the chicken wars still rage…

The chicken wars. If you thought they were over, think again. Refresher – Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich, it sold out nationwide in just two weeks, and left people craving its fried goodness. Realizing it clearly had grabbed a share of the attention economy, Popeyes didn’t just simply let things be. Instead, it is now urging people to “bring your own bun” and make a chicken sandwich out of three chicken tenders, if you can’t wait for it to reload its sandwich supply.

Why it’s hot:

When you have momentum, ride the wave. Popeyes itself even acknowledges this isn’t ideal, but at least it gives people an idea and a reason to still come into Popeyes, even if the item they wanted isn’t currently available.


Blurring the media lines, in a world where content is king

Dream Team, the fantasy football offshoot from U.K. tabloid The Sun, has had a retention problem. From one year to the next, the free-to-play game would have to reacquire two-thirds of its audience who signed up to play the previous year, which is typically around 1 million subscribers. As well as wasted effort, re-acquiring audiences costs more than retaining them.

To address this churn, Dream Team built a new content vertical including a newsletter and YouTube series around fantasy football last summer. Now it has begun to bear fruits: Dream Team retained 68% of last year’s customers this season, increasing annual audience retention rate 21% year-on-year, and won new branded content clients; however, the publisher was unwilling to share exactly how many people subscribed for the 2019 season.

“We are building a more franchise approach to content,” he said. “As many brands in the digital space find, bringing in audiences with content is easy, but digital content brands can struggle with loyalty and retention.”

After hearing that audiences wanted more fantasy football content — rather than generic football news content — at the start of the football season in August 2018, Dream Team also launched an email newsletter, Dream Team “Coach,” devised in part by Jimmy Lloyd, content development editor. The newsletter, written by football expert Nick Elliott, to add a more personal feel, goes out every Thursday and features tips and hints on which players are likely to play well that weekend for subscribers to switch around their fantasy football teams.

The newsletter now has over 1 million subscribers and an open rate of between 15% and 20%, according to Bearryman. The content is mostly self-contained content, so it doesn’t track click-through rates via links to external stories.

“That was the big shift and was a battle in many ways; people are used to using email a certain way,” said Bearryman. “We looked at Red Box [political newsletter from News UK’s subscription title, The Times of London] and what audiences want from email. Like other off-platform distribution, audiences don’t want to be thrown around.”

As an extension to the newsletter, in February, Dream Team launched “Coach TV” on YouTube, a weekly 20-minute chat show focused on football news. Videos typically get up to 20,000 YouTube views, last season had over 500,000 unique viewers. Over the course of 12 months, viewer retention rate doubled retention rate from 20% to 40%, according to Bearryman. Watch time on season two is over six minutes compared with three minutes last season.

Publishers like BuzzFeed are increasingly making series over one-off episodes in order to bring people back more regularly. It’s this regular viewing that attracts brand budgets too. The success of “Coach TV” was instrumental in signing bookmaker Betway to a season-long branded content campaign. As well as Betway badging alongside the Dream Team logo, the bookmaker gives exclusive betting odds and offers for the “Coach TV” audience. It’s a natural fit as 50% of Dream Team managers have an active betting account. The season-long campaign, exclusive to Dream Team rather than The Sun, cost £1.04 million ($1.27 million). According to Bearryman, the conversion rate of traffic referred to Betway is 2.5%, which compares favorably with Dream Team’s internal content conversion rates.

Over the last year, Dream Team itself has run between 10 and 12 other branded content campaigns across other sub-brands or franchises. One such sub-brand is “Hometown Glory,” a weekly show where former England football player Alex Scott takes other football players back to their hometown. Dream Team is currently in talks with two consumer goods brands for sponsorship for the season.

More franchises are in the works, according to Bearryman.

“We want to build other online sub-brands and franchises to become famous for and reach new audiences,” he said.

Why It’s Hot

A good example of the power Relationships built around common interests – authentically activated across channels, platforms and formats, and orchestrated over time.

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.


Source: AdWeek 

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”.


kia’s anti-commercial, commercial…

Knowing that no one likes to watch commercials, Kia in Europe created the anti-commercial, commercial. Buying the last spot of each commercial break, it’s 30-second ad consisted entirely of a countdown to when your programming would come back on, alongside the message “always brake in time thanks to the autonomous emergency brake system”. It was both an ad for its latest innovation, and a functional instruction that helped people know when to hit play again.

Why it’s hot:

First, they used the very traditional TV medium in an outside-the-box way. Rather than fighting a behavior, Kia brilliantly used it not just as a brand advertisement, but an opportunity to promote a specific innovation of its car. Plus, they didn’t just promote the car, they also helped people – so even if the Niro isn’t for you, you may remember Kia just by what it did.

Bonus – Google is working on Waze for the Subway. So, that’s cool too.


HQ Provides a Glimpse Into the Future of Mobile Gaming and Live Video

Everyone reading this is playing HQ, right? It’s pretty amazing. A live trivia game is hardly anything new – dating back to not only television but radio! – but it’s very well done. And it feels like one of those things that is right place/right time.

HQ is a new live mobile trivia game for iOS from the creators of the late short-form video app Vine. Each day, at 3PM and 9PM ET, the app comes to life for around 13 minutes. A well-dressed host — either New York-based comedian Scott Rogowsky or British on-air personality Sharon Carpenter — then rattles off 12 multiple choice questions live on camera, while a busy live text chat flows at the bottom of the screen. Answer every question correctly and you’ll be one of a small handful of people that splits a $250 prize pool.

Why It’s Hot:

So much of technology in recent years has been about allowing us to connect on our own time, remotely. Perhaps counterintuitively, HQ works because it forces everyone to be playing the game at the exact same time. It’s thrilling in a way that no other social service has been able to provide. It challenges the “on demand” trend and focuses on getting everyone participating to the same thing, at the same time.


One Brand’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

To align with Columbus Day, Astral Tequila presented “Columbus Day: A Reenactment,” an ad starring Jonathan Goldsmith, the Artist Formerly Known as the Most Interesting Man in the World.


At the end of the video, Goldsmith breaks the fourth wall to address us, the viewing audience, directly: “That is pretty much how it happened.” Cue a close-up of a bottle of Astral Tequila and, on-screen, “Happy Columbus Day.”

To say that Columbus’ legacy is complicated is a vast understatement.

When you touch upon this realm, there’s sure to be backlash, but they’re not taking sides, they’re making light of what we know as the facts: An explorer set out for India and landed in a new world, one already inhabited albeit, although he claimed to have found it.

“Our spot is simply lampooning Christopher Columbus’ journey,” says Astral VP-Marketing Joen Choe in a statement provided by Erich and Kallman, the agency of record for the Davos Brands tequila. Choe added that Columbus “set out for India, but bumped into America instead. We are certainly not making light of any historical events.”

Why Its Hot:

I’m steering clear of the controversial nature of “Columbus Day” theme and going for what I like most about this spot: re-purposing of a commercial celebrity. It reminds me of the ‘can you hear me now’ guy’s resurrection by Sprint. One brand’s trash is another’s treasure!

Facebook launches new video sharing tab: “Watch”

Facebook is rolling “Watch” out to a limited number of people in the US. The official launch date to the rest of the U.S. has not been disclosed, but will precede international expansion. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app that opens the new video hub.

While Facebook has offered video for years, it typically appears in the news feed when liked by friends. In this case, people can specifically seek video content and subscribe to it. The similarities to YouTube are obvious, but the usage of the Facebook platform is quite different, so success will require a behavioral change.

Facebook admits that “we’ve funded some shows” as examples, but notes that these are only a small percentage of all the available shows. “We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson told Tech Crunch. “So there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.” Original content developers will be compensated; earning 55% of associated ad revenue.

Why It’s Hot: Alphabet seems unstoppable, with core offerings such as Google Search, YouTube, and less so, Doubleclick Ad Exchange, commanding a huge share of their respective categories. These platforms are not always marketer or agency-friendly. Their privacy policies are among the most restrictive. Their brand safety solutions are less customizable than others. Their technical support is notoriously slow to respond. Their products are limited and prices are high. Competition, even when offered by another media behemoth, gives marketers more options to test and may lead to positive changes at Alphabet/YouTube.

Snickers Puts the “Video” in Video Games


Knowing that videos tend to run the risk of being skipped, Snickers developed a way to keep viewers engaged by developing video game videos.

In line with their “You’re not you when you are hungry” campaign platform, the first features a school-bus driver whose hunger has turned him into a WWE wrestler with incessant road rage. In the second, a hungry tennis umpire has transformed into a whining rockstar.

In both scenarios, a series of Snickers bars float across the screen towards the character’s outstretched hand, but the viewers must click the pause button at the correct moment to help the characters grab them.

If they’re successful, the WWE wrestler calms down into a bus driver, and the musician morphs back into an umpire. If not, they’ve got nine more tries to get it right.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Smart and entertaining way to engage viewers when consuming video
  • It’s another example of how platforms, such as YouTube, are flexing to service creative ideas led by agencies
  • Shows the growing trend of choosing to develop platform-digital-specific work rather than “copy and paste” TV commercials, which generally don’t perform as well


Someone Please Buy This Guy’s Car!

Last moth, Eugene Romanovsky posted an ad to sell “my best friend,” his 1996 Suzuki Vitara on YouTube. This absolutely amazing video has amassed over 3.9 million views and reportedly two thousand offers to buy his car.

Eugene’s “adventures” with the Vitara include evading the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, thundering down the desert dunes alongside Mad Max and the War Boys convoy in Mad Max: Fury Road and diving into the depths of the ocean to swim with sharks.

In case you’re wondering, Eugene is Creative Director/ VFX Supervisor/ Head of Motion GFX dep. at Gravity – an international Creative, Design, Animation and Effects group, situated in sunny Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Why It’s Hot

Just because your objective is simple—like selling a car—doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box and have fun!


Tumblr Announces Cabana

This hot scoop comes to Hot Sauce from the combined minds of the East Social Team email chain (shout out to Gina!)

Tumblr is launching a new platform, Cabana. A new video chatting app:

The app lets up to six people video chat at the same time, but with a twist: Cabana isn’t about just getting together to talk, it’s about getting together to watch YouTube videos.

Why It’s hot:

To me this speaks to my #1 new social media tools rule… bank off of existing behaviorsite. I bet all of you thought to yourself… “yeah, I’d use that” which is why this app is pretty brilliant. You want to create a tool that has utility and is easy to integrate, or what’s the point!

“That Place Where Coke Tastes So Good”

McDonald’s new commercials don’t appear on the brand’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages. And they never even mention the name McDonald’s, preferring instead to name-check Coca-Cola and Google.

It’s all part of a sly campaign by Omnicom agency We Are Unlimited to appeal to teens and twentysomethings, who prefer word-of-mouth and their own research about products and brands to corporate messaging, according to a writeup of the campaign in The New York Times.

The campaign does, however, feature a celebrity, the actress Mindy Kaling, who in several TV spots urges viewers to Google “that place where Coke tastes so good.” Kaling is wearing a yellow dress against a red background in the minimalist ads, but beyond those McDonald’s brand colors, she doesn’t actually say the name of the fast-food chain.


Why It’s Hot

  • This campaign knows its audience. By allowing its target breathing room to do their own research, McDonald’s maintains some authenticity. With a wink.
  • Aligning with an influencer is always a strong move.
  • Bold move by McDonalds to purposefully leave out its own name while name dropping another brand. Win win for both Coke and that fast food chain where it tastes so good.

Opportunistic Content 101: Toys R Us Giraffe Cam

“April the Giraffe” – a wildlife park’s pregnant giraffe, April, is set to give birth any day now, and the internet is watching. Toys R Us has capitalized on all the eyeballs by sponsoring the zoo’s live feed of April. The buzz has come in the form of genuine excitement and anticipation as well as conspiracy theories.

Why it’s hot: Toys R Us saw the simplest of opportunities – a basic sponsorship getting their brand name and logo in front of hundreds of thousands of people who likely fit within their target demo – and seized on it quickly, having to do little more than pony up the cash to support the zoo. It remains to be seen if the whole thing is truly organic, or if it’s a PR stunt orchestrated by Toys R Us, the zoo, and/or Doubletree Hotels whose local franchise has also placed advertising on the giraffe’s dedicated landing page.

The Winners and Losers of YouTube’s Brand Saftey Crisis

The ripple of the video giant’s woes has gotten so great that some have predicted the impact from major brands could cost YouTube $750 million. Seemingly, there are some that are happy when such a kink in the armor is exposed, but there are myriad of stakeholders, each with their own perspective. With that amount of money – as well as brand reputation and confidence – at stake there are going to be some winners and losers, and here they are:


Old-fashioned publishers

These are the classic media players who started losing their lunch the second Google started owning the internet. One could imagine publishers grinning ear to ear, thinking, “Told ya so. Quality content isn’t so easy.” They can can make a more convincing case that knowing the content and the audience actually is still important.

This issue can resurface a shift to high-quality, direct-bought content, where brands have the most control but pay a premium for it in some cases.


Anyone selling streaming ads is in a good position – including Sling, Dish and even TV networks. Hulu, Roku, TV networks and anyone with a digital video platform will be showing off their highly curated content. These new shows and programming will look pretty good to anyone with a heightened interest in knowing exactly where their messages will appear.

Tech tools & 3rd Party Verification Partners

Brands have called for digital platforms like Facebook and Google to clean up the media supply chain and to be more transparent with data. The brand safety issue on YouTube is yet another bit of leverage to force more cooperation.

Independent third parties like Integral Ad Science, Double Verify, Moat and others will find more brands at their doorsteps looking for ways to ensure their ads appear near quality content.

The agency

One of the most important roles for agencies was helping brands make sure their ads didn’t show up in the wrong place by intimately knowing the targeting, brand safety protections and best practices of each channel. Well, now those services are increasingly valuable.


Net neutrality

When the Trump administration makes further moves to undo net neutrality, as many anticipate based on current momentum repealing FCC consumer protections, Google’s ability to defend it in idealistic terms could be undermined by all the talk about serving ads on terrorist video.


It took a long time for programmatic to stop being a dirty word. Programmatic advertising was once considered the least controlled, lowest quality ad inventory at the lowest price. In part, brands could start to pull back from blind, untargeted buying without transparency.


YouTube has said that part of its solution is to implement stricter community standards, and that could mean more bannings and ad blocking from their videos, impacting their earnings.They could be quicker to cut a channel at the smallest offense now that brands are watching closely.

Advertisers still on YouTube – this is a tricky one to classify and it’s too early to say. We’ll have to see how the video platform reacts over time to increasing pressures to allow verification partners and data trackers access within the garden’s walls.

Why It’s (Still) Hot:

This topic will continue to be important to the brands we represent, aim to represent and even those far from us that are faced with the same decision to either stay the course or sit it out. There is a lot of money moving around on media plans, a lot of POV’s being routed and a lot of reps working overtime to reassure teams of buyers/planners that they are taking brand safety very seriously. Often it’s not the crisis that defines a company, but what they do in the aftermath. Some are hopeful that this is a definitive crack in the ‘walled garden’-  but even if it is not, we’re all hoping for a better, safer platform at the end of this tunnel…a world where once again clients can be irked by their premium pre-rolls showing up prefacing water skiing squirrels and dancing cat videos instead of terrorist rhetoric.

Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure?

Netflix is working on technology that will allow viewers to choose their own adventure. They are considering implementing a new interactive storytelling technology for their shows and will have actors film alternative plot segments so that viewers at home can decide the shows unfolding.

Image result for Journey Under the Sea

Much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth, viewers will be able to decide how their show develops. Some storylines will have simple and linear choices while others will be more complex. All will be handled through your remote control.

Netflix will be running a trial with children’s shows later this year. If they are successful, they will use the model for adult programs.

Image result for alternate ending meme


Why it’s hot: 

  1. As attention spans get shorter and shorter, we’ll see a rise in interactive content in order to keep consumers engaged and on platform.
  2. Data, data, data… by allowing consumers to interact with the content, Netflix will be gaining valuable information from consumers which will help improve their customer experience.

If a Picture’s Worth a K Words, You Shouldn’t Need a VO

When I first saw this spot, I was in my kitchen, cooking, surrounded by noisy people. The TV was on mute, I saw only little bits and it stole my heart; as much as a TV spot can. I felt that I “got it” and this was the soundtrack in my head: “Get out of your house. See the world. See people in their surroundings. Witness and understand the circumstances that they were born into, which ultimately shape who they become. It will make you more human and compassionate. Any stereotypes or resentments will disappear. Travel is the antidote to racism.”

This soundtrack wasn’t new to me. I’d heard it many times, because I dreamt it up while living in Shanghai many years ago, and since then, thought it again, more times than I can count. When I saw this commercial, I was so excited to see that someone else was hearing this soundtrack too…and not just “someone”, but a company that had real power to spread that message to the masses, with the backing of tens…potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in media.

Yesterday, I wanted to share the commercial. I located it on YouTube and of course, turned the sound on, for the first time. I was disappointed. The soundtrack didn’t match mine. It was trying to hard. Taking a stance on an issue. This article says that Expedia “attacks nationalism”. The last two words of the voiceover, “and you”, were meant to be poignant, but in my mind, took a cinematically beautiful commercial and made it cheesy. Those words were also presumptuous; alienating those who don’t have the money to travel internationally, so that the more important message was lost on them. The first comment I saw under the video: “She died broke”.

Why It’s Hot: 80%+ of digital video impressions are viewed without sound. Only 50-85% of a commercial is viewed, depending on device, format, et al.

We must now brainstorm, concept and develop video for these fragmented, soundless viewing experiences, which may feel limiting. However, this experience showed me that a story has the potential to be more beautifully told when the viewer is left to fill in the gaps.


How I Got Ripped Ads

In this Programmatic Insider article, John Matavelli recounts an excruciating experience with a 5+ minute, unskippable, programmatic video spot for “Ripped Abs”, viewed on his television set on YouTube via Roku. He goes on to share the details of his investigation into how such a terribly interruptive advertising experience could exist. YouTube tells him that the ads should be skippable, but there is a glitch. The “glitch” though, has not been quickly fixed, and angry tweets have stimulated a flood of suggestions to install an ad blocker. These have generated more angry tweets, claiming that YouTube has worked around the ad blockers. This is bad for all of us.

Image result for ripped abs cartoon

Why It’s Hot: More than half of digital media, like the referenced YouTube ad, is purchased programmatically. “Programmatic” enables marketers to reach people across many channels, with incredible precision, reach and efficiency. At its best, it delivers personalized, valued experiences that bring people and brands closer together. However, programmatic media appears across thousands of environments that we do not control, which makes QA challenging. Bad experiences are out there. We need to be vigilant about identifying and avoiding them.

We use a host of technologies to protect clients’ investments and the users’ experience, but they’re not foolproof. We each need to be immersed in media; experiencing ads just like the people with whom we want to connect. We need to constantly consider the line between attention-getting and intrusive, and stay on the right side of it.


Puppies + VR = happiness

The first-ever Puppy Bowl Virtual Reality brings viewers nose-to-nose with the gridiron canines through the Discovery VR iOS and Android apps, Samsung Milk VR and on Animal Planet’s YouTube page. Using virtual-reality goggles such as Google Cardboard, fans can step inside Geico Stadium for a 360° experience as puppies scrimmage, scamper and sniff out field goals.

For this year’s Puppy Bowl XII, Animal Planet worked with 44 different animal shelters and rescue organizations in 25 states across the USA to fill the rosters of #TeamRuff and #TeamFluff with adoptable players.

Source: USA Today

Why it’s hot:

Immersive video is being used by brands — and now VR is almost mainstream. Puppy Bowl is high visibility and if all goes smoothly it could open the door for more immersive experiences in everyday viewing.

What “New Journalism” Means for Brand Content

The New York Times recently published internally, but also publicly, their mandate for a new approach to digital journalism. There are some exciting goals expressed for the publication that support what we already know as marketers, strategists and social media specialists – quality over quantity; use of more engaging and experiential digital content formats and visuals; and a clear need for social integration and audience participation with real-time reward.

To see where they are headed, check out [warning: graphic content]. The full 2020 report is here.

Why It’s Hot: A huge publisher like the Times acknowledging so forcefully this “new” reality of storytelling – rich photography and immersive design, integration of tech (like Google Maps), making UGC part of the story – is important as this will become the way more and more people expect to get their content from all publishers, including brands – especially as more and more people around the world gain access to the technology and networks needed to support the dissemination of this rich experiential content.

You may have also noticed that Medium is expressing something of a manifesto lately across their social media channels. Interesting to consider the way media is adapting and changing as we look to both work with publishers and capture their audiences for our brands.



The Best Sound for Video Ads on Facebook is Silence


If you’re one of those people who’s complained about video ads playing automatically with the sound blaring, Facebook has heard you. Loud and clear. According to Facebook’s own research, 80% of people react negatively when mobile video ads begin playing loudly in content feeds and blame both the advertiser and Facebook itself. But on the other hand, it found that 41% of video ads don’t communicate their message effectively unless they have the sound on. Now Facebook wants advertisers to rethink their ad strategy: it’s not TV ads. It’s TV ads with the sound turned off. To help address this issue, the social network plans to begin automatically putting captions in video ads running in its newsfeed, which play automatically with the sound off by default. Facebook will roll out the automatic video ad captioning later this month in the U.S. and Canada.

Brands can already add captions to their videos on their own, but now there is a tool that does it all for them (advertisers can review and edit before posting the video ads.)

Facebook is also addressing its viewability concerns. They say that 55% of people who watch the first three seconds of an ad will watch the next 10 seconds. And 45% will make it all the way to the end. Facebook counts three-seconds as a “view.” Facebook has announced it is extending its “100% in-view” buying option – so marketers can opt to pay only when an entire ad has passed through the newsfeed. They are also introducing new measurement metrics so advertisers can see the percentage of people who have viewed their videos with the sound on versus those that watched with the sound off.

Why It’s Hot

People are now watching over 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day – and many of those users are watching autoplay videos on their mobiles, which silently play in the news feed. As Facebook is asking advertisers to rethink “video,” they are introducing the automatic captions for the video ads. Captions help give the users context when they are scrolling through their silent newsfeed. Facebook says that in their internal testing, adding captions on video ads actually increased view time by an average of 12%. Facebook is encouraging advertisers to make their videos more mobile-friendly – design them to be played silently, visually appealing and intriguing so consumers will want to stay.

New Video Platform Guarantees Viewer’s Full Attention

magnets_0New video platform Syncroll offers the first 100% guaranteed completion rate option for advertisers with a platform optimized for attention rate and interest.

Despite a growing interest in digital video ads from both brands and consumers (video ads are now the most engaging ads for Milennials) there are still hurdles and inconsistencies when it comes to actually measuring the success of video ads and making sure your audience sees them.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the threat of virtual “bots” that skew the success of social posts when brands optimize for impressions or views. These bots often mimic human behavior and fill in gaps between actual traffic or engagement with a video and the desired benchmark a brand has set—making it seem like the brand is meeting its goals when in reality a lot of the traffic is fraudulent.

Not only do bots skew the results of video ad engagements, but the APIs on the platforms also deliver confusing results. YouTube and Facebook differ in their definitions of views, making performance metrics hard to quantify and compare.

With all the chaos and confusion, brands are between a rock and a hard place as they combat measuring performance while continuing to optimize for the most engaging type of digital ads. However, Mediabong launched a  new video platform it calls Syncroll to solve this. Syncroll’s algorithm calculates in real-time a viewer’s interest in a video, prioritizing engagement and actions over views. Advertisers using Syncroll only pay for video ads that are watched in full.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.53.41 AM

Syncroll’s KPIs are based on attention rather than views or completion rates, which the platform says is a more telling metric and also more useful when it comes to retargeting.

And brands have seen real results with the platform. Volvo and Netflix saw a 30% increase in video competitions and engagement rates using the Syncroll platform.

Why It’s Hot: Guaranteed views is a more cost effective KPI for brands and a better indicator of ROI from digital ads. The capabilities Syncroll offers could help brands wary of entering the space of digital video content more willing to test the waters and media spend dollars—thus giving consumers more of the content they desire.

Google’s 2015 Year in Search

Google revealed the top searches of 2015, which provide a window into our culture.

top searches

The questions we ask reveal who we are, according to Google’s 2015 year-end video. If that’s true, then it appears we’re a benevolent bunch of globally minded folks who want to know about the terrorist attacks in Paris and Cecil the lion’s death but still can’t figure out the color of “the dress” or fully master the Nae Nae.

The two-minute video, which joins a growing list of 2015 recaps coming from tech and media companies, curates highs and lows—the Black Lives Matter movement, the same-sex marriage law, David Letterman’s farewell, the pope’s U.S. visit—to a voiceover from Caitlyn Jenner’s acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards.

The short film comes from Los Angeles ad agency 72andSunny and Google’s head of brand creative Michael Tabtabai in their first collaboration.

Source: Google and Adweek

Why it’s Hot

Search is a window into our culture — into the things we care about, into the things we don’t know. It’s an honest time capsule that’s interesting to consume here and now.

Boomerang From Instagram

Today, the Facebook-owned company launched Boomerang, an iPhone and Android app that lets users make mini-social videos that endlessly loop.

As part of the photo-sharing app’s larger video push, Boomerang makes it possible to create videos that play forward and backward in either portrait or landscape mode that can then be shared on Instagram.

Gatorade Puts Audiences Behind the Plate as Bryce Harper

Leveraging Google’s YouTube 360 platform for creating immersive brand experiences, Gatorade is giving users a chance to step up to bat and get in the mind/body of MLB Nationals star Bryce Harper.


Audiences who watch the branded experience are dropped into the world of Harper as a virtual reality imagination of what it’s like to go to bat in a baseball game. The inner monologue, the lights, the warping of time, and of course sponsorships. The Gatorade team used a 14-camera rig to create the real-time video/CGI engagement.

Why It’s Hot

Gatorade demonstrates the power that engaging content marketing can have. Brands can embed themselves into meaningful, powerful experiences… not just float around the periphery as an advertiser that gets in the way of a person’s interest. Gatorade succeeds because they created something visceral that grips viewers, surrounding them with subtle brand experience that suggests what it might be like to use, experience or benefit from the product… without ever directly saying it.

Via AdAge

Samsung Social Hosts a Korean Restaurant For Singles

A Chinese restaurant in Seoul ostensibly took it upon themselves to play Cupid for the singles in May. In a longer version (untranslated) of this video, we see a man handing out flyers (Free Jja jang noodles for singles for Grand Opening!) to single-looking people in the neighborhood. Later, we see a few single people with flyers in their hands entering the restaurant and being led to a section of the restaurant where they enjoy their free noodles. The booth asks if the single if he or she would like to be enjoying the noodles with someone else, and when they click “Yes,” the front of the booth opens up and reveals a fellow single across table! The singles are then free to make awkward conversation or really hit it off to exchange numbers.

This mockumentary-style video was a viral hit in Korea, and it was actually an effort by the Samsung Group to promote their products and social channels. In the extended view of the video, we see an end note of a man wanting to enjoy his noodles alone, clicking “No” and a caption says, “If you’re also alone, become friends with Samsung Social Channels.”

Why It’s Hot: In Korea, the couple culture is highly valued. There are many set-up dates and products that cater specifically to couples like couple keychains and rings. It’s a great insight and innovative creative from Samsung to try to become part of that conversation (and help singles meet each other) without being overly promotional. You see the very subtle Samsung branding at the end of the video, and it doesn’t feel obtrusive or out of place. There is higher value in the content rather than the branding, which makes sense for the video.

How CBS is experimenting with (free) live streaming for football fans

CBS is increasing the amount of college and pro football it plans to stream across digital platforms for the upcoming season.

The broadcaster has rights to two marquee sports properties in the U.S.: SEC college football and the NFL. In the coming year, CBS will live stream its entire “SEC on CBS” schedule, which features one game per week, on and the CBS Sports mobile app. For its NFL coverage, the network plans to stream two regular-season games for the first time ever, plus every playoff game it has broadcast rights to — including Super Bowl 50 — on and across its connected TV apps on Apple TV, Xbox One, Chromecast and Roku.

“Our goal is to provide the best viewing experience possible for fans,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, SVP and GM of CBS Sports Digital. “We look at every sport — all of the rights we have — and we make a decision [on how to provide coverage across platforms] based on what’s best for the consumer and best for our business.”

Right now, this means making certain full games available for free across platforms, without requiring users to authenticate — meaning that people who don’t pay for CBS via cable or satellite TV can also watch these games.

But the company’s coverage plans go beyond the live streams.

With its new “SEC Live” portal on and mobile apps, CBS plans to provide additional content and features to augment the live stream. This includes original pregame, halftime and postgame shows for each game, featuring CBS Sports talent like Gary Danielson, Brady Quinn, Teryn Schaefer and Matthew Coca. For the halftime show, CBS Sports has secured sponsorship deals with Sonic (for a segment highlighting fans on both sides of the matchup), Microsoft (for the segment breaking down the stats from the first half) and Dr Pepper (for a segment featuring fans sharing their “one-of-a-kind” traditions).

Other SEC Live features include what CBS calls its “all-22” camera angle to give viewers an overhead view of all 22 players on the football field; game highlights so viewers can relive a big moment or catch up on what they might have missed; quick reactions from CBS talent on the latest; and additional commentary via Twitter.

The decision by CBS to increase its streaming plans for the coming football season can be partially attributed to the fact that people are watching more video content on its digital platforms. According to comScore, had 2.9 million unique desktop viewers and 39.9 million video views in the U.S. in July.

The idea is to build viewership across mobile and connected TV by experimenting with different types of content, including live sports.

Why It’s Hot

This is a huge move for CBS, even though it’s a test.  They are seeing the value in (almost) disregarding the paying cable customers and realizing that there’s tremendous value in providing great content online.  In my mind, this is another step in the direction of cord cutting.  If networks begin to realize that their audience is becoming more valuable outside of just linear TV, they’re going to go where the people are, vs. limiting them on the linear TV space.


Here’s How Yahoo’s New Messaging App Silently Combines Texting and Video

Yahoo unveiled a new app that combines video and text messaging, minus the sound. Livetext allows people to watch each other’s silent reactions while texting. Mute video texting gives Livetext a unique feature, differentiating themselves from Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Skype, and Viber. They believe this app syncs the simplicity of texting with real-time reactions and emotions.

“We wanted to create a new way to communicate, blending the simplicity of texting with the emotion and immediacy of live video, to make your experience spontaneous and real,” Yahoo’s Adam Cahan said at Livetext’s media launch event in New York City

Check it out, no headphone’s required:

Why it’s hot:

the presence of audio can sometimes prevent people from responding to video chats right away, but they may still want to see one another while texting. Yahoo has combined all of the best features from messaging apps: Livetext displays text messages and emojis on the video screen like Twitter’s Periscope, doesn’t save or archive chats and media files like Snapchat, and organizes contact lists and friend requests like Snapchat too.

Read more here and here



The Art of Shaving

Amit is 44 years old. He has a mother, a father, a twin sister, a wife, and two kids. He also has a beard, which he’s had for the past 14 years.

An Israeli agency (BBR Saatchi & Saatchi) made a short film titled “My New Face,” where they had Amit uses a Life M6 razorblade to shave off his beard. Then they filmed the reactions of his family – including his children, who have never seen their father without a beard.

The idea for the film originated with an agency staffer who recalled that as a child, he did not immediately recognize his father after he shaved off his trademark beard.

Why it’s hot:

I thought this was an excellent use of pathos. The film was funny and touching, and unlike any razorblade ad I’ve seen from companies like Gillette. The film is not trying to sell you a product, it’s offering you the chance to transform yourself. As Gianatasio states in the article, “the film does a fine job of boosting the brand by transforming a basic consumer good into an almost mystical agent of change.”


YouTube’s Mobile Redesign Aims to Boost Watch Time Even More

YouTube has three top priorities: “mobile, mobile and mobile,” according to its boss Susan Wojcicki.

On Thursday, the longtime Google exec took the stage at VidCon in Anaheim, Calif. — think Comic-Con for the digital video crowd — to unveil a new look for YouTube’s mobile site and apps. In place of the existing single-screen design that features a curated feed of videos based on what people have watched as well as what channels they subscribe to, the redesign adopts a three-paned look that’s supposed to make it easier for people to find new videos to watch — and add to the time they spend watching YouTube, which is already up 60% year-over-year.

Now when people visit YouTube’s site or open its Android app — and soon on iPhone — they’ll see a new home screen that curates videos based on what people have watched, including organizing recommendations into playlists. A second screen will show the latest videos from the channels that people subscribe to, though if people really don’t want to miss a channel’s latest uploads they can now sign up to receive notifications when a new video is posted. And a third screen will house the playlists a person has created, videos they’ve watched before and the videos they’ve uploaded.

Additionally, the updated apps and mobile site will support vertical videos, potentially a big boon to the Snapchat-led trend that has agency execs describing it as the first mobile-native video format.

Why It’s Hot

Benefits for Consumers: The new layout is bringing the content that people already like, like subscriptions, to the forefront.  Reco’d videos will have strong visibility as well.  It’s also easy to access videos they’ve posted on their account.

Benefits for Brands: For brands that have channels, this new layout will allow users that have subscribed easier access to reaching the channel, which could lead to higher channel traffic.


YouTube Launches 360-Degree Video Ads

Bud Light became the first advertiser in the United States to launch a 360-degree video running in YouTube TrueView ads. The company’s ads for its “Whatever USA” campaign focus on three events that took place during a takeover of Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. Bud Light’s immersive ads drop you right in the middle of the action, including a performance by Diplo, the welcome parade, and the “Turn of An Era” 1920s themed party.

There are opportunities in this video content tool for a variety of brands. Realtors, for example, can use the format to highlight the interior of a home. Car manufacturers can show off the inside of an automobile. Advertisers like Coca-Cola, Nike and Bud Light can create memorable and immersive branded experiences.

Chrome, Android and iOS support the feature, which originally gained support from Google in March. Users can navigate through the 360-degree video by clicking on the wheel at the top left of the image with their mouse if on a desktop, as well as tilting their mobile phone up, down, left, and right.

Why It’s Hot

According to Google, these 360-degree video ads have higher view-through rates than standard video ads. For example, Coca-Cola’s 360 video had 36% higher view-through rates than standard videos. With the implementation of new technology on YouTube’s platform like 360-degree videos as well as virtual reality (i.e. Google Cardboard), there is even more potential for brands to connect with consumers in meaningful ways.