Credit: The Verge
Last week, Instagram launched IGTV, a standalone app (but also accessible through the main Instagram app) that connects users with vertical, long form videos from accounts they follow as well as those connected to their interests. The new platform allows for direct uploading by creators and a “lean back” video discovery experience. It hosts videos up to ten minutes or one hour long (depending on the size of the account), and opens up yet another opportunity for video content creators.What’s the optimal effective IGTV strategy? Nobody knows yet. Whoever figures it out first will likely experience a big short term impact and set the tone for everyone else on IGTV.
What we do know is that a key part of the strategy will not be treating the platform as identical to YouTube, FB Watch, or any other video platform. It’s going to be an altogether different experience, and what will be successful there will be idiosyncratic to IGTV, as all the platforms are to each other. Digiday noted this point last week with it’s coverage of Facebook Watch, pointing out how brands are treating it as a completely different media hybrid due to its community building potential.
Jake Avnet of Indigenous Media (the production company behind Facebook Watch series Five Points) compared it to a breakout video platform that was also underestimated once: “The idea of doing an original show for Netflix was laughable — why would you want to? Who’s gonna watch your show? Now, everybody in the business would love to work with a platform like that. [Watch is] the largest platform there is in terms of community, and there’s a huge opportunity to make a show that connects with an enormous amount of people and creates an enormous amount of conversation.” It will also be interesting to see what shows (and communities) will be up on Facebook Watch now that it’s open to all creators and publishers.
These moves underscore that video platforms are progressively diverging from each other, as they evolve into their own ecosystems that serve different purposes for different audiences. YouTube reported that connected televisions are now the fastest-growing user device for the video platform, with 70% of its 1.8 million monthly logged-in users choosing to view videos on mobile — this will continue to shape what the YouTube experience will be. Roku announced that they are launching a subscription service marketplace similar to Amazon Channels in the next few months on the back of their 37% share of the OTT market, which will give them a new video discovery home screen allowing them to mix and match content without requiring users to deploy different apps. Even Snapchat had big video news last week — the company announced it will begin sharing ad revenue with creators in addition to expanding options for advertisers.
What does this all mean? Ultimately, digital video is not a monolith. A video on YouTube will not be consumed the same way as a video on IGTV. They may as well be completely different media. As content becomes the marketing tool of choice post-GDPR and beyond, it’s important for marketers to keep in mind the divergence of consumption taking place.
Last week at Cannes, Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar emphasized the company’s dedication to experiential marketing with a controversial quote: “advertising is not the way.”
He voiced concern about interruption-based marketing, wondering about its efficacy in the age of ad blockers. Bold words, but not entirely a surprise for Mastercard (even given their massive media budget). Investing in alternative marketing tactics has been par for the course for Mastercard, like their multi-location content studio initiative called Storylabs, built to create branded blog posts, videos, and even GIFs.
They’re not the only ones looking to shake up their outreach efforts. Digiday reported late last week that growing startup direct-to-consumer brands are turning to agencies for expertise in non-digital marketing, such as television and radio. Growing brands need to reach wider audiences cost effectively, which often means going beyond digital — and those types of skills and networks don’t typically exist in-house.
These two trends of moving beyond digital spend are two sides of the same coin — they’re addressing the problem of digital saturation and efficacy issues with display media and expensive platform spend for top-of-funnel awareness campaigns.
An ongoing challenge for brands is to figure out how to develop new specialized capabilities in traditional media as well as new digital channels that can serve their ends, while identifying which strategies work for which marketing objectives. The newest Nielsen CMO Report (a new survey of high-level marketers) confirms this, saying: “High reach media — such as television and radio—fit nicely with brand awareness campaign objectives seeking to fill the top of the sales funnel… Whereas more direct response media — such as search and email — fit well with customer acquisition objectives seeking to convert lower-funnel prospects.” Samuel Scott summarized it in The Drum: “Nielsen’s survey found that traditional media is best for brand building while digital has become the channels of choice for direct marketing and customer acquisition.”
Like startups with all eyes on growth, big brands will have to be omnichannel andomni-strategy if they want their advertising and content to be impactful — this means a truly integrated digital and traditional media and content approach across all funnel stages. A radio or TV ad may simply be the most effective tactic for brand awareness for a certain category, regardless of what has worked in the past or where expertise lies. Winning brands will be the ones that can mix-and-match among potentially dozens of in-house teams and external specialist agencies to be able to execute.
Last week GroupM released ad spend forecasts for 2018 and 2019 — they’re due to rise 4.5% in 2018 (up 1% growth from 2017’s final figures). Out of that growth, 95% will go toward digital spending. In 2019, growth attributed to digital is projected to rise to 99%.We have a question: Where’s all that going to go post-GDPR and post-Cambridge Analytica?
The answer appears to be platforms that enable the most robust contextual targeting, and do the best job of both generating unique 1st party data and enabling brands to match their own 1st party data. In light of even more data scandals (the latest one around location tracking with “unrestricted access”), wireless providers Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T announced that they will be stopping some data sales to brokers. In the EU, The Telegraph, The Guardian, and News UK announced their own data project at Cannes designed to serve agencies with data collected from their own stores, which has similarities to the expansion of Vox Media’s Concert ad partnership initiative.
The real question of course is if these initiatives will ever be a contender for taking back significant share from the Facebook-Google duopoly. Similar to some of the genesis behind Verizon's Oath, combining vast data capabilities with brand-safe contextual targeting might be the winning solution.
Curated and published by Adam Orshan, Brit McGinnis, Janelle Elfar, and Matt Levin in New York City.