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Amazon, NFL Partner To Stream Thursday Night Games; Adios, Twitter

April 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Tim Cook once opined “The Future of TV is Apps” and those words were proudly displayed on a screen behind him when he introduced the updated Apple TV back in 2015. Just a week after the fourth-generation Apple TV went on sale, Apple commanded 31% of the streaming market, well ahead of Amazon and Roku, which at that time were the leaders. Two years on, we haven’t seen much new innovation from Apple TV but we have certainly seen a lot of content development, innovation and marketing and licensing leadership from Amazon.

This week Amazon and the National Football League (NFL) announced a licensing partnership for the 2017 season. Amazon will have the streaming rights to 10 Thursday night games during the Fall 2017 season. The deal is a switch from the NFL’s 2016 season partnership with Twitter. In 2016 Twitter and the NFL debuted their Thursday night streaming partnership with the N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo game and reached 2.1 million people. Just as with the Twitter partnership last year, Thursday night games will be simulcast on network broadcast (CBS or NBC) and on cable via the NFL Network. That’s where the partnership similarities end.

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Twitter streamed the games free of charge. Amazon will only make the Thursday night games available to Amazon Prime members. Amazon is said to have paid $50 million for the 10 games, whereas Twitter paid $10 million for their deal last year. Of course, Amazon has an existing streaming service whereas Twitter did not. Amazon also has a platform with all sorts of commerce opportunities, Alexa their AI assistant and, perhaps more importantly, millions of member profiles with credit cards on file. This partnership is rife with many more opportunities beyond the streaming games — the power of the Amazon platform.

Last year’s test with Twitter was another proof point that showed the NFL and the entertainment world that consumers are happy to get their sports content streamed across any device and it showed a snippet of possibility. At the time I wrote how Twitter was a great partner to drive engagement for their platform as fans could talk smack throughout the game with the close proximity of game/tweets. While that was great for driving higher active-user numbers for Twitter and growing their user base, there wasn’t any commerce connected. Amazon has the ability to drive equal engagement (sans tweeting in the interface) and, more importantly, more folks opting into Prime (NFL games, music, and free shipping …) and the biggest and e-commerce platform. For those reasons and only streaming to Prime customers are probably big contributors to the NFL doubling their asking price for the 10 games. Even without knowing all the details, this is big win for both Amazon and the NFL.

Where does this latest entertainment leave Apple TV? While I’m a big fan of Apple, I have to say this is yet another area where Apple has been outdone by a Seattle tech giant. In the last year, Amazon has continued to build out their entertainment business, adding more original content and winning their first ever Golden Globes. The future of TV may be apps but the content and the power of the platform behind the apps has to be creating better and more licensing deals that deliver more eyeballs and potential revenue upside. Apple seems to continually be outplayed — although they do have a shiny new company headquarters.

This new partnership with Amazon should be a great testing ground for Amazon partners looking to take advantage of the Amazon streaming sponsorship. Now is the time to start thinking about your commerce partnership with Amazon and how you can work your way into their advertising opportunities. And let’s not forget about testing ways to get your brand content into Alexa as a way to accompany all those information and service requests during Thursday night games. As marketers, our job is to ensure our brands and services are nimble enough to adapt and execute for this upcoming season and test several plays.

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A Super Bowl Presidential Debate Audience And Twitter

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

“I don’t have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt. I don’t have any experience in gridlock government, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else.”
— Ross Perot at the 1992 presidential debate
Some of you reading this will remember the 1992 presidential debates with Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and George H.W. Bush. Many thought Perot was a bit kooky with all of his charts and some of his one-liners. Oh, how Mr. Perot makes the current presidential cycle look tame. And that is about as close as I will get to making this month’s column a political missive. Instead, let’s talk about TV audiences, Sunday Night Football and Twitter.
A year ago, if I had predicted that the presidential debate would have a near Super Bowl-sized viewing audience, close to Super Bowl 50, many, if not all of you, would have laughed and made what would have seemed like a sure bet. In fact, according to Nielsen, the first presidential debate brought in 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV networks that carried it live. And that 84 million doesn’t include people who watched via numerous live streams online or at bars and restaurants. This means the actual total audience was even higher. Did I mention this was a presidential debate? For perspective, the last presidential debate between Obama and Romney in 2012 averaged 67 million viewers.
But what is amazing to me is that Twitter reported their live streams of the first two presidential debates had more viewers than the NFL games.
As many readers may know, Twitter recently began streaming select NFL games, starting with Thursday Night Football. During their first event (N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo), Twitter’s live streams reached 2.1 million people. Football fans enjoy “smack talking” during games. Twitter knows tweets spike during games, so matching that insight with live-streaming NFL games seems a spot-on way to drive engagement on their platform. And Twitter could certainly use some higher engagement numbers. The first NFL game certainly was proof for their streaming experiment. I’m interested in seeing how Twitter’s live-streaming numbers continue during the rest of the NFL season. I would love to see them prove out this concept for the long haul and see it move into other live-events, such as the hockey, tennis, and award shows.
Twitter’s NFL live streams and now the presidential debates give them the proof they need to support their belief that Twitter can be a live-video delivery platform. While many in the industry may think the concept is a stretch and just another desperate advertising solution concept for Twitter’s weak monetization efforts, I have long believed they are the perfect platform to surround great content for passionate consumers during live events.
Are Twitter’s NFL streaming numbers huge by traditional TV standards? No. But we are still very early in their grand live-streaming experiment. Let’s give it some time and see how things go and where they innovate and iterate on the service. At a minimum, they have proved their live-streaming point.
The live-steam presidential debate numbers also point out that consumers have a thirst for content they are passionate about on non-traditional platforms. If Twitter can continue to identify passion-based content (e.g., music, sports, politics), I believe the audience will show up and engage. As marketers, we all know what happens when the audience shows up — advertising solutions follow. So, here is another chance for passion-based marketers (QSR, auto, etc.) to get in and test a still unproven area and get some great learning

The Whale vs. The Snail (and an ice cream cone)

March 12, 2014 9 comments

Earlier this week, Twitter went down for for some folks, including me. I couldn’t help notice that their design team updated the familiar “fail whale” with a new cartoon featuring a snail and ice cream cone. (there’s a making for a bad joke). Personally, I like the fail whale better, because, well, I’m used to it and like many I don’t always like change.

IMHO from a messaging perspective, the snail and ice cream cone do much better job conveying that Twitter is down or has a glitch vs. a while being suspended by struggling birds (read: we’re struggling over here).

Here’s to hoping we don’t see much of the snail and ice cream cone in 2014

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Privacy – What Advertisers Can Learn from the TSA

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve mentioned before that I really like many of the cartoons that @TomFishburne sends out in his Brand Camp posts.  Today’s Brand Camp cartoon really hit home because it’s something I’ve tweeted about long ago.

I remember seeing this TSA sticker (below) posted on the x-ray machine at an airport I can’t recall in the blur of  airport visits throughout the year.  Although the sticker doesn’t ask me to “Like” the TSA, it does ask me to follow.  Close enough. I have little interest in reading whatever it is the TSA blogs about, especially since I doubt they have a decent mechanism on their blog to actually engage (and make changes) with the flying public.

Three things I think brands can learn from this simple cartoon and sticker.

  • Without an interesting message and a reason to truly engage, nobody wants to be your friend
  • Transparency and trust is important – the TSA does x-ray your bag and put you through a sensor
  • Be upfront and state the benefit – The TSA clearly states their expectations to travelers. The benefit for travelers is, barring any weapons or excluded items, travelers are permitted to the gates

In many ways the TSA reminds me of some of the privacy issues that are facing the digital media and advertising industry, when it comes to privacy.  For example, if consumers had a better understanding (transparency) of how advertisers were using cookies or tracking pixels to provide a better service (targeted ads), I believe it could improve the relationship for advertisers, consumers and tracking technology providers.  More importantly this transparency can lead to better self-regulation and ease potential over-regulation of Internet advertising by the FCC.  And perhaps this could even work in the EU – I’m an optimist at heart!

Since I’m in a position to make decisions about these sorts of things, as the head of digital marketing for a large CPG company (see my disclosure), I have embraced what the folks over at Evidon are doing.  Scott Meyer is leading an incredibly smart and passionate team at Evidon.  In fact, I have even downloaded their Ghostery product.  (The Ghostery icon reminds me of Blinky, that annoying ghost in Pac-Man that used to kill my Pac-Man!)  The difference is that this ghost tells me who and what is tracking me on each site I visit – it’s pretty cool.  And in the not to distant future the brands I work on will have this Advertising Option Icon on them.

The industry support for this program is great and growing.  Just look at who is on board already.  If you are an advertiser or a consumer, you should really check out this program of self-regulation.

It’s akin to what I hope will become a universal symbol for quality advertising online as well as complete transparency about data usage.  This online privacy and data usage space has a long way to go and with a great partnership from within the industry (see above), I truly believe consumers will embrace ad data sharing, cookies and the wonderful world of targeted advertising.  Who wants to see crap ads and ads from companies whose product or services for which they have no interest.

I will write a few more posts in the coming weeks about privacy, especially how to safeguard your individual privacy in the social graph – this will be especially good for a lot of college students that will soon be entering the working (professional) world, where showing pictures of keg stands won’t go over well with prospective employers.

As always, I would enjoy hearing your feedback.  Ping me at @dougchavez or feel free to post on this page.

Social Media Monday Blues

March 14, 2011 2 comments

I had a sneaking suspicion that today would be an interesting day.  And it certainly has been a “Monday” for several folks in the social media world.  One of the email lists i subscribe to is Tom Fishburn’s Maketoonist (@TomFishburne)”Brand Camp” cartoons.  The cartoon today was especially interesting to me, since the cartoon nails what I believe a lot of brands get wrong – outsourcing social media management.

I’m certain there are many highly qualified and competent agencies that do a solid job for their clients.  In fact, we use a hybrid model at my company.  That said, I’m a firm believer that brands and their marketing (digital marketing) organizations should manage social media in house.  Here’s why.  First, Nobody knows the brand better than the brand team and the marketing organization supporting the brand(s).  Second, paying a third party, exposes the brand to the risk of the constant churn in agency account teams.  When that twentysomething leaves for the next step in their agency career all the knowledge leaves with the person.  On the other hand, having a brand person (ideally multiple brand team members) actively engaged in the conversation keeps the knowledge of community management in house – and when that brand person switches brands that skillset stays withing the organization.  It’s all upside.  Granted people will leave the organization, however, I would rather manage that transition vs. a new junior person at the agency (which I will certainly have little or no control over)

I’m sure there will be plenty of agency types reading this and several will disagree with me.  There will also be brand marketers reading this and say “I have no time for community management”.  Both are fair points and I will certainly be happy to address them.  In fact, I  plan on writing a few posts with my thoughts on both of those viewpoints.  Stay tuned.

Midway through today I heard the news that Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the beloved Aflac duck was canned for tweeting some incredibly insensitive and moronic things about Japan.  Not a good thing to do, especially given that 75% of Aflac’s business comes from Japan.  Talk about a #FAIL of galactic proportions.

I’m a bit bummed since I do like Gilbert’s voice for the Aflac duck, especially since I don’t have to see Gilbert’s annoying squinting eyes.  Perhaps Gilbert and  the guy that thought he was tweeting from his personal account but tweeted from the @ChryslerAutos account and dropped the F Bomb, was subsequently fired by his agency, New Media Strategies, right before they were fired by Chrysler, can join forces and form one of those agencies that mange social media strategies.  [See above paragraph].

I am biased towards in-house social media management but I truly think there is good reason.  I’m always happy to hear your thoughts, so feel free to ping me at @Dougchavez or post a comment below.

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