Daily Scroll: CNN’s video strategy; mobile ad growth challenges

30 Sep

CNN’s big bet on original digital video

In April, CNN Digital Studios started rolling out the company’s concerted foray into original Web video, debuting a 15-second news recap built for Twitter. Before April, when Digital Studios debuted its first projects, the vast majority of CNN video was TV programming, sliced up and repurposed for a digital audience.

CNN has an enviable digital video footprint, averaging 234 million monthly video starts across all its digital platforms this quarter. The company declined to disclose how many of those views come from the Digital Studios group, which employs about a dozen producers and calls in other resources from around the company.

“We completely got rid of the notion that digital doesn’t stack up to the quality of television,” said CNN’s video development vp Chris Berend. “The bottom line is if it looks great, it tells a great story and it’s great journalism, then it belongs on any CNN screen.”

“Our early discussions with CNN Digital Studios indicate a willingness to create or co-create those kinds of stories with our brand clients, where and when the story provides real value, news and information to the audience,” said Dominic Sandifer, president of Greenlight Media and Marketing.

“We’ve done three super high-quality series, they’ve delivered millions of impressions, some really important sponsorship business, so it’s been a really great success story so far in terms of getting off the ground.” -Berend

On the hunt for attention, media outlets gamify the news

Last week, Al Jazeera launched “Pirate Fishing,” an online game that puts players in the role of a journalist as he investigates an illegal fishing trade.

And while Al Jazeera might have been able to tell that story via video or text, putting it in game form gives it the sort of engagement that other story forms couldn’t match.

“We felt that process of evidence gathering would be interesting to pass onto viewers and bring them deeper into the story.” -Al Jazeera reporter Juliana Ruhfus

Gannett-owned Des Moines Register has also taken a stab at interactivity. Last week, it unveiled Harvest of Change, an interactive game that uses an immersive 360-degree format to tell a story about how Iowa farmers are dealing with demographic, economic and environmental changes. The team even made the project compatible with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which Facebook recently acquired for $2 billion. (Note: This was available to interact with at ONA.)

“It’s important for us and our journalists to not allow a medium to develop that we’re not going to at least explore,” said Anthony DeBarros, director of interactive applications at Gannett Digital. “It’s important to understand how we can be a part of an emerging medium.” DeBarros said that Gannett’s next goal was to figure out how to scale certain parts of Harvest of Change so that it can easily replicate the process for other projects.”

For print-turned-digital publishers, the situation is particularly dire, as people are spending just 6 percent of their media consumption time on print media, according to recent data from Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker.

BuzzFeed plans to take the push into games even further. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed announced plans to build its own dedicated game development team. BuzzFeed product vp Chris Johanesen told TechCrunch the plan for the team was create something closer to BuzzFeed’s existing quizzes rather than expensive blockbuster titles. “We wanted to create things that people would play with rather than just consume,” he said.

These projects don’t seem to be particularly scalable, however. Ruhfus said it took her eight-person team over a year to release “Pirate Fishing.” Likewise, the Harvest of Change credits over 20 people who had a hand in its production.

Still, Ruhfus said that news organizations should be constantly pushing boundaries with interactivity, especially if they want to attract younger audiences. “Readers today want to participate. They don’t just want to be talked at anymore,” she said.

How Fox Sports conquered social media

Still, Fox Sports is holding the middle, having grown its traffic 15 percent in the past year. Since January, it’s also more than doubled its Facebook likes to 5 million and grown its Twitter followers to 937,000 from 623,000. McDoniel shared a few of Fox Sports’ secrets of its success.

Breaking news is a commodity with a short shelf life. Fox Sports discovered that most social activity that occurs around breaking news takes place in the first two hours, so speed is paramount, whether it’s breaking the story itself or aggregating someone else’s coverage.

To capitalize on its growing mobile and social audience, Fox Sports launched a short-form video series, @theBuzzer, in April. Fox originally went for short, skit-based videos lasting under 2 minutes. Over time, it learned that breaking news in videos lasting under a minute was a better way to serve the news-seeking audience and cheaper and easier to produce.

By targeting stories to the audiences that are likely to be interested in them, based on where they live or teams they’ve liked in the past, the site can maximize its chances of getting that content shared. (Note: We do this, too.)

By posting in high volume, Fox Sports believes it gets enough social traffic by organic means.

Google Unveils New Ads Built With Mobile in Mind They instantly adjust for every screen size

Among the new offerings will be mobile lightbox engagement ads, which “dynamically resize to fit any screen size.”

Other new formats include an anchor ad that sits at the bottom of the screen of a user’s mobile device, staying there unless the user dismisses it. There also is a new glossy, magazine-style text ad format.
Google described the new styles as “big brand ads, built for mobile and resized for every screen.” The company is offering an auto-resizing tool for the Google Display Network, as well as improved Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tools.
It said the changes would become available over the coming months but did not specify which services would be released first.

7 Big Challenges That Threaten Mobile Advertising’s Meteoric Growth Plenty of hurdles before it can rule the industry

1. Embarrassingly poor creative ad formats.

2. Mobile ad formats are still leaning toward direct response due to the format limitations.

3. The shift from banners to video needs to happen but won’t occur overnight.

4. “In many cases, it still operates with a ‘push mentality,’ where consumers are considered wading around like ducks for a piece of bread.”

5. “If there might be any downfall to mobile advertising, it would be consumer indifference,” contended Bob Dorfman, Baker Street Advertising creative director. “Today’s digital consumer is smarter and wiser to advertising and knows when they’re being jobbed.”

6. “In addition, the agencies who control the bulk of large brand spending will want to make their advertising purchases in familiar ways, and that means buying audiences—not networks, publishers or clicks.”

7. “The No. 1 problem is ineffective ad targeting. Now, users can opt-in to [personalization] based on in-app behavior, social media and location.”

The state of ad retargeting, in 5 charts

Retargeting is growing as an area of marketing spending. In a survey by Marin Software, 88 percent of marketers said they were using it, with Google search and display being the dominant retargeting tools. Of those that didn’t use the tactic, more than half said they planned to within the next 12 months.

AOL, Publicis Group Expand Partnership Into Programmatic Video Agencies can tap into premium reserve and private marketplaces

“AOL is transforming as a company and as a partner into a programmatic advertising platform, and today’s announcement is another big step in our strategy. Publicis is a global leader in digital advertising, and we are excited to advance our global partnership into video and linear TV on the ONE by AOL platform,” said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in a statement

Study: People Are Not Most Attentive When Watching TV at Home Better recall on smartphones

…many brands have turned to mastering the six second Vine video.
The problem with this approach is that it fails to consider context. Reach and frequency have long been the standard metrics in advertising, despite the fact that devices, platforms and content are not created equal.

…while fragmentation is rampant, consumers are watching all forms of digital video content across all devices pretty much all the time.

…a smartphone led to greater message recall—41 percent versus 39 percent for tablet and 37 percent for desktop.

Programmatic, real-time and talent: What we learned at Advertising Week

The distribution and business models for online news may be changing, but trust and credibility still matter. Hence sites like Mashable hiring veteran journalistic stalwarts like Jim Roberts. “You have to build trust with the reader,” Mashable founder Pete Cashmore said during a panel called “What is Newsworthy?”

That said, delivering the news online today requires a different skill set from the past. Greg Coleman, president of BuzzFeed, said at his former employer The Huffington Post, “If you were a great writer and lousy at social sharing, you were out.”

But advertisers have to be careful about trying consumers’ tolerance for pre-roll video. Too much pre-roll video advertising is still running too long. And the advent of wearables holds out promise for call-to-action ads, as long as the screen is big enough.

But the banner is too ingrained as a monetization vehicle to be written off just yet. “I do see the evolution of social video and video on mobile taking reliance on the banner to a new low,” said Brian Blummer, svp of monetization, Keek.

Having the right talent is the most important key to successfully navigating a media company in today’s fast-changing environment. Media CEOs said they spent a surprising amount of time dealing with human resource issues and that their biggest mistakes came down to a failure to manage and to make personnel changes quickly enough.

Who wins the video ad popularity contest, mobile or desktop?


Does it matter that some New York Times editors and writers don’t tweet? Yes and no

Foreign correspondent Damien Cave and others echoed a common refrain, which is that just because a New York Times reporter or editor doesn’t tweet a lot doesn’t mean that they aren’t listening to readers and following conversations about stories — a point that deputy digital editor Amy O’Leary also made. Others noted that there are lots of different ways to respond to readers and engage with them, including Facebook, email and in person.

What is increasingly clear to me is that interacting and engaging are part of a journalist’s job now, regardless of what platform they use to do it. And it’s not enough to respond to an email, which only two people (the sender and the receiver) will ever see. To achieve the full effect, it has to be done as publicly as possible — that’s where the transparency part comes in.

Why Rumors Outrace the Truth Online

The problem, however, is that the spread of rumors, misinformation and unverified claims can overwhelm any effort to set the record straight, as we’ve seen during controversies over events like the Boston Marathon bombings and the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration manipulated unemployment statistics.

To see just how these false and unverified claims are shared, Craig Silverman, a journalist and fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, has developed Emergent, a tool that tracks the dissemination of rumors online on topics ranging from a Microsoft acquisition (true, Mr. Silverman says) to a supposed pumpkin spice condom created by Durex (false, Mr. Silverman says).

What’s even more striking, though, is how initial false reports can be circulated much more widely than later corrections. For example, the Snopes page on the jetliner story has been shared only 735 times since it was revised to classify the rumor false, a small fraction of the circulation of articles endorsing the claim.


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