SUNNIER SIDE OF THE OFFICE

M/H Partners with Staples for Back To School Campaign

Does back-to-school shopping stress you out? Are you in need of some school-supply serenity? Look no further than Staples.

We’re thrilled to work with the retailer on its latest campaign, launching this week. Back-to-school shopping can be chaotic for parents and kids, with retailers often running out of inventory. But staples has the necessary supplies all year round, not just from July through September. So we tagged the brand the “back-to-school specialty store,” where customers can get what they need at any time.

Ad Age reports: “In a 30-second spot, crayons, glue, markers and calculators engage in a circular Esther Williams-style ballet as a hypnotic voiceover seeks to soothe anxious consumers. ‘Breathe,’ the voiceover says. ‘Let the back-to-school shopping wash over you like a warm summer wind.’”

“There’s no back-to-school stress, only school supply serenity—thanks to Staples, the back-to-school specialty store,” the voice explains.”

Our Executive Creative Director Joel Kaplan noted the chaos of the season, telling Ad Age, “Most of Staples’ competitors add to the crazy with limited seasonal inventory and picked-over aisles. As we developed the Staples work, we wanted to counter that chaos and give families a moment of calm reassurance that Staples would have everything they need, exactly when they need it—because Staples specializes in supplies every day of the year.”

Snapchat Taps Into Non-traditional Brand Partnerships 

By Zuli Mohammad

Snapchat faced some backlash earlier this year after rolling out a new app design. The hope was that this revamp would reach an older demographic versus their younger, more millennial based audience. But rather than drawing in more people, the change resulted in more users dropping off.

To help retain users, Snapchat is launching brand partnerships with non-traditional publishers. These brand partnerships will recommend users to new channels on the discover page that they don’t subscribe to.

One of Snap’s new millennial-focused brand partners is the popular internet personality Daquan, a fictional character run by a team that works for IMGN Media.

Daquan, who has an extremely large Millennial following on Instagram (11.2 million), had no prior presence on Snapchat. Daquan’s new Snapchat channel has already reached 16 million unique visitors with 75% being under the age of 24.

Whether or not Snapchat will continue to try and target older demographics is to be determined, but for now, it will be interesting to see how they continue to home in on their sweet spot — millennials — with new and non-traditional partnerships.

The Future of Online Shopping: Ads That Let You Try Things On

Many of the big social media and tech companies have adopted augmented (AR) technology into their platforms, particularly through ads. Snapchat in April was the first to roll out out such an offering with Shoppable AR. Facebook soon followed, announcing this week that it is rolling out AR within ads later this year on Facebook’s News Feed.

Google and Amazon are also integrating AR into their shopping platforms. “Given Google’s ad dominance and Amazon’s push into online advertising, it wouldn’t be surprising if they too begin to roll out AR advertising offerings for marketers,” according to Axios.

The moves are interesting, because until now, Axios reports, “AR has mostly been used in marketing at the ‘top of the funnel,’ meaning it helps drive general awareness around brands. By making it possible to buy things through AR, the technology can now be used closer to the ‘bottom of the funnel,’ meaning it can push people to actually buy products.”

The Purge: Twitter Style

By Jessica Gaylord

Last week, many high-profile celebrities, politicians and brands saw drastic drops in their Twitter followings. No one was immune from the so-called “Twitter purge”– a major effort by the company to restore trust and improve transparency in its platform by removing inactive or suspicious accounts. This sweep came during increased pressure around Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the discovery of rampant fraudulent marketing practices (i.e. buying fake followers to inflate social influence).

Del Harvey, Twitter’s VP for trust and safety told the New York Times, “We don’t want to incentivize the purchase of followers and fake accounts to artificially inflate follower counts, because it’s not an accurate measure of someone’s influence on the platform or influence in the world.”

With this move, Twitter expects to reduce total follower count by 6%. While some users expressed dismay in their followings dropping so suddenly, many marketers welcomed the move. Clients often look to vanity metrics to judge success, so the purge should help with more accurate reporting. It might also help renew focus on quality engagement and conversations versus just high followings.

As Twitter bridges the gap between perceived audience and actual influence, marketers wonder if platforms like Facebook and Instagram will take similar steps with their fraudulent accounts. If so, the purge has only just begun.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Quartz Acquired By Uzabase for Up To $110 Million

By Coltin Chapman

Last week, news broke that Quartz, a digital global news outlet for affluent, forward-thinking readers, would be acquired by Japanese media company Uzabase.

Quartz was created by Atlantic Media in 2012 as a way to adapt to the mobile and digital age. Since then, the site has rapidly expanded, with 20 million people accessing Quartz on a monthly basis through their sites, apps, newsletters, and videos.

In 2016 Quartz earned $30 million in revenue through strong ad sales and a popular paywall subscription model. The site is on track to increase revenue by 25% to 35% this year.

Quartz is following in the footsteps of media giants like The New York Times, Washington Post, and WSJ by implementing a paywall feature. Paywalls have become pivotal in the media world, publishers no longer need to focus on driving traffic to their pages. Instead, they can focus on what really matters: customer loyalty and quality content.

While details of the acquisitions have not been finalized, Uzabase will hand Quartz the reins to its personalized news app, NewsPicks, USA in the hopes that Quartz can increase usage and subscribers.

YouTube Will Promote and Fund ‘Authoritative’ News

YouTube has found itself in the spotlight over the past year and a half for its algorithm’s practice of surfacing wild conspiracy theory videos, blatantly fake news clips and other questionable content for both adults and kids. This issue is amplified during breaking news cycles, such as during the recent Parkland and Las Vegas shootings, when conspiracy videos quickly surfaced.

Roughly 450 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it nearly possible for human content moderators to monitor what gets posted. YouTube has instead announced tweaks to its algorithm that will prioritize and surface “authoritative” sources and. It will also fund $25 million in grants for news outlets that want to beef up their video presence on the platform, which is part of the larger Google News Initiative announced earlier this year.

The changes YouTube announced Monday “are substantive tweaks to the tools it uses to recommend news-related videos,” according to Wired. “In the coming weeks, YouTube will start to display an information panel above videos about developing stories, which will include a link to an article that Google News deems to be most relevant and authoritative on the subject. The move is meant to help prevent hastily recorded hoax videos from rising to the top of YouTube’s recommendations.”

Read more about the changes at Wired.

Google Launches New Ad Products to Supr e-Commerce, Retail Ad Spending

Shopping ads have been helping Google grow its ad revenue — so much so that the company is doubling down on them, launching a tool “designed to draw even more spending from e-commerce businesses and drive offline sales,” according to Bloomberg.

“With the new feature, Google will make it easier for retailers to run ads for consumer products, like sneakers and speakers, on several popular Google services,” Bloomberg notes. “And marketers will be able to buy these Google ads directly through Shopify Inc., another integration between the two companies that are facing a looming threat from Amazon.com Inc.” (Shopify works with companies to set up their e-commerce websites.)

The tool is one of four new ad products Google announced today. Each product is created to help automate the ad-buying process; they are also intended to help solidify Google as a one-stop marketing shop for advertisers and buyers. “With the retail feature, for instance, marketers can set certain business goals, such as acquiring new customers or driving foot traffic to stores, then spray ads efficiently on Google search, Maps, YouTube and across the web,” said Bloomberg.

Read more about the new ad features here.

New Twitter Functions Bring Appeal, Value to Platform

By Melissa Santiago

There’s no shortage of big news with Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter is slowly and quietly releasing new features to improve the platform experience.

These new features include putting relevant information that caters to a user’s interests front and center on the platform. This is a direct effort to combat the longtime barrier Twitter has faced with new and lapsed users finding the platform cumbersome to navigate and not understanding its value.

According to Keith Coleman, vice president of product, via Bloomberg: “Twitter has recently been taking steps to put live events at the forefront of the experience, so we introduced “Happening now” at the top of the timeline for sports, so if your team is playing you can follow along with Tweets about the game and the score, all in one place. We’re now expanding this to include Tweets about breaking and personalized news.”

The understated updates began to roll out in mid-June and should now be widely available to all users — although you are likely to not notice them unless you’re looking for them. They were most noticeable during the NBA finals, and more recently during the World Cup. For those not into sports, an additional part of the expansion is how “Twitter will predict relevant topics and send breaking-news notifications based on a person’s interests.” Interest areas can range from breaking news to sports to entertainment and more.

Twitter platform changes come at a time when more and more people are getting news from social media but also not trusting of what they see on platforms. Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey describes Twitter’s role, “as a curator of news and a place to discover ‘what’s happening now’ at a time when social-media companies have come under fire for fake news and harassment.” These new features empower users to stay up-to-date on what is happening now and having access to the pulse of what is happening now is Twitter’s true appeal.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Roku Gives TV Networks Access To Its Data To Sell Targeted Ads

By Arthi Veeraragavan

Last week, Roku, a leading over-the-top (OTT) provider, introduced its newest ad platform, Audience Marketplace.

Through Audience Marketplace, TV networks will be able to access Roku’s extensive viewer data collected on its millions of streamers. The data can be used to sell ad space that targets specific audiences on Roku-provided content.

This new offering will allow brands to hyper-target OTT viewers. Previously, brands have only been able to target users on Roku through content that is deemed contextually relevant to the audience. With Audience Marketplace, brands can pinpoint viewers based on specific segments such as geographic, demographic, and behavioral details at the household level.

Turner, Fox and Viacom have already signed on to sell inventory through Audience Marketplace. Advertisers can buy this inventory through programmatic partners or directly from the networks.

Brands Will Now Have To Disclose Every Ad on Facebook

 

Facebook is now showing every ad from every brand running on its platform, a move that comes amid the company’s heightened transparency efforts and attempts to fight fraud after broad scrutiny into the role social media played in the 2016 election.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced the news on Thursday. According to Ad Age, the move “will make it possible to click on a brand’s page and see every ad it is currently promoting on the social network as well as Instagram, Messenger and the broader Facebook ad network. At the same time, Facebook has put political and issue ads in a special class for even more transparency, where they will be archived for seven years and open to public scrutiny.”

Some advertisers have apparently expressed concern over the ability of their competition to see every ad they’re running, the fear being that it will be a window into their strategy. “Mainly concerns that their competitors are going to then see all of their ads, and just making it easier for their competitors to see what kind of ads they’re running,” said Sandberg.

 

Verizon Shutters Go90 Streaming Service

Three years ago, Verizon launched Go90, a streaming video service touting original content that would attract younger people as they increasingly moved away from linear TV to smaller screens. The carrier made a big investment in it, offering hefty sums of money to video makers. And although Verizon was somewhat of a “savior” for these video makers, according to Digiday, and pitched itself as a premium alternative to YouTube, the investment ultimately did not pan out.

Verizon is hardly alone in its efforts to enter the digital video world. Companies like Samsung with Milk Video and Comcast with Watchable also went bust.

Digiday and Ad Age have post-mortems worth reading, detailing the company’s pitch to video makers, its larger but vague business strategy and where it may have faltered, despite receiving $50 million in ad placement before it even went live. Read more here and here.

This Week In Social: Facebook May Soon Allow A/B Post Testing

By Melissa Santiago

Jane Manchun Wong (Facebook code sleuth) recently found some code under the hood of Facebook that points to Facebook potentially releasing an A/B testing feature for organic page posts. What does this mean in plain English? Social Media today explains, “experimenting with a new A/B test option for Page posts, which would better enable Page managers to make educated, strategic decisions on their Facebook content.”

If this feature is widely released, it will allow brands to gather more conclusive data on which content elements their page followers engage with most. It will also allow brands to test a couple versions of a post and then select the top performer to boost. This will be particularly useful for brands with physical products ranging from CPG brands to car brands and more.

No word yet on when this might be available to Pages, or when Facebook will officially announce the feature. But with Facebook’s latest algorithm changes, many publishers and Pages are seeing the organic reach of their posts in sharp decline. This new feature would allow better data and results tracking for organic content. One advantage of Facebook ads has been the ability to A/B test posts with budgets starting at $100, but this feature could level the playing field between brands with a range of budgets and not just favor the big spenders with post data.

 


Sunnier Side of the Office

Cannes Recap: Modern Content Gives Advertising A Backseat To Entertainment

Last week in Cannes, we hosted a panel on the rapidly changing nature of content and technology, offering advice on how to stay up to speed in a fragmented media landscape. M/H’s Group Creative Director Joel Kaplan moderated the panel. Panelists were Elicia Zank, head of social for Audi of America; Zubair Jandali, VP of brand partnerships at Reddit; and Kerstin Emhoff, president and co-founder of Prettybird, our production partner.

The panel featured M/H’s work with Audi for “Think Faster,” a branded entertainment series that gave new meaning to the Reddit Ask Me Anything format. It also covered how advertising should take a back seat to entertainment when it comes to social and digital content. Putting aside the hard sell of a traditional TV ad, M/H, Audi and Prettybird instead worked with Reddit to create a series that Reddit fans would love.

We’ll share the official video of the panel when it becomes available, but for now, the key concept that emerged from the talk was the idea of platform-specific content creation. New platforms are a place to create content unlike anything that could previously be made, but for advertisers, it’s critical to create ads and content that’s platform-specific, even if it means more deliverables. Understanding how each platform’s users behave is the key to having a successful presence and building a following.

For more details on the growing popularity of “Think Faster,” read the Ad Age story from last week about the success of “Think Faster” and its increasingly large viewership and engagement.

Instagram Launches IGTV

By Ben Shapiro

Last week Instagram launched Instagram TV (IGTV), a video platform that hosts content up to an hour long. IGTV can be accessed through the original Instagram app or the new IGTV app.

IGTV is built for mobile, exclusively hosting full-screen vertical videos. Content is separated into four categories––“For You,” “Following,” “Popular,” and “Continue Watching.” A user’s follower list is transferred directly from their Instagram profile, giving them an immediately personalized experience on the new platform.

With the consumer experience in mind, Instagram decided to launch IGTV without ads. However, brands can still utilize the new platform to reach channel followers through branded content. Brands such as Nike and Netflix have already begun posting brand new long-form content on their respective IGTV channels.

The move appears to be a bid to compete with Google’s YouTube, which is quickly becoming the preferred social media channel for America’s youth. While Pew Research Center statistics show 72% of U.S. kids age 13-17 use Instagram, YouTube’s percentage for that age group is even higher, with 85% saying they use the google video platform. Given it fulfills a similar need as YouTube, IGTV should allow Instagram to narrow that gap.

AT&T Acquires AppNexus

Last week the rumor mill in Cannes was that AT&T, which had just finished its acquisition of Time Warner, was about to acquire ad tech behemoth AppNexus. Yesterday the companies officially announced the deal.

AppNexus is perhaps one of the biggest and high-profile ad tech companies. Many ad techs focus on offering tools for specific sides of the business, such as demand-side platforms (which agencies use to buy media) or supply-side platforms (which publishers use to manage and sell their ad space). AppNexus offers both, and it also operates one of the few major ad exchanges, an area with which it competes directly with Google.

Under this deal, AppNexus will be part of AT&T’s advertising and analytics unit. Observers say that the move could potentially give the “duopoly” of digital ad dollars, Google and Facebook, a run for their money.

AdExchanger yesterday caught up with AT&T ads CEO Brian Lesser, former GroupM Norah American CEO, and in the interview, he explains his vision for AT&T now that the Time Warner and AppNexus acquisitions are public. When asked about competing with Google, Lesser said that he doesn’t view it as competing with Facebook or Google, but more as giving advertisers what they want. Advertisers “want TV to work harder for them and want to extend the quality of TV into digital video environments, like addressable, like OTT and pure digital video,” he said.

More Money, More Creators: YouTube’s Monetization Play

By Jessica Gaylord

YouTube has had a tough couple of years. Between issues of demonetization for content creators, to brand safety issues, to inappropriate advertisements plaguing its children’s content, YouTube knew VidCon—an annual conference for major players in online video—would be the best stage to reveal new options for the platform’s top creators. These included:

— YouTube Channel Memberships, which have currently been limited to a select group of creators, will now be extended to channels with more than 100,000 subscribers

— Teaming up with Teespring to allow creators to choose more than 20 merchandise items, like shirts and phone cases, to sell on their channels

— The introduction of Premieres, which let creators debut pre-recorded videos as live moments

Despite YouTube’s best efforts, the competition just keeps growing. In addition to Twitch, Patreon and Facebook, YouTube now has to worry about Instagram’s break into long-form vertical video content on IGTV.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Brand Safety: It’s Still an Issue

By Zuli Mohammad

Brand safety across social media remains a hot topic for both advertisers and brands. This past Wednesday, Oath, a Media + Advertising company, released results of a survey conducted in April that covered brand safety. The survey found that “99 percent of the 304 survey respondents expressed concern about their ads appearing in brand-safe environments”.

While brand safety has consistently been a topic of conversation, concern for it has grown significantly since the Cambridge Analytica scandal around Facebook and the 2016 elections surfaced this past March. In hopes of quelling that concern, many social platforms have worked towards improving their brand safety guidelines that many survey respondents are feeling divided on.

Many survey respondents have also stated that the concern for brand safety isn’t just on social and that they are adjusting programmatic buying strategies to also account for better brand safety — something that we here at M/H have also been advocates of doing. This includes applying pressure on partners to ensure that brand safety concerns are met, as well as moving ad spend to premium publishers with quality reputations, and layering on brand safety providers such as IAS/ MOAT.

As changes around brand safety continue to roll-out, we here at M/H have been and will continue to recommend partners ranging from social media to programmatic outfits that best fulfill our client’s campaign goals in the most brand-safe and transparent environments.

Reddit Rolls Out Native Video Ads

Reddit is increasing its advertising on many fronts, now offering autoplay native video ads as it works to attract more marketers to the platform.

From Tech Crunch: “The popular site, which currently reports 330 million monthly active users, has remained relatively unchanged for much of the first half of this decade, but over the past couple years has accelerated its product growth with a redesign of its mobile apps and desktop site, a move to host images on video natively and, more recently, a major push to integrate native advertising.”

“We have an opportunity to business-build,” Reddit VP of Brand Partnerships Zubair Jandali, who is also on our Cannes panel next week (see below), told TechCrunch. “Reddit has remarkable product-market fit on the consumer side and we’ve not layered a business on top of it. There aren’t a lot of opportunities that tend to come around like that.”

What We Can Learn at Cannes

Our newsletter will be taking a brief hiatus next week while we attend Cannes. But in the run-up to the festival, Fast Company spoke with industry leaders about what to expect this year and how the media landscape is changing. Our co-founder John Matejczyk and other top execs weighed in. Check it out here.

And in case you missed our note in last week’s newsletter about our panel, please come see us on stage Thursday, June 21 at 2:30 pm! It will feature our Audi client, Reddit and production company Prettybird. Titled “Covert Content: Giving Advertising a Back Seat to Entertainment,” the panel will cover how to best create modern content, collaborate effectively all while staying up to speed with the changing tech and media landscape.

From the Cannes website:

In the few years since branded content became a thing, its lifecycle has grown, died and evolved again. In this session, MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER evaluates the current state of branded content in the context of true entertainment value. The session takes a deep dive into the making of Think Faster, the unique AMA platform in which stars answer questions in real-time at breakneck speeds — all while sitting in the passenger seat of an Audi Sport vehicle. MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER is joined by Audi, Reddit and PrettyBird to inspire young creatives to examine how to work with clients, understand their business, and build partnerships that can go project-to-project, pitch-to-pitch.

 

This Week In Social: Innovate or Die Trying

By Melissa Santiago

In the startup world, there’s a common phrase: innovate or die. Facebook takes a somewhat different route; its innovation strategy often looks more like it lets other companies innovate, then Facebook either buys or copies the new tech. As a Facebook user, this is great: no need to keep up with tech or new platforms and rest assured that whatever new social tech feature is out there, Facebook will bring it to you. Just last week, Facebook began to test a lip-synching feature, not unlike the app, Musically which has over 200 million users. Most of Musically’s users are teens, which Facebook is having a difficult time appealing to.

Facebook’s current model leaves little room for true innovation in allowing for new, emerging platforms within the social media space. Recently, when Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by a Congressional Committee, he was asked, “Who are your competitors?” and Mark couldn’t name one. There’s currently nothing quite like facebook, but they aren’t leaving much room for anyone to challenge their dominance.

It’s hard to imagine what kind of social platforms we might be lacking, but when most people were using MySpace, no one could have predicted what Facebook would become and how it’s changed our lives. Vine (RIP), Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Reddit all came about in an effort to create a platform that didn’t already exist and create a new niche in online culture. On Facebook’s end, it’s brilliant to ensure that they have no major competition, but their approach leaves no room for competitive new products to emerge.

 


Sunnier Side of the Office

Apple Looks to Expand Advertising Business With New Network for Apps

Nearly two years after Apple shut down its iAd mobile ad network, the company is reportedly looking to launch a new one, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Apple has been meeting with companies like Pinterest and Snap about an ad network that would distribute app-install ads across their apps; Apple would share ad revenue with apps displaying those ads, the WSJ said.

From WSJ’s CMO Today newsletter: “Services revenue is the most important driver of growth for Apple, and the company’s ad plans are all about getting people back into the App Store, spending money. Apple already offers search ads within the App Store—a $1 billion business—but the new digital ad effort would see it compete more directly with Google’s AdMob and Facebook’s Audience Network.”

 

Google To Offer Programmatic Audio Ads

 

By Coltin Chapman

Earlier this year, the Media Rating Council (MRC) partnered with dozens of audio providers to create guidelines on audio ad audibility. The need for clear guidelines arose after the MRC noticed a spike in audio related media earlier this year.

Google last week announced it will begin offering programmatic digital audio buying. Advertisers will be able to buy inventory on some of the biggest digital music streaming sites including Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, TuneIn and Google Play through DoubleClick Bid Manager, Google’s programmatic ad platform.

Now with Google taking steps to pursue programmatic audio, it’s clear that 2018 is the year of digital audio.

DoubleClick will also be providing a list of new metrics to measure the success of audio ads. The metrics remain similar to DoubleClick’s current video metrics, with percentage completion rates, impressions, and clicks returning, along with the addition of metrics unique to the audio experience like mutes, pause rates, and audio costs.

Google’s plan to offer audio buying within DoubleClick continues to show advertisers that there is a large demand within the digital space for audio ads — and a wide variety of inventory available for advertisers to choose.

Come See Us in Cannes!

If you are going to be in Cannes for the annual advertising confab, please come see our panel Thursday, June 21 at 2:30 pm!

We’ll be hosting a panel, which features our Audi client, Reddit, and production company Prettybird, titled “Covert Content: Giving Advertising a Back Seat to Entertainment.” It will cover how to best create modern content, collaborate effectively all while staying up to speed with the changing tech and media landscape.

From the Cannes website:

In the few years since branded content became a thing, its lifecycle has grown, died and evolved again. In this session, MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER evaluates the current state of branded content in the context of true entertainment value. The session takes a deep dive into the making of Think Faster, the unique AMA platform in which stars answer questions in real-time at breakneck speeds — all while sitting in the passenger seat of an Audi Sport vehicle. MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER is joined by Audi, Reddit and PrettyBird to inspire young creatives to examine how to work with clients, understand their business, and build partnerships that can go project-to-project, pitch-to-pitch.

This Week in Social: Goodbye, Fellow Teens: Facebook Loses Younger Audience

By Tess Olcott

Gone are the days of friending old teachers and posting relationship statuses for your great aunt Lisa to comment on. Facebook is losing interest from the teen crowd and the new kids on the block are Youtube and Snapchat. According to Pew Research Center, over the past three years teenage usage has dropped from 71% to 51%, with only 10% of teens saying that Facebook is their most used social media platform. The one thing Facebook still has going for it is its acquisition of Instagram, which still sits among the top players of social. The most popular, with 85% of teens using, is Youtube.

We have seen the power of Youtube in our own work, using Liza Koshy, one of the top tier YouTube stars, in the Think Faster campaign for Audi. Traditional Hollywood celebrities brought in a fair share of comments across social media platforms, but Liza’s fans came through with very impressive numbers. Her fan base has largely grown on social platforms like YouTube and Instagram, whereas more traditional Hollywood celebrities have grown their fan bases through TV and film. This is a testament to YouTube’s reach, and the passion that their users have that might be fading for Facebook. That said, you never know when a social platform will takeover or fade into obscurity.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Instagram Carousel Story Ads Now Available to Advertisers

By Arthi Veeraragavan

Last week, Facebook announced that Instagram Carousel Story Ads are now available to all advertisers after a launch earlier this year to a small beta group.

 The announcement was made through Facebook’s Product and Business Update Newsletter, issued to valued agency partners. According to the platform, more than 300 million people view and/or use stories daily, indicating a huge opportunity for brand’s to reach engaged consumers.

Carousel Story Ad Features:

  • 1 ad can feature up to 3 pieces of content

  • The ad will feature the same progress bar pattern shown for organic stories

  • Images will be displayed for 5 seconds each, videos can be up to 15 seconds long each

  • Video and click metrics will be available for each piece of content within the story

With this new release, brands are no longer limited to running single video ads as stories — they can use the format for a deeper, more engaging interaction with their consumers.

Twitter Looks to Woo Smaller Publishers with New Site

Twitter will be rolling out a new website “to teach smaller publishers how to produce content, including live and on-demand videos, for Twitter and make money from the content,” according to Digiday.

Twitter is embracing publishers, particularly smaller ones, who are looking to grow their presence on platforms after Facebook announced some months back that its algorithm would prioritize users’ posts above those of brands and publishers. The result has left publishers large and small concerned about the inability to reach a massive audience and grow ad revenue.

According to Digiday: “The initiative is similar to how platforms introduce self-serve ad-buying tools to accommodate smaller advertisers. Twitter can’t work with every publisher, at least not directly. Its 100-person publisher partnerships team is occupied with the thousand or so large publishers that Twitter works with to produce videos and original shows for the platform, and to sell ads against that content. The new site will let Twitter support the smaller publishers to whom it can’t dedicate partner managers.”

Come See Us in Cannes!

If you are going to be in Cannes for the annual advertising confab, please come see our panel Thursday, June 21 at 2:30 pm!

We’ll be hosting a panel, which features our Audi client, Reddit and production company Prettybird, titled “Covert Content: Giving Advertising a Back Seat to Entertainment.” It will cover how to best create modern content, collaborate effectively all while staying up to speed with the changing tech and media landscape.

From the Cannes website:

In the few years since branded content became a thing, its lifecycle has grown, died and evolved again. In this session, MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER evaluates the current state of branded content in the context of true entertainment value. The session takes a deep dive into the making of Think Faster, the unique AMA platform in which stars answer questions in real-time at breakneck speeds — all while sitting in the passenger seat of an Audi Sport vehicle. MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER is joined by Audi, Reddit and PrettyBird to inspire young creatives to examine how to work with clients, understand their business, and build partnerships that can go project-to-project, pitch-to-pitch.

This Week in Social: Low Budget: What Viral Dreams Are Made Of

By Melissa Santiago 

In the early to mid-2000’s digital music began its takeover of analog formats. Now with the dominance of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, CDs are going the way of 8-track tapes and the music industry no longer has 90’s era music video budgets.

In addition to the downturn in music video budgets, social media paved the way for conversations about big budget gimmicky viral hits. It also set the stage for low-budget viral content, and riding high on the  wave of the changing tides is John Mayer’s new video for his single, “New Light.”

Mayer on Twitter said of his latest video concept: “I needed to make a video for New Light but nobody could agree on a budget. (MUSIC INDUSTRY amirite?) So I went to a place downtown and made this with a company that usually does birthday and Bar Mitzvah videos.”

In the last few years, John Mayer has risen from easy listening radio pop king to bonafide Hypebeast. He’s an unlikely hero in the streetwear scene and his of-the-moment fashion sense and excellent social media presence set the stage perfectly for his newest video’s success.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Audi Launches Next Round of “Think Faster” with David Chang, Liza Koshy

We’re thrilled to announce that once again we are partnering with Audi and Reddit on “Think Faster,” the world’s fastest Ask Me Anything.

You may recall we launched “Think Faster” back in September is a live episodic content series that features culture’s biggest names as they answer questions submitted via Reddit. Our guests for the first four episodes were Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott, Issa Rae and Olivia Munn. This week we’re hosting luminaries that didn’t come from traditional Hollywood backgrounds, but nonetheless have big followings: restaurateur and entrepreneur David Chang (most recently creator of Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious”) and YouTuber Liza Koshy.

Read more about this week’s episodes in Digiday and The Drum. And catch it live Thursday, May 24 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT on Audi’s Reddit profile.

Amazon To Test Off-Site Display Ads

By Ben Shapiro

Amazon is launching a new display ad offering, according to Bloomberg. The offering will let brands selling on Amazon bid on ads that appear on other websites and apps. The ads will primarily be used for retargeting consumers who have viewed a merchant’s products or similar ones on Amazon. The goal behind the placements will be to drive traffic back to the merchant’s page on Amazon.

Amazon currently sells advertising on their web and mobile properties in the form of sponsored products, headline search ads, and product display ads. This new offering will be the first time Amazon will sell placements that will appear outside of their owned properties.

For brands selling on Amazon, the new placement offers an opportunity to expand reach and impact. Brands could always target ads on Amazon based on past shopper behavior, but this ability is now extended beyond the e-commerce site itself. Utilizing Amazon data, brands will be able to target consumers who have demonstrated an interest in their products or similar ones all over the web.

For Amazon itself, the move will likely increase site traffic and drive more impact for brands.

Instagram Will Soon Allow Users To Mute Accounts Without Unfollowing Them

Instagram is planning to roll out a feature that lets users mute accounts, while also allowing the ability to still follow those muted accounts.

From Adweek: “The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network said this feature—which it aims to roll out ‘in the coming weeks’—will make it easier for users to personalize their feeds, adding, ‘We’ve also heard it may be a useful tool for managing complex social dynamics.’”

For everyone, including brands, the move has potential to reduce organic reach if an account is muted by a large number of followers. It’s also a reminder to post content that’s fitting for the platform and to develop a posting cadence that won’t overwhelm users’ feeds.

This Week In Social: I Can Show You the Dogs

By Melissa Santiago

The devious data usage problem with Facebook is kind of a bummer, to put it lightly, but there is a bright side to the internet. We can look back to a simpler time online. An ancient internet artifact, a cornerstone of social media with the ability to unite groups of people and soften the hardest of souls with a collective, “aaaawwwwwww.” The great uniter: dogs.

With some help from his mom, a 9-year-old named Gideon has found a way to combine the pure unbridled joy of childlike wonder and cute dogs into one Twitter account called, @IvePetThatDog. He takes a picture with each dog he meets and tells his followers a little about the dog. There’s no internet dog lingo, cleverness or snark. Just a 9-year-old boy who loves dogs.

In an interview with Vice, Gideon simply stated his goal with his Twitter account: “I wanted to show the public about all of the dogs. I wanted to show everybody all of the dogs in the world.”

Congrats, Gideon, on petting your 300th dog and if you’re looking for an internship, emailcareers@mtzhf.com.  

 

 

 


Sunnier Side of the Office

Welcome Brendan Robertson! Plus, Digiday Content Marketing Awards

 

A couple news nuggets from M/H this week. First, we are thrilled to officially welcome Brendan Robertson, our new Director of Strategy and Communications! Brendan joins us from Edelman Bay Area, where he led the strategic planning group and was responsible for the development of strategic direction for clients including HP, Adobe, Starbucks, PayPal and Nissan.

In his new role, Brendan will fuse brand and social strategy with media and analytics to bring creative to life in new ways. “Having worked across a range of digital, traditional and PR agencies in my career, it’s never been a better time to blend it all together than now. I am excited by the opportunity to join M/H and reimagine how strategy, media and analytics collaborates with creative to bring our client’s stories to life in new, inventive ways,” said Brendan. See the Ad Age news item here.

We’re also thrilled to announce M/H and Audi’s “Think Faster” won a Digiday Content Marketing Award for Best Use of Real-Time Streaming Video! Think Faster, the world’s fastest AMA is a live episodic content series that features culture’s biggest names as they answer questions submitted via Reddit. Taking place at over 130 MPH, Think Faster transformed one of the most popular online interview formats, the Reddit AMA, into a live broadcast event. Congrats to the team!

A&E Networks Guarantees Business Results for TV Buys

By Katharine Painter

It’s Upfronts week, which means lots of media news to come. Some has already trickled out: Last week’sSunnier Side of the Office wrote that NBCUniversal is now measuring business results, a move driven by the need to compete for ad revenue going to the Facebooks and Googles of the world. Now A&E Networks is following suit, but they’re actually guaranteeing specific business outcomes, like foot and website traffic, based on their TV buys. This is something no other TV network has done yet.

Over the past 6 months, A&E has been testing out an attribution model by Data Plus Math, an analytics company that uses data sources like Nielsen Catalina and iSpotTV to measure foot and website traffic. During this year’s upfronts, A&E expects to do less than 10 buys guaranteeing business outcomes, though they believe it’ll become a common way they do business in the future.

As advanced reporting and attribution models have become a key part of proving campaign performance, traditional channels are under scrutiny to prove their effectiveness. Digital video partners can sell media based on a cost-per-action, guaranteeing marketers certain results. A&E Networks, NBCU, AMC Networks and Discovery are jumping at the opportunity to help prove their value to marketers, in turn increasing the dollars marketers are willing to spend with them.

Facebook Suspends 200 Apps for Potential Misuse of Data

 

Facebook has suspended 200 apps that it suspects of misusing data. This move, of course, comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica sandal, which ultimately led to the data firm shutting down. Facebook is working to ensure misuse of user data does not happen again, closely vetting developers that had access similar to that of Cambridge Analytica.

“The social network’s announced mass freezing of developers is its first major enforcement action since it started to audit apps in March to uncover companies that might have stolen data,” according to Ad Age. “Facebook promised to scrutinize app developers after admitting to the inappropriate sharing of data on up to 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, the third-party data firm accused of employing underhanded tactics to shape politics in the U.S. and U.K.”

Before 2015, Facebook allowed app developers to access information not just about people who downloaded their apps, but on those people’s Facebook friends. Facebook is now vetting developers who had access to the platform prior to the change in 2015 that led to developers not being able to access as much information as before.

Read more at Ad Age.

This Week in Social: Slide Into My Insta-Poll

By Melissa Santiago

While Snapchat spends time redesigning its redesign in response to people hating their redesign and Snap saying it didn’t care, it would not redesign the redesign, Instagram released a simple, new feature that allows people and brands to connect more with their followers in Stories. It’s called the “emoji slider sticker.”

Instagram describes it as a feature that “lets you ask more nuanced questions when you want to find out how your
friends feel about something — like how [fire] an artist’s new single is or how [spicy] they like their food.”

Or in Audi’s case, they asked the community questions like, “How much do you #WantAnR8?” with a raised hand emoji and “How much horsepower do you think this beast packs?” with a sliding racehorse emoji.

The good news is you can create your own emoji slider stickers on Instagram stories (as long as your Instagram is updated to the latest version) with these simple instructions from Adweek.


Sunnier Side of the Office

The Year of the Paywall

You may have noticed over the last several months that a number of publications have announced paywalls, like Business Insider, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and Bloomberg, as Axios reports. Others that had existing paywalls — the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — have over time made their paywalls stricter.

But in media circles, the conversation is turning to whether there are too many paywalls competing for subscription money. After all, the average person isn’t going to subscribe to five different publications, so the danger is that if too many publications rely on subscription revenue to survive, most of them won’t make it.

There’s a debate now about whether subscription bundling could be an answer that lets some local newspapers — which have been in a tailspin for years — get a share of revenue that’s being gobbled up by national ones like the NYT, WSJ and Washington Post. Bundling is already happening with services like Netflix and Spotify. While any real major movement on this front remains to be seen, it’s worth keeping an eye on how so many media properties compete for people’s time and subscriptions.

Can Apple News Make Video Distribution Work?

By Zuli Mohammad

The desire for video content is still on the rise, with about 53% of people saying they want to see more video from marketers. Apple has taken note and is building up its video strategy by asking publishers to distribute videos via Apple News. However, as this is a newer strategy for Apple, publishers are still waiting to see the revenue proven out.

Apple News was developed in 2015 as a mobile app and news aggregator, reaching affluent people in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s. It’s undergone several changes from its look and feel to adding in new pieces of content, and is continuing to work on its business/revenue models.

In early 2018, Apple News added a “Top Videos” section to the app’s main page. Apple is hoping this section will help drive greater distribution of publisher content amongst the app’s 60 million monthly users. Apple has also begun inserting skippable interstitial videos that publishers hope will generate money they aren’t yet receiving from the current distribution on Apple News. Trevor Fellows, EVP of digital sales and strategy at NBCU told Digiday, “The amount of revenue each publisher sees will vary depending on how much content they distribute and traffic they get on the app, and Apple’s cut will also influence it.”

Apple is hoping that publishers with high-quality content would potentially see longer watch times and higher engagement rates and be considered a valuable resource. But if the ROI isn’t there, Apple will have to look into continuing to readjust its revenue model.

NBCU To measure TV Ads Based on Business Outcomes

NBCUniversal is pushing beyond the usual TV measurement (how many people saw ads) and is taking a page out of the digital media playbook by connecting ads to business results.

“In an effort to convince advertisers that TV can demonstrate the same kind of return-on-investment as digital media, the company is working with iSpot.tv to show brands business outcomes that result from their ads, such as increases in web visits and sales,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “The company will work with advertisers to define the outcome they want to measure, and then work with media measurement firm iSpot to track the success of the campaign.”

The move is not a common one for TV networks to make, and it’s also a complicated one. “Tying TV viewing to business outcomes provides advertisers with greater validation that their ads worked, but the measurement process is complicated and has yet to go mainstream,” said the WSJ. “The approach entails patching together various data sources and formats from third-party vendors, such as sales and digital behavioral data.”

This Week in Social: As F8 Would Have It

By Jessica Gaylord

Amid the chaos of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that Facebook found itself in the middle of, the platform pressed on last week with its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose. Here are some of the most important announcements and new features delivered on-stage at F8:

Clear History

Of all the announcements given at F8, this one is clearly to placate people upset by the Cambridge Analytica fallout. The Clear History feature will let users see information about the apps and websites they’ve interacted with. Users can then delete this information and turn off Facebook’s ability to store the information associated with their accounts moving forward.

FaceDate

No popular app is ever safe from Facebook’s grasp for long, and Tinder is apparently no exception. Facebook saw the 200 million single users on its platform as an opportunity to launch a dating service named FaceDate. No left or right swipes so far, however—the feature isn’t intended to be a way to hookup. Zuckerberg claims FaceDate is going to be for “building real, long-term relationships.” Sure, Jan.

Augmented Reality

With 1.2 billion users on Messenger as of 2017, Facebook is trying to make the app as appealing to marketers as possible. With a new AR feature, businesses can encourage users who contact them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with contextual AR effects filters. Some companies who have already tested the waters include Nike (virtual shoes), Kia (put the new Stinger in your driveway) and Sephora (virtual makeover).

We’re only scraping the surface of everything announced at F8, so we recommend reading a full recap to get a better idea of what Facebook is up to. What’s clear is that despite the setbacks of Russian interference and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is attempting to shed the controversy and go full steam ahead.