Tencent reported to consolidate 3 content business groups

Tencent is consolidating three content business groups to form one unit, as well as create a new unit for cloud and smart industries, according to multiple media reports including Reuters, Nikkei Asian Review and the Wall Street Journal.

The company will also further explore the integration of social, content and technology that is “more suitable” for future trends. Media reports stated that the gaming and social media firm is also looking to promote the upgrade from consumer internet to industrial internet. A technology committee will be formed to strengthen Tencent’s research and development, as well as promote collaboration and innovation.

WSJ reported that online media and mobile internet are among the content business groups that will be consolidated, while video games will continue to operate under the interactive entertainment group.

The move is seen as a bid to boost its cloud-based data offering services for corporate clients, an area which is dominated by Alibaba Group in China. The restructure also aims to improve Tencent’s content offering for various services such as WeChat, games and music.

Tencent’s spokesperson confirmed to Marketing that there will be no layoffs.

The company posted a revenue of RMB73,675 million for the second quarter of its financial year ended 30 June 2018 (Q2 2018), representing a 30% year-on-year increase. This was driven primarily by payment-related services, digital content subscriptions and sales, social and others advertising, and smartphone games.

Its online advertising business saw a 39% increase to RMB14,110 million Q2 2018. Social and others advertising revenues increased by 55% to RMB9,380 million, due to its mobile advertising network and Weixin and QQ KanDian. Media advertising revenues grew by 16% to RMB4,730 million. The growth mainly reflected greater contributions from Tencent Video as a result of its content portfolio and advertisers’ sponsorship campaigns.

Meanwhile, social networks revenue increased by 30% to RMB16,867 million, driven by higher contributions from digital content services such as video streaming subscriptions and live broadcast services.

Revenue from Tencent’s value-added services business increased by 14% to RMB42,069 million for Q2 2018. Online games revenue increased by 6% to RMB25,202 million, due to growth in revenues from smartphone games such as Honour of Kings and QQ Speed Mobile.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 1 Oct 2018

Visual Search 2018

New Tools from Pinterest, eBay, Google and Amazon Increase Accuracy, Utility

Visual search has taken off in the past two years, with Pinterest, Amazon, Google, eBay and most recently Bing launching major visual search tools. They join a number of smaller tech firms and marketplaces that have their own visual search tools embedded in dozens of apps. We expect visual search’s growth to accelerate in the coming years.

The accuracy of visual search has improved as image recognition tools have access to big training sets of images, and visual search engines learn about the implicit questions users ask when submitting images. This has created a virtuous cycle, where more people use visual search, which in turn creates more accurate visual search tools.

Visual search remains a tiny fraction of total search volume, perhaps topping 1 billion monthly searches, compared with hundreds of billions of text searches. Even so, growth has been strong, with Pinterest, for instance, seeing monthly visual search jump from 250 million in February 2017 to 600 million in February 2018.

Visual search is good at answering questions that are hard to verbalize, such as, “What goes well with this shirt?” or “What breed of dog is that?” As such, it has not cannibalized textual search, instead working in tandem with it.

Visual search currently does not contain advertising, but marketers can already benefit by embedding visual search in their apps to improve the user experience, creating rich media experiences from traditional printed media and enabling search in multilingual contexts.

Optimizing images for visual search is still very early, but marketers need to build their image libraries, catalogue them and think of ways in which the physical world could spur a visual search.

What New Technologies Would UK and US Younger vs. Older Millennial Internet Users Be Comfortable with as Part of Their Digital Shopping Experience? July 2018 (% of respondents in each group)

Visual search was the technology US and UK millennial internet users would feel most comfortable incorporating into their digital shopping experience, at 62.2%.

Source: emarketer.com; 26 Sep 2018

“Indians consuming more mobile data than US and China combined”: Rajan Anandan, Google

The Google India chief was speaking at the annual AAAI Subhas Ghosal memorial lecture 2018 in Mumbai last evening

“India is at an incredible place when it comes to the digital economy,” said Rajan Anandan, VP Google India and South East Asia as he opened his address to a gathering of senior advertising executives at the AAAI Subhas Ghosal memorial lecture 2018.

Speaking about the behaviour of “The new Indian internet user” Anandan added that most of the new users are accessing the Internet on their phone pointing out that 70 percent of phones shipped into India have a 2 GB RAM or more. Despite the acute affordability constraints, phones are getting better and better, he said.

He said that the large scale consumption of data is driven by affordability. The street price per GB of data has come down from 3 USD to 30 Cents in India leading to an 18x growth in the internet consumption.

Indians were consuming 8 GB of data per month compared to developed markets like the UK where the average user consumption was still at 3 GB. He added that India was consuming more mobile data than US and China combined. “The affordable mobile data constraint is solved now.”

Anandan said the major development was that most of the new users were consuming the internet in their local language. He said when the new internet users were also setting new trends as there had been a 270 percent growth in voice searches and a 400 per cent increase in Hindi voice searches over the internet over the last 12 months. “There has been an explosive growth of voice,” he said.

According to him, Internet usage behaviour had leapfrogged from message first to video first, and said that the time spent on video versus social had shifted largely in favour of video. “Data is cheap and video is intuitive,” he said.

He added that the growing adoption of e commerce and payments would result in an increase in transactions from USD 2 Bn or 2 percent of total retail in 2017 to 200 Bn in 2025.

However, he points out that the 95 MN internet shoppers in India only spent an average of 224 USD compared to USD 1850 spends by Chinese Internet shoppers per year. He said that over 50 million Indians had tried e-commerce once, but never bought again suggesting that players need to increase their service levels significantly.

Anandan added that digital payments volumes growing rapidly driven by UPI. He said that the potential was a Trillion dollars over the next five years.

Highlighting the advantages for India in an AI first world, he said that AI start-ups were driving growth across sectors, citing the examples of Niramai and sig tuple in medical diagnostics or byju in learning.

He ended by saying that the key sectors that would be transformed by the Internet included, agricultural, financial inclusion, public transportation, education and healthcare. “The real need is to solve for India,” he said.

Source: campaignindia.in; 21 Sep 2018

YouTube TV is rolling out a bunch of new features to woo cord-cutters away from cable

YouTube’s streaming alternative to cable TV has earned rave reviews since its launch nearly two years ago — but YouTube isn’t resting on its laurels.

On Thursday, YouTube TV introduced a bunch of new features that improve the user experience of the subscription streaming service and enhance its DVR capabilities.

The new features come as YouTube TV continues to expand its content menu beyond its existing selection of cable TV and traditional TV channels. Earlier this week, Cordcutters.com reported that the NBA League Pass would soon become available on YouTube for $40 a month or $249 for the entire 2018-19 season.

As a growing number of consumers look for ways to “cut the cord,” YouTube TV has emerged as one of the stronger alternatives to traditional cable TV. Here’s how Alliance Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr. put it in a May report:

“YouTube TV remains a shockingly good deal. And remember, this is with no yearly contract, and no hidden fees. The cost savings are only part of the story…the fact of the matter is that YouTube TV is not merely cheaper than cable TV, but it is also better.”

The newest YouTube TV features, most of which will automatically update for users, are another step forward.

Check out some of the coolest new features coming to YouTube TV:

You can now choose whether to watch a show, say, a sports event or your favourite series, via video-on-demand or a DVR version.

You can now choose whether to watch a show, say, a sports event or your favorite series, via video-on-demand or a DVR version.

If you click on the DVR version, you get more playback flexibility.

YouTube’s DVR let you pause anytime, rewind, and fast forward—even past ads.

The service also offers unlimited storage space for cloud DVR, and that means nobody has to worry about exceeding limits. Users can load as many shows, games, and movies as they want into YouTube TV’s DVR.

YouTube TV added a dark theme to cut down on glare.

YouTube TV added a dark theme to cut down on glare.

The dark theme darkens the background on your PC while you watch YouTube TV.

According to YouTube, not only does this reduce glare but it also lets viewers “take in the true colours of the videos.”

These are the kinds of user-experience bells and whistles that help YouTube stay ahead of the likes of Comcast and AT&T. And this might be a good place to explain the reasons Sacconaghi said he believes YouTube TV is better than traditional cable.

“Cable companies are not tech companies,” he wrote. “Their apps never work quite right. The user interfaces lag. The streams don’t buffer properly. Cloud recordings mysteriously fail to record.”

Source: businessinsider.com; 4 Oct 2018

Facebook Introduces Two New Ways to Buy And Deliver Video Ad Campaigns

Facebook announced that it’s launching two new ways to buy and deliver video ads: In-Stream Reserve and ThruPlay.

With In-Stream ads gaining importance and proving very effective (especially for brand advertisers) Facebook wants to give advertisers more control over the placement of their video ads and how they pay for their ads. Apart from options as to select where their ads appear, advertisers have also shown interest in features like mixed impression cost (CPM), or the ability to buy ads on a Nielsen verified Target Rating Point (TRP) basis.

Facebook is now giving advertisers what they want, with two new features: In-Stream Reserve and ThruPlay.

In-Stream Reserve lets advertisers reach people watching certain publishers and creators. Facebook explains that the placements “are bought in advance and delivered to in-target audiences verified by Nielsen.” On top of that, In-Stream Reserve Categories gives advertisers the opportunity to “choose content packages in specific categories, including sports, fashion/beauty and entertainment, bought in the same way as In-stream Reserve.”

As an option, In-Stream Reserve is great for premium online video and TV buyers and is especially good for campaigns aimed at younger, harder-to-reach demographics, and light TV viewers. However, the option is only currently available for a selected few advertisers who target US audiences.

On the other hand, ThruPlay helps advertisers optimize for completed video views, allowing them to pay only for ads that are watched to completion, or for at least 15 seconds. ThruPlay will now be available in Ads Manager for all video placements on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network – as well as both auction and reach and frequency buying. It will be available to all advertisers globally in the next few weeks.

Source: wersm.com; 1 Oct 2018

For ecommerce brands, the race is on for top spots in voice search

Smart speakers, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, aren’t going away—which means new opportunities for voice search. Brands should act now to stay on top.

Smart speakers, like Google Home or Amazon Echo, aren’t going away, which means either new opportunities or new headaches for ecommerce, depending on how excited you are for voice search.

According to a recent study by Voicebot.ai, 47.3 million Americans, or nearly one in five, now have access to a smart speaker. That’s a lot of people asking voice assistants for directions, recipes, jokes, music and, increasingly, to make purchases. Of those 47 million who own smart speakers, 57% have made a purchase using that speaker.

For brands who rely heavily on ecommerce, voice search is a game changer, and right now, it’s a race to the top of voice search results.

Consumers like voice shopping

Asking Alexa to stock shopping carts is more than just a novelty, it represents a sea change in the way consumers prefer to shop, according to Naji El-Arifi, head of Innovation for Salmon.

“Our own recent research showed 55% of shoppers said they like purchasing through voice-activated devices,” El-Arifi says.

And as more and more consumers become used to simply asking their smart speakers for purchase suggestions, the brands that get on board early are the brands that get recommendations.

For example, last May, Virgin Trains launched a travel industry first with its move to sell train tickets through Alexa in the UK. Users can now simply ask Alexa not just for train times to cities like Edinburgh, but can also buy their tickets without ever opening their laptops or tapping their phones.

Voice shopping means more power for Amazon and Google

However, the move to sell products through voice search also means that early adopters get the sale, since Google and Amazon control which products are recommended. Users typically don’t specify what brand they’re looking for, so instead of asking Alexa for “Virgin Trains tickets,” they’ll simply ask for “train tickets.” That means Amazon will probably recommend products available via Prime, while Google could give preference to products optimized for its algorithms.

With that in mind, some brands are currently exploring partnerships with one or the other. For example, Argos, a UK catalogue retailer, recently announced its partnership with Google Assistant, making it easier for customers to purchase products from its physical catalogue via voice assistant. It’s worth nothing that Argos is owned by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which faces direct competition from Amazon Prime Pantry.

“For Argos, this represents another channel through which they hope to stave off strong competition from Amazon as its Amazon Echo device moves into more homes,” El-Arifi says.

Voice-first means being useful

Making the most of voice search is about much more than simply showing up. First and foremost, brands need to provide value, especially since consumers remain ambivalent about their speakers.

According to a recent study by ReportLinker, 31% of consumers list privacy concerns as the main drawback to owning a smart device. But at the same time, 90% of smart speaker owners wish their devices could do more, suggesting that the best way to stave off privacy concerns is to add value.

And for brands hoping to come up at the top of voice search results, the secret to providing that value is changing the ways in which they think about SEO. Unlike traditional SEO, which relies on keywords, voice search is more focused on answering questions. Consumers may type “Free returns hiking gear,” but they’re much more likely to formulate that same information as a question for voice search. Thinking carefully about what questions an ecommerce brand answers, not to mention creating a robust FAQ page, is good way to add value for users frustrated by the fact that their smart devices are listening without comprehending their questions.

Ready or not, change is coming

Right now, voice-first ecommerce is still in its infancy, and the brands testing the waters seem like novelties. However, by 2020, as much as 50% of our searches could be voice based, and the companies that prepare now will have a leg up in a space that’s sure to be crowded.

“As voice and gesture devices become more mainstream, and especially as brain-computer interfacing edges ever closer to reality, retailers and brands need to act early to make a play in the market; voice experiences takes time to develop, require plenty of AI training and trial-and-error before they can be fully functioning,” El-Arifi says.

Brands that fail to act now could soon find themselves scrambling to keep up.

Source: clikz.com; 25 Sep 2018

Google is adding much more helpful search to Android Messages

After giving the app a fresh coat of paint and a new dark mode in recent weeks, Google is now adding some helpful features to Android Messages. In a blog post today, the company showed off a more powerful search experience that users will start seeing this week, which will let them find specific content types (images, videos, etc.) spanning all conversations or on an individual-chat basis.

So you’ll be able to tap on someone’s name and scroll down a sleek list of messages, media, and even locations that you and the other person have exchanged.

This is the sort of useful organization and decluttering that’s pretty common in other messaging apps, but for those who find themselves using SMS often, it’s nice to see Google making things a little more intuitive.

Google has much bigger plans for Messages, of course. The best parts of “Chat,” the company’s vision for a world where messaging is powered by RCS, are still to come.

Source: theverge.com; 25 Sep 2018

What Types of Data Will GDPR Impact Most?

There are a few kinds of data that are most susceptible to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In a Q3 2018 survey of 227 senior marketing executives worldwide conducted by CMO Council and SAP, 54% of respondents said they anticipate that they’ll no longer be able to use behavioral data like web browsing data and search histories if they want to stay compliant with the GDPR. About half indicated that third-party data and email addresses may not be safe to use under GDPR.

What Types of Personal Customer Data Do Senior Marketing Executives Worldwide Expect to Use Less Often as Part of GDPR Compliance? Q3 2018 (% of respondents)

What Types of Personal Customer Data Do Senior Marketing Executives Worldwide Expect to Use Less Often as Part of GDPR Compliance? Q3 2018 (% of respondents)
The GDPR went live in May and states that people’s data can only be used if they give a company explicit permission. Companies found to be in violation of the GDPR face a fine of €20 million ($22.1 million) or 4% of global revenues (whichever is greater).

To comply with the GDPR, Google made it easier for people to delete their search and browsing data. Another reason why behavioral targeting may be less reliable under GDPR is that many companies collecting behavioral data have not obtained user consent to do so.

Using behavioral data to serve a single ad to a user often involves dozens of tech vendors. Most users aren’t aware of the many vendors that process their data. If regulators are strict about forcing these behind-the-scenes companies to obtain user consent, then targeting ads with behavioral data becomes more of an uphill battle for marketers. Like so many other possible outcomes regarding the GDPR, the future reliability of behavioral data will come down to how regulators choose to act.

Source: emarketer.com; 7 Sep 2018

Mastercard signs up as first global sponsor of League of Legends esport

Three-year deal is the first for the Riot Games title.

The League of Legends 2017 World Championship

The League of Legends 2017 World Championship

Mastercard has thrown its weight behind one of the largest esport titles in the world with a multi-year sponsorship of League of Legends.

The three-year deal represents the first global sponsorship for the Riot Games-owned League of Legends franchise.

Other big-name brand sponsors include Mercedes-Benz, Doritos, Acer, L’Oréal, Gillette and Adidas, but they are involved in League of Legends tournaments and teams at a regional level only.

The Mastercard agreement involves three of League of Legends’ annual global tournaments – the Mid-Season Invitational, the All-Star Event and the World Championship.

Mastercard and League of Legends have not disclosed how much the deal is worth. Huge sums are currently being poured into esports and it reportedly costs $10 million to buy a team franchise in the League of Legends Championship Series.

Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar said: “Esports is a phenomenon that continues to grow in popularity, with fans that can rival those at any major sporting event in their enthusiasm and energy.”

The brand will act as payment services partner at League of Legends global esports events and the deal adds to Mastercard’s heavy investment in sports, including its Champions League sponsorship.

There are currently more than 860 professional players on 113 professional League of Legends esports teams competing across 14 leagues around the world.

League of Legends is the most-played PC game in the world, with more than 100 million monthly active players. As of March 2018, viewership of the regular League of Legends season averaged 90 million live hours each week.

Naz Aletaha, head of esports partnerships at Riot Games, said: “Mastercard is among the first of world-class brands to take such a big step into esports at the global level and we’re proud to have them support League of Legends esports events alongside their other premier sports and entertainment sponsorships.”

As part of the agreement, Mastercard will invite fans to events to take part in experiences as part of its “Priceless” marketing activity.

The first live event will take place at the World Championship later in the autumn in South Korea.

Source: campaignasia.com; 20 Sep 2018

Ikea, Nike, BMW, Marriott: Chinese consumers find you less relevant now

Prophet’s 2018 China Brand Relevance Index shows Chinese brands raising their relevance due to innovation, not just pricing.

Local brands constitute the majority of the third edition of the China Brand Relevance Index just released by Prophet.

Two years ago, 32 of the top 50 brands were MNC brands. Today, 30 are from the mainland, including Alipay, Wechat, Huawei, Taobao, and Meituan Dianping, which cracked the top 10 for the first time.

Prophet measures ‘relevance’ via a survey where consumers rate brands across 16 different attributes. The 2018 edition, conducted by ISSI, included views from more than 13,000 Chinese consumers on 249 brands across 30 industries. Prophet does not include brands in the tobacco and firearms categories or brands engaged solely or primarily in B2B selling.

For the first time, the rise of local brands is fuelled by innovation, not basic price/value reassurance, according to Prophet. Several local competitors beat MNCs in being “pervasively innovative”, meaning they “don’t rest on their laurels” in finding new and creative ways to engage with customers in China.

Huawei and Xiaomi represent this shift by outperforming Apple in the smartphone category. The Huawei P20 Pro is the first phone with a triple rear camera. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, launched back in 2016, showed the world a nearly bezel-free design long before the iPhone X, Prophet notes.

The weakest MNC brands fell hard from grace. For example, Ikea went from fourth last year to 37th this year, Nike from sixth to 44th, BMW from eighth to 46th, and Marriott from ninth to nowhere (though Marriott-owned W Hotels took 18th place).

“It’s not that these MNC brands are falling behind, but domestic brands are making progress too quickly,” clarified Leon Zhang, Prophet’s co-author of the report.

The drop in Nike’s ranking was simply because “Adidas is moving faster in establishing relevance and a sense of community across a broad swathe of sports in China,” pointed out Tom Doctoroff, the chief cultural officer at Prophet, at a launch event in Shanghai where Nike reps were present. Adidas has been working closely with China’s education ministry, providing training for Chinese sports teachers who will then teach soccer skills in schools. So did Nike in 2016, but apparently, Adidas’ efforts have been more well-received.

Chinese consumers are actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience and belongingness, Doctoroff added. However, innovation is something easy to claim yet difficult to deliver. Home-grown brands have demonstrated a “strong ability to create continuous, tangible innovation”, often outpacing that of their international peers, said Zhang.

Top dog Alipay (in first position for the third year in a row) goes beyond a payment channel, offering functions for travel, insurance, tax refunds, shopping loans and WiFi/internet packages. Arguable competitor Visa has dropped from third in 2016 to 36th in 2017 and is not even on the 2018 list. Outside of China, Alipay’s collaboration with location-based service providers such as Koubei and Yelp enables it to recommend the best places to eat / shop / play for spoiled Chinese outbound tourists.

Source: campaignasia.com; 17 Sep 2018