WarnerMedia Absorbs Xandr Ad Platform

AT&T continues to rejigger its media operations, combining WarnerMedia and ad platform Xandr for what the telecom claims will be a better advertising value proposition for brands, publishers and consumers. Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International, will oversee all advertising responsibilities across AT&T.

The merger was foreshadowed last month when Brian Lesser, CEO of Xandr, abruptly resigned, creating some uncertainty about the future the advertising unit.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

​Kirk McDonald, chief business officer of Xandr will continue to lead the unit, reporting directly to Zeiler. The merged goal is to accelerate new advertising formats by 2021 for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s high-profile subscription streaming video service launching this month. ​

“Now more than ever, we need to simplify advertising and further our marketplace capabilities for our customers,” Zeiler said in a statement.

As the lines between TV and digital video continue to converge, Xandr’s platform aims to make it easier for ad buyers/sellers to find audiences across multiple distribution screens.

Follow us on Instagram

“This is done through one holistic conversation that spans premium content and trusted environments, alongside proven and advanced ad capabilities,” Zeiler said.

HBO Max Releases New Spot for Service

A new spot released April 22 kicked off the brand marketing campaign for WarnerMedia’s SVOD service HBO Max. The campaign centers on the tagline “Where HBO Meets So Much More.”

HBO Max launches May 27 with 10,000 hours of programming, including the entire HBO service, titles from Warner Bros. and a monthly offering of new Max Originals.

The spot “aims to call attention to the connective tissue that runs through all of the iconic programming and characters who will call the new streamer home,” according to the service. Marketing plans intend to “show how HBO Max is not just more of HBO, but more than HBO,” according to the press release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“HBO is the gold standard in terms of premium original content, and we are going to market on the strength of that brand and the power of the library,” said Chris Spadaccini, chief marketing officer, WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-to-Consumer. “But HBO Max offers so much more than just HBO. We are establishing HBO Max as a place where all your favorite shows and movies intersect in unexpected ways. There’s a really fun attitude and personality to the campaign and each one of our ads has an element of surprise and delight.”

Pluto TV Bows New Features, Marketing Campaign

ViacomCBS-owned AVOD service Pluto TV March 2 announced the rollout of a new features and the company’s largest ever consumer marketing campaign with the tagline: “Drop In. It’s Free.”

The product upgrade, Project Venetia, delivers new features and design changes.

“Today marks another major step for Pluto TV in its mission to entertain the planet,” Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Project Venetia makes it even easier for viewers to find and enjoy their favorite streaming TV programming. And with our new brand campaign, we’re communicating the core value proposition of Pluto TV and inviting everyone to visit a bold new world of television. As our new tagline promises, you can drop in anytime and start watching hundreds of channels on any device, all for free.”

The “Drop In” campaign, launched March 2, features a 30-second commercial on late-nite programming, an out-of-home campaign in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis and Houston, connected-TV and streaming-audio takeovers, digital and social activations, and in-theater advertising.

The parallel development of a new interface design and brand campaign includes a new logo. The new identity is rolling out across platform, on-air and marketing touchpoints over the coming weeks.

Follow us on Instagram

Project Venetia is currently live on Apple, Vizio, and Roku devices with staged releases across other devices, including Android and Amazon Fire TV, and more features rolling out over the coming months.  Newly launched features include new linear and improved on-demand user experience designs featuring categories of content, the ability to put favorite channels at the top of the guide, a watch list, and a “Watch Now” button that pops up when a desired title is available.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Pluto TV has more than 22 million monthly viewers in the United States, and offers more than 250 channels of live, linear, lean-back programming and thousands of on-demand titles streaming on all major mobile, web and connected TV devices.  Pluto TV is also live in territories throughout Europe, with Latin America launching at the end of March.

Pluto TV. Drop in. It’s free. Full 30 from Pluto TV on Vimeo.

Pluto TV. Drop in. It’s Free. Couch from Pluto TV on Vimeo.

Pluto TV. Drop in. It’s free. Woman from Pluto TV on Vimeo.

Pluto TV: Drop in. It’s free. Security from Pluto TV on Vimeo.

 

Disney Stops Running Netflix Ads on its Networks

The streaming video wars are heating up.

With Disney set to launch a branded $6.99 subscription streaming video service (Disney+) on Nov. 12, it has reportedly begun circling the wagons around its media brands — denying Netflix ads from airing on select entertainment networks.

Netflix, in a shrewd marketing move, had apparently upped running ad-spots specifically on Disney networks.

Impacted properties include ABC (notably the Oscars), FX, Freedom and National Geographic. Disney will still accept Netflix advertising on ESPN since the SVOD pioneer does not stream live sports.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In a statement first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Disney said that as the “direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television, and across our portfolio networks … [it has] “reevaluated our strategy to reflect the comprehensive business relationships have with many of these companies, as direct-to-consumer is one element.”

While rival media/tech companies also ready proprietary streaming services, it is unknown if their marketing has been impacted by Disney’s move.

But then they aren’t Netflix, which with more than 150 million subscribers worldwide, dominates the SVOD ecosystem.

In 2017, Disney began pulling back original movies (i.e. Star Wars, Pixar) and select Marvel programming from Netflix as it began assembling Disney+. The move was noteworthy considering the two companies in 2015 inked a landmark distribution deal making Netflix the exclusive pay-TV distributor for Disney movies.

In a related move, Disney CEO Bob Iger removed himself from the board of Apple as the tech giant readies a reboot of its Apple TV platform to include subscription streaming video and original content.

 

Sling TV Launches Puppet ‘Slingy’ to Promote Service

OTT service Sling TV is introducing “Slingy,” a puppet star of its new digital ads.

The puppet is designed and created by Tim Clarke, one of the masterminds behind “The Muppets” puppet design, according to the service’s blog.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!  

“Slingy is on a mission to let everyone know that Slinging is easy and anyone can do it — even a puppet!” reads the blog. “Slingy is passionate about educating live TV lovers who want to cut the cord and is even willing to show up at people’s homes and offices to tell them about Sling. After a visit from Slingy, consumers can’t help but get excited about the choice, flexibility and control that Sling TV offers without the baggage that comes with cable.”

Last year, Sling TV launched a tongue-in-cheek TV campaign featuring celebrity couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally as “slingers.”

Amy Poehler to Star in Comcast Xfinity Ad Campaign

Amy Poehler will star in a year-long Xfinity advertising campaign starting Feb. 4, Comcast announced.

The campaign featuring the actor, producer and director (“Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live,’ Inside Out and upcoming “Wine Country”) is called “Simple, Easy, Awesome – starring Amy Poehler” and uses her “unique sense of humor and wit to put a spotlight on the brand’s product benefits, across Xfinity Internet, Xfinity TV and Xfinity Mobile,” according to the Comcast release.

The two launch spots — “Potpourri” and “Make Yourself at Home” — will air across television, digital, mobile and radio.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

“Working with Amy has been a dream — her charm, charisma and relatability are a great fit for Xfinity and her improv skills really took our creative to another level,” said Eileen Diskin, SVP of marketing communications at Comcast, in a statement. “We’re proud to have her represent our brand and look forward to building upon our partnership with Amy throughout the year.”

“Simple, Easy, Awesome – starring Amy Poehler” brings to life the idea that you don’t have to be an expert to get the most out of technology, and the commercials put Poehler in real-life locations ranging from a family’s home to an Xfinity retail store, according to the release.

The campaign will include multiple TV spots to roll out in the coming months.

In addition to the creative content, the Comcast partnership with Poehler includes product integration into the company’s Xfinity X1 platform. Customers can say things such as “Amy is Awesome” and “Everything Amy Poehler” into the X1 voice remote and they will be taken to a special page with a curated collection of Poehler’s movies, shows, talk show appearances and more, and also will be able to unlock special voice messages from Poehler.

Xfinity has more than 30 million customer relationships across the country, according to the release, and the X1 platform includes Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video with the voice remote processing more than 700 million commands each month.

Ad Group Plugs Ad-Supported OTT Video

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Oct. 10 released new data it claims underscores the value of marketing through ad-supported over-the-top video.

In its study based on a Sept. 25-26 survey of 1,223 consumers ages 18+ in the U.S., results found that the largest audience segment of OTT video is 18-34-year-old adults with household incomes above $75,000.

The audience includes households with kids and skews more male. Nearly 73% of respondents who regularly stream video say that they have watched ad-supported OTT. Moreover, 45% of streamers report that they watch ad-supported OTT the most.

“Advertisers have a real opportunity to make connections with younger consumers, who are likely to have higher-income, through ad-supported video delivered over-the-top,” Anna Bager, EVP, industry initiatives, IAB, said in a statement. “The findings from this study can help marketers navigate their way to valuable and receptive audiences by deploying an OTT strategy.”

Indeed, the report claims respondents are not easily reached through broadcast TV or subscription-based video on demand (SVOD). More than half (52%) of ad-supported OTT viewers are cord-cutters or cord-shavers, largely due to cost (77%), while 42% cite ‘convenience/flexibility’ and 38% cite ‘better content on streaming services’ as a reason. Additionally, they spend less time watching cable than SVOD viewers.

The report found that a higher percentage of respondents also enjoy interacting with ads in comparison to SVOD viewers, providing opportunities to engage and develop one-to one-relationships with these households and consumers.

Ad-supported OTT video viewers are more likely to try new brands, with 36% stating they learn about new brands/products/services from video ads. In fact, respondents said they spend more on online subscription purchases ($119 monthly vs. $89 for SVOD viewers).

“This study showcases the high value that brands should place with increased investment in ad-supported OTT video,” said Sue Hogan, SVP, research and measurement, IAB.

 

 

Netflix Testing Video Ads for Original Content

Netflix reportedly has begun testing streaming video ads of original content to select subscribers. The ads appear during binging sessions and other content viewing.

“We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster,” Netflix said in a statement first reported by ArsTechnica.com.

The world’s largest SVOD service – along with Amazon Prime Video – has shunned running advertising or any kind – a stance it says it would continue as the video spots are not for third-party content or products.

Hulu has run third-party and house ads since launching in 2007. The service co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and WarnerMedia also offers an ad-free option at a premium price.

Netflix said the house ads can be skipped and underscore its desire to expedite a user’s streaming experience with recommended content suggestions based on user data.

Indeed, users to the Netflix home page are now subjected to video previews when hovering the cursor on a particular program or movie.

“We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster,” said Netflix.

Response on social media to the test ads appeared largely negative, with many comments falsely suggesting Netflix would begin marketing products and services to subscribers.

“Autoplay anything makes me more likely to choose a competitor, or just shut the TV off and do something else,” wrote one subscriber on Reddit.com.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doubts Netflix would pursue third-party ads going forward. The analyst contends the ads could be a way to enhance the service’s longstanding “personalization algorithm.”

“They are too far down the rabbit hole to spring commercials on their customers,” said Pachter. “I think it will be poorly received and subscribers will complain.”

 

Roku Bows Service to Help OTT Ad Sellers and Buyers Target Audiences

Streaming TV pioneer Roku June 27 introduced its Audience Marketplace, allowing advertising buyers and sellers to more effectively target audiences on the Roku platform in the United States, according to the company.

By leveraging Roku’s first-party data and proprietary ad technology, publishers can use Audience Marketplace to sell targeted audiences on the Roku platform to advertisers, according to a Roku press release.

“Roku has extensive insights into its millions of OTT streamers, and offers the ability to precisely target specific segments at a household level,” the release stated.

“The business of streaming is winning – both in the minds of consumers and advertisers,” said Seth Walters, VP, demand partnerships, Roku, in a statement. “As the industry’s leading TV streaming platform, we’re well-positioned to empower our publishers to unlock the full potential of OTT advertising and help them to meet the needs of brands and consumers.”

Initial publishers participating in Audience Marketplace include Fox, Turner and Viacom. Advertisers can use the Audience Marketplace for programmatic or traditional direct selling methods.

“Over-the-top distribution has been a key audience driver for Turner’s portfolio of premium content, with Roku being one of the preeminent partner platforms,” said Larry Allen, VP, ad innovation and programmatic solutions, Turner, in a statement. “Participating in Roku’s Audience Marketplace gives us access to rich insights and enhanced audience targeting capabilities, extending the ability for ad buyers to reach and engage with streaming viewing audiences that are critical to grow their business.”

“Roku’s ability to precisely message luxury auto-intenders in premium TV programming unlocks great value for our clients,” said Garrett Winkler, director of connected TV Lead, Modi Media, in a statement. “It helps significantly reduce waste and delivers a more relevant viewing experience. We see this as a huge step towards unifying targeting for connected TV campaigns.”

Hulu to Offer Ad-Supported Content Downloads

Hulu May 2 announced it is making available select content for download, enabling subscribers the ability to watch content when offline. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have featured offline viewing since 2016.

Hulu’s offline viewing will be ad-supported, which it said offers marketers an alternative opportunity to reach consumers. Netflix and Prime Video are ad-free.

“Our launch of the industry’s first ad-supported downloadable content experience is yet another example of how Hulu is innovating viewer-first ad solutions to drive powerful results for brands” Peter Naylor, SVP of advertising sales at Hulu, said in the presentation at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York. “With downloadable content, we’re offering brands more ways to connect with engaged viewers who love the experience of watching television, wherever they may be.”

Hulu also disclosed that Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) for OTT is now its go-to media measurement tool. Advertisers can use DAR to measure, guarantee and report campaign audience delivery across all desktop, mobile and connected devices, providing vital insight into viewership on the platform. With 78% of Hulu viewing taking place in the living room, Hulu claims DAR provides accurate, holistic measurement for everyone watching.

Hulu announced it has expanded its suite of “sales effectiveness” tools with four new partnerships. It will now offer attribution across the auto and retail categories, working with IHS Markit for Polk Campaign Measurement Solutions and Nielsen Buyer Insights, respectively.

In addition, Hulu announced an expanded offering for CPG brands with the help of IRI’s attribution solution. And in partnership with Experian, Hulu will offer advertisers the ability to enhance their CRM data with Hulu’s first-party data to deliver better insight into sales growth on the platform.