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The battle for short-form video

I’ve been a little distracted by the political drama surrounding TikTok. 

But as entertaining as it is to see Trump’s antics and Microsoft rushing to meet the September 15th deadline, the bigger picture here isn’t just about the politics.

It’s about who will own short-form video – and with it the attention of today’s teens and twentysomethings.

As the experts put it, Gen Z’ers are not only trying to get their parents to buy them stuff, but mom and dad are listening to their opinions on what to buy for themselves. And these opinions are, in turn, influenced by YouTubers, Twitch streamers and TikTok creators.

The future of influencing is short-form video.

And everyone’s got their play.

Yesterday Facebook officially launched Reels in 50 countries.

Instagram’s Reels is TikTok in every way, except it only lets you make 15-second videos – so you know not exactly the same.

Facebook is no stranger to copying features from smaller apps. It’s not like they can buy them off, not with the antitrust authorities breathing down their necks.

Still, the timing of this launch couldn’t be perfect.

For a long time, nobody was quite sure what TikTok was all about. And just as advertisers were warming up to it, their troubles in the US started. 

Enter Instagram. It’s familiar, your fans are already there so, why not give Reels a go instead?

Instagram is quickly turning into Facebook’s super-clone-app. But I still like Instagram and as Sara Frier wrote in Bloomberg, Instagram has what Facebook does not, which makes it Zuckerberg’s best bet at staying relevant.

Snap Chat’s attempt at giving uncertain TikTok users a new home.

Last week Snap Chat introduced a new feature that, just like TikTok, allows users to add music to their snaps. 

I’m excited to say that they didn’t stop there. As TechCrunch reported, users will be able to swipe up to view the ‘album art’ and even listen to the whole song on their favourite streaming app.

See, Zuck, it’s really not that hard.

Before TikTok came along, Snap Chat was the app for teenagers. Although they have a large userbase outside the US, they reach more teenagers and twentysomethings in the US than Facebook, Messenger and Instagram combined.

“Snapchat says its music feature, however, will allow fans to form deeper connections with artists and music. It also spoke to its strength in being a tool for close friends, which gives it more influence — largely because of how its younger user base values friend-to-friend recommendations.” –  Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Have you heard of Quibi?

There isn’t much to say about it since not much has happened since it’s launch earlier this year. Quibi is a short-form original content streaming app that offers original content in ‘10-minute or less’ chunks. 

It’s still early days and there’s some controversy around how successful its launch has been. 

You know, I do like the idea of original content that’s designed to entertain me in 10-minutes or less but I don’t know if I’ll pay for it. At the moment the future looks uncertain for an app designed for commuters and launched at the worst time possible for commuting.

And then there’s Microsoft

I know they don’t own TikTok yet but their play for its US business is worth mentioning.

While they do own Xbox, Bing and LinkedIn, for the most part, they’re a business-to-business company. And we all know how it turned the last time when they went into video streaming business.

To be honest, when I first read the news I was all ‘hold on a minute, they wanna do what now?’

But after reading Tim Peterson’s explanation, I think it might just be the right move for Microsoft.

This purchase is going to be costly and their expenses won’t end there. But TikTok will bring Microsoft closer to Gen Z and give it proper legs to stand on against the Facebook-Google duopoly.

How connected TV is changing Video advertising

Who watches TV, right?

A lot of my friends and colleagues have a TV but very few actually watch the TV part of it. We’re all streaming now.

With viewer rates dropping globally, the last decade hasn’t been kind on TV.

However, as a device, it’s still the centrepiece for at-home entertainment. (I mean what’s all the furniture in the room pointed at?)

Our commitment to TV makes it one of the most attractive devices for advertising.

As our habits change, so too, do the business models that produce the streaming content we love to binge.

Just as Netflix is personalising which titles each user sees on the screen, Hulu and others, are personalising which ads users see on TV.

Though many of us now subscribe to ad-free streaming services, the future of advertising on TV is programmatic.

People are paying to watch ads on TV. ?

It may sound crazy, but 70% of Hulu’s 82 million viewers subscribe to its ad-supported model where an unskippable ad is often shown before and after a 30-minute show.

According to emarketer, ad spend across connected TV in the US (including Hulu, Roku and YouTube) are expected to grow from 7 billion in 2019 to 10,8 billion in 2021.

TV advertising is fickle and programmatic across connected TV is here to fix that.

With the possibility to target ads to specific households, advertisers are more interested in measuring how many people view their ads from start to finish.

report published by Extreme Reach shows that Video Completion Rates (VCR) are on the rise, while Click-Through Rates (CTR) are declining.

This means that as VCR for 15-30 second video ads have gone up by 89%, people aren’t skipping any ads but they’re not taking immediate action either.

We can only hope that the ads are more relevant this time around.

I’m not sure if it says anything about the quality of the ads because platforms like Hulu and YouTube often don’t give you the possibility to skip them.

The option to skip would tell us something about which ads are favoured – those ads that we’ll watch even when we’re itching to get back to our show.

Ads such as these clever ones from Heineken and Pedigree (my daughter squeals in laughter at this one), to mention a few personal favourites.

As advertisers, we can make the most of the viewers’ attention by giving them a memorable experience. 


YouTube is adding new features for advertisers as more people watch cat videos on the big screen

First thing’s first, drop these facts to impress your clients and colleagues:

  • COVID-19 has given a tremendous boost to online video everywhere, including YouTube.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine (after Google Search) with 3 billion searches a month.
  • Every minute over 500 hours of new content are uploaded to YouTube: from unboxing sneakers to 18th-century quilting.
  • Globally 1 billion hours of content is watched daily on YouTube – Entertainment and Music taking the lion’s share.

As far as advertising goes, YouTube brought 9,4% of Google’s total advertising revenue in 2019. 

From the non-skippable TrueView ads to the quick and dirty bumpers, YouTube is a staple for many advertisers. And their love for the platform is on the rise as more people access YouTube on their TVs.

Traditional broadcasters are becoming wary of YouTube in Europe

Connected TV is the fastest-growing channel for YouTube, which understandably worries traditional broadcasting. In 2019, YouTube’s viewing rate grew by 45% YoY in Europ and now COVID-19 has kicked YouTube’s viewer rates through the roof.

During Mach and April 2020, people purchased or rented 800% more movies, 125% more TV shows and 250% more live content through YouTube on their TVs.

YouTube wants advertisers to benefit from this growth.

The novelty and freshness of the content available on YouTube is pulling in more audiences.

According to YouTube, 60% of signed-in users watched a video published in the last 7 days. And a recent Nielsen study commissioned by YouTube shows that more adults watch YouTube videos together on their TV than traditional TV programs. 

The stage is set for YouTube to deliver new features designed for the connected TVs to attract more advertising budgets to their platform.

And that’s exactly what they’re doing next. ?

YouTube is launching two new features to make the most of the streaming boom.

YouTube’s brand lift surveys are now optimised for the big screen and allow users to respond or skip the survey using their remote controls.

This new feature will be available in Q3 2020, first in the YouTube app and later on YouTube TV. 

During 2020 YouTube will also launch a skippable ad format for content cast onto the TV screen.

According to YouTube, there’s a 75% increase in casted watch time – so, about time us viewers get to see more ads, right?

In case you missed it, YouTube launched their largest ad-format called YouTube Mast Heads on TV Screens in November last year. As more viewers watch content from YouTube on their TV screens, YouTube is preparing to become a serious player in TV advertising.