your competitors.
Cannes inevitably prompted lots of discussion around ad creative. This FT piece saying Time runs out for the 30 second Television ad sums up the issues well and as they point out we have ended up with ill-suited ads appearing on low-quality sites, and irritated viewers skipping past them.
Getting people to watch ads on the new platforms is just as hard as getting their attention on TV – viewability rates are as low as 20% according to some Agency people – though the measurement firms say it is typically closer to 50%. And Facebook make the argument that ads can have an affect with very short views.
One of the many smart things Howard Gossage said 50 years ago is still very pertinent;
“Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”
When you have every other piece of content in the world just a click away on your smartphone, any ad has a job getting and keeping your attention. That’s true when you are watching TV and a commercial break comes up and its true when you are scrolling through your Facebook feed.
The huge advantage of digital is that the data available can add the context that makes the storytelling more relevant and hence more powerful. Contextual Video is a really powerful tool for storytelling and we are only just starting to understand the possibilities.
Shorter is better and the move to 6 second bumper ads has to be welcomed. It is complicated though. As with True View ads, getting the brand and message over in the 5 seconds before people can skip is key but so too is rewarding people who stay with the video for longer. This Facebook post about the new rules is well worth rereading.
We see that the atomic unit of advertising has changed – it’s no longer the 30 second TV ads but it is still about video. Paradoxically in the world of short attentions spans and shorter and shorter ads, we believe brands should do their storytelling in video and the length of that video can be quite long.
The trick is to be able to edit the story into pieces that fit the various distribution possibilities. And use the data to optimize the message.
A speech a few years ago at the other Cannes – MiP when the TV industry go to party – nailed the opportunity for content to evolve in a GAFA world. Jeffery Katzenberg of Dreamworks said he would pay $75m for 3 more episodes of Breaking Bad as long as they were cut into 6 minute segments.
At the Ad Cannes last week he was building on that idea with his new venture, WndrCo. He too terms the opportunity new TV and is planning bite sized content of between 6 and 10 minutes with a strong ad component. This is light on details but well worth watching.
And we can be sure he is talking with Facebook as they go Hollywood looking for content. They are talking with the talent agencies and we can expect some high profile projects before too long. Like Katzenberg they recognise that big budgets are required to make the content compelling – talking of up to $3m per episode.
As we shared last week Apple are finally taking new TV seriously with hires from Sony but the Apple track record has been patchy. This article looks at the internal politics that seem to have hampered things – and the much hyped shows that are still delayed; Carpool Karaoke and Vital Signs about Dr Dre.
After pitching Cannes with the story that Bigger isn’t always better Snap are spending their IPO money on adjacent businesses with Zenly the latest - helping them build out a new feature called Snap Map. This is where you can see where your friends are and browse local stories.
Zenly has a similar feature and will continue to run separately. There are some privacy issues but the feature is permission based and we think Snap users will quickly understand when and how to use it. There is a general sense that Snap is making smart move with acquisitions and much of the ad industry wants them to become a viable third force in the market.
BlockChain and Ads
One the most hyped and least understood technologies is Blockchain. As Bitcoin spawns many other crypto currencies Blockchain is starting to solve real problems. Our friends at the Barclays Tech Star accelerator demonstrated a clever use for Smart Contracts last year.
Now people are finding ways of using them to improve advertising. There is lots of investigation around how data can be better shared – and tracked. The most interesting use case is around attention and the idea of tokens. Sriram Krishnan knows more about Ads than most having led the Facebook Audience Network team and then playing a leading role around revenue at Snap. His take on Attention Token is really interesting and whilst we agree with his thinking – especially point 4 (on rewarding people to watch ads) there is something here.
If though, like most people, you struggle to really understand Blockchain this is a wonderful explanation from Goldman Sachs. Even if you do get Blockchain its worth looking at as it is such a good example of how to tell a story. And how to do content marketing. Especially good on mobile.
I believe the Goldman Sachs work was done inhouse and the idea of inhousing work, that agencies would once have done, is a persistent theme in our conversations these days. The FT goes deep into how agencies are being squeezed by tech and the end side bar points out that the extravagance wasn’t just from arriviste or gauche tech firms; News Corp had Ed Sheeran busking at their Chateau in the hills above Cannes.
Luxury & China
Some of the best content marketing comes from luxury firms and its nearly always video that is used to tell a story. The Farfetch CMO talks about how data is just as important to their marketing as the content. He mentions the $397m investment they have just had from Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com and shares in their rivals Yoox Net A Porter jumped on rumours of an Alibaba investment.
Really interesting thinking on how the quality of content can become a factor in the ad buying process. We are hopeful of making our context project happen soon, quantifying the benefits of quality content and environment.
YouTube are trialing an app that encourages people to watch videos with their friends. The social element is the big gap for Google so things like this are important. And the same Area120 team are experimenting with VR ads.
Finally ….with Facebook at 2 billion monthly users and the new OFCOM data proving the dominance of the smartphone you probably need a rethink if your marketing plan looks anything like it did last year.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!