January 14, 2013 Leave a comment
November 12, 2012 Leave a comment
As revenues decline for traditional forms of online advertising, video is emerging as a bright spot for many media companies. It offers an opportunity for long engagement and hefty ad rates — but also a challenge to make it work.
A new study reports that faster internet connections have made viewers more impatient, and that people begin abandoning videos if they don’t load within two seconds. Every second of additional delay results in approximately 6 percent more viewers jumping ship. This chart shows how about 20 percent of viewers are gone after five seconds but that viewers are slightly more patient for long-length videos:
The research comes by way of Ramesh Sitaraman, a computer science professor at UMass Amherst, who studied data representing 23 million video views from 6.7 million unique visitors. The study offers new metrics for streaming views to complement existing studies that describe the “four second rule” — the amount of time people will wait for a webpage to download. It also shows that people will abandon a video faster based on their type of connection (note how people are more patient with mobile) :
The study, which you can read for yourself here (PDF), contains no startling surprises — most of us probably suspected that people give up on watching videos that don’t load. But it does provide
useful empirical evidence for companies who must decide how to invest architecture to support their video platforms.
Akamai, a content delivery network that helps sites speed up delivery, provided data and research space for the study but did not influence its findings, according to a spokesperson.
(Image by andrea michele piacquadio via Shutterstock)
Full Article Here
June 1, 2012 Leave a comment
The second screen affects the entire TV ecosystem
Networks and Advertisers
TV Networks are paying attention to this space because it’s their business that is being affected the most. They buy shows and sell TV advertising against those shows. In the next month’s upfronts, it’s estimated over $9.2B of advertising will be committed to TV.
Of course, TV has been and will continue to be a huge reach play for advertisers, especially given the 300M people who watch TV every day in the US. But with the growing trend of time-shifted TV viewing and two-screen behavior, advertisers need to think differently. People aren’t paying 100% attention to these TV shows in the way that they used to, so brands are starting to pay attention to make sure their ad dollars are more effective.
Now, networks are tasked with finding solutions and advertisers are starting to seek solutions themselves. For example, Chevy built their own app for Super Bowl. Coca-Cola built their own second screen advertising experience with the Polar Bears. Verizon was a major sponsor of The X-Factor app by Fox. Advertisers are even going directly to the production companies with the question: Mr. Production Studio Head, how are you using the second screen for your shows?
And that brings us to production companies, who have built shows in a specific way for decades. Showrunners, executive producers, and writers have only thought about what appears on the TV screen when they create their shows. For the most part, the big 55-inch TV screen will still be the primary medium, and the show structure will still be an episode with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
These shows are meant to capture the hearts and minds of millions of people so they will tune-in week after week, which means greater attention from audiences. But with the second screen becoming a major part of the TV viewing experience and the pressure from the networks and advertisers both to tap into this audience, it is no longer a one-screen world. It’s a two-screen world.
The way television shows have been created for decades will change because advertisers and networks will be collaborating with the creative executives to address the second screen. Can you imagine a world where every show that you watch has a second screen experience to go along with it? It’s coming.
Despite all the “cord-cutting” talk that we hear about, there really isn’t a lot of cord-cutting happening anytime soon. Why? It’s the TV Circle of Life.
It works like this: networks collect big checks from the operators, production companies collect big checks from the networks, and operators collect big checks from people like you and me. There is a lot of talk about new direct to consumer experiences (such as HBO GO, where you can watch HBO shows anywhere) and it’s definitely interesting, and it is coming…but it’s going to take a very very long time. Why? Because operators write checks.
HBO gets paid from the operators, and it is too risky to go direct to consumers because HBO has a business to run. They can’t jeopardize the distribution of their content from operators like Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, etc.
Of course, operators are seeing the same opportunities as networks and production companies. They are also identifying new opportunities to add value to their subscription base, new opportunities for leverage in their network negotiations, and yes, new potential for better and more personalized advertising experiences.
What about Samsung, Sony, LG – the TV manufacturers? Several new innovative companies are focused on making TVs smarter by embedding automatic content recognition (ACR) in the TV so the TV is no longer a dumb device. What this means is that in the future, we can have Bluetooth-like experiences with our TV.
You come home and turn on your TV, and your phone knows the TV is on and knows what’s playing. This enables a new level of seamless communication and messaging. Profit margins of televisions are getting slimmer and slimmer, so TV manufacturers are trying to create new revenue streams, such as more targeted advertising on TV, content for their TVs, and yes, soon we’ll see TVs powering the second screen experience.
But the biggest question that companies in the TV space are asking is: where is all the value? How can we extract new revenue streams? How can I make sure our existing business continues to grow? After all, this is an industry with a total of $200B in revenue.
So what’s happening now? Everybody, and their mom, is jumping into the second screen space.
It’s too easy to develop a second screen app
Yup, you heard me. It’s too easy. Take three engineers from a top-tier school and after writing some Objective-C and doing some simplistic design…there you go, app is launched. Since we started Miso, there have been more than 100 second screen apps developed (and this doesn’t even include the one-off iPhone apps that have been created by the networks).
This notion of simplicity is not just a problem in the second screen market – it’s a problem in any market. We’ve obviously seen it in photo sharing (we know who has won that game) but in the second screen space the problem is magnified and you know who loses: YOU.
As a viewer, you’re constantly given mixed messages: Download this app, now download this other app, and now go back to the other app, and by the way, this second screen thing is only available for about 10% of the shows you watch.
The experience of downloading an app for every single TV show is poor. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place where this could work, such as huge tentpole shows like the Oscars or the Emmys. Even so, look at The Super Bowl. I think I could have downloaded at least 15 apps just to experience that one-time event.
Several second screen startups, including ourselves, are trying to aggregate experiences. But a single app to rule them all is tough. If there is any second screen company out there that thinks they have the answer, talk to me first. Email me at email@example.com.
Developing a single second screen app that can deliver value for all types of TV programming is incredibly tough. It’s incredibly tough because every show is different and every genre has its own unique challenges. Dramas are different than reality shows, which are vastly different from news programs. And let’s not even talk about sports – that’s its own beast in itself.
Long story short, it’s hard to get the perfect second screen experience for everybody. Is it social, is it about content, is it loyalty? Is it all of the above? Even if you were to do all of the above, how do you get people to remember your app exists when people watch TV? How do you sustain audience while someone watches TV?
There is a growing trend of start-ups that are building “white-label” platforms for the networks to build one-off iPhone apps for their TV shows. While I believe there is a place for the top 5-10% of all TV programming, this doesn’t scale for all TV shows. I love Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and Dexter, but downloading an app for each of those shows seems too heavy. Even if there was an app for every show, users will not adopt all of these apps.
For new shows especially, it’s hard to push a new app for something new and unknown versus shows in their second or later season. Apps for every show would also be a poor choice for the overall larger market. Every app may have its own user authentication, it’s hard to bring your friends on board, and while content may be unique to that one app, as soon as you change the channel…you have to find a new app.
The question ultimately is: which experience is the most meaningful for me, the most personalized for me, and is available consistently every time I watch TV?
Users need aggregation and and utility
Aggregation keeps things simple
The reason why people sign-up for paid subscriptions versus buying TV shows one at a time on Amazon.com is because there is value in aggregation. With paid subscriptions, you have one place to go to when you want to watch TV. As my friend Jeremy would say, TV is about escape. As a paid TV subscriber, I can browse aimlessly, find a show, change the channel, go back to the original channel and so on. While there might be challenges with aspects of the experience, ultimately, aggregation is valuable because it simplifies the way you discover and experience a TV show.
And simplicity is key. Aggregation is not just valuable on the first screen, but also the second screen. One place you tune-in to while you watch TV.
Apps with Utility Have a First Mover Advantage
While companies like ourselves are building interactive platforms, one thing is missing that sets us and any second screen app back: utility. No matter how we look at it – some things won’t change. You need to turn on the TV, find what to watch, change the channel or access your DVR.
As aggregators of content, paid TV providers and TV manufacturers are in a unique position to add a lot of value to the consumer by building more meaningful utility into their second screen experiences. We’re already seeing this today from a few paid TV providers. There are second screen apps that have basic programming guides, remote control functions, the ability to set your DVR, and the ability to stream and watch shows right from the app itself.
Utility. It’s utility that is the first driver of the second screen – but what’s next? So you use the remote control on your iPad, what happens after that?
This is space rife with opportunity. In the same way I can watch Modern Family on any TV via any operator, can I get a second screen experience for any show via one device?
Imagine that no matter what you watch, you can get complementary experience. Best of all, even if you switch channels, you are still using a single app. Sounds pretty ideal right?
Here is where we are…there is a war for control
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is competing for attention on the second screen. The entire ecosystem is striving to aggregate audience for the second screen to sell new, personalized, and meaningful types of ad units.
Networks are the most aggressive in trying to control the second screen space because they have access to “exclusive” content, talent, and the scripts themselves while startups are trying to crack the code via social and community-driven efforts. Networks are in a tough position because they are ultimately serving the TV viewer, but at the same time they are trying to control their viewership audience. They want everyone to have a great experience for Modern Family no matter where they flock, but they ideally want those viewers to flock to ABC. This is why they develop their own apps and partner with social TV partners.
Operators haven’t made any moves to control the second screen experience in their apps, but over the next 18 months we will see some action from several paid TV providers. Those that don’t implement a second screen solution for their subscribers will be forced to by the ecosystem that feeds it – networks, advertisers, production companies – and miss out on valuable revenue streams.
As for TV manufacturers, if it’s true that broadcasters and programmers (i.e. NBC, ABC) want to go do direct-to-consumer via Smart TVs, why couldn’t TV manufacturers partake in the advertising revenue upside?
So, the question in the long run is: who is going to own the second screen?
In short: it’s unclear. With startups and networks creating their own apps, operators entering the game soon, and TV manufacturers developing new hardware, it’ll be interesting to see who pulls ahead.
The future we need: sharing, learning, and standardization.
If utility is the first key to the second screen experience, then operators and TV manufacturers are in a good place to win. But only if they can deliver more value than the utility itself. Operators, given their competitive nature, may want to pick their own solution. They can develop in-house by taking what is available out there (e.g. hashtagged tweets OR cast photos from IMDb). But there is much more to the second screen than the standard fare.
The networks have the ability to provide richer information such as behind-the-scenes content, commentary, or access to talent. They can even go one-step further for episodic content where the second screen is used to deepen the storyline, and it can be a new format for storytelling. If deeper content delivers the most value to the second screen interactive experience, how will the networks syndicate all this content to the companies that want access to it – namely operators, TV manufacturers, or even startups that are building second screen apps?
There needs to be standardization. There needs to be pipes that power the second screen economy.
Operators can obviously create tools for networks to get the “deeper content”, but if every operator develops their own tools, will the networks use every single one? If you were an executive at NBC or Fox and either DIRECTV, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or DISH came to you with their own tools, would you use them? Maybe…if they write a big enough check. But this won’t scale.
It’s possible that there will be a breakthrough startup that will become the “Facebook of the Second Screen” where all companies standardize on that single solution. But this will take time, given the way the TV ecosystem works.
Ultimately, the TV ecosystem needs to come together. People are on Facebook and Twitter and playing Angry Birds while watching TV… and this is detrimental for the entire TV business! TV ad dollars will be migrated unless we, as part of the TV industry, address the larger problem: attention. Attention is being diverted away from the production companies’ shows and networks’ ads, away from the TV, to something else – the second screen.
To share insights and learnings is key to the longer term success of the second screen. As an industry we need to put more emphasis on user research – understanding “what do people want as they watch TV?” What kind of experiences scale for different types of TV shows?
The war to capture people’s attention on the second screen is more fragmented than ever, and unless we come together the fragmentation will continue. There seems to be a need for standards on how content gets authored, published and syndicated on the second screen. Otherwise, the casualty in all this is the average TV viewer.
We need to, most importantly, figure out what YOU, the viewer, wants. To succeed, we need to all come together, share our learnings, try new things…or we all lose.
May 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Smart TVs, dumb TVs, Google TVs, Ikea TVs and even everything we know about the rumored Apple TV set all have something in common: In the end, they’re just TVs. That’s whether they’re 42, 50 or 60 inches in size, with a bezel that frames your viewing experience. And whether it’s Netflix, YouTube or just plain old cable TV, the way we watch video on them is fairly similar as well. Sure, the bits may come from different places, and you might even have funky widgets on your iPad or on-screen while you watch TV. But take a step back and today’s TV still looks very much like the TV of yesteryear. Turn it on, watch something, turn it off, and be done with it.
That’s not what the future of the TV will look like at all, if we can believe the folks at NDS. The Israel-based TV services provider, which Cisco acquired for $5 billion in March, has been exploring what the actual TV set will look like five years from now. Company executives came to San Francisco this week to showcase some of their research, and the results are pretty intriguing.
To sum it up briefly, NDS was showcasing a big matrix of six bezel-less flat screen TVs that were combined to form a huge, almost overwhelming TV wall. NDS CTO Nick Thexton then went on to demonstrate big displays like these can be broken up, showing a video of varying sizes somewhere in the middle, with personalized and content-relevant widgets off to the side. And once you get some cinematic 4k content, you might even want to use the whole screen. Check out Christina Bonnington’s story over at Wired.com for more details about the demo, which was neat.
But what I found fascinating was the points that Thexton and NDS Chief Marketing Officer Nigel Smith raised about the future of TV. The real question, Smith told me, is, If you have a TV the size of a wall, how are you going to interact with it?
The future of TV will be modular
NDS uses a PC with multiple video outputs to power its six-display TV wall. Soon, this could be done by small mesh networking-capable modules.
We have all gotten used to the fact that TVs are getting bigger and bigger every year, and the NDS demo of a TV screen that would fill your entire living room wall seems to fit quite well into that narrative. However, Thexton was very vocal about this not being a question of size. “We are not advocating just big TVs,” he told me while standing in front of the giant NDS demo screen.
Instead, Thexton thinks that TVs may become modular and actually consist of much smaller displays that can be combined to fit the room. Think of 6-inch to 8-inch bezel-less squares that you can buy individually and then mount to the wall next to one another, gradually growing the size of your display to fit your needs. These displays would automatically work together, making sure your Saturday night movie runs on all of them at once.
NDS is currently using a PC with multiple video outputs to run its six-screen demo, but Thexton told me the company is developing a small module to connect to each screen separately and then mesh network these to coordinate the complete video output. Mesh networking devices like these could also come in handy if you wanted to include another TV on a second wall, for example to run a news feed or an in-home video stream while you’re interacting with other media on the main screen.
The future of TV will be ambient
One of the main points of the NDS demo was that huge displays don’t always equal huge videos. Instead of watching your morning news in theater mode, you’re going to watch clips with a much smaller size and use the rest of the screen for other information. In fact, sometimes you might not be watching TV at all but will still find it useful to leave the large screen wall on. For example, it could display cover art for the music you are listening to while giving you access to your calendar reminders, a wall-sized clock and your Twitter feed. Home automation and security-camera footage are also applications that could be useful to run all day, or fade in and out as needed.
A huge screen doesn’t necessarily mean that you watch everything blown up to the max.
But with that big ambient screen also comes a unique new challenge: You really don’t want to turn it off. Anyone with a big TV screen is already aware that the device can look like a big, black annoying hole in the middle of your living room when not in use. Now multiply this by three, four or even six and you end up with a whole lot of ugly dark screen estate.
Leaving your big TV wall running all day, though, will cost you a fortune in electricity. The solution will be e-ink-like display technologies that allow you to keep a visual wallpaper or even some widgets up and running without burning a hole in your wallet.
The future of TV will need new interaction models
NDS ran its demo off an iPad, allowing me to change the immersion level — and display size — of a video with simple sliders. That was good enough for a demonstration, but it still seemed somewhat complex for everyday use. Thexton told me that the company had evaluated Kinect-like gesture control as well as Siri-like voice control but eventually abandoned both because they seemed to require too much effort and were too prone to errors. In the end, he said, people didn’t want to control their TV in a Minority Report-like fashion but with something that felt more natural. “We don’t want people to feel weird in their living room,” he said.
But is the tablet the be-all and end-all? Thexton didn’t think so, and he reminded me that controlling a TV traditionally can be boiled down to just a few core indicators. Give someone a remote control with a D-Pad, and they can pretty much navigate through any cable guide or online video app. So if only four to six buttons are needed, how about replacing these with interactions that can be accomplished without any remote control at all? The key might just be to treat the TV like a pet, said Thexton, and develop a kind of interactive language both you and your TV understand. In other words: Don’t be trained to use a remote; train it to do the things you want.
Define TV’s future without its constraints
A TV that consists of many little displays working together, a TV that’s always on, a TV the size of your living room wall and a TV that obeys you like a well-trained dog: That’s a lot to swallow, especially if you’ve thought of the next wave of apps as innovation in the TV space.
However, it may be time to think bigger, and leave some of the assumptions of what TV is — and what TV sets are — behind. “TV has to start defining a future for itself,” Thexton told me. And that future may not fit into a 60- or 70-inch bezel.
April 11, 2012 Leave a comment
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Curious how consumers are making decisions regarding which cell phone to buy? Google teamed up with Compete on a study examining how the online consumer shops for a wireless device and we have the results of the survey and study exclusively. Google and Compete tracked consumers online and searching patterns, analyzed the behavior of those purchasing cell phones by tracking their behavior backward from the point of purchase, and surveyed buyers as well.
Some of the results aren’t necessarily groundbreaking, it is interesting to see what factors drive in-store purchases. For example, Google says that 72% of mobile researchers purchased their phone in store (vs. 55% of non-mobile researchers).
Watching video reviews and features on phones also helps drive purchases— 39% of shoppers used video while researching; 77% watched for more than 10 minutes. And 63% of wireless shoppers use search portals throughout purchase process. After viewing smartphone product videos, 64% became interested in specific smartphone models, 44% were introduced to smartphone brands not previously considered and 36% heard about the smartphone product for the first time.
Network reliability, cost of data plans and the actual phone itself all topped consumers’ most important considerations when buying a cell phone. For the most part, upgrades and the want for the latest gadget tend to drive purchases, with 48 percent of phone buyers available for an upgrade and 31 percent purchasing because they wanted the latest phone.
Basically, 45 percent of cell phone sales were completed in-store but online research heavily influences decision-making, says Google. And users tend to research for around 3 weeks before making a purchase. More than half of shoppers visited five sites for research, and were mostly considering two different devices when making a purchasing decision.
In terms of advertising, TV ads lead to the highest recall among smartphone shoppers, followed by online ads, email advertisements and search engine listings. When examining online resources exclusively, reseller websites, online reviews, search engines and social networks all drove purchases.
Kyle Keogh, Google’s tech industry director, tell us that while carriers account for a big portion of visits for research, users tend to buy their phones elsewhere. Essentially, carriers need to do a better job with closing sales, especially online.
March 26, 2012 Leave a comment
The jump in video views comes as Google pushes YouTube beyond the personal computer, with versions of the site that work on smartphones and televisions, and as the company steps up efforts to offer more professional-grade content on the site.
According to the company, roughly 60 hours of video is now uploaded to YouTube every minute, compared with the 48 hours of video uploaded per minute in May.
YouTube, which Google acquired for $1.65 billion in 2006, represents one of Google’s key opportunities to generate new sources of revenue outside its traditional Internet search advertising business.
Last week, Google said that its business running graphical “display” ads – many of which are integrated alongside YouTube videos – was generating $5 billion in revenue on an annualized run rate basis.
Still, most of the 4 billion videos that YouTube now streams worldwide every day do not make money. Three billion YouTube videos a week are monetized, according to the company.
For the full story, click here
March 14, 2012 Leave a comment
From over at Read Write Web, a new service called SocialMedia-live which examines growth of Facebook pages. Unfortunately it lacks a search function but still provides an interesting insight into what is trending.
Ever wondered which musician has the fastest growing Facebook Page? Or what TV series? A new beta service called SocialMedia-live is tracking the growth rate of 38 million Facebook Pages, with 2 million of those available to view. It has statistics on total number of likes, fan growth, interesting newcomers and male/female breakdown. These statistics are categorized and users can create comparison graphs.
The main site, the awkwardly named SocialMedia-live, updates Facebook Page data on 90,000 “big players” every 10 minutes – including Eminem, Coca Cola, YouTube and other very popular brands. A further 1.8 million “medium-sized pages” are updated every 12 hours. The other 36 million or so “little pages” are refreshed every 5 days.
There’s a special page for “Hip Fanpages,” those Facebook Pages “that have distinguished themselves in terms of layout, navigational ease, interactive fanpage features, etc.” Current members include Adidas Originals, Snooki, Livestrong, Star Wars and a German comedian named Linda P. That last pick is a clue that SocialMedia-live hails from Germany.
For the full post, click here.