Time Inc. To Launch Ad-Supported Streaming Service

What Happened
Publishing giant Time Inc. announced at its NewFronts event on Thursday that it will launch a free, ad-supported video streaming service. The content will mainly come from two of its subsidiaries People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, which are slated to produce more than 100 hours of original programming and a library of more than 50 hours of content.

Why Brands Should Care
Since many SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are not ad-supported, the majority of those viewers are not reachable by traditional means of advertising, save for product placement. Therefore, brands should pay attention to the new ad-supported streaming services that have been popping up, and work with the content creators to reach the audience they are after.

To read more on how brands can deal with TV’s shift toward streaming platforms, please check out the Appified TV section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: AdWeek

The New Quartz App Will Text You The News

What Happened
Quartz, a subsidiary of Atlantic Media, is taking an innovative approach to deliver content to a mobile audience with the launch of its new iOS app. The new app sends users snippet of news curated by editors via a messaging interface, along with occasional sparkles of emojis and Gifs. Upon receiving the news, users can choose from a few canned responses to indicate whether they are interested in learning more about the news item or move on to the next one. Breaking news will be delivered via notifications to keep readers in the loop, and banner ads will also be displayed in the messaging interface.

What Brands Need To Do
By employing a messaging interfaces, Quartz is able to transform news consumption into a texting-like experience that most mobile users are already familiarized with, therefore better engaging with its audience. Conversational interfaces, whether voice-based like Amazon Echo or text-based as this new Quartz app is, is an emerging trend in UI design, presenting new challenges in building  brand-consumer touch points that brands need to adapt to.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voice on those interfaces and navigate the new discovery systems it brings outside of standard SEO, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.

Update 2/16: It appears that Quartz has added some more “native-looking” ads into the app, as the following screen grab shows.

Quartz News app native ads


Source: The Verge

Next-Level Ad Avoidance: Now There’s A Blocker For Anti-Adblockers

What Happened
As the usage of ad-blockers continues to grow, some online publishers, such as Forbes, GQ,  and most recently Wired, are fighting back by denying access to their content and asking readers to turn off ad-blockers. So it’s only a matter of time before someone makes a browser extension that can block the anti-adblock technologies those sites employ. Available now on GitHub, this “Anti-Adblock Killer” is compatible with all major browsers and promises users the ability to click through websites that would normally deny their access while keeping their ad-blockers on.

What Brands Need To Do
While it remains to be seen whether this Anti-Adblock Killer will catch on, its arrival nevertheless signals an acceleration in the market trend of ad avoidance where consumers are actively trying to avoid ads by enabling ad-blockers or turning to ad-free subscription services, making it harder for brands to reach mobile consumers. Therefore, brands need to provide added value to their marketing in order to earn consumer attention.

For more information on how brands can fight the increasing usage of ad-blockers, check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: The Next Web

Header image courtesy of reek.github.io/anti-adblock-killer/

How Publishers Are Dealing With Ad-Blockers

What Happened
In recent months, ad-blocking has become a hot topic among advertisers and online publishers, thanks to Apple’s decision of adding ad-blocking Safari extensions in iOS 9. According to a report from Adobe and PageFair, ad-blockers have claimed 198 million active global users as of June 2015, and that number is expected to double by the end of this year. Therefore, it is no surprise that some major online publishers have started taking active measures to fight off ad-blockers with varied degrees of aggressiveness. Here’s a roundup.

• Forbes and GQ are among the most forceful in their stance against ad-blocking. The two sites have been preventing ad-blocker users from accessing their content completely, instead displaying a page asking them to disable their ad blockers or join their memberships.

• Slate is taking a slightly gentler approach, nudging its readers to turn off their ad-blockers or sign up for membership with a subtle banner at the bottom of its pages. The publisher is also reportedly working on eliminating intrusive ads on its site.

• Huffington Post is working with parent company AOL’s user experience team to monitor its sites and remove ads that are deemed intrusive or dissatisfactory, while also making sure its native ads are clearly disclosed. It has also set up a task force to learn about ad-blocker usage on a global scale.

• Bloomberg also aims to fight ad-blockers by focusing on improving the ad experience for readers, cleaning up its ad placement and design with more white space, less animation and more lower-case fonts.

• Imgur is hoping to make a case for disabling ad-blockers on it site by delivering true user value with its native ads. The image-sharing site is pairing advertisers with its in-house creatives to ensure the messaging and design are fit for its site.

What Brands Need To Do
As online publishers experiment with various ways to combat ad-blocking and attempt to reclaim their lost ad revenues, brands also need to figure out a communications strategy that will get their brand messages across and not blocked. While denying access may work wonders in the short-term (Forbes cites 44% of users complied and disabled their ad-blockers for access), it is hardly a sustainable approach. Instead, brands need to work on winning the consumer trust with more than just annoying pop-ups or intrusive interstitials. Actively working with content partners to create branded content that are entertaining, engaging, or informative would be the key to convince today’s consumers to turn off their ad-blockers.


Source: Digiday

Facebook Launches Notify App To Lend Its Notification Center Reach

What Happened
On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out a new iOS app called “Notify” to allow users to receive push notifications from publishers and other brands of their choice. Upon logging in with Facebook account, users are asked to follow “stations” that they are interested in, which include a variety of content publishers such as BuzzFeed, CNN, Vogue, Getty Images, and The Weather Channel, plus Groupon and Fandango. The notifications will direct users to designated web pages where they can consume the content or, in Groupon’s case, find more about its Deal of the Day.

What Brands Need To Do
Although Facebook does not feature any ads in Notify for now, there are certainly opportunities to offer sponsored “station” suggestions for users to follow. From a content marketing perspective, this new app can offer brands a new channel to stay connected to consumers and deliver their branded content. Not every brand has the resources to develop their own app and incentivize customers to download it, and Notify can provide those brands with an alternative way to infiltrate the lock screen and reach consumers via notifications.  


Source: The Verge

Header image is a promotional image courtesy of Facebook Newsroom

Facebook Rolls Out Instant Articles To All iOS Users, Tests Full-Screen Mobile Ads

What Happened
After a five-month trial period, Facebook has officially launched Instant Articles today, rolling it out to all iOS users while announcing a beta version for Android devices. Though first announced in May, Instant Articles had a rather slow roll-out and has only started to pick up steam in the last month. With this wide roll-out, it will no doubt further impact the online publishing and content ecosystem.

In related news, Facebook continues to test a new form of full-screen, interactive mobile ads, which bear some design similarities to Instant Articles. Earlier this week, fast food franchise Wendy’s became the latest brand to experiment with this new ad product, touting out a mixture of text-layered images and vertical videos – a format often associated with Snapchat – to fully utilize Facebook’s new ad unit.

What Brands Need To Do
With over 60% of Americans now using social media as a news source, content discovery is becoming increasingly dependent on social. About 40% of Facebook users access the social network through mobile apps only, therefore it is important for media owners and brands alike to test Facebook’s new mobile publishing and ad products. With this official roll-out, it is time for brands to start publishing their Facebook content with Instant Articles to take advantage of the rich, quickly accessible reading experience it provides.


Source: Facebook Blog

Google’s AMP To Support Five Ad Networks, For Now

What Happened
Yesterday, Google unveiled the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, giving online publishers and content creators an open standard that aims at speeding up the mobile web. Based on the information available yesterday, we gathered that it wouldn’t support the tracking codes necessary for targeted ads, therefore most ads delivered on AMP pages would be static. Now, new details on AMP have emerged that indicate, while it is true that all ad networks using third-party JavaScript will be banned, it will in fact support five ad networks at launch. Four of those networks are owned by Google, Amazon, and AOL, putting smaller networks at a disadvantage. Google is said to be open to adding support for other ad networks in the future.

What Agencies Need To Do
A number of online publishers are reportedly on board with AMP, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, and Vox. For ad agencies, this means their choice of ad networks will have to take AMP’s limited support into consideration if those aforementioned platforms are involved. Now that AMP has been released to the public and Google is getting feedback, it is evolving quickly and agencies should keep a close eye on its continued development.


Source: NiemanLab

Google Speeds Up The Mobile Web With AMP

What Happened
Earlier today, Google unveiled its answer to Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles: the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Unlike Facebook’s or Apple’s content initiatives, AMP is an open standard that is essentially a subset of HTML, meaning that publishers and content owners won’t need to strike a deal with Google to use it. Instead, content creators can use AMP’s tools that take advantage of smart caching of content—either on their own servers or on Google’s servers—to make various webpage elements load faster. Google announced a number of platform partners for AMP, including Twitter, Pinterest, Adobe, LinkedIn, and WordPress, while major publishers such as The Guardian, Washington Post, and Vox are already trying it out.

What Brands Need To Do
Google is understandably invested in speeding up the mobile web, given it gets the majority of its revenue from web ads. And as mobile browsing continues to outpace desktop, media owners really need to take notice and put mobile optimization first. More importantly, AMP doesn’t seem to support the tracking code embedded in many targeted ads, therefore rendering those ads static. So brands need to be aware of this trade-off between access speed and ad targeting and pay attention as AMP evolves.


Source: VentureBeat

Why Big Publishers Are Saying No To Automated Ad Sales

What Happened
A host of big-name publishers are going against the trend and resisting automated buying enabled by programmatic ad platforms. Lifestyle site Refinery29, along with some popular young-skewing sites such as Vice Media, Vox Media, BuzzFeed, and Mic, points to automated ad platforms as the culprit for overwhelming readers with too many ads and slowing down page loading with tracking codes. They are therefore reportedly opting to build their own ad tech platform to sell ads directly rather than employing third-party ones.

What Brands Need To Do
While obviously not applicable for every publisher or brand website, this new trend does signal a path for digital publishers to combat the rise of ad-blockers. While the ad networks and exchanges are still needed as the middlemen in the $60 billion digital advertising marketplace, media owners should consider selling ads with their own sales team, if they have a homogenous or broad enough audience that advertisers seek.


Source: The Wall Street Journal

Facebook Ramps Up Instant Articles

What Happened
After a few months of slow progress, Facebook is making some moves to ramp up its content distribution initiative Instant Articles, launched back in May. A number of new publishers have joined previous partners to publish their content natively on Facebook’s platform so as to ensure faster access, with The Washington Post being the most radical, claiming that it will soon start publishing all of its stories directly on Facebook via Instant Articles. Moreover, Facebook is also allowing publishers to push content directly to Facebook as Instant Articles from their content management system (CMS) of choice, which greatly simplifies the process and could lure more publications to try out Instant Articles.  

What Brands Should Do
As we pointed out previously, the introduction of Instant Articles signals Facebook’s ambitious plan to turn its social network platform into a closed-off mobile ecosystem for digital content, and these recent developments detailed above certainly seem to support the idea. As content discovery becoming increasingly dependent on social – over 60% of Americans now use social media as a news source – it is important for media owners and brands alike to test Facebook’s offerings first to see if its platform works for their specific purposes.


Source: The Verge & The Next Web