“What if your tablet or phone knew what you were watching on TV and presented bonus features without you having to lift a finger?” asks Microsoft. To kick-start the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft yesterday unveiled the Xbox SmartGlass, an application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and other portable devices that connects phones, PCs and tablets with the Xbox 360 console “to make your entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun.”
Users will, for example, be able to use a tablet to call up a play in the game "Madden NFL" and then play it on a TV screen, or, control websites on a TV using the tablet's touchscreen.
This solidifies Microsoft’s “head start in the battle for every screen,” describes The New York Times. Apple’s iPhones, iPads and and computers are well connected, but Microsoft has sold 67 million Xbox 360 video game consoles and has more than 40 million active Xbox Live members. The company claims its video consumption has grown by 140 percent each year on the Xbox since 2008.
Forbes calls Google and Apple “wild cards” in the connected TV race. “Google’s first connected TV got lots of attention, but little sales,” but it will try again this summer with models from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio. Apple’s smart TV may or may not be out by the end of the year: Apple has been shopping hardware providers and contract manufacturers, but rumor has it the Apple TV will cost in excess of $1,000. The Xbox allows you to keep your old one.
IE for Xbox
Microsoft will launch Internet Explorer for Xbox this fall in all countries where Xbox and Xbox LIVE are available. Between the Xbox, the Kinect gaming platform and Xbox SmartGlass, Microsoft claims users will be able to surf the Internet voice control, and navigate using mobile devices for “an incredibly easy Web browsing experience on the television.”
Entertainment Via Xbox
Adding to the current catalog of customized sports, TV, movies and music apps from TV and entertainment providers, Microsoft is claiming that Xbox will become “your home for sports,” with NBA Game Time, NBA.com League Pass Broadband (U.S.), NHL GameCenter LIVE and ESPN, including the "SportsCenter" and "SportsNation" properties, plus NFL, MLB and NBA coverage.
Finally, Microsoft announced 35 new content partners (both audio and video) launching on Xbox over the next 12 months, which include Comedy Central Stand Up; Nickelodeon; Paramount Movies; The Weather Channel; and Univision, the Spanish-language channel (and the first Spanish-language channel on Xbox Live).
ESPN presented its annual upfront yesterday, with a heavy emphasis on authentication, apps and delivering advertiser value. While the networks struggle to create social TV experience, CNN will likely be the first to make it a norm.
At the same time, ESPN Films announced that it will resurrect its 2010 hit series of sports-oriented films 30 for 30.
As Ad Age reports, Eric Johnson, ESPN's exec VP-multimedia sales, promised advertisers more targeted reach through its digital properties including the espnW platform for female sports fans; a new ESPN radio app for both the iPhone and iPad; ESPNFC, a global soccer destination; and a partnership with Twitter that will start with the NBA Finals.
Johnson claimed as well that with the Watch ESPN authenticated TV Everywhere app (introduced last year), ESPN now reaches 40 million homes, a number it expects to double before 2013.
Of course, few networks have the budget of ESPN, and "Modern Family" fans are hardly as rabid as NBA fans. But ESPN sets the bar for cross-media convergence.
30 for 30 Vol. II
ESPN Films has announced the return of the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning 30 for 30 film series. As with the first series, which included collaborations with acclaimed filmmakers such as Peter Berg (“Kings Ransom”), Barry Levinson (“The Band That Wouldn’t Die”), Ice Cube (“Straight Outta L.A.”) and Academy Award-winner Barbara Koppel (“The House of Steinbrenner”), ESPN Films will once again partner with a wide array of filmmakers to tell inspirational sports stories. 30 for 30 Vol. II is scheduled to premiere in October.
“30 for 30 was conceived as a finite collection and when the original series ended in December of 2010 with ‘Pony Excess,’ we had underestimated the strength of the connection fans had made between sports documentaries and the 30 for 30 brand,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We’re proud to have created a brand that has become synonymous with quality sports storytelling and we see value in bringing back a second collection of 30 films.”
In addition to a second slate of 30 feature-length documentaries, ESPN Films will broaden its scope to support a whole new crop of stories with the creation of 30 for 30 Shorts – a 30-part digital short film series. 30 for 30 Shorts will be similar to the feature-length films in that each piece will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and will be a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style. Beginning in September, a new short film will debut monthly on Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com. A 30 for 30 Short entitled “Here Now” about Pete Rose is currently online as preview of the series.
Volume II of 30 for 30 will have a much more defined multimedia component through closer integration with Grantland.com by featuring filmmaker podcasts with Bill Simmons, topical oral histories, in-depth features and more. Each feature-length film and digital short will be complemented with a long-form written piece on Grantland.com that deepens the experience with additional context.
Films scheduled to air as part of 30 for 30 Vol. II include:
- “Benji” about 17-year-old NBA prospect Ben Wilson whose life was tragically cut short;
- “Broke,” a documentary about pro athletes sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems;
- “Bo Knows,” another documentary about the marketing of pro athletes like legendary sports figure Bo Jackson;
- “The Season of Their Lives,” about the 1982-83 North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team.
Social TV Via Twitter
ESPN announced a strategic collaboration with Twitter that it believes offers fans and advertisers unique, interactive programs around major sporting events, beginning with the upcoming NBA Finals. The effort will be promoted across Twitter, ESPN networks, ABC and ESPN’s broad array of digital assets, including ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile.
Each program will be co-created by ESPN and Twitter, beginning with GameFace – the first effort, which will be focused on the NBA Finals. GameFace will be seamlessly integrated throughout the live ABC broadcasts and ESPN’s NBA Tonight programming with a dedicated Twitter hashtag #GameFace.
Fans will be encouraged to tweet photographs of their “game face” throughout the finals. At the conclusion of each game, NBA Tonight analysts will highlight the competition and reveal the best photographs on-air. The best photos will also be featured in a photo gallery on ESPN.com/NBA.
“Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports,” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy. “It’s the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN’s premier content across screens and where the conversation is happening on Twitter.”
Added Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales, “Advertisers and marketers have been asking for meaningful opportunities that tap into the power of social media. We know fans use ESPN and Twitter as their main source for content and connectivity. By taking that scale and combining it with the passion of sports fans, this program answers the value equation of social media while providing a new way for fans to engage with ESPN.”
On Twitter, #GameFace will be supported through Twitter’s Promoted Products suite (including a Promoted Trend during the Finals), and the experience will be plugged on the @NBAonESPN Twitter handle.
The latest version of the ESPN Radio app for iPhone, iPad and iTouch provides both live and on demand content, and includes a new feature that allows fans to build their own sports stations. Versions for Android and Windows 7 smartphones are slated to launch later this summer.
“This latest version of the ESPN Radio App builds on our promise to deliver the best sports audio content across any device,” said Marc Horine, Vice President, ESPN Digital and Print Media. “With this update, fans now have complete control over their listening experience as the app provides the functionality to customize specifically by sports, teams and athletes they care most about.”
Beginning today (May 16), fans can download the premium version of the app at no cost for a limited time. After that, for a one-time fee of $4.99, fans can access the full experience of the app, complete with the new personalization features and enhancements. The premium app will continue to give millions of ESPN Radio listeners access to live radio streams from more than 35 ESPN Radio stations, fan favorite shows like “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, “Waddle & Silvy” (Chicago) and “The Michael Kay Show” (New York), plus select play-by-play broadcasts, live scores and text messaging.
ESPN Radio launched its first app in September 2009 and has since been one of the top paid sports apps in the marketplace. Additionally, it was named Best Radio App by Radio Ink Magazine at the Digital Convergence Awards in May 2011. The ESPN Radio App is available from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.
NBC Politics today launched a new app for iPad and iPhone that brings users inside the 2012 election with a collection of videos, reports, and interactive tools, graphics and games from the best team in politics.
NBC promises a seamless advertising experience through Zumobi’s new rich media mobile ad platform. Through the Zumobi Brand Integration (ZBi) platform, NBC Politics offers brands an immersive advertising experience that is "organic and complimentary to the app design." The NBC Politics App is sponsored by Nissan and Liberty Mutual Insurance. The app is available for free from the App Store.
The NBC Politics App "delivers the power of NBC News’ political reporting right to your fingertips – anytime, anywhere," NBC said in a statement, and from trusted journalists like David Gregory, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and the network’s deep bench of correspondents and contributors. NBC News
NBC Politics is now available on-air on NBC News, online at NBCPolitics.com and on mobile with iPad and iPhone, offering users a multi-platform experience of the political landscape. “With all eyes on the 2012 election, the NBC Politics App delivers the best political content and reporting – wherever you are. This all-access, easy-to-navigate resource puts the full power of NBC News in your hands, from the top headlines and stories to innovative features that allow serious political junkies to dig even deeper,” said David Gregory, moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
“We’re excited about offering this interactive, up-to-the minute experience for the depth of our political coverage this election season,” said Jennifer Sizemore, msnbc.com general manager and editor-in-chief. “The expertise of the NBC Politics team is the essential ingredient for this app, which is another entry in our strategy to give our audience what it needs, wherever and whenever it needs it.”
The NBC Politics App features Include:
- Video: Agenda-setting interviews and reports from “Meet the Press with David Gregory,” “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and NBC News’ entire line-up of trusted news broadcasts and platforms
- Battleground Map: an interactive map that gives users the tools to test potential electoral vote outcomes. How do different state election outcomes add up to 270 electoral votes needed for victory? Users can test out different scenarios, play along with NBC News political experts and create personalized outcomes with the chance to see their map on-air or online.
- Tip Sheet: A round-up of the day’s most memorable, must-know moments and headlines
- Live Election Results: Real-time results as they unfold.
- Candidates: Details about each presidential candidate through in-depth profiles and headlines related to each candidate
- Share: A feature to share articles on Facebook and Twitter and to follow @NBCPolitics for the latest updates and exclusive reports
“Advertisers in the travel industry need to increase their online footprint in order to keep up with this ever growing audience,” wrote the online ad team at Yahoo! Their 2011 data revealed that travel-related searches begin climbing in May and peak in July, suggesting now is the time to optimize online ad accounts for the season. Yahoo! offers these tips
Yahoo! offered some specific tips from its search-ad experts:
- Ensure your keyword coverage: Analysis of travel keywords used by adCenter advertisers reveals that the highest click-through rates (CTR) are found in longer keyword entries that include the destination and an offer (e.g., "Hawaii all inclusive vacation packages"). Even if the destination was not included, terms like "all inclusive vacation" or "last minute vacation" still have strong CTRs.
- Book Insurance for your Ads: Like travel insurance, a robust list of negative keywords will, for example, prevent your ad from being shown for searches related to cruise ship accidents or other such incidents.
- Know what's popular: Yahoo's Search Query Performance Report shows exactly what queries a Bing or Yahoo! Search user entered in relation to a keyword. The report helps you identify additional keywords to bid on and provides a list of potential negative keywords to exclude unwanted traffic.
- Go Mobile: Analysts estimate that the number of U.S. mobile users booking via mobile will nearly double from 2010 to 2012, from 8.7 million to 15.1 million. Duplicate your search campaigns to target mobile devices, and reach these searchers while they are on the road.
- Plan ahead: In a 2011 survey commissioned by the Mark Travel Corp., 19% of respondents booked trips six or more months in advance, compared with 16% in May 2010. That type of traveler has already made summer plans, but are booking their fall and winter trips now.
Nielsen Company released some intriguing demographic data, from part 2 of its “State of the Media Spring 2012” report—this part presenting an in-depth look at usage by demographic (ethnicity, gender and age).
White TV viewers use their DVRs at twice as much as any other group on a daily basis for time-shifted viewing; yet Asians watch the most timeshifted content as a share of overall TV time.
Among the online destinations for streaming TV content, Hispanics are most likely to watch on Netflix (still no advertising opportunities), where Asians are most likely to watch on Hulu and black viewers on YouTube (both ad friendly).
- Teens used a gaming console for an average of eight minutes during primetime, more than twice as much as the general TV population.
- When watching TV and using their tablet computers simultaneously, male tablet users were more likely to look up information related to a TV program, and females were more likely to up look info related to a TV ad.
- Females spend 61.2% of timeshifted viewing during primetime to watch dramas.
- Females spend 46.9% of real-time viewing watching drama, versus 34.5% for men.
- Females spend 13.5% of their time viewing sports, versus 32.7% for me.
- Online adults aged 25-54 are 23% more likely than the average U.S. Internet user to follow a brand via social networking and 29% more likely to purchase a product online that was featured on TV.
That eight-minute figure for teens and gaming seems low, frankly. Few games can be played in eight minutes. Presumably, that average is dragged down because teens who spend zero minutes on gaming outnumber those who spend hours at a time.
Nielsen has released some updated stats and an infographic on African-American consumers and mobile advertising. As of Q4 of 2011, half of black mobile users owned a smartphone (up from 44% in Q4 2010) and 58% accessed the mobile Internet, more than any other race/ethnic group.
Nielsen was updating data from its Sepember, 2011 “State of the African-American Consumer” report, which it compiled in cooperation with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers across the U.S. As Nielsen described, “This growing economic potential presents an opportunity for Fortune 500 companies to examine and further understand this important, flourishing market segment.”
“Too often, companies don’t realize the inherent differences of our community, are not aware of the market size impact and have not optimized efforts to develop messages beyond those that coincide with Black History Month,” said Cloves Campbell, chairman, NNPA.
Where to reach them?
Spot and search advertisers will want to concentrate on the eastern seaboard and south/southeast, according to U.S. Census data.
Among other findings by Nielsen and NNPA:
- With a buying power of nearly $1 trillion annually, if African-Americans were a country, they’d be the 16th largest country in the world.
- The number of African-American households earning $75,000 or higher grew by almost 64% between 2000 and 2009, a rate close to 12% greater than the change in the overall population’s.
- African-Americans make more shopping trips than all other groups, but spend less money per trip. African-Americans in higher income brackets also spend 300% more in higher-end retail grocers more than any other high income household.
- There were 23.9 million active African-American Internet users in July 2011 – 76% of whom visited a social networking/blog site.
- African-Americans use more than double the amount of mobile phone voice minutes compared to Whites – 1,298 minutes a month vs. 606.
- The percentage of African-Americans attending college or earning a degree has increased to 44% for men and 53% for women.
The weekly audience of all forms of online radio is now at an estimated 76 million Americans age 12 and older, reaching 29% of the population and representing an increase of more than 30% from one year ago according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research, “The Infinite Dial 2012: Navigating Digital Platforms.” The study, released yesterday, is the 20th in a series of studies dating back to 1998, and has few surprises that Nielsen, comScore and SNL Kagan have not already told us; but it offers a more comprehensive understanding of online radio.
"We've been tracking the usage of online radio in this series since 1998, and this year's increase in weekly usage is the largest year-over-year jump we've ever recorded. The increased demand for online audio content, and the ever-expanding variety of that content, shows that online radio continues to be a resilient, adaptive media for the changing needs of today's consumer," said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.
"The jump in weekly online radio usage is remarkable, but really a trailing variable to the rise in smartphone penetration, which has enabled much of that growth," said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research. "The increasing ubiquity of the mobile web is profoundly altering the quantity, nature and context of media consumption in America."
Seventeen percent of all cell phone owners have listened to online radio streamed in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo system; this is an increase of more than 50% in the past year when only 11% had ever done so.
Among other findings about online listening habits:
- Of those who listen to online radio at work, about 1/3 listen digitally, with 18% do so over the Internet, and 13% over smart phones; 68% listen on AM/FM radios
- Twenty two percent listened to Pandora in the past month when surveyed, up from 16% in 2011
- Fully 87% of respondents listened to both online and AM/FM radio, while 13% listened exclusively to online radio
- Those listening spent 9 hours 46 minutes on online radio, up about 150% since 2008
A total of 2,020 persons were interviewed to investigate Americans' use of digital platforms and new media. From January 20 to February 19, 2012, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron's Fall 2011 survey diarykeepers and through random digit dialing (RDD) sampling in geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not available for the survey. Diarykeepers represent 45% of the completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 55% of the completed interviews. The study includes a total of 500 cell phone interviews.
The other findings in the “Infinite Digital” survey are in line with Neilsen, comScore and other research outlets, and include these:
- Forty-four percent of all Americans age 12 and over own a smartphone, representing half of all cell phone owners
- Six in ten (61%) own a portable digital media device such as a smartphone, portable MP3 player or tablet; 40% own an Apple device (iPod/iPhone/iPad)
- Americans age 45 and older represent the largest percentage increase in social media usage in the past year, now up to 38% (from 31% in 2011)
- Fifteen percent are registered users of daily deals services such as Groupon and LivingSocial
It is worse than we thought, reports Ad Age. A study of consumer habits commissioned by Time Warner and conducted by Boston’s Innerscope Research found that consumers in their 20s (the so-called "digital natives") switch media venues 27 times per nonworking hour; roughly 13 times during a half-hour TV broadcast.
The study had just 30 participants, and as Ad Age described it, offers some insight into a generation that “always has a smartphone at arm's length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment's notice.”
The study was a 50/50 mix of digital natives and “digital immigrants” who grew up on TV and radio, but adapted to smart phones and
The study's subjects were split evenly between natives and "digital immigrants" (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones). The immigrants showed more patience, switching media venues 17 in a nonworking hour versus 27 for the natives.
The participants wore both biometric belts to measure their physical responses, and glasses with embedded cameras to track their platforms and durations while watching 300 hours of programming. They channel- and media-surfed at a dizzying rate, “Looking for…engaging content, and they dismiss so much stuff,” Dan Albert, senior VP-media director at Chicago's MARC USA agency told Ad Age.
The challenge, said an interviewee from Unilever, becomes that if consumers are “snacking” on short amounts of input, then marketers and advertisers must communicate in “snack-like bits of messaging.” Unilever owns both the Dove and Axe brands, among dozens of others.
One (expensive) method of capturing their attention is to “surround” consumers with ads that appear across several venues, as long as the viewer is tuned to the same content. So American Express might run a print ad in a magazine, plus pre-roll ads on the magazine’s digital version and smartphone and tablet apps. Presumably, Facebook and targeted ads reach those consumers as well, for additional exposures.
A Q4 2011 Nielsen survey found that 45% of U.S. consumers who owned tablets use them daily while watching TV, with similar results among smart phone users.
- A New York appeals court has resurrected “an epic copyright case over whether Google should be liable for movies and tv shows uploaded to YouTube” during its early days, reports PaidContent. A lower court judge had dismissed the case in 2010 stating that Google was protected by a “safe harbor” law distanced hosting sites from infringing content uploaded by third parties. Viacom counters that Google actively enabled and encouraged the practice, and claims it is owed $1 billion in royalties over 79,000 clips of shows like “John Stewart” and “South Park.”
- Twitter is opening offices in Detroit, “looking for better proximity to car companies with hefty ad budgets” according to a Reuter’s story. This following a notable financial recovery by General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler from years of restructuring and depressed auto sales. Google. Google claims it will have a "handful" of employees in Detroit, focused on working first-hand with automotive brands and advertising agencies.
- Elsewhere in Twitter news, it is actively protecting users and advertisers against spammers. The company said on its blog that “Our engineers continue to combat spammers’ efforts to circumvent our safeguards, and today we’re adding another weapon to our arsenal: the law…we filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against five of the most aggressive tool providers and spammers. With this suit, we’re going straight to the source.” As ClickZ details, the defendants include three companies and two individuals: TweetAttacks; TweetAdder; TweetBuddy; James Lucero; and Garland Harris. “By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal,” stated Twitter.” Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter.
- Facebook is also cracking down on spam, reports ClickZ. It has filed three separate lawsuits in federal court this week, alleging violations of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, (known as CAN-SPAM). The suits name two individuals, Steven Richter and Jason Swan, and one company, Max Bounty, Inc., of “using deceptive practices to trick Facebook members into handing over personal information, spamming friends or signing up for fake offers.” These filings come just two days after the Wall Street Journal alleged that makers of the top-10 Facebook apps (including Zynga of FarmVille fame) were transmitting Facebook User IDs to outside companies, violating Facebook's terms of service. Bad timing, with an IPO pending that is heavily dependent upon advertiser value.
- Time Warner Cable is promising an app for Android-based phones and tablets before Memorial Day, reports Multichannel News. But, not many Android devices currently on the market will be able to run it. The TWC TV app will run only on devices that support Google's Android 4.0 (known as “Ice Cream Sandwich”), and which few devices yet support. Still says TWC, it is “The only version of the Android OS that allows us the security and stability necessary to distribute video over our private network." The TWC TV apps for iPad released in April 2010, followed by versions for iPhone and iPod touch.
Pandora Radio’s Senior VP of Strategic Solutions Heidi Browning sat down with the experts at eMarketer, and detailed just how advertisers can (and should) take advantage of the digital radio platform.
“Connecting bands with brands and fans is one of our main missions…Consumers have personal relationships with Pandora because they feel like Pandora knows them,” said Browning. She went on to describe a “plethora” of national and local-level brands that have advertised on the platform.
Pandora is light on subscribers but heavy on advertising, like broadcast radio. That's OK for advertisers: according to the NPD Group, AM/FM listenership remained flat in 2011, while online radio is the fastest growing music listening option among U.S. consumers, with 43% of U.S. Web users having listened to music via Pandora, Slacker, Yahoo! Music, and other online radio options in 2011; that was up 9% over 2010.
In terms of targeting, Pandora at registration gathers age, gender and ZIP code information, allowing it to target ads based on that data. So Pandora is able to target political ads by state, county and congressional districts. “We also target based on time of day. We know when people are listening and on what types of devices. “ That on top of targeting based on music genre or artists, “where advertisers can get clever.” For example, Pandora enables quick ads to run during pausing or sharing a selection, when consumers are guaranteed to be looking at the screen, versus just listening.
Browning claims that about 70% of its listening hours occur on mobile devices, the remainder through nontraditional devices like TVs, tablets and in automobiles. “It’s shifting toward having Pandora in your pocket,” said Browning “Partly a reflection of the explosion in smartphone adoption as well as tablet adoption.” The smart phone boom has perhaps taken Pandora unawares; it has monetized the web for a decade, but is now shifting to mobile devices, but Browning believes the ad market hasn’t quite “caught up with the consumption market.” Because it is a listening platform, Pandora is focused both on visual advertising (e.g., screen takeovers for film releases), as well as audio ad units.
Still, video is key to the ad strategy as well, and Browning claims almost 90% completion rates on video, particularly during those pause/change station/skipping/sharing moments, and “incredible” clickthrough rates.
Finally, Pandora has created an entire video series of sponsored interviews with artists, with Mercedes-Benz sponsoring a series called “Moms Who Rock,” about how mom rock stars juggle family and career (including touring). “The videos are perfect for marketers looking to complement their advertising with value exchanges,” said Browning.