Google Launches ‘AMP Stories,’ A New Visual Storytelling Format

In a bid to compete with Snapchat and Instagram’s alternatives, Google has launched a “new visual storytelling format” called AMP Stories.

Google is the latest tech company to jump on the ‘Stories’ bandwagon, as it’s “AMP-ing up” its Accelerated Mobile Pages feature with its own version of Stories. The new format, AMP Stories allows publishers to combine text, images, videos, and graphics in single posts that can be indexed and surfaced in search. As a format, AMP Stories was built for mobile – as content is fast-loading, just like other AMP-ecosystem formats – but Google has also added support for desktop, allowing users to view and share content on different devices.

Searching for any of early-adopting big publishers, like CNN, Condé Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media and The Washington Post, will lead to two tabs: “Top Stories From,” and “Visual Stories From.” AMP Stories appear in the latter.

 

In a recent blog post, Google AMP’s Product manager, Rudy Galfi, explained that AMP Stories will not have advertising from the outset, Google wants to allow publishers to be able to advertise within their content. More importantly, publishers will be able to keep 100% of the ad revenue from the feature. Recognising that advertising is a big part of any publisher’s monetisation strategy, Galfi explained that “Advertising is very important. Really great reporting and journalism needs to be funded somehow.”

At the moment, Google is concentrating on getting publishers involved, and will look into a “consumer-oriented approach” as it receives further feedback. Only then can the company “figure out how this will start to appear.” It’s not an easy game though, as it’s a challenge for publishers, “particularly small ones, to experiment or publish these types of stories.” The format takes some time to adjust to, and “necessitates close involvement of creative minds, journalists and other people at news organizations.”

Google describes AMP Stories as “immersive, fast, and open,” and main features include:

1. Support for rich visuals with native video and image performance
2. Storytelling through animations and tappable interactions
3. Support across mobile and desktop devices on the open web
4. Brings features on top of AMP’s component library to support features like analytics

Source: wersm.com; 19 Feb 2018

Challengers take aim at Taobao and WeChat, with more live-streaming

Xiaohongshu and Pin Duo are among the new platforms that may give Taobao a run for its money.

While Alibaba and Tencent are still arguably the duopoly force shaping the Chinese social media and ecommerce landscape, up-and-coming platforms such as Pin Duo (拼多多), Xiaohongshu (小红书) and Dou Yin (抖音) may unlock further marketing potential and spur a new breed of KOLs, according to panellists in a discussion about China’s KOL scene Wednesday in Hong Kong.

The fact that even the highest-paid Chinese actress and super KOL, Fanbingbing, has joined Xiaohongshu recently is reason enough to watch the platform, said Kim Leitzes, founder and CEO of Park Lu. Fan has styled herself as a skincare maven on Xiaohongshu, posting various skincare tips and product recommendations that have sparked some frenzy online.

“With over 30 million active users, a lot of tagging, geo-based features, (backended by) ecommerce, Xiaohongshu is actively pushing to be bigger,” said Leitzes. “KOLs who only had 10,000 to 20,000 followers there a year ago now have five times more. This is pretty interesting.”

She further noted the ecommerce appeal of the platform, which provides a seamless experience from product discovery to reviews to purchase. “When a platform is early and new, that’s when the brand should consider creating their own KOLs,” she said. “We have also seen more brands tapping their own social media managers as in-house KOLs.”

She added that some brands have hired social-media heads who already have their own followings and can be assets for brands to build community engagement.

Horris Tse, director of strategy consultancy RollAngle, singled out Pin Duo, which Tencent is an investor in, as the challenger to Alibaba-owned marketplace Taobao. “I don’t comment on its business model, which is a bit like Groupon, not sure if it is sustainable,” said Tse on the group sales and freebies offered by the platform. What he does like about Pin Duo is its social capabilities, which allows users to share products with their friends, who can then participate in a bidding process to lower the price. He added that the Mini Programmes released by WeChat last year represent another platform with better social capabilities.

Meanwhile, live-streaming is expected to continue to be big in the Chinese ecommerce space. The key is to start on popular platforms such as Miaopai and Yizhibo to get viewers, said Ashley Dudarenok, founder of ChoZan and Alarice. She had earlier launched her book Unlocking the World’s Largest E-market: A Guide to Selling on Chinese Social Media during the event.

“Platforms invested by Alibaba such as Weibo will lead to more commercial results with the ecommerce links,” said Dudarenok.

Also, Leitzes again stressed on the advantages of KOLs, especially during livestreaming to help brands double-or triple stream at the same time.

“KOLs will help to bring their own followers. But all live-streams should have interesting product and content, and be at least an hour or two to allow for viewers to pop in and out,” said Leitzes.

Source: campaignasia.com; 8 Feb 2018

Facebook has a ‘teen problem’ as younger audiences look to Snapchat

Facebook has a “teen problem”, digital researchers have warned, as new data shows the social media giant is losing friends among young adults.

Fewer people aged between 12 and 24 are regularly logging into Facebook, eMarketer’s upcoming report on UK digital users will show later this month.

In 2018, 2.2 million people aged between 12 to 17, or 71% of social network users in this age bracket, will be using Facebook regularly. This is a downgrade of eight percentage points over eMarketer’s earlier forecast.

Emarketer also reduced its estimates for Facebook usage among 18- to 24-year-olds by more than five percentage points.

In 2018, 83% of social network users aged 18-24 will be Facebook users, but this share will drop to 81.5% by 2021.

While Facebook’s overall user count still stands well ahead of sister brand Instagram and rivals Snapchat and Twitter, eMarketer says audience share is declining among younger age groups.

Snapchat in particular is leading the charge for younger audiences, with close to 43% of UK users logging in this year – more than double its penetration rate from three years ago. Since launching in 2011, the platform has introduced a range of interactive features that have appealed to teenage audiences.

However, eMarketer suggested Snapchat’s drive to capture the younger market has “arguably turned off older audiences who favour Facebook’s less complicated” platform.

“Facebook has a ‘teen’ problem,” Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst, said. “This latest forecast indicates that it’s more than a theory. And whereas it’s been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram, there are now some early signs that younger social networkers are being swayed by Snapchat. The challenge and opportunity for Snap is how to appeal beyond that core youth demographic.”

Last week Facebook reported a 20% increase in net income to $15.9bn (£10.5bn) in 2017, despite reporting declines in user numbers and usage time.

Source: campaignlive.co.uk; 13 Feb 2018

Paytm, Alibaba’s AGTech Holdings launch new mobile gaming platform

Gamepind, the new gaming platform of Paytm and AGTech Holdings, will be available as a standalone app and in the Paytm app

Mobile payments company Paytm and Alibaba Group-owned AGTech Holdings Ltd have formed a joint venture to launch Gamepind, a gaming platform aimed at mobile users in India.

Gamepind will offer a host of popular social, casual and sports games with an exclusive rewards programme. The platform will be available as a standalone app and in the Paytm app, the company said in a statement on Monday.

In addition, the platform will offer cash coupons and products, which will serve as a marketing and promotional platform for merchants to engage with mobile shoppers and gamers.

The joint venture between Alibaba’s AGTech Holdings and Paytm was originally signed in July 2017. AGTech Media currently holds 45% in the joint venture, and Paytm owns the rest. At the time of signing of the agreement, Paytm’s parent company One97 invested $8.8 million in the venture for its 55% stake, and AGTech Holdings put in $7.2 million for its 45% stake.

“India’s young consumers are experimenting and discovering more entertainment options on the mobile. Gaming is therefore growing in the country and becoming big with mobile users. We are happy to partner with AGTech to build an incredible gaming destination. AGTech’s expertise and experience in global gaming market will help us accelerate our plans in gaming and bring exciting content to our users,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive officer of Paytm, said in a statement.

“We are excited to partner with Paytm to localize this unique platform for its 300 million and growing registered customer base by combining Paytm’s local resources and our expertise in gaming and other user engagement activities. A member of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group, we have been active in looking for international expansion opportunities capitalizing on the vibrant ecosystems of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group,” John Sun, chairman of AGTech, said in the statement.

Source: livemint.com; 29 Jan 2018

Formula One puts the grid girl practice to tire-screeching halt

Singtel Grid Girl

FormulaOne (F1) has revealed that it will end its practice of using walk-on grid girls in its races. The move will take effect during the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, and also apply to F1’s other motorsports series taking place during Grands Prix weekends.

Confirming the move in a press statement, Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at F1 explained that the organisation did not believe the practice is “appropriate or relevant” to old and new F1 fans across the world. He added that while the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades,

The move also follows a review of areas the organisation felt need updating to be more in tune with its vision for the sport. The statement added that F1 considers the time spent by teams and drivers on the grid before a race as one of celebration. This allows guests and various performers to add to the “glamour and spectacle” of the Grand Prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products. The new F1 season begins on 25 March 2018 with the 2018 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

While lauded by woman sports groups such as Women’s Sports Trust, the move received mixed reactions from netizens, majority criticising F1 for putting the grid girls out of a job. The organisation was also criticised for bowing to societal pressure.

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Closer to home, the use of grid girls in the Grand Prix was a common occurrence back when Singtel was a title sponsor for the F1 race. The selection process was one garnering media attention, going as far as producing an entire pageant-style competition in 2009 to name top 21 girls who will lead the pack on race day.

According to a 2009 press statement from Singtel, the active sporty girls aged between 18 and 26 were also selected to Singtel Grid Girls on Tour programme running that year on Mediacorp’s Channel 5. This was on top of grid girl duties. After Singapore Airlines took over the title sponsor role, grid girl duties fell on existing SIA cabin crew for representation at the F1.

Most recently, Singapore GP and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed they will continue to host the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for four more years from 2018 to 2021. In Malaysia however, F1 did not get its contract renewed, a move confirmed by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. This was primarily due to high costs of hosting the race without justifiable returns to the country, as well as a drop in ticket sales and TV viewing figures, according to several local media reports.

The move also follows recent steps F1 has taken to refresh its brand image. In November 2017, F1 revealed a new logo as the first step in its rebranding along with a new mission statement. While the management at F1 was positive about the new logo, fans however, did not share the same sentiment. Months later, F1 was met with trademark trouble after its latest logo was said to contain striking similarities to one used by 3M for its Futuro product line of compression tights.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 1 Feb 2018

YouTube is now the most viewed video platform in APAC, barring China

With 45.5% digital video viewers, YouTube has been named as the most popular video viewing platform in APAC, according to eMarketer.

The number is further expected to rise by nearly 13%. The report named India as the fastest growing market with the viewership expected to rise from 203 million in 2018 to 285 million by 2021. Empowered by internet penetration, mobile phone video viewers in India will also rise to 204 million in 2021.

As for China, video platforms like Youku, Tencent, iQiyi, LeTV and Sohu—will have the highest penetration rate of internet users accessing their mobile phone to watch video in 2018, at an estimated 65.8%. Australia and Indonesia will also rank highly this year, with penetration rates of 62.9% and 61.7%, respectively.

Oscar Orozco, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said: “YouTube usage is on the rise and has become the most popular video streaming service throughout Asia-Pacific, except in China where it is censored.

While regional Netflix adoption is still low, awareness and intent to subscribe is growing. We expect Netflix adoption will continue to expand, while at the same time providing much-needed competition and influence on local streaming providers.”

“Online video streaming is on the rise in Asia-Pacific; viewing is primarily occurring on mobile phones. In China, the availability of content has increased tenfold over the past year, with Baidu’s video platform iQiyi inking a content licensing deal with Netflix, while Alibaba’s Youku Tudou reached a similar agreement with NBCUniversal and Sony,” he added.

Source: thedrum.com; 31 Jan 2018

Twitter introduces sponsored Moments to help connect publishers with brands

Twitter introduced an In-Stream Sponsorship featured sponsored by Moments for advertisers and publishers to engage their audience with relevant content.

Advertisers can sponsor Moments from premium content partners. Sponsored Moments include interstitial Tweets from the brand as well as a branded cover.

According to Twitter: “The goal with sponsored Moments, as with all In-Stream Sponsorships, is tight alignment between advertiser messaging and partner content.

“By working with premium publishers as part of an In-Stream Sponsorship, brands know exactly which partner they are working with, and can develop deep brand integrations within that partner’s content.”

Twitter tested its new feature with Bank of America’s sponsored Moment from Bloomberg at Davos.

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Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer, Bank of America said: “We know that decision-makers and influencers are turning to Twitter to keep up with what’s happening at Davos. Sponsored Moments gives us a great new way to seamlessly join that conversation as it is happening. Working with Bloomberg and Twitter helps us bring high-quality, relevant content to an engaged global audience. We’re excited to debut Moments as a key part of our #WEF programming.”

Meena Thiruvengadam, global head of audience development, Bloomberg Media said: “Twitter Moments offers a unique way to curate our content around key storylines and events in a way readers can best understand the most important stories unfolding around them.”

Source: thedrum.com; 27 Jan 2018

Google to offer users mute button for retargeted reminder ads

Retargeted ‘reminder’ ads can expect to see a drop in reach with Google’s announcement of a ‘mute button’ that will let users choose the reminder adverts they don’t want to see.

In a post on Google’s Keyword Blog, the company’s group product manager for data privacy and transparency, Jon Krafcik described how the feature will work and why it was needed.

“You visit Snow Boot Co.’s website, add a pair of boots to your shopping cart, but you don’t buy them because you want to keep looking around. The next time that you’re shopping online, Snow Boot Co. might show you ads that encourage you to come back to their site and buy those boots.

Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren’t shopping for Snow Boot Co.’s boots anymore, then you don’t need a reminder about them. A new control within Ads Settings will enable you to mute Snow Boot Co.’s reminder ads. Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads. We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.”

Mumbrella has contacted Google to find what details advertisers will receive about users blocking their campaigns but at first glance this feature seems to be a good move for advertisers choosing the CPM option in Adwords as it reduces irrelevant views.

The Mute This Ad feature has been available since 2012 but has been restricted to specific ads and user devices. The upgraded feature will remember a user’s choices across any device they use.

Krafcik claims feedback from that feature has enabled Google to remove over a billion intrusive ads from the network.

Source: mumbrella.asia; 29 Jan 2018

Buzzfeed makes headway in China after deal with media powerhouse Bytedance

American media giant Buzzfeed has made a great leap forward into the Chinese internet market after signing a licensing deal with Bytedance Technology Co.

The media company, renowned for its viral listicles, will allow the Beijing-based media powerhouse to distribute Buzzfeed’s content on its platforms, including Toutiao, an AI-operated news aggregator with a reputed 120 million daily active users.

The deal gives Buzzfeed, a site which primarily uses the firewall-blocked Facebook to distribute its content, a significant foothold in the Chinese market.

In addition to Toutiao, Buzzfeed will also gain access to TopBuzz, the English-language version of Toutiao, and short-form video app Xigua Video.

As well as the news and listicle articles, Bytedance will also gain access to Buzzfeed’s franchise of content sites, including Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, Top Knot and Bring Me.

Although Toutiao is one of China’s most popular mobile apps, its parent company has largely flown under the radar until recent times. Last year, Tech Crunch described the company as only recently becoming no longer a secret outside of its home market.

However, its app Musical.ly, a mishmash of homemade music and comic videos, has a user base of 200 million, of which includes significant numbers of youths from North America and Europe.

It has also made other inroads into the West by investing $50 million into Live.me, a mobile streaming app operated by Chinese ad player Cheetah, that’s focused on the American market.

It also paid US$86.6 million to buy France-based News Republic, a media aggregation service also owned by Cheetah. The company also allegedly tried and failed to buy Reddit last year.

Meanwhile, in contrast, Buzzfeed has had a rocky year, having missed its revenue target for 2017, forcing it to axe 100 jobs – or eight per cent of its US workforce.

Having built its brand on the back of getting stories to go viral on Facebook, the platform is likely to see its traffic take a hit when the social network rejigs its News Feed to de-prioritise publishers’ posts.

On the new deal, Scott Lamb, VP BuzzFeed International, said: “We’re so pleased to partner with Bytedance to take our entertainment content to millions of people across China.

“We look forward to meaningfully engaging Chinese audiences in our feedback loop, to learn more about what they love, how they use and interact with our content and what they’d like to see, and we’re thrilled about this first foray into testing our content there.”

Lin Chen, Head of product of Bytedance, added: “BuzzFeed is recognised around the world as one of the original incubators of viral content and a leader in the digital media revolution, and we are proud to welcome them to our growing global network of content partners. We aim to connect our users with the very best content creators from around the world, from individual creators to major media publishers.”

Source: mumbrella.asia; 26 Jan 2018

Amazon plots digital ad push with ad tech launch

The ecommerce giant is bringing new ad tech tools for publishers to Europe as it ramps up attempts to take on Google and Facebook in the digital ad market.

Amazon is pushing further into the digital ad market as it brings new ad tech tools to Europe aimed at helping publishers make more money online.

Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace, which went live in the US a little over a year ago, is now launching in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It offers digital publishers and app developers a new means to monetise their content using header bidding (a technology that allows multiple ad buyers to bid on ad space at the same time, meaning the highest bid should always win).

What differentiates this product is that it is cloud-based, meaning the bidding takes place on Amazon’s servers rather than on the publisher’s website. That in turn means publishers don’t have to input lots of codes from different ad buyers into their website, speeding up page load times.

Amazon also claims the product will offer greater transparency, enabling publishers to see which companies are bidding and which one won the auction.

“When we started offering header bidding several years ago, we quickly saw there were clear publisher, advertiser and customer benefits in moving ad calls to the cloud and giving publishers full visibility into who’s bidding on their impressions, who’s winning, and why,” explains Matt Battles, vice president of ad technology at Amazon.

The launch is just the latest sign that Amazon is looking to make a bigger move into the ad space. Emarketer estimates that, in the US, Amazon is the fifth largest generator of digital revenues with sales of $1.65bn in 2017 – more than Twitter and Snapchat. That figure is expected to rise to $3.19bn in 2019.

It is also the fastest growing player – with increases of 48.2% in 2017. But it will account for just 3% of the total US market in 2019, well behind Google and Facebook.

That Amazon would want to become a bigger player in digital advertising should come as little surprise given that it was a $209bn business globally last year, according to Magna Global. And Amazon has both the scale and data that means it could compete with the two biggest players.

However, Amazon has so far been reluctant to discuss its ambitions. Nevertheless, it is rapidly hiring sales people for the ad unit as its New York office, with the latest launch a clear sign it is hoping to attract publishers as well.

And brands including Procter & Gamble and Unilever are increasingly working with the company. For example, P&G says it has teamed up with the ecommerce giant to make use of its consumer ID data to reach consumers who are ready to buy. And that is the key to Amazon’s pitch to advertisers – its data on what people buy.

Source: marketingweek.com; 9 Jan 2018