Whip Media Inks Deal With Digital Product Placement Company Ryff

Whip Media, an enterprise software platform and data provider to entertainment organizations, has announced that Ryff, a technology company specializing in dynamic digital product placement, will utilize its consumer insights and engagement data to develop targeted product placement opportunities for its brand partners. 

Using CVM Insights, Whip Media’s proprietary data solution, Ryff will have access to viewership insights, allowing the Los Angeles-based company to better assist brands aiming to place their products and messages within movies, TV shows and commercials to target audiences. Ryff’s platform Placer locates the right placement opportunity for customers looking to showcase their products on-screen, according to a Whip press release.

“Ryff’s distinctive and market-leading technology — allowing brands to digitally superimpose their products directly onto content — will only be bolstered by Whip Media’s viewership data,” Tara Alexander, Whip Media’s VP of global enterprise account management, said in a statement. “The pairing will help Ryff’s clients reach the viewers they want to in a quicker and easier fashion.”

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Whip Media’s real-time viewing and engagement data covers more than 4 million TV episodes and movies across 130 countries and 1,900 platforms, according to the company. 

“Having access to Whip Media’s global data and worldwide audience panel of 20-plus million viewers will provide our company with critical audience information — including the age and gender dynamics for certain content — to better engage audiences and grow our business,” Ryff CEO Roy Taylor in a said statement.

AVOD Service Crackle Plus Announces June Lineup

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and operator of advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services, announced content planned for June.

New Crackle AVOD Exclusives in June include:

  • “A Life In 10 Pictures #1 — Freddy Mercury,” in which Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, one of the most iconic bands in rock and roll history, reveals his life in ten pictures, from iconic shots to private snaps;
  • “In the Vault — Season One,” in which freshman Liv Steele (Claudia Lee) arrives at Woodlawn College excited for a fresh start, but will her past catch up with her?; and
  • “Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman,” which tells the story of the small community of British stunt performers who went on to dominate Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

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In addition to access to four seasons of “Sherlock,” Crackle Plus is offering new series from the BBC library every month. This month’s lineup includes:

  • “Ivanhoe,” a miniseries in which young Saxon knight returns to England from fighting in the Crusades to find he had been disinherited by his father, his childhood sweetheart has been betrothed to another man and the country is in the midst of an uprising;
  • “Jane Eyre,” a TV series about a young governess who falls in love with her brooding and complex master; and
  • Byron, a feature film about the famous poet starring Jonny Lee Miller.

 

New channels coming to Crackle in June include:

  • Celebrating Pride, including Wedding Wars (John Stamos, Eric Dane), Breakfast on Pluto (Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson), the Crackle original reality series “Men of West Hollywood” (Justin Jedlica, Brennen Taylor) and Two Mothers for Zachary (Valerie Bertinelli, Vanessa Redgrave);
  • Prehistoric Beasts, featuring “Dinotopia” (Katie Carr, Wentworth Miller), The Lost World (Bob Hoskins, Peter Falk), Behemoth (Ed Quinn, Pascale Hutton) and Godzilla vs Destoroyah (Megumi Odaka, Yōko Ishino);
  • Ways of the West, featuring Western titles like “Bonanza” (Michael Landon, Dan Blocker), The Shadow Riders (Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck), “The Outcasts” (Otis Young, Don Murray) and The Man from Laramie (James Stewart, Cathy O’Donnell);
  • Crimes and Capers, featuring Law Abiding Citizen (Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx), Killing Them Softly (Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini), American Animals (Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan) and Midnight Express (Brad Davis, John Hurt); and
  • The Sixties, featuring “The Flying Nun” (Sally Field, Alejandro Rey), To Sir, with Love (Sidney Poitier, Lulu), Under the Yum-Yum Tree (Jack Lemmon, Carol Lynley) and Bye Bye Birdie (Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret).

 

New to Crackle Spotlight in June are Harry Styles: Live in Manchester, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Peggy Sue Got Married, Edge of Tomorrow, Scream 4, the Canadian sketch comedy series “The Kids in the Hall,” the TV series “Hardcastle and McCormick,” Hannibal Rising, Judy (Renee Zellweger), Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Man from Laramie and Behind the Moment.

The Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 70 touch points in the United States on platforms including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com, with previously announced plans to expand to over 90 touch points.

Ad-Supported Streaming Space Getting More Challenging, Panelists Say at XFronts Event

Acquiring an audience, finding carriage on connected TVs and devices and curating in-demand content are all getting more challenging in the ad-supported streaming space, panelists said May 25 at the XFronts event in Los Angeles hosted by OTT.X.

Getting carriage for FAST channels has become highly competitive, like finding a spot on a cable service, said Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer for Cinedigm, during the panel “How Does Anyone Make Money in this Business?”

“If you can’t get carriage, you won’t make any money,” he said. He also noted that the FAST channel business has become “more of a gladiator pit than cable ever was” in part because it doesn’t include the cushion of carriage fees.

Attracting eyeballs is more difficult as streaming services have proliferated, Opeka said. “To get [consumers] to download [your app] to the TV, you’re competing with all the big services that have driven up the marketing costs,” he said, noting it used to be “relatively cost effective to do a campaign with Roku or others.”

“If you’re competing with Netflix, Paramount, HBO Max, the cost per acquisition has skyrocketed,” he said.

Jonathan Skogmo, chief innovation officer at Trusted Media Brands, agreed that Roku has jacked up its pricing. “They want you to spend a quarter million dollars a quarter to get customers,” he said.

Panelists said original, exclusive, and in-demand, quality content is key as the competition increases.

“The table stakes are much higher now,” Opeka said. “We’re regularly involved in bidding wars for shows that can be an anchor of a FAST channel. … We’ve got a great one in Bob Ross.”

Skogmo added ad-supported streamers need “really unique programming, something that’s not already out.”

Finding content with ready appeal is also a key strategy.

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“We don’t have the major, major new releases to draw audience attention,” said Jesse Baritz, VP of content acquisition and development at Multicom Entertainment Group, so he said his company focuses on quality, star power and timely content.

“It’s making sure that it is 4K restored, star driven, hitting at the right time with the right audiences,” he said, adding that “when Natasha Lyonne was on ‘SNL’ this week, we made sure we had a movie that stars her.”

Ben Lister, senior director of content at Sinclair Broadcast Group, pointed out that the big subscription streaming guns such as Netflix are moving into the space, creating another challenge.

“As the SVODs start turning on advertising, I’m not sure how the consumer is going to respond,” he said, advising those that want to compete to “be prepared to make new content.”

Something as elemental as metadata can also help audiences find your content. Have “as much of that as you can” to help with discovery, Lister said.

“If you ask Siri or Alexa to show you the content, it comes up,” he said.

Another way to stand out from the crowd is to have a clear brand.

“You need a brand,” Opeka said. “If you don’t have a brand, align with somebody who does.”

Report: Ads Could Boost Netflix Revenue 21%

With Netflix planning to launch an ad-supported subscription option by the fourth quarter, a new report suggests the move could generate a 21% spike in the streamer’s annual revenue. The company reported $3.35 billion in North American fiscal 2021 revenue, which was up from $3 billion in FY 2020 revenue.

Netflix currently charges $9.99 monthly for the basic plan, $15.49 monthly for the standard plan, and a $19.99 monthly for the premium plan.

The Information, citing data from SVOD competitors employing ad-supported options, contends Netflix would have to charge less when subjecting streamers to targeted ads. How much less remains to be seen.

Assisting Netflix in the ad-revenue generation would be its scale of subscribers. The service currently has about 221 million subscribers, including 74.5 million in North America. That’s more than HBO Max, Paramount+, Discovery+ and Peacock combined.

Hulu reportedly subjects streamers to the most ads per hour, while Paramount+ streams 50% fewer commercials than Hulu, according to Paramount Global CFO Naveen Chopra speaking at a recent investor event. HBO Max streams fewer ads as well.

“[Ad-supported subscription streaming] gives us the ability to package what is becoming increasingly scarce linear inventory with digital video inventory, which is a way to differentiate that inventory versus what some other platforms will be able to offer,” Chopra said.

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Amazon, NBCUniversal Upping Virtual Product Placements Across Streaming Video Content

Amazon Prime Video and NBCUniversal’s Peacock have joined a growing trend among media companies posting virtual product placements across streaming content.

Research firm eMarkters reports that Peacock is experimenting with virtual product placements for advertisers to embed their ads within programs after production, such as on a billboard displayed inside a scene within the content. Both NBCUniversal and Amazon showcased VPPs at last week’s IAB NewFronts, with Prime Video and Amazon-owned Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) set to begin streaming content with virtual ad placements.

While product placements within movies and TV shows isn’t new, the impact on consumers is expanding across age demos, led by 22% of older Baby Boomers (1946-64) coveting the marketing concept compared to 19% among the Gen Z (1997-2003) demo.

The reports found that while advances in VPPs portend opportunities for marketers, the concept still lags in popularity among consumers compared with TV ads, email and social media.

“Product placement has the potential to explode,” Beth Fossen, assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University, told eMarketer, adding that advertisers cannot make VPPs too overt across streaming platforms.

“If VPPs become less subtle, they have the potential to disrupt the viewing experience and even backfire,” Fossen said.

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Roku Bows Advertising Watermark Technology

Roku Feb. 23 announced the launch of an advertising watermark designed to help advertisers and publishers validate the authenticity of video ads originating on the SVOD pioneer’s platform. Roku says the technology gives marketers the confidence that their advertising spend is reaching real Roku users.

According to Roku, so-called “device spoofing” can occur when scammers pretend that a desktop or mobile device is a TV streaming device. The advertising watermark integrates with the Roku operating system to automatically verify publisher ad requests and impressions so that advertisers know they are reaching genuine Roku users.

While ad spoofing in TV streaming remains rare, Roku believes this new technology will help the industry deter bad actors and improve ad effectiveness.

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“We are uniquely positioned to help the industry preempt device spoofing,” Louqman Parampath, VP of product management at Roku, said in a statement. “This is powerful and free technology will help advertisers accelerate their shift to TV streaming with even more confidence.”

Ad technology providers integrating the advertising watermark at launch include Basis Technologies, Google, HUMAN, Innovid and Magnite. Publishers using the watermark include Discovery and Fox.

“[The technology] assures our advertiser clients that they are buying genuine Discovery inventory on Roku devices,” said Bill Murray, VP of programmatic solutions. “We’re excited that Roku has brought its data, operating system, and ad technology together to easily prevent ad spoofing.”

Paramount+ Uses AFC Championship to Kick Off New Ad Campaign

Paramount+ kicked off a new ad campaign during the AFC championship game Jan. 30.

After launching the platform almost a year ago with a campaign during the Super Bowl that featured more than 30 stars coming together to climb “Mount Paramount,” Paramount+ is mounting a new iteration of the “Mountain of Entertainment” campaign, bringing together a mismatch of characters from across Paramount+ properties.

The first spot, “Bonfire” is a nod to the “Halo” series coming to Paramount+ later this year. It stars “iCarly’s” Miranda Cosgrove, “Halo’s” Pablo Schreiber, “The Good Fight’s” Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski, “Reno 911’s” Thomas Lennon, “South Park’s” Cartman, “Jackass’s” Johnny Knoxville, NFL superstars Matt Judon and Jalen Hurts, and others. The spot is hosted and also voiced over by Grammy Award winner Tim McGraw, who currently stars in the Paramount+ original series “1883.” 

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Running over approximately two months, the four-spot ad campaign will include ads during the Winter Olympics, March Madness, the NBA All Star Game, the Grammy Awards, “Good Morning America,” “American Idol,” “This Is Us,” “The Walking Dead” premiere, MLB opening night and other programs in the first quarter of 2022. 

The program will also include strategic platform partnerships, digital placements across owned channels and an out-of-home presence.

 

NBCUniversal Taps iSpot.tv to Help Measure Streaming Ad Impact

NBCUniversal Jan. 13 revealed it has partnered with iSpot.tv in an effort to better measure the impact of advertising on both its linear (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC) and online (Peacock) platforms.

The move comes after the Comcast-owned parent of Universal Studios sent out a public request seeking media measurement alternatives to longtime ratings bulwark Nielsen. Specifically, NBCUniversal is seeking intel how ads are consumed across the various distribution channels.

The media giant has worked with iSpot since 2014, but only now named the company a “certified measurement partner” as it aims to better quantify and qualify viewership data.

With more pay-TV viewers shifting to streaming video, the market has pushed toward a greater ad-supported VOD presence as well as the emergence of the free ad-supported stream television (FAST) distribution concept. At the same time, Nielsen, the longtime TV ratings metric, found its analysis under fire, with critics contending the company under-reported viewership in the digital age of TV consumption.

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Indeed, the Media Rating Council last year pulled its accreditation for Nielsen’s national and local TV ratings. Nielsen has acknowledged its shortcomings and revamped its ratings businesses.

The situation has prompted a flurry of third-party data firms trying to fill the void with proprietary data. Netflix, whose programming typically dominates most ratings metrics, has begun offering its own weekly tracking of most-streamed movies and TV shows in English and foreign languages.

NBCUniversal is especially interested to analyze data with Super Bowl LVI and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics set to begin next month, and the company making the entire Winter Games for first time available on the Peacock streaming platform.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Kelly Abcarian, EVP of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal, said the iSpot deal would afford NBCUniversal more precise data on viewership in a more timely manner.

“We think [putting] linear on that same playing field [as digital] is pretty critical, especially when you think about … an event like the Olympics where you’ve got 17 days to make decisions against billions of dollars,” Abcarian wrote.

Hub Research: Consumers Prefer Targeted Ads

Consumers who thought they saw ads customized to their interests or search history were more likely to be satisfied with their overall viewing experience, according to a study from Hub Research.

Meanwhile, consumers were least satisfied with the same ad run multiple times during a show, according to the study.

The data, collected in June 2021, comes from the first wave of Hub’s “TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction” study, conducted among 3,000 U.S. consumers age 14-74 who watch at least one hour of TV per week.

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“There is still a lot of work to be done on ad targeting and customization in the TV space, particularly with streamers, but the common trope that ‘consumers don’t like ads’ is not correct,” Jon Giegengack, Hub founder and principal, said in a statement.

WarnerMedia Unveils ‘House of Max’ Brand Studio for Advertisers

WarnerMedia Ad Sales announced the creation of House of Max, a consumer-centric brand studio for advertisers leveraging WarnerMedia’s entertainment IP, brands and franchises.

With House of Max’s creative and production capabilities, advertisers will have the opportunity to develop custom creative for their marketing messages in the HBO Max environment. The brand studio will also create custom services for WarnerMedia entertainment properties, including Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT and truTV, among others.

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HBO Max with limited ads launched in June, and House of Max aims to make that ad load impactful. According to a recent study from WarnerMedia, 65% of consumers think more favorably of a brand when they provide fewer commercial interruptions during content.

Leading the House of Max business is Maureen Polo, SVP of Entertainment Marketing Solutions for WarnerMedia. Polo joined WarnerMedia in late 2020 after leading Fullscreen, an award-winning social content agency with unparalleled value in both the creator and advertising businesses. Serving as creative lead is Elaine Andrade, SVP and executive creative director for WarnerMedia, who joined from Fullscreen as well.

House of Max will consist of a group of storytellers with wide-ranging capabilities, including video production, motion design, photography, original music, among others, to create texture for brand campaigns.

“House of Max builds upon WarnerMedia’s bountiful history and storytelling tradition with captivating, consumer-centric experiences,” Polo said in a statement. “Developed by an outstanding group of dynamic and diversified collaborators, House of Max’s insights-driven brand storytelling is a harmonious combination of art and science that furthers consumers’ curiosity while driving business outcomes for partners.”

House of Max will closely collaborate with the HBO Max product team to create an effective environment that aligns with marketers’ goals and puts the viewer at the heart of the streaming experience.

“We’re seeing great engagement on HBO Max with Ads since the platform launched in June, with customers telling us they enjoy and appreciate our short ad breaks and seamless ad experience,” said Julian Franco, SVP of product management for HBO Max. “House of Max will help us provide an even better experience for our viewers, offering brand partners the opportunity to develop custom creative that fits in seamlessly with HBO Max’s premium content and interface.”

House of Max custom creative is available to any brand that partners with HBO Max beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021. House of Max will unveil additional details about its solutions, partners and more at a future launch experience.