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.

What I’ve learned in 3 months using Snapchat

Back in February I wrote an article about Snapchat, I had been using it for 3 weeks and was pretty excited by the platform. The excitement surrounding Snapchat reminded me of the buzz Twitter was getting 8 years ago when I was living in New York. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr were all getting started and Twitter was winning the battle. We all know what happened in the following years.

Three months later I’m still using Snapchat, and are excited by the new advertising features which really opens up the platform to advertisers.
A quick recap, Snapchat is a mobile App that allows images and videos to be sent. The messages last between 3 and 10 seconds, and then it disappears. Points are earned for every message sent and received, and there are trophies for rewards. To enhance snaps, you can add funny filters and text to images and videos. These filters are one of the reasons why the platform is so addictive. I got hooked using the filters and was actively sharing photos and videos with my wife’s friends, who in turn shared content with their friends. Before long the whole group was using it.
Snapchat figures are impressive for a platform that has been going for about 4 years. Snapchat has 200+ million users, 100 million are active daily users with Australia having 2 million active users. More than 60% of US 13 to 34 year olds Smartphone owners are Snapchatters. Users spend on average 30 minutes a day on it. Snapchat is dominating video with 10 billion videos watched daily. To put it in perspective, Facebook has the same number of video views, but are 10x times larger!
Why do people love the platform? Snapchat is giving users a platform to creatively express themselves to the world. We can share content (our own) with friends, celebrities and people located anywhere in the world (very similar to how Twitter was used to connect with people from anywhere, Facebook was more of a closed environment). And we control the frequency of interaction. Snapchat is the perfect platform to be continually sharing Snaps from our busy lives. The Snaps are a reflection of how we are feeling in the moment.
Interesting to note, all content on Snapchat is viewed vertically, which means it gets maximum eyeball attention on mobile. Studies have found that mobile users were not turning their phones when viewing content, resulting in landscape content been underutilised. This could be one of the reasons why Facebook has recently launched Canvas ads, to take advantage of the full vertical space.
So how do the brands get involved in the platform? Like with everything, there’s the organic way and the paid option. The organic way is to create stories on a brand’s profile. This does not mean replicating Facebook and Instagram content calendars onto Snapchat. The content should be quite separate and unique. Snapchat content is a lot rawer and does not require the same high creative production. However, it still requires some planning otherwise a brand’s profile will be full of random images and videos. The brands doing it well are telling a story, checkout NitroCircus for inspiration. But building an active community is quite labour intensive due to the content disappearing after 24 hours, so you have to be continually creating new stories.
Snapchat’s paid options allow brands to get involved without having to invest as much manpower, but there are still considerable costs to advertise on the platform. In Australia we’ve had limited access to advertising options, but this has changed recently.
One of the first paid options introduced by Snapchat was the ‘Discovery’ brand channel, which is a place where brands can publish curated content. This option has been only open to a small number of brands with very deep pockets (in the US prices started from $750k per day, apparently it’s now around $50k).  In Australia some brands using Discovery channels have included Fox Sports, News.com.au, BuzzFeed and MTV.
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Another option for brands to participate in is the ‘Live Story’ section, which occupies prime realestate just below the Discovery section. It’s a combination of user generated, branded and Snapchat curated content from live events from around the world, it’s a bit like a modern day documentary. A lot of the content is from behind the scenes at fashion shows, music and film awards and sport (the NBA finals has been featured a lot).
To get a sense of how big Snapchat is, America’s ABC recently broadcasted the American Music Awards, it got 3 million TV viewers aged 13-34, while a Snapchat Live Story about the event drew 11.5 million. Advertisers will be climbing over themselves to be featured next year.
Snapchat also features Live Stories from cities around the world, yesterday Reykjavik was featured. Not sure if there’s an option for cities to nominate themselves. Snapchat’s team based in LA and NYC sift through thousands of Snaps to curate the content and mix in their own content (with people on the ground at events), and add in ads (brand stories). To create ‘brand stories’, prices start from a very reasonable $20 for every 1,000 views. Yesterday I saw a 5 second Hungry Jacks ad video.
Quickly becoming a popular option for brands to participate on Snapchat is sponsored ‘on demand’ Geo-filters. Users can add branded graphics to selfie photos and videos based on Geo-locations. We’ve had community driven filters in Australia (e.g. Melbourne) but recently we got access to ‘on demand’ filters. McDonalds was one of the first to use the filter on a national scale. Recently in the office we created a filter for an event, we geo-fenced it to our building for about an hour, and it costed about $5USD (very reasonable). Thoughts of hijacking events spring to mind, so it will be interesting to see how Snapchat manages this going forward.
The last 3 months have certainly been fun using and discovering more about Snapchat. If you want to learn more, I’ll be co-running a Snapchat workshop this Thursday afternoon. We’ll be Facebook Live streaming the workshop, so like our Facebook page to watch it. www.facebook.com/onlinecircle

Watch out – Gen Xers are on Snapchat

https://www.snapchat.com/add/jimmy-coleman

Username: Jimmy-Coleman

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve started playing around with Snapchat and there’s no going back!  Move over Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is the new kid on the block.

As a Gen X-er, I was keen to understand what all the fuss was about with the platform that has captured the imagination of the Millennials. Also, how can brands use it as a marketing tool.

Snapchat is a mobile App that allows images and videos to be sent to users. The catch is the message last between 3 and 10 seconds, and then it disappears. For every message sent and received, you receive points, and there are trophies for rewards.

To enhance snaps (videos and images) a bunch of very funny filters and emojis can be added. These filters are one of the reasons why the platform is so addictive. Updated daily, they encourage users to keep checking back.

The platform is all about capturing and sharing moments.  Why send a plain text message when you can communicate via an image or video (a picture is worth a thousand words). While we all use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SMS for instant communication, Snapchat has turbocharged this form of communication by adding a game element to it.  It’s all about sending creative Snapchat messages, very similar to memes. Snapchat also gives an insight into a user’s daily life, as videos and images can be uploaded to a profile in the form of a story, which lasts up to 24 hours. Uploads are stitched together to make a story.

While it’s been a great tool for having fun with friends and spying on celebs, but how can brands play in the space?  From my research, it’s only recently that Snapchat has opened up the platform to advertisers. There looks to be 3 ways brands can get involved. The first is the discovery section where publishers / brands can upload highlights from the day in the form of videos, images and GIFs. The next is sponsoring a filter; Samsung recently used a filter in Melbourne. The third way is creating stories on a brand’s profile, the organic way.

From a reporting perspective, things are pretty limited. You can understand how many views and screenshots content has been received, but there’s no way to benchmark performance with other brands.

It’s very early days for me with Snapchat, but early indicators show it’s a fun platform to use. I’m looking forward to exploring it more from a business perspective. Don’t forget to follow me!