Amazon’s TNF Stream points to an Interactive future

Last Thursday night kicked off Amazon’s live-streaming deal with the NFL, allowing them to broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football (TNF) games of the 2018/19 season. The feed, which was available for free on Twitch as well as offered to Prime Video customers, set the stage for what the future of interactive live television could be like.

For one, the stream was available just about anywhere someone could imagine watching the game – Amazon’s Prime Video app, Fire TV, mobile devices and anywhere with a strong internet connection. The ubiquity of it changes the paradigm of how consumers can take in this content. No longer is it primarily a passive event as the mobile and open nature of streaming platforms allow for more interactivity.

Amazon wasn’t shy about moving into this trend. Thursday’s broadcast on Prime Video included an ‘X-Ray’ feature, allowing users to see real-time stats as well as personalize their broadcast to follow Game Leaders and Team Stats as the game progressed. When digging deeper, users were able to discover more information on the history of the teams and players involved.

Another unique feature to Thursdays broadcast, and one that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, is the ecommerce aspect that Amazon integrated into the experience. Available within the Fire TV stream, users were able to browse and purchase officially licensed merchandise relating to the teams at hand. Carson Wentz just dropped a dime from 40 yards out in the back corner of the end zone? Cool, you’re 2 clicks away from owning his jersey and your eyes never had to leave the screen.

The other choice that Amazon gave users was with regards to the actual broadcasters. Three options were available on Prime Video, including the first ever all female booth, and Twitch highlighted a popular streamer, GoldGlove, to call the game for its viewers.

Within the Twitch platform, live reaction of viewers was a feature that was highlighted. After an exciting play, the Twitch chat was blown up with emotes (Amazon’s version of emojis) and the social nature of the platform made for a less isolating experience. Bringing people together for live sporting events is something Facebook and Twitter have been working hard at, but neither of them can reach the level of engagement that Amazon currently has.

Implications

Live sporting events have traditionally been viewed in a passive setting as users were mainly confined to a cable provider and their living room TV. That’s slowly but surely changing, and it’s a trend that’s not going to slow down anytime soon. It’s also one that has pretty wide ranging implications.

Niche sports executives should see this as a massive opportunity to get their product in front of a much wider range of audience. FloSports, a leader in partnerships for OTT sports, features rugby, track & field, wrestling, bowling and more. The company will steam 2,500 live events in 2018, increasing live streaming views and event attendance for hundreds of teams across the country. It’s all about getting your product in front of as many eyes as possible, and live streaming is doing that at a scale that hasn’t been seen before.

With those eyeballs, come brands trying to ride the pigtails of that success. Marketers will be able to closely align their product or service with teams that or events that closely align with their brand values. As the services mature, there will likely be opportunities to personalize these messages to individuals or segments. On top of that, the active nature of the service will continually allow for a reduction in friction to the path to purchase. Live streaming events and the interactivity that comes with them may be the last domino to fall in the fight against cutting the cord.

Amazon’s Attribution Pixel Tests Ad Effectiveness

Outside of being one of the worlds largest E-commerce platforms, Amazon also runs a growing ad business, competing with the likes of Facebook and Google. That product offering just got a lot more appealing to advertisers, as the company began testing its Amazon Attribution tool.

The tool will help advertisers measure the exact impact that their display, search and video media channels have on how consumers discover, research and buy their products within the E-commerce giant. Brands will be able to optimize their campaigns to page views, purchase rates and sales. Currently, the tool is only available to advertisers that sell on Amazon, rather than through it.

The move by Amazon signifies a big step in their fight against the duopoly, which has historically dominated much of the year-over-year growth within online advertising. Advertisers will soon get a much better understanding of how their media on Amazon compares with that of other platforms, especially when it comes to driving actual sales.

Additionally, Amazon’s moves into the brick-and-mortar space with its Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon Go and Amazon Books will mean that the company should soon offer a way to attribute online media to offline conversion – a necessary step to effectively compete with Google.

Implications

Amazon moving further into the advertising space shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it should be taken seriously. Brands that don’t currently utilize Amazon’s ad products, should look to them as a way to test the effectiveness of their ad dollars across tactics. Take a look back at what your KPI’s are, and use this Attribution Pixel to determine where there’s room for improvement.

If your brand already has a big presence within the site, whether that be percentage of total sales or a higher comparable market share, a shift of budget to Amazons products will help to continue to drive sales and page views, while also allowing your brand to hone in on a specific target.

In one case study, a protein brand found that health publications performed better than all other media types, accounting for 83% of their ad-attributed sales on Amazon. Without this tool, that information would have gone unnoticed, and the brand wouldn’t have been able to effectively use its budget. In todays day and age, it’s incredibly important to understand exactly what sparks your E-commerce business, with Amazon at the helm, this tool makes their ad products worth a second look.

Who is Doctor Fork?

This week, Google’s Unskippable Labs team released its findings with regards to an interesting little experiment they had been working on. The question? What could we unveil about advertising effectiveness for a pizza brand, if we weren’t afraid to fail? To pull it off, the team created a fake company that was ultimately called Doctor Fork.

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The team was able to compile 33 ads using stock footage, and because it’s Google, they were able to deliver over 20 million impressions through the YouTube platform. The delicious sausage pizza you saw last night.. ya, you’re going to have to go somewhere else for that. The team explained that because they weren’t following an explicit client brief, they were able to knock down so called guard rails, typically used in food ads.

Implications

Ultimately, there were a list of findings and underlying implications that came out of this study, and brands should be keen to incorporate some of these into their campaigns. For example, ‘bite and smile’ is not the only way to show a pleasurable food experience. Classic brands may feel constrained by this emotional presentation because they know ‘it works’, however, these findings show that there are a range of approaches that are equally appropriate and may even perform better.

This begs the question, what other findings can we uncover when removing constraints on our advertising? In an industry that relies on creative thinking and innovation to break through to new consumer segments, brands should begin thinking outside of their typical processes to determine new insights. If you have the means to conduct a test similar to what Google’s team did, it could provide valuable information to move your brand forward. If you don’t, take a risk, it’s one of the only ways to move forward.

Google Removes Blanket Exclusion From Mobile Apps

Come this September, Google will radically simplify its targeting and exclusion controls for Google Display Network ads on mobile devices. The change will come in the form of eliminating the adsenseformobileapps.com placement exclusion, which allowed advertisers to specifically remove mobile in-app ads as possible inventory within their campaigns.imageMoving forward, advertisers will be able to set their exclusion preferences based on device type. For example, instead of targeting mobile devices by Mobile app, Mobile app interstitial, or Mobile web, all mobile placements will now be targeted (or excluded). The same format will also be applied to Tablet targeting.

Implications

For advertisers, this change signifies a greater shift within the in-app landscape. Developers will look to capitalize on the influx of inventory by creating additional sources of revenue (i.e new ways for users to look at ads). As the mobile advertising market continues to grow, projected to increase to 31% of global expenditure by 2020, the search giant understands just how important the in-app category is to its overall revenue.

Google has already set the stage for future innovation by partnering with Unity, a massively popular game development platform, that will allow Google’s advertisers direct access to Unity’s global mobile gaming ad inventory. With more than 9.4 billion ad impressions on a monthly basis over 1.5 billion devices and the freedom to cater the experience internally, it’s no wonder that Google wants more advertisers to compete over this space.

In order to break through on these channels, advertisers must ensure that their ad units are catered to specific devices and placements, as well as provide thoughtful, relevant and non-disruptive content. In an age where UX clearly dictates that mobile ads hurt the overall experience, brands that are able to add value will have a great chance of standing out and driving conversions.

Snapchat Launches Voice Recognition Lenses

Snapchat continues to push the AR boundaries by launching a new lense that can recognize simple voice commands. In the past, lenses could react to users opening their mouth or raising their eyebrows. Now, basic English words will have the same effect. Simply saying “love” will cue jazz music while saying “yes” causes the camera to zoom. Other words like “hi”, “no” and “wow” come with their own animations. Users can expect to see five to six more lenses added to the rotation throughout the week.

While Facebook has the advantage of owning other key apps like Instagram and Messenger, Snapchat continues to use camera technology as their strength. Users have already seen visually stimulating updates with the sky changing lenses and selfie games. Snapchat Inc. has noted it is possible to combine these features but has not made any specific announcement for the future.

Implications

Social media marketers should be on the lookout, as this voice recognition lense may be open to advertisers soon. Snapchat is proving to be an essential platform for connecting with teens and the growing, older audience. The emphasis on interactive content has helped keep users engaged which is crucial when it comes to brand messaging. While users may still choose Facebook and Instagram to view content from creators, Snapchat is enabling the creation of content. Brands that can find a way into that creative process, potentially through these new lenses, will be at the center of users’ messages.

The Evolution of The Camera

Computing is quickly moving from the small screen in our hands, to the world around us. The camera, and advanced AI algorithms behind it, are driving this shift.

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‘The Evolution of The Camera’ dives into the trends and use cases that we see today revolving around three key areas.

Communicate: How the camera has changed the paradigm of communication and virtual presence.

Enhance: How computer vision and AI can play a role in digital engagement and what that means for consumers.

Augment: How AR is enabling new experiences and utility through the camera.

 

AR Lands in the News Feed

Facebook and Instagram have made tremendous strides to bring AR functionality into their platforms in 2018. This years’ F8 saw the announcement of AR within Messenger – proving useful for product launches and demonstrations. We were also given advanced AR capabilities within Instagram’s camera and the ability for third party developers to easily create them.

This week, they’ve added another tool to their arsenal in the form of a news feed ad product. Users will begin seeing ads that feature a “Tap to try it on” option, which would then bring them into an AR experience. The goal is to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and allow consumers to “try before they buy”. Of course, commerce is the end goal of these experiences, and an easy path to purchase is included post use.

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Michael Kors was the first brand to test out these new ad products but look for more similar brands to jump into the testing grounds soon enough. AR, while still in its infancy has become almost a necessity for cosmetic brands and high end retailers. For Facebook, giving these companies an avenue to push their product in this format to highly qualified customers should prove to be profitable for both the advertiser as well as the tech behemoth.

Implications

As the hardware needed to invoke high end AR experiences gets into the hands of more and more users, brands will begin to see the benefits that augmented reality experiences can have on their bottom line. Consumers will come to expect the ability to visualize products in their own environments while they move along their decision journey and brands will need to get creative in how they push these experiences.

Marketers should be extremely excited about the prospect of these new ad buys and those in the clothing, accessories and cosmetics space should be pushing for this functionality within their companies. What’s even better is that with AR, there’s some economies of scale that can occur. Developing an augmented reality experience that’s invoked through a news feed ad can also be triggered within Messenger, as an Instagram/Snapchat filter as well as through their own app.

The ability to allow consumer the freedom to customize and view your products in their own world will soon lead to a paradigm shift in how commerce decisions are made. Now’s the time to ensure your brand is set up for the future.