China pumps AI-produced propaganda via humanoid virtual anchors

“Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, has unveiled new “AI anchors” — digital composites created from footage of human hosts that read the news using synthesized voices.”

AI anchors have several advantages over human counterparts: they don’t need to sleep, eat, poop or take a salary.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s a wholly frightening idea that the 24/7 news cycle will be reduced to this one day. As we struggle to define the line between real news and fake news, we will also have to grapple with fake news anchors.

weather channel’s mixed reality broadcast…

Batten down the hatches, because “immersive storytelling” has hit your television screen like a tornado.


This week, The Weather Channel debuted a “mixed reality” broadcast, covering a theoretical tornado, using the additional layer of reality to show what can happen during one, in order to offer tips on how to react if you find yourself in the middle of one.

Why It’s Hot

While it would certainly be more magical if the mixed reality effects were happening in your actual living room, it’s indicative of the changing face of video, including TV. As technology is allowing for it, the way we experience video content is poised to transform, adding a new layer to things we’ve never seen before. Indeed, Weather Channel alone claims it will “use this method in 80% of all its programs by 2020”.


Streaming Services Dominate Globes Nominations

For the first time ever, Netflix leads the Golden Globes with 9 nominations (8 for television) and surpasses HBO as the go-to place for quality original program (with 7 nominations of their own). It’s not TV, it’s just HBO. Amazon also captured 5 noms and Hulu grabbed 1.

By comparison, the big 4 networks only received 9 nominations total, including a whopping zero for NBC which is hosting the event on January 10th.

Netflix has certainly come a long way since their early days when their biggest competition was Blockbuster video.


Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because it further validates the cord cutting movement and also sends a clear message to traditional broadcast TV that quality matters above all else. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are increasingly more relevant than TV.

Connected TV Penetration at 56%

Leichtman Research Group says 56% of all U.S. homes have at least one television set connected to the Internet from a smart TV, video game set-top box, blu-ray player, and/or an Internet-connected TV-video device, such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV. This is up from 44% in 2013, and 24% in 2010. 52% of households have a subscription video on-demand service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu Plus.


Some 33% of adults on a daily basis, and 58% weekly, watch video on non-TV devices — home computers, mobile phones, iPads, tablets, and eReaders. This is up from 27% daily, and 53% weekly two years ago.

Why It’s Hot: We currently leverage connected data sets (assignment of unique user IDs to all devices used/owned) to understand how people are reached by our TV commercials and to use digital video channels to provide a more optimal video experience to those people; e.g., delivering more exposure to those who are under-reached, exposing those who have been viewing our competitors’ commercials, et al. However, TV still dominates in terms of penetration and offers almost no control over message delivery (e.g., targeting, frequency management). As more HHs convert to connected TVs and as viewing shifts from linear TV to on-demand, subscription-based TV, marketers will have much more control over message delivery and theoretically, will deliver an experience that is better for the consumer (no more message bombardment caused by marketers who are trying to attain 1% more reach) and for business.

USA Network Makes Programmatic Changes to Target Millennials

USA Network this week announced a reworking of its strategy to reach mainstream millennial viewers after finding that their audience has shifted to be more millennial than previously believed. As a result, the NBC Universal-owned property is replacing its slate of half-hour comedies with new dramatic series and extending its partnership with WWE.

The network is betting big on upcoming hacker thriller Mr. Robot (screencap above) out of its 14 new shows currently in development. USA will also air additional content from WWE including a rebooted reality competition series and the classic SmackDown program.

In addition to programmatic changes, the network is experimenting with different ad offerings as well to include digital programming and other non-traditional TV platforms such as video-on-demand, services more popular with millennials.

Read more via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: USA Network is well aware of its target and changes in its audience’s demographics, and is making changes in order to keep its audience engaged. Apart from feeding the mainstream with more drama series and popular wrestling programs, USA and WWE anticipate increased interest from advertisers. With WWE’s 460 million social media followers, both enterprises hope to attract big advertising dollars with the new, additional programs.

As marketers, understanding the audience is key. The only way to give consumers what they want and to effectively convey a message to them is to understand them.

Mobile Location Data Coming to TV


This week PlaceIQ announced an extension of its work with Starcom MediaVest Group this week which takes PlaceIQ’s location data showing specific businesses people have actually visited and matches it to particular households through third-party matching partner Acxiom for set-top box targeting.

Many advertisers will want to use the offering to aim ads to people who have frequented rivals’ locations, suggested Mr. Duncan, CEO and co-founder of PlaceIQ. For instance, a restaurant chain might target ads to people who in the past visited its locations but have been spotted eating with the competitor more recently.

The system works on the flip side, too, helping advertisers measure the impact of TV spots aimed at specific households on visits to the restaurants and car dealerships that advertise.

“Hypothetically you should be able to apply this to direct mail, to email, to out-of-home,” said Mr. McCall.

Why It’s Hot

Mobile location data, along with the shift toward programmatic TV buying, demonstrates the future of offline media buying. As technology allows advertisers to leverage more and more data we are able to target and measure offline media like never before.


Google Invites Fans to Explore NBC’s American Odyssey

NBC has teamed up with Google to promote a new drama series called “American Odyssey” premiering on the network this Sunday. “Explore American Odyssey” launched this week with Google mapping out the cities and key locations from the show. Through this companion website, fans can learn about the show by discovering more about the characters and unlocking clues to the show’s mystery plot with exclusive access to bonus content.



Read more via Variety.

Why It’s Hot: It appears that NBC is amping up its partnerships to reach wider audiences – something we may see other networks and brands doing more for upcoming projects. For example, just last week NBC Universal and WWE unveiled a powerful comprehensive brand campaign to air across all of both brands’ networks and platforms, with a social component as well.

With so many options of shows and ways to view them, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more integration of these brands or TV shows/films with major media players and social platforms in order to better engage viewers. This past fall, we saw the Gone Girl on Pinterest to promote that film before its release. Perhaps these partnerships between brands and companies, from broadcast networks to technology giants, is something we’ll continue to see more of in order to more effectively reach and engage massive audiences.

The Digital Super Bowl

New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks

The ultimate live event, known for the both the game and the advertising, is struggling in the digital universe. Yes, like the elections and the World Cup you can count on Twitter going off the charts with patriots fans lamenting the game and commentary on every ad. But no one has really cracked the true digital experience to complement the game.

There are plenty of apps (applications not appetizers, in this circumstance that does need to be clarified) that will “enhance” your experience. But most of them are about the pre-game and post-game, nothing so compelling you will be glued to the second screen during the game. And facebook is trying to take advantage with a new approach to advertising during the game– forcing video feeds and real-time responses to posts.

Your Facebook feed is going to be unbearable during the Super Bowl

These 7 iPhone Apps Will Help You Tackle the Super Bowl Like a Pro

Why It’s Hot

With the Super Bowl such a cultural phenomenon, tracking the efforts of brands and platforms to bring the game beyond the first screen is critical to see where those companies may go in the future… both by the nature of their efforts, and the results. If brands cant guide the consumer, then consumers will eventually organically create an experience that may be very unexpected.

Social-TV Study: Twitter Wins While Watching, But …

In an era in which social discussion about TV is readily accessible through a quick hashtag search, much of the information showing connections between TV and Twitter or Facebook may seem less-than-scientific. New data from the Council for Research Excellence measuring the effects of promotions, social-media posts and word-of-mouth is anything but. And some of the results might seem a little counter-intuitive, especially to social-media boosters.

Among the results:

-Offline communications and Facebook had more influence on likelihood to watch something when participants were not watching TV.

-Twitter and text messaging had a bigger impact while study respondents were watching TV.

Credit: CRE’s Talking Social TV 2 Study

For its second social TV study, deemed “Talking Social TV 2,” CRE measured the average additional likelihood someone would view a show after encountering one additional message about the show in the form of offline word-of-mouth, promotions, social media or a digital contact. It also measured the increase in audience if everyone in the audience received one more encounter with a particular medium.

-Among repeaters, or people who watch the same show regularly, offline word-of-mouth drove the highest lift — around 2% — compared to around 1% lift from social media and even less from a one-to-one digital communication.

-Among infrequent viewers, offline word-of-mouth generated the most lift among infrequent viewers, but only a 1% gain. Promotions, digital and social media communications each resulted in under 0.5% gain.

Why It’s Hot

This is more data that we can use to leverage how and when we buy media.



Nest Gets Humorous in First TV Ads

The connected-home company, Nest, is about to air its first TV commercials, a series of four humorous spots that show off the company’s smart thermostats, smoke alarms, Web cameras, etc. Google owns Nest, competing for the growing interest in smart devices controlled by mobile phones.

The commercials extend the company’s Thoughtful Things campaign, which kicked off in September. Nest is competing in a hot space with established companies like Apple interested in smart-home products, and newcomers like Quirky, backed by General Electric, developing similar next-generation gadgetry.

As Doug Sweeny, Nest’s CMO, explains in Adweek, “We take unloved products, products like thermostats that haven’t had innovation built into them at all, and reinvent them to reimagine what those products can be,”

Why It’s Hot

This is a good example of a brand using humor in a smart way to drive awareness of their brand/product and keep it top of mind during the holiday shopping season.”Who would have ever thought of giving smoke alarms and thermostats for Christmas or the holidays would be the norm, but we see a lot of people gifting our product,” said Sweeny. “It’s a big part of our business.” Personally, I think the ad spots are very memorable and will get consumers talking and thinking about ordinary household items like thermostats and web cameras in a whole new way.

Watch all 4 spots here

Broadcast Ad Budgets Are Finally Shifting to Video

Broadcast ad dollars are finally starting to stream into digital video budgets.  In a study sponsored by AOL Platforms, 40 percent of media buyers say they will move funding for traditional TV buys to digital video.

This up about 76 percent since last year. Cable has seen a similar shift, with 35 percent of media buyers planning to move part of that budget to digital video (up 40 percent since last year).

This may signal a surge in confidence in digital over its traditional counterpart as seen in the graphic below:


There are even more changes on the horizon for digital video. Check out the full report to see how:

  • Video ad growth is impossible to ignore.
  • Programmatic is overtaking publisher-direct buys.
  • Viewability vexes both buyers and publishers.

Why It’s Hot

1- For us as a digital agency, taking share from traditional TV buyers outside of our company can get us more business.  Besides just that, we can actually put tracking in place and MEASURE performance- something traditional TV can only directionally hypothesize about.

2- This is particularly timely for our media team, as our client has considered giving digital media a larger share of the overall budget because of the success that’s it’s brought the campaign, versus TV, which is not measurable.  Can we beat TV’s ability to drive awareness?  No, nothing can replicate it, but can we try to bring a comparable experience at a fraction of the cost?  Absolutely.

Read the full article here.

Budweiser: Drunk Drivers Kill Puppy Love

For Global Be(er) Responsible Day, Budweiser launched a video that doesn’t promote drinking, but rather being safe if you do.

Why It’s Hot

The video not only tugs at everyone’s heartstrings, but gets a great point across.  Don’t drink and drive.  I personally thought this was one of the best drinking and driving ads I’ve ever seen- something about including a puppy that loses it’s best friend just kills me inside.  Hopefully for people that normal ads don’t resonate with, maybe this will.

New Internet-TV Ad Model Will Offer Better Targeting

Sony, Dish Network and Verizon are gearing up to roll out Internet-based TV services by the end of the year and early next year. For marketers, these over-the-top systems could create both a new model for advertising and a way to reach viewers who may not be watching traditional pay-TV. Internet-based TV services will allow subscribers to watch live and on-demand content from select TV networks streamed via the internet instead of through set-top boxes. These services are expected to be slimmed-down versions of TV packages that are cheaper than the average $75 per month a typical cable or satellite subscriber pays.



Why It’s Hot

This new TV model will allow marketers to send more targeted messages than traditional TV and without being forced into the traditional :30s spot. The ads available with this service will likely be shorter and more interactive, allowing for much more engagement and ad recall. It’ll also be another way for marketers to target hard-to-reach, mostly younger, consumers who aren’t watching traditional TV or are prone to skipping commercials.


Netflix goes Native with “TV Got Better”

Unlike the advertorials of yesterday, Netflix’ sponsored content feature on deserves to be editorial; is the type of content that you would think Wired would be proud to publish. In “TV Got Better”, Netflix explores how digitization changed the entertainment industry; allowing for greater creativity and risk-taking, giving rise to unique programming like “orange is the new black” and “house of cards”, and genres, that wouldn’t find a home in yesterday’s prime-time line-up of silly sitcoms.


Far more than a flat editorial, this content piece includes an interview with the creator of Arrested Development, an infographic that updates in real-time with Twitter conversation data (above) and an interactive timeline, showcasing milestones in TV history. Not only is the interactive, smart content right at home with Wired, but the tone and vocabulary are carefully crafted for this audience, with words ranging from “scatological” (I had to look it up) to “cringier” (they made it up), and lots of esoteric references that readers would be proud to “get”. It even teases the audience a bit for taking itself so seriously, “We continue to torment ourselves with the idea that it is merely entertainment, something beneath our dignity”, while using “we” (vs. “you”) to imply that Netflix and the Wired audience are “one”.

While Netflix does mention its own name at the very end of the piece, it seems unnecessary, since Netflix and/or a few other digital video producers/distributors are likely at the forefront of every readers’ mind by this point, which is the goal!

Why it’s Hot: With “branded interactive content” named one of 3 marketing trends that is about to change the industry, marketers and agencies are going to be seeking great examples to learn from and emulate. Netflix “TV Got Better” is at the top of my list!




TV Markets Report Big Differences In Live Vs. Time-Shifted Viewing

Local TV markets can vary greatly when it comes to their share of live TV watching versus time-shifted and other video-on-demand viewing. 

Pittsburgh viewers have the biggest percentage of prime-time live viewing — at 70%. Philadelphia is next at 68%, followed by Minneapolis at 62% and New York and Baltimore, each with 61%, according to Nielsen.

Looking at the lowest percentages of live viewing, Dallas has 44%, followed by Houston at 47%, and Los Angeles at 49%. All those markets register less than half their TV viewing in live TV programming.

When it comes to the top 25 markets in prime time, 56% view TV shows live, 34% time-shift within seven days and 10% go to video-on-demand, according to Nielsen time-shifted/live prime-time data from its June 2014 NPower report.

This research is from a Nielsen report of 25- to-54-year-olds surveyed in May 2014.

Why It’s Hot: We know that when people are using another device while tuned into TV, TV ad recall plummets, as they spend more time with their eyes on the device than on the TV. However, when the ad is reinforced through the device, the TV recall is higher than if there had been no device involved at all. To capitalize on this, we seek complementary digital ad placement within TV program content; specifically for programs that encourage digital participation (e.g., American Idol, Rising Star). Due to expense and tight inventory, we have also been considering broader extension within the TV network site content, to be simultaneous with program air time. However, the above indicates that the second strategy will only be effective among 56% of the audience and that average cannot be applied per DMA, because the differences are quite significant! Plan C – Behaviorally target TV program’s digital content visitors, regardless of the time of visitation…if only all of the networks offered this!

“TV viewing” Shifts to Streaming & Media Spends are Sure to Follow

In a Harris Poll Survey of 2,300 Americans, 23% said they are watching more TV via streaming than they did 1 year ago, while 37% say they are watching the same amount as last year, and 7% say they are watching less. Streaming continues to grow, though a bit slower than in past years. Millenials lead the trend, with 47% preferring to stream TV shows vs. watch them via traditional TV. As they mature and become a dominant force within the population, so will their preferences, but do we have to wait that long?

Consumers have ideas about what might be offered via streaming, which would increase their viewing via streaming. For example, 60% of survey respondents indicated that they’d like to be able to view pilots online and then vote on those that should be selected to run during the regular season.

Why It’s Hot: Three reasons: 1.) Pre-roll/mid-roll spot-buying is far more efficient (especially for long-form commercials – e.g., :60s, :90s) than TV-buying. 2.) A large-scale study by Nielsen & the IAB indicated that TV spots that are delivered digitally are also 2x more effective in increasing ad recall. 3.) 40% of media budgets still spent on TV, with many large brands’ budgets in excess of $100MM.

Ad Spending Trends

In summary, digital delivery has the potential to greatly increase clients’ TV spot efficiency and effectiveness, and as digital video scale increases (i.e., consumer viewing), this will drive a major shift in spending that will benefit the agencies who are most skilled in the area of digital video distribution.


Xaxis Syncs Mobile Ads With Broadcast TV

Instead of going to the bathroom or grabbing a beer during commercial breaks, TV watchers are increasingly turning to a new ritual: checking their phones until the show resumes.

For advertisers paying top dollar for TV ads, the trend is frustrating, presenting yet another challenge in their quest to gain a share of consumers’ fragmented attention.

But Xaxis, the WPP-owned programmatic platform, believes it’s found a way to reach these distracted consumers. The company is introducing a product called “Sync,” which will give advertisers the ability to serve ads on TV watchers’ mobile devices while their TV screens air the corresponding commercials.

 “One of the biggest challenges that advertisers have right now, especially when it comes to buying broadcast television, is that up to 50% of people that are watching broadcast television are also engaging with another device,” said Xaxis CEO Brian Lesser in an interview with Ad Age. “What we’re trying to do with Sync is to solve the problem of users being distracted by their mobile device from the TV.”

Sync takes an educated guess as to which households are watching the TV show its clients’ commercials are running on. To figure this out, it combines TV watching behavioral data from Kantar Media with geographic data and other signals, including whether a consumer’s device is logged into a home wifi network and stationary.

When Sync thinks a person is likely watching a show, it will serve ads targeted to their mobile devices as its client’s TV commercial airs. Sync connects to satellite data, getting a two-second heads-up on which commercials will run as the TV show goes to break. When a client’s ad is set to play, Sync will turn on its ad campaign and keep it live for a few minutes.

Xaxis will run the ads across its own inventory pool, Facebook’s FBX exchange and, at times, through other ad exchanges.

The science is inexact, as Xaxis can’t know for sure whether the audience it is reaching is definitely tuning in. But the company said a version of Sync is live in the Netherlands and generating improved click-through rates. The Sync ads will cost $5 to $10 dollars per thousand, according to a Xaxis spokesman.

Why It’s Hot

This is an opportunity to reinforce television messaging while it’s still fresh in users’ minds.  For campaigns that have awareness as a KPI, and is running TV and digital, it could be a home run.  This is something we could now look into for Latuda… talk about integration!

Eyeview Delivers Personalized Video Ads to Connected TV Devices

Intro: By serving ads through video ad exchanges compatible with smart TVs, Eyeview says they will deliver personalized video ads with comparable reach of TV ads.

Eyeview will apply digital advertising techniques (data-targeting, dynamic ad generation and programmatic ad buying) to the television-viewing experience to deliver highly relevant messages to targeted audiences, with minimal waste. The ads will appear across all broadcast and cable networks available on Roku and Xbox devices, including A&E, CBS, FOX, MTV, PBS, Showtime, and TED.

Messages can be optimized according to the device, location, and time of day. A consumer could receive one type of message when researching products on their PC, such as promotional product information, and another one designed for their mobile device when they are near the retailer, such as a coupon to drive them directly in the store, Eyeview says.


Eyeview chief executive Oren Harnevo in a statement. “Connected TVs represent the future for how consumers will watch television and our technology is fundamentally transforming the way ads are created for television by delivering personalized brand messages to the big screen.”

Why It’s Hot: No doubt. It’s the future. But, the claim of achieving the same scale as TV? Not likely in the next several years…which gives us time to test, learn and be at the forefront!