Infographic: Brands Went All Out With In-App Ads Over Thanksgiving

December 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Every year, more and more people are opting to skip the long in-store lines that mark the holiday shopping season in favor of buying directly from their smartphones—and, as a result, advertisers' budgets are moving with them. Analytics company IronSource tracked brand spend across the mobile app ecosystem during the Thanksgiving shopping period (specifically Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday) to find out just how advertisers are targeting consumers on their smartphones. "What was most striking about our findings was the increased role video played," said IronSource CMO and co-founder Omer Kaplan. "We know mobile video is the fastest-growing ad unit out there, and with video taking the lion's share of ads served this holiday weekend, it's clear that advertisers are going all-in on the format." Carlos Monteiro This story first appeared in the December 5, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe. Save Save

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As Social Platforms and Brands Turn to Live Video, Will Viewers Keep Tuning In?

December 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

A week before Thanksgiving, dozens of sharply dressed young men and women began arriving at Taco Bell's headquarters for the fourth annual Friendsgiving feast, which included rolled turkey tacos and turkey-and-stuffing-filled "Golden Quesalupas." While the event is usually exclusive to social media influencers and celebrities, this year, Taco Bell had one special seat for everyone—and anyone—by broadcasting the dinner on Facebook Live . "One of the requests we always get from fans is that they always want to experience the event with us," said Jozlynn Rush, Taco Bell's social and digital strategist. As many as 150,000 people tuned in for the dinner at any given time. The video, which first appeared on Nov. 17, has since reached 1.2 million views—without a single ad. "It was pretty amazing," said Rush, who added that her team plans to serve up a healthy portion of Facebook Live in the coming months. This holiday season is proving to be a fertile testing ground for the burgeoning space of branded livestreaming. For instance, ahead of Black Friday, Lowe's reached a live audience of 32,000 as it unveiled 10 on-sale products, while another 891,000 people saw promoted posts over the next two days. Taco Bell's Friendsgiving feast was on Facebook Live this year. Research firm MarketsandMarkets has forecasted that live video will be a $70 billion industry by 2021. That represents good news for Facebook Inc., which has been aggressively promoting Facebook Live with TV spots. This month, Facebook-owned Instagram also launched its own live feature, which lets users broadcast for an hour before the video disappears. "Live content is uniquely compelling when it offers rarity," said Topher Burns, group director of product innovation at Deep Focus.

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Breakthrough Agency of the Year: Venables Bell Is the Next Great Creative Shop

December 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Cultural relevance can be bittersweet, as Venables Bell & Partners learned in 2016. Just as the agency and client Audi were negotiating to use David Bowie's "Starman" in a Super Bowl ad, the rock icon tragically passed away at 69. Then the independent agency scored a chance to work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, only to see her lose in what founder and chairman Paul Venables calls a "heartbreaking" election. But it was, in all, an astounding 12 months for the San Francisco-based agency, which came into 2016 buoyed by global acclaim for its work on REI's " #OptOutside " Black Friday campaign and then quickly set the stage for a strong year with its "Commander" Super Bowl spot, Audi's tender tale of an aging astronaut who relives his glory days during a night drive with his son. "There were no gimmicks: no dancing Chihuahua, no talking privates, no breakdancing babies," explains Venables. "We did it in our style, which is craft and storytelling. It was an exciting way to start the year." The Big Game appearance marked a high point for a shop whose namesake entered the ad industry in that most humble of roles: Madison Avenue receptionist. Venables says he knew from his first days behind a front desk in Manhattan that he eventually wanted to launch his own agency, and he left his job as a creative director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners in 2001 to do just that. After struggling to stand out in the early years by focusing on every detail of his creative work, Venables had an epiphany: If he could attract and retain the right talent, everything else would eventually fall into place. It paid off. This year, VB&P was one of the few truly independent agencies to consistently generate stellar creative, public attention and critical acclaim. For the eye-catching caliber of the agency's work throughout 2016, Adweek has named VB&P its Breakthrough Agency of the Year, an award honoring shops that have exploded beyond their previous expectations and reached dramatic new heights of creative achievement. The art of good timing In the midst of a 2015 holiday marketing brainstorming session, outdoor retailer REI's head of merchandising had a big idea: "We could never do it, but what if we close on Black Friday?" The rest, as they say, is history. "['#OptOutside'] is the antithesis of a Super Bowl spot," says Venables, adding, "Every single client and/or new business prospect that has come in the door since then basically said, 'We want some of that.'" The agency doubled down on this calendar-centric strategy in 2015 and 2016

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Google Says Faster Mobile Ads Are Boosting Clickthrough Rates Up to 200 Percent

December 2, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As tech giants continue their push to speed up load times for advertising and publishers across the mobile web, early numbers from one of them seem to show that faster ads really do work better. According to research released today by Google and Teads, the video tech company, mobile publishers using Google's AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) video inventory perform better than those that stick with the traditional mobile web. Results showed publishers using AMP, an open-source Google initiative, saw clickthrough rates increase by 200 percent, completion rates increase by 15 percent and ad performance increase 18 percent. Nearly 100 publishers are now using AMP including Mashable, Rodale, L'Express and Trinity Mirror. In a blog post detailing the findings, Eric Shih, global svp of business development at Teads, said videos by brands and publishers don't just need to be fast, they also should "engage, educate and entertain." "If you've ever waited impatiently for your favorite site to load only to watch an annoying pop-up take over your smartphone screen, you can probably understand why user engagement decreases," Shih wrote.

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Stoli Is Using Google Trends Data to Create Holiday Instagram Posts

December 1, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After you search for martini recipes this year, try checking Stolichnaya's Instagram page to see pictures of what the drinks look like. In June, the brand's premium Elit vodka line started analyzing Google Trends data to zero in on online chatter and use it to crank out stylized posts of bottles, martini glasses and recipes. For the holidays this year when searches for martinis and vodka cocktails spike, the brand is enlisting such data to inform an Instagram campaign called Elit Live Social Lab. If a recipe for a chocolate martini is trending online, for instance, Elit's social team will whip up and post a picture of a chocolate drink within 24 hours. Brand manager Lauren Ryan said that when it comes to which social platforms Elit prioritizes, "Instagram is first and second for me, and Facebook follows," because the visual platform is particularly conducive to targeting luxury consumers.

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How Ashley Madison Became So Attractive to Subscribers Again

November 30, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

These days, Ashley Madison doesn't have to cheat to get ahead. So says Rob Segal, who has worked hard to refocus the site's image and rescue its reputation since April, when he left WorldGaming to join Ashley Madison's parent company, Ruby Corp. (formerly Avid Life Media), as CEO. Launched 15 years ago, Ashley Madison became famous (some would say infamous) as the go-to online resource for users (mostly men) seeking partners (mainly women) for affairs. Disaster struck in July 2015, when a breach of its database exposed the identities and information of some 32 millions users, tarnishing the brand's "good" name. Plus, Ashley Madison itself had been cheating: many of the "women" on the service were in fact bots deployed by its sales force to deceive men. Some doubted Ashley Madison would survive, but ownership banished the bots and shored up security to thwart future data hacks. (The site implemented more discrete credit card processing and stricter monitoring procedures.) And the board hired Segal, 49, a marketer by trade, who launched a big push to reposition the service as a lifestyle brand and social network for folks open to exploring aspects of human sexuality, from swinging and group sex to BDSM.

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This Week’s Must-Haves: Nintendo’s New NES Is a Total ’80s Throwback

November 29, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

This week, the Adweek staff is highlighting Nintendo's new (and improved) NES system, Timex's subtly smart watch, Stubbs & Wootton's snarky slippers and more fun holiday gifts. Take a look!

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This SoCal Agency Turned a Multiplex Into a Sun-Filled, Creative Office

November 29, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Housed in a former multiplex, the Huntington Beach, Calif., offices of Grupo Gallegos are more than a little "unconventional," to borrow a word from founder and CEO John Gallegos. Founded in 2001, Grupo Gallegos became a go-to for brands looking to reach the exploding Hispanic market. (Current clients include Comcast, Kia and Nascar.) By 2010, the agency had outgrown its original Long Beach headquarters. After finding the 40,000-square-foot former cinema, Gallegos hired noted architect Lorcan O'Herlihy to transform it into a free-flowing, creative work environment. "We challenged [O'Herlihy] to create a space that had the flexibility to expand as we grew without losing the open feel," Gallegos explained. In keeping with the active SoCal lifestyle, Gallegos also invested in amenities like a gym with full-size basketball court, batting cage and TRX training wall. Even the office's exterior plays a part: "There are amazing views out the front of our office," he added, "and that energy flows right into our space."

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AT&T Unveils Pricing and Channel Lineups for Its DirectTV Now Streaming Bundle

November 29, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Starting Wednesday, cord-nevers, cord shavers and cord cutters will have a relatively inexpensive, easy new option to access live TV. AT&T finally unveiled pricing, channel lineups and more details about DirecTV Now, its over-the-top, streaming bundle service, which launches on Wednesday. The service, which doesn't require a set-top box, satellite dish, annual contract or credit checks, will debut with an introductory price of just $35 per month for more than 100 channels. "This is the foundation of how we're going to do things in the future," John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, told reporters who gathered at New York's Venue 57 for the product launch. He added, "For the first time in our history, we have control of the full stack," explaining that it will use data insights from subscribers to create more targeted advertising capabilities for brands, which will keep its pricing low. With the launch, AT&T is targeting the 20 million-plus U.S. households that don't have cable or satellite service. "We get to address a new audience," said Stankey. "This opens up a whole new segment of the market." (Brad Bentley, evp and CMO at AT&T Entertainment Group, noted that market includes the "5-6 million people" who attempted to sign up for DirecTV but were unable to pass a credit check.) And, the company hopes, it persuades even more subscribers to its "mobile-first" product to switch over to its wireless service. AT&T wireless subscribers will be able to use DirecTV Now without the streaming counting against their data plan. While the service contains almost all of the country's biggest networks, there are a few major omissions. "The only thing missing is CBS and Showtime, which we are working on, actively," said Bentley. (The CW, which is also part of CBS Corp, is also MIA.) While "we're hopeful and optimistic" that AT&T and CBS will come to terms, Stankey noted, "the demographic may be a fit" for a CBS-less lineup—i.e., millennials don't watch CBS. However, they do watch The CW, which isn't available either. And while subscribers in "owned and operated" markets like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia will be able to stream broadcast content live on NBC, ABC and Fox, those in smaller, affiliate markets will have to wait until the next day, when they can access network prime-time programming on demand. (The company said it is working with affiliates and hopes to expand its live offerings in the future.) The service also doesn't include DirecTV's prized NFL Sunday Ticket package—Stankey said the company is in talks with the NFL—DVR capabilities (those are coming next year) or the ability to pause live TV. (However, many channels have "72 hour lookback" capabilities.) While Stankey said that subscribers in owned and operated markets will be able to watch NFL games live on Fox and NBC, the feed will not be available to mobile subscribers in those markets, as Verizon retains exclusive NFL mobile streaming rights.

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Presenting the Hot List—the Year’s Top Magazines, TV and Digital Media

November 28, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

It was the year that Donald Trump dominated and demonized the media. That magazines built around news and analysis (New York, The New Yorker, Time) made the greatest impact, and produced the most eye-catching covers. That The People v. O.J. Simpson, Stranger Things and Samantha Bee ruled the tube—and that Megyn Kelly found herself on both sides of the news. This was also the year that digital platforms, players, obsessions and innovations—from Snapchat to Pokemon Go to Facebook Live, DJ Khaled to Chrissy Teigen—commanded our attention. Here, we present Adweek's annual Hot List, featuring our editors' picks for the year's top magazines, television and digital media, and the executives and content creators who dictate where the business is and where it's headed. Take Amazon's Jeff Bezos, our 2016 Media Visionary, who not only has changed the way we shop but, via his ownership of The Washington Post, is helping to save journalism in a perilous time of real-vs.-fake news. Here, we also present the winners of our annual Hot List Readers' Choice Poll, which this year generated more than 1.2 million votes at Adweek.com. As ever, all the terrific content being produced out there is made possible by the smartest, most creative leaders in the business—aside from Bezos, individuals like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, FX's John Landgraf, and Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton. It is on them that we cast praise, and on them that a vibrant, forward-leaning media industry depends. Check out all this year's honorees: Hottest Magazines Media Visionary: Jeff Bezos Magazine Executive Team: Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton Magazine Editor: New York's Adam Moss Hottest TV Shows and Networks TV Executive: FX's John Landgraf TV Creator: Full Frontal's Samantha Bee TV News Anchor: Fox News' Megyn Kelly Hottest Digital Brands and Products Digital Executive: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Digital Creator: Casey Neistat This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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