YouTube tweaks monetisation model in response to ‘adpocalypse’

Social video sharing platform YouTube is rolling out a “channel membership” paid subscription option to its top creators, following criticism that its latest ad policies make it hard for publishers to earn money.

In a model already employed by competitors such as Twitch and Patreon, the platform will let publishers with more than 100,000 fans charge $4.99 a month for access to exclusive content, while those with over 10,000 followers will be able to host live-streamed “premieres” and advertise merchandise beneath their videos.

YouTube updated its advertising policies in the wake of a number of complaints about popular brand ads appearing next to inappropriate content on the site, branding a large portion of videos “unsuitable for advertisers”.

However, this prompted a backlash from YouTube’s video-maker community who called the update the “adpocalypse”, many of which saw their income from advertising fall as a result.

Competitor pressure

The announcement from YouTube comes just days after Facebook launched Instagram TV (IGTV), enabling users to publish vertical videos of up to 60 minutes long on the popular photo-sharing app, in what Marketing Tech reported to be a bid to move in on YouTube’s long-form influencer marketing ad revenue.

While YouTube may have reacted to early rumours in launching its membership options today, it’s more likely the platform has been reconsidering its monetisation strategies in recent months in order to catch up with aforementioned rivals, Twitch and Patreon.

However, the launch of IGTV may have thrown a spanner in this plan, attracting influencers currently active on both YouTube and Instagram to consolidate their efforts onto the app, which may eventually result in a migration of some of its key creators.

Speaking to BBC News, editor of YouTube magazine TenEighty, Alex Brinnand, said; “Creators are largely in favour of the direct-to-creator monetisation options, as it offers them higher revenue from people who are passionate about watching their content.

“This is something we’ve seen on crowd-funding platforms for a long time now, so it is really interesting to see the online video industry adopt this revenue model.”

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 22 Jun 2018

Chances are, your brand isn’t ready for WeChat 4.0

Brands and their agency counterparts need to keep pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem. Here’s what the latest changes mean and how to make the most of them.

If brands and their agency counterparts aren’t keeping pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem, they are forfeiting valuable opportunities to create consumer relevance.

Just last week, WeChat’s subscription account display improved from a stacked list of accounts to a content feed.

Here’s some other recent changes:
• Look, an inventory, technical and distribution partner for fashion KOLs claimed that its most successful KOLs can move anywhere between 5 million and 100 million RMB of stock per month through their individual WeChat stores.
• 跳一跳 (Jump, Jump), a mobile game within WeChat, attracted 400 million players within three days of launch.
• Netease Music migrated playlists from its app to its WeChat mini-program.
• Tencent Video opened a WeChat mini-program that allows viewers to watch the latest Game of Thrones episodes.

The above examples beg a simple question: What’s happening to WeChat?

The answer is deceptively simple, but the implications are far-reaching. WeChat’s evolving. It’s now a fully-fledged digital ecosystem, enabling its billion-strong monthly active user base to access digital experiences and services, not just content.

To understand the changes taking place, let’s first backtrack a little to WeChat’s humble beginnings in 2011.

From WeChat 1.0 to WeChat 4.0

WeChat’s development has been through four distinct phases.

The first phase, WeChat 1.0, connected users with users. Users chat with, call and transfer files between one another through individual or group chats.

The second phase, WeChat 2.0, connected users with information through WeChat Official Accounts. These official accounts, including subscription accounts and service accounts, periodically send users long-form articles, memes or notifications.

In February 2014, WeChat was turned on its head as its ‘Red Packet’ (红包) function was unveiled at CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, with 1.2 billion red packets delivered over the festive period. This represented the dawn of WeChat 3.0, which connected users with payments.

WeChat’s integration with payments didn’t stop at peer-to-peer payments through red packets stuffed with virtual money. In the blink of an eye, WeChat extended its payment function to utilities, mobile phone credits, and offline purchases.

WeChat 3.0 was a significant turning point in WeChat’s development. It transitioned WeChat from a social media giant to a ‘super app’, commanding around 30% of Chinese internet users’ time online.

However, WeChat’s most significant change came in January 2017 when it lifted the veil off its mini-program. This program allows an application smaller than 10 megabytes to run instantly within WeChat, removing the need to download and install an app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It may sound small, but apps smaller than 10 megabytes can achieve a lot: order a taxi, have take-out delivered to your door, rent a shared bike, purchase a pair of sneakers, and watch your favourite vlogger’s livestream. Like its ‘red packets’ in 2014, mini-programs heralded a significant shift in how Chinese users interact with WeChat.

Within the space of the next 18 months, WeChat implemented a new format of Moments Ads (advertisements now presented as an enlarged ‘card’, instead of the previous text-image-link format), WeChat Search (an internal search engine across content on Moments, in articles from official accounts, related mini-programs, stickers, music or novels), and Mini-Games.

An enormous amount of change, compressed into a relatively short time frame. This is the fourth stage of WeChat’s development, WeChat 4.0, which connected users to a full digital ecosystem. Messaging, search, entertainment, gaming, payments, e-commerce, mobility and lifestyle services can now all be completed within WeChat.

Source: campaignasia.com; 25 June 2018

Facebook just secured Premier League rights for the next four years

Facebook won the rights to stream all 380 Premier League soccer matches per season from 2019 to 2022 in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, in a deal worth about £200 million ($264 million).

This is likely Facebook’s highest profile sports streaming deal to date — the platform has previously streamed Major League Baseball (MLB) games and World Surf League (WSL) competitions among other sporting events — because the Premier League is the world’s most watched sports league.

Facebook’s acquisition of the Premier League rights represents how digital platforms are contributing to cord cutting by increasingly curating premium sports content that has historically only been available on linear TV.

Click here for full story

Source: businessinsider.com; 6 Jul 2018

Google is updating Android Messages to take on iMessage

Google’s rolling out Android Messages for the web, enabling Android users to send and receive messages from their computer through the web app, the company announced on Monday. The new Messages for web feature helps to expand the Android messaging experience by offering cross-platform access to messages. Messages for web is also one of the top requested features, according to Google. The full rollout of Messages for web will be completed in the week ahead.

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Web support for Android Messages is part of a wider feature update to the Messages app that aims to enhance the overall Android messaging experience. Google introduced four new features — smart replies, the ability to search and share GIFs, link previews within conversations, and copy of passwords with one tap — to Android Messages. Most notably, the addition of Smart Replies, which is an AI-powered feature that automatically creates suggestions for responses to messages, can help Android users save time when messaging on the go.

The addition of these new features to Android Messages is significant for two key reasons:

– It helps make Android Messages a stronger chat app competitor. Google in April began suspending work on its most recent chat app, Allo, to focus on building out Android Messages. The increased focus on Android Messages is notable because Google’s messaging strategy has been notoriously fragmented, and in turn, ineffective over the past several years. The lack of direction has allowed iOS to surge ahead with its iMessage platform — which is a key selling point for iPhones — and has enabled third-party players like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to become go-to messaging tools for Android users. By introducing features that are already available in other chat apps like iMessage, Google is positioning Android Messages to gain traction among Android users.

– It’s one of the first steps toward Chat. Google plans to evolve Android Messages with the new Chat feature, which is an over-the-top (OTT) messaging solution built on Rich Communications Services (RCS). RCS is a replacement for standard SMS and MMS messaging formats on compatible devices with participating carriers that enables users to send more content types in interactive formats. By adding new, useful features to Android Messages, Google is helping to lure Android smartphone owners to use the Chat app. And as Android Messages gains in popularity, it’s likely that mobile carriers, hardware makers, and brands and businesses will be more inclined to embrace the standard, which is crucial for RCS to take off.

Source: businessinsider.com; 21 June 2018

LinkedIn Launches Carousel Ads For Better Storytelling

LinkedIn has announced carousel ads for Sponsored Content, a new way for marketers to tell their brand story and interact with their target audiences.

Whether you are marketing to end-consumers or businesses, storytelling is a proven technique to connect and engage with your target audience. Starting today, marketers can use the new carousel ads on LinkedIn, to add texture to their stories by featuring multiple visuals that people can horizontally through horizontally on the LinkedIn feed.

Carousel ads are not a new thing for advertisers. They were first introduced by Facebook years ago. But this is an interesting first for LinkedIn. The platform is revamping itself and carousel are a definite plus for marketers. Storytelling is at the heart of engaging with audiences on social media, and after video, carousel ads are the best way to tell a brand’s story.

Since launching in beta, over 300 advertisers, like Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, RBC, and Volvo Canada, have used carousel ads to create fun and informative campaigns and to tell stories about their company, products and services, industry, and more. 75 percent of beta advertisers saw increased engagement and click-through rates.

Source: Wersm.com; 12 June 2018

Facebook drops Trending topics section, tests other ‘news experiences’

Facebook will be scrapping its Trending feature in favour of other “news experiences” on the platform. The feature was first launched in 2014 to help users discover news topics which were popular in the Facebook community.

“However, it was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average. From research we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” the social media giant said in a blog post.

Trending will cease from the platform from next week onwards, along with products and third-party partner integrations which rely on its Trends API, the statement added. Instead, Facebook will roll out new features called Breaking News Label, Today In and News Video in Watch.

The move comes as Facebook observes a change of how its users are consuming news on its platform – primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video. The move hence allows it to explore new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news, while ensuring the news is from trustworthy and quality sources.

“Breaking News Label” is a test Facebook is currently running with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia. It allows publishers to put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts in News Feed. Breaking news notifications are also being tested.

Facebook is also testing “Today In”, which is a dedicated section on Facebook that serves to connect people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city. This includes updates from local officials and organisations. Meanwhile, “News Video in Watch” is a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch.

In January this year, Facebook updated its News Feed to prioritise local news. This is to ensure users can view topics that directly impact them and their community, as well as discover the latest happenings in their neighbourhoods. It was also a bid by the social media giant to emphasise high-quality news.

Most recently, it also scrapped its idea of splitting the news feed in two; one for posts from friends, and one – dubbed ‘explore’ – for publishers and brands. When news about the split news feed first surfaced, it sparked concerns about the growing power of the social media giant, and how publishers would be affected.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 4 June 2018

Reddit to feature native video ads starting today

Reddit, the world’s third most popular website after Google and YouTube, is starting to roll out native video advertising across its website and mobile apps following a site-wide redesign. The company is launching the new ad format with select partners, but plans to eventually open it up to all advertisers later this summer, according to a blog post.

The video ads will only be served to redditors that are using the expanded card display layout which is the default of three new modes in Reddit’s latest redesign, which has been met with mixed reactions from users – many are opting to use the old design instead of the new one.

Reddit noted some interesting stats about video consumption in the blog post announcing the pre-roll ads:

– More than 2x video views, growing 23% each month since the start of 2018.
– The website is now averaging more than 5 million minutes of views per day.
– Since launching, videos uploaded via our native player receive twice as many views as YouTube videos on Reddit.
– Native video has taken off in a variety of communities and now accounts for as much as 20% of content in a number of major ‘subreddit’ communities such as r/oddlysatisfying, r/aww and r/FortniteBR for example.

The native video ads will be offered on a cost per view basis and is also offering video-only campaigns for the first time. VP of brand partnerships Zubair Jandali believes that the new format is adding to the utility that the company offers marketers, which are eager to tap the company’s base of 330 million monthly active users.

While Reddit’s website has remained relatively unchanged for the past five years, recently it has increased its product growth with a redesign of its mobile apps and desktop site. Part of that redesign includes giving users the ability to host images and video natively on the platform.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 13 June 2018

Ramadan and the new generation of Muslim consumers

WhatsApp facilitating daily Quran readings is just one example of how technology is shaping the holy month.

In recent years, Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, has gained increased importance for marketers as the Muslim population around the world rapidly expands—and particularly for a new generation of Muslim youth.

Muslims represent the second largest population worldwide, driving a significant share of consumer spending across sectors. While marketers in the Middle East and Africa have maintained a focus on Ramadan and its unique role, its cultural significance continues to lag in the west.

The majority of Muslims indicate that their faith and traditions impact their purchase decisions. But, the Muslim demographic is enormously diverse, making it hard to define a single and simple way to reach this audience. The month of Ramadan is the one touchpoint shared across the group, presenting a unique opportunity to establish meaningful connections with Muslim communities.

Ramadan is marked by religious significance, spiritual intensity and unique rituals affecting everything from eating and sleeping to media consumption. Today, Ramadan customs and rituals are undergoing a transformation, driven by digital natives who are shaping their own cultures and enjoying freedom to observe the holy month on their own terms. Young people are modernizing Ramadan rituals to give them a more personal meaning and suit their busy, connected lifestyles. They are discovering that sometimes keeping tradition means reinventing tradition.

Rather than focusing on a short-term sales strategy during this month, marketers should invest in long-term brand engagement strategies for both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers, built on shared values and consideration for the cultural importance of Ramadan.

Technology: an enabler of good practices

Historically, the distractions of technology have been deemed incompatible with the spirit of Ramadan. But for a younger generation of Muslims, technology plays an instrumental role in bringing them closer to values, traditions and one another during the holy month.

Yasmin, a 25-year-old Muslim from Egypt, shared her story about how reading the Quran became a daily practice with the help of WhatsApp group, Ekra2, where pages would be shared for members to read each day. Yasmin explained: “I never thought that WhatsApp would reconnect me with my faith.”

A young Pakistani tradesman maintained that “Ramadan apps are an absolute necessity.” When travelling for business, he relies on them for prayer timings, Quran readings, observing the right direction when praying, and connecting with family which is very important. As young Muslims use technology during Ramadan to inspire good practices, marketers can tap its power to enhance the festive spirit, facilitate sharing, good deeds and the formation of communities.

A quest for work-family-Ramadan balance

Muslim women are frequently the keepers of family traditions. During Ramadan, this role expands even further as they rise earlier, cook more and manage a range of social obligations.

As more women join the workforce and take on leadership positions, balancing these obligations while retaining time for self-reflection is a significant challenge. And the new generation of working women are feeling the pressure to live up to standards set by their older female relatives. Brands can help alleviate these pressures by offering practical solutions that minimize stress and create time for self-reflection.

Many women also see Ramadan as a time for personal growth and self-discovery. For those who don’t know how to cook, Ramadan becomes the perfect time to learn. “This Ramadan I want to know more. My aunt is cooking three dishes a day… I can at least learn to make one,” shared a young professional from UAE. Brands can help women unleash their creativity, add to their skills and spend quality time with family. Today, a lot of food brands make women’s task easier by sharing special Ramadan recipes, giving cooking tips and launching new products, but there is certainly an opportunity to go beyond that.

Ramadan through a youth culture lens

Allowing Ramadan rituals to evolve for contemporary society can preserve tradition in many ways. One busy young Muslim family chose to replace a lavish traditional meal with a BBQ, focusing on sharing a meal with family and friends rather than immaculate table settings. A millennial uncle gives Amazon gift cards instead of cash.

Younger generations have undoubtedly made Ramadan more Instagrammable, with fashion and social media fuelling ideas and interactions: dressing up in stylish outfits and high-end abayas, booking fancy hotel gatherings, and publicizing charitable activities. Ramadan symbolism and rituals have found a place in pop culture that brings together individual style and long held traditions.

With youth reshaping their approaches to Ramadan, marketers should explore how to help young families create their own traditions, and how their brands can offer innovative ways to engage with the occasion, make it more festive and encourage participation in charitable causes on a larger scale.

Ramadan presents a unique occasion for brands to connect with the Muslim communities in a way that is authentic and drives shared values. For non-Muslim markets, it can also be the right time to break barriers of misunderstanding.

Source: campaignasia.com; 7 May 2018

Facebook to allow users to clear browsing history

In response to consumer demand for more control over their data in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social network is rolling out more features aimed at improving user privacy.

During his keynote at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference on May 1, founder Mark Zuckerberg laid out the company’s investments aimed at improving users’ safety and ability to connect on its platforms. One of these tools will enable consumers to clear their browsing history, which many advertisers rely on for targeting.

Prioritizing privacy

Political data firm Cambridge Analytica used access to more than 50 million users’ personal data to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In his address, Mr. Zuckerberg admitted that Cambridge Analytica was a “massive breach of trust.”

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has made Facebook so vigilant about protecting its users’ information that it is cracking down on which third parties can access data.

According to TechCrunch, a number of third-party applications were suddenly made incompatible with Instagram this week after the Facebook-owned company abruptly changed access to its API. This comes just a few days after Facebook revoked its Partner Categories feature, which allows brands and advertisers to target relevant users through Facebook and Instagram.

At F8, Mr. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is bringing in independent auditors to find apps that are misusing consumer data. When breaches are found, the social network will let consumers know.

Taking inspiration from the Internet browser feature in which users can clear their cookies and browsing data, Facebook is launching its own clear history option.

As GDPR approaches in Europe, Facebook is also giving consumers around the globe more ability to control their data.

“Facebook is getting the message that privacy and transparency are important to Facebook users and Internet users in general,” said Dan Goldstein, president and owner of Page 1 Solutions, in a comment about the presentation. “Giving users the ability to identify and manage which sites are tracking information about them shows that Facebook is actively taking positive steps to protect user privacy.

“Time will tell, but this may help Facebook overcome the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.”

Despite its troubles, Facebook was still far and away the most popular platform for digital advertising this past year, according to a report from Forrester Research.

The report found that Facebook and Alibaba together were jointly responsible for 48 percent of the year-over-year ad spend growth throughout the world. Facebook’s overall share of global advertising also has grown significantly since 2015, making it an even more dominant presence for brands of all sizes.

Along with privacy updates, Facebook is focusing on features that enable people to make connections with both other users and businesses.

On Instagram, the company is adding augmented reality camera effects, allowing users to add filters to their posts.

Facebook will debut watch parties, allowing users to watch and comment on videos with friends.

Messaging application WhatsApp launched an app for businesses earlier this year, seeing an opportunity for consumers to connect with businesses via text message.

Facebook also sees augmented reality and virtual reality as important tools for the future. At the conference, the company announced it was launching sales of Oculus Go VR headsets on May 1.

Source: luxurydaily.com; 1 May 2018

Instagram is getting a slew of product updates

Instagram will receive several new features and a product change over the coming months. Broadly, the changes are aimed at encouraging Instagram users to post more often and browse content for longer periods of time.

Achieving these objectives would keep Instagram competitive with its social rivals and convince some of its 2 million monthly advertisers to spend more heavily on the platform.

Below is a closer look at Instagram’s key product updates and why they could help the company shore up against its social competitors:

The ability for third-party apps like Spotify to post directly to Instagram Stories.

Spotify users are now able to click a button in the app to share a sticker on Instagram Stories of the song they’re listening to, for example. The Spotify integration is live, with other third-party app partnerships coming at a later date. Third-party integrations will likely help boost the number of Stories created, as they eliminate the friction associated with posting certain content to Stories. Instagram’s not alone in pushing users to post more content — Twitter is reportedly developing a tool that simplifies the video-posting process, for example.

A new video calling feature that facilitates one-on-one or group chats.

Users will be able to access this feature by tapping on a new camera icon in their direct messaging threads. Users can also minimize video calls on their screens to browse while chatting with friends. Instagram is currently testing the feature and will roll it out globally “soon.” With this move, Instagram is playing catch-up to its social rival Snapchat, which released a video chat feature — that lets up to 16 people video chat at once — in April.

A redesigned Explore page that groups content into scrollable categories.

The new tab, which will roll out over the coming weeks, will feature a horizontal scrollable carousel of buttons sorted by themes, like animals and architecture. Users can click into these categories to browse more of the content. Prior to the update, content sorted by categories wasn’t as closely grouped together in the Explore tab, implying the update will likely help save users time in scrolling through Explore to find content they’re interested in. This could allow Instagram to capitalize on Snapchat’s major app redesign, which some users have complained has somewhat hurt discoverability in the app.

Source: businessinsider.com; 3 May 2018