The Week’s Digital Highlights – 30 June

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.59.22 pmWith the South East of Australia in the midst of winter, our attention turns to Europe where things are heating up for Google. The search engine was hit with a record Euro fine for anti-competitive behaviour totally 2.42-billion-euro ($3.57 billion AUD) for abusing its market dominance. Google has been accused of prioritising their Google Shopping ads at the top of Google search results over their competitors.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the action as “illegal under EU antitrust rules“. EU regulators took action after receiving scores of complaints from rivals including Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem and News Corp. Competitors complained Google was manipulating results to benefit their shopping ads. In response, Google stated that online shoppers want to find products quickly and easily, and their Google shopping ads provided this service.

Google Shopping offers users a quick selection of the best prices for a particular product, advertisers pay to be featured in the results. Competitors, including comparison sites which offer a similar service, were claiming their website listings are being pushed all the way down to page four of the search results. As we know the majority of Google search users don’t click past the first page of results. Google’s ego has taken a battering over the allegations and is fighting the charges.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 10.00.04 pmThe other digital news to grab my attention this week was Facebook’s continued push into live TV streaming. Facebook has signed an agreement with Fox Sports in America to broadcast live Champions League Football (soccer) games next season.

Soccer is the most watched sport on Facebook. Last year 3.7 million users tuned in to watch a Wayne Rooney-sponsored charity match. The recent Champions League final attracted 34 million people who had 98 million Facebook interactions. These numbers are pretty impressive, but it would be good to understand how long users viewed the videos. What is surprising is that I thought NBA or NFL would have larger audiences on Facebook than football. Amazon’s Prime is live streaming Thursday night NFL games next season. They paid $50 million for 10 games, which was five times more than what Twitter paid last season.

Last week I wrote about how Snap and Facebook are becoming more aggressive with their live TV streaming services. The above news by Facebook is more proof that social media websites are becoming media channels. It will be interesting to see if users will embrace watching live TV on Facebook, Snap and YouTube in the same way people use Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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The Growth of Digital TV

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.50.54 amSnap’s (Snapchat) continued push into the traditional media space has caught my eye. With more and more young people watching TV on their phones, Snap is well positioned to capture this audience due to many of its team having network and broadcast TV backgrounds.

US cable network A+E has just finished airing the first season of ‘Second Chance’ on Snap TV. Second Chance is a dating show with 14 short videos created for Snap. Digiday reported that “Second Chance’ averaged 8 million views and another series ‘Phone Swap’ is getting about 10 million views per episode. Based on these healthy numbers, Snap is looking to work with its other production publishers (NBCUniversal) to create more video series for Snap.

Other media publishers playing in the digital TV space is Buzzfeed, they used Facebook Live to stream a couple of UK election result shows late on Thursday night. The shows had a total of 2 million views, compare this with BBC who had 4.5 million people tune into their TV election coverage, and ITV and Channel 4 had about 1 million viewers each. How they determine views is slightly different between the 2 formats, Facebook Live counts a view by how many people play the video for 3 seconds, while TV counts it after 60 seconds.

Based on the above positive results, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing more publishers exploring digital TV. The impact on advertisers will be interesting as online ads tend to be shorter than traditional TV commercials. Snap squeezes in ads between content (approx. 2- 3 seconds long), I haven’t seen any ads on Facebook’s Live Stream ads, but you can skip ads on YouTube videos after 3 seconds so we should expect to see a version of these ads on Facebook and YouTube’s live stream.

The advantage of digital TV versus a standard web page with a video pop-up ad is that the volume is on, so ads are more likely to be heard and seen. In saying that, users watch less TV on their mobile devices compared to traditional TVs due to the viewer experience so advertisers have less time to reach their target market.