What trends will shape the media, publishing and ad industry in 2016? The Guardian gives its perspective on subjects ranging from the adblockalypse to the rise of super apps, and from virtual reality to the power of emojis.
3. 1) The adblockalypse
Advertising is broken and we in
journalism and media must take
responsibility for reinventing
it—because advertisers and
their agencies will not and
because our very survival
depends upon it.
”Jeff Jarvis, 2015
4. 800% growth in ad blocking in 5 years
Jan 2010 Jan 2011 Jan 2012 Jan 2013 Jan 2014 Jan 2015
Source: Pagefair and Adobe, 2015 Ad Blocking Report
6. To this…
"Like sand sharks cannibalizing each other in the womb,
ad startups know the only way out is to eat their rivals"
2011 2012 2014 2015
100 350 947 1,876
7. Give people a reason not to block
Source: New York Times analysis; Pew Research Center and comScore
11.9 11.3 10.9
9.5 9.1 8.9 8.8 8.6 7.9 7.7 7.2 6.7 6.6 6.3 6.1 6 5.8
1.1 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.4 0.4 0.2
Seconds to load editorial content
Seconds to load advertising content
USA Today had the smallest
mobile website in the sample
The New York Post, one of the
slowest websites, contains many
large photos, but fewer ads, so an
ad blocker had less of an effect
Sites in this range are quicker, but ad blockers still take out more than five seconds of loading
time over a typical cell connection
14. 3) Are you paying
The generation that has been
tethered to devices serves as a
cautionary example to the next
generation, which may decide
this is not a satisfying way to live.
The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World
15. Is time spent time well spent?
Media time vs adspend
Source: AA, Barb, Rajar, ComScore, NRS, Jicreg
Television OOH Radio Internet National
Media time share
Advertising spend share
16. Print still engages!
Media Engagement Index
Source: Totum Research: Canadians 18+; November 2013
0 50 100 150 200 250
dominates as the most
Newspaper website also
scores well above
average and most other
17. We’ve proven that context works
% uplift in ad perceptions, relevant vs non relevant editorial
environment on Guardian website
19. Viral news sites refocus on creation
It’s not difficult’, just photos of cats,
dogs and ‘silly little headlines scraped
from other sites.
Robert Thomson, CEO Newscorp
Upworthy, has become famous for so-
called curiosity gap headlines that seek to
spur the reader into clicking to scratch the
itch it creates. This leads to truly awful
headlines like “This Kid Just Died. What
He Left Behind is Wondtacular.
27. Instant Articles Are Shared Three Times More Than
Instant Articles vs Regular Links, The New York Times
Based on engagement for links posted on the main New York Times Facebook page, November 9-13
31. Children now spend
more time online
than watching TV
Change in time spent watching traditional
TV by age group 2010 to 2015
34. 7) Podcasting
Podcasting in 2015 feels a
lot like blogging circa
2004: exciting, evolving,
and trouble for
Niemen Lab article
35. Podcast consumption has exploded in recent years and will
keep growing steadily
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016E 2017E 2018E 2019E 2020E
Activate Projections: Total Podcast Listening Time, U.S., 2008 – 2020E
Source: Pew Research, Edison Research, Activate analysis
36. Early successes are showing podcast publishers can
generate premium advertising rates
Slate Podcasts (6.5M)
99% Invisible (1.5M)
Serial (73M Total)
Podcasting Monthly Downloads and CPM Rates
Source: Marketing Science, New York Magazine, Current, Ad Age, Activate Analysis
43. A universal language could be useful!
Source: Erin Meyer
From: ”Getting to si, ja, oui, hai, and da,” December 2015
51. What does all this mean?
1. The adblockalypse No complete answers yet, but a challenge that impacts us all
2. Planet of the apps A new distribution channel and a route to more engaged audiences?
3. Continuous partial attention Premiums should be paid for moments of total absorption
4. Curation vs Creation Original quality content is the route to engagement.
5. New business models for news Destination vs distribution; open vs walled garden
6. Minillennials Go where they go, but create a brand relationship at the same time.
7. Podcasting Reminding us of the power of stories
8. The power of visual language What emotions and visuals do people associate with your brand?
9. VR The next tech revolution?
PLEASE NOTE: This script is subject to change as we inevitably develop our narrative when new information around each of the trends we have identified comes to light throughout the course of the year.
The daddy issue of the moment
Ad Block Plus was first released in 2006 but as you’ll know, really only came to public prominence in the second half of 2015. Howard Stern, US shock jock, talked about it. It featured in an episode of South Park. Its going, if not yet gone, mainstream.
4 main reasons for installing an ad blocker:
Ad formats – those deemed disruptive/intrusive
Auto play video
Page load speed – the first rule of mobile
If these are the causes, then it follows that if you solve them, you solve the issue. Except that, in this instance, there's no penalty for installing one.
With the exception of people like City AM, GQ and Axel Springer in Germany, there's no jeopardy, no loss, if you don’t turn your ad blocker off. In the majority of cases, you can still view the content even if you have installed one. It’s a real challenge, for all of us. If you’re in news and you prevent people viewing your content, then the BBC looms large as a pretty decent alternative.
So how did we get here
This is the first ever banner ad, for AT&T, in Wired Magazine in 1994
It all seems so innocent
And somehow, we’ve ended up here
This is the famous Lumascape chart showing the business between advertiser and publisher.
Some of the businesses here slow down your page load. That’s a primary cause of installing an ad blocker. Google reckon half of people leave a mobile website if it takes longer than 6-10 seconds to load.
So it is a genuine consumer opportunity and it’s meant that some businesses have taken matters into their own hands. The number one browser in Asia is called UC Browser. It comes with an ad blocker set to “on” by default. The browser is owned by Alibaba – the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. Their business is not ads, it’s selling goods, so they want a fast web. It’s a particular challenge in Asia where data usage and smartphone cost is approx. 5% of your income, compared to about 1% here.
Speed is of the essence, particularly on mobile. Google is going to start labelling pages with a special “slow” mark in its mobile search interface. Here, we see an NYT survey of top publishers and load time speed. The slowest is boston.com. We’re the fastest. But ad blockers tend not to discriminate between good and bad publisher behaviour; if they happen to come to us from boston.com, we may already be discriminated against.
Two more things:
1. Shine, an Israeli start up, wants to suppress mobile advertising by eliminating ads at the cell phone carrier level. Digicel, a company based in Bermuda, bought Shine’s code and removed all ads to 14m people.
Other ISP’s and networks providers like EE/O2 in the UK have also said they are looking at offering ad blocking at source.
2. Facebook vs Google vs Apple is a multi billion fight that we've caught up in. Apple “started this” back in summer 2015. It makes its money from hardware, so doesn’t worry overly about ads. The other 2 both do. Publishers are caught in the middle of this one
So what to do:
We don’t believe that fighting a tech war with ad blockers will work. Too many people hate ads too much and don’t see the commercial contract we see. We also don’t believe that paying a blocker will work. What determines an acceptable ads is not their choice – they have whitelisted retargeting companies like Criteo, for example, so we know they are not interested in a quality experience. The answer is to make sure the user/reader sees the value exchange more explicitly, and are offered different ways to support the work you do, like our Membership scheme here.
And we’re going for a lighter ad load. Our ad sales philosophy is fewer, better – less ads on a page, but those that are will be more relevant and less likely to antagonise
But we accept that the answers are disappointingly vague still. Ricardo Bilton at Digiday said that the answers to ad blocking are a bit like the cure for a hangover – we may all have our favourite, but none is yet proven
Clearly, a trend to watch – it affects all of us
Planet of apps. This is not the last bad pun you’re going to see in this presentation today. There tends to be a perceived wisdom that because there are millions of apps out there, that there’s a potential goldmine for some lucky app developers to tap in to. If they could just strike it lucky with a popular app then they will be rewarded with untold riches.
However, in a world where 10 of the top 12 apps are owned by google, facebook and apple and that each year new apps are competing with a growing backlog of incumbents, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
As Rob Norman says, this year in the app world we’re increasingly going to see an end of fragmentation and a return to scale.
But let’s just take a step back a second….
There are more stats out there to demonstrate the dominance of mobile than you can shake a stick at the moment:
OFCOM reports that a third of UK adults now regard their mobile phones as the most important device for getting online,
Next year mobile ad spend is forecast to hit £4.8bn and in three years time will be second only to TV.
And for the Guardian we hit our own mobile milestone over xmas with 70% of pageviews coming from mobile devices for the first time.
Interestingly the mobile phone is now the same size now as it was a quarter of a century ago… but with one crucial difference: screen size. What do we do with these screens? We stuff them with app icons… most of which we never even touch!
Data from Flurry Analytics shows that we now spend 80% of our time on mobile on apps. And that we spend half our app time on just our one favourite app.
According to data from ComScore 65 per cent of us aren’t downloading every month. We’re mainly making do with whatever comes with our phone.
Our home screen is prime real estate for apps. It may sound obvious but everyone will have some apps and everyone will have some different ones…. If you dare – unlock your homescreen now and see how many apps are the same as your neighbours.
This picture of itunes revenues says it all. By the end of the last decade music sales dwarfed app sales and accounted for about half of itunes revenues. Five years later and app revenues are four times lager than music and account for the vast majority of revenue overall.
But what’s driving this exponential growth? Enter messaging apps.
You’ll all be familiar with Market Leader Whatsapp (Who uses text anymore? Your Mum and marketing companies? Will we see the phone number start to become redundant in 2016?) has 900m users using it for over three hours a week on average.
It was acquired by Facebook for $19billion in Oct 2014, but is estimated to generate just a fraction of that in revenue, so what’s all the fuss about?
This is where super apps come in. And there is no better example than the Chinese app WeChat:
With 600 million active users it is the fastest growing messaging app in the world and it’s pretty frightening how much of your life you can outsource to one app:
You can do everything from hail a taxi, order food delivery, buy movie tickets, book a doctors appointment, and pay the water bill with We chat. And of course you can chat too!
In fact WeChat is so engrained in Chinese consumers digital habits that it’s becoming increasingly vital for the commercial expansion of companies in to local Chinese markets… although there are now serious concerns around competitiveness: WeChat banned Uber temporarily for example over an argument about rates and didn’t manage to take off in China until they two companies came to an agreement.
Next up for 2016 then? Facebook messenger: The WeChat of the west.
Messaging is the one thing people do more of on their mobile phone than socially network and as you have probably all noticed Facebook split off its messenger app in April 2014 demanding users download it separately.
Why compete with its own acquisition WhatsApp though? Well WhatsApp remained lean, Messenger functionality has kept growing - video and voice calls, peer-to-peer payments, location-sharing are all part of the facebook messenger ecosystem now.
Last week it was even announced that developers are being given access to the development tools to allow them to create chat bots that users can send text messages to directly and that automatically respond with product information, images, location services, and buy buttons.
People may send 30 billion daily messages on WhatsApp alone, but the Facebook Messenger Platform is open to developers and brands – once you open up a conversation with brands you create a personal connection for life.
And this is why this trend is important for brands and publishers alike. Is messaging the next distribution channel for news and will it allow us to create more personal connections with readers? The German tabloid Bild thinks so, which is exactly why they are now delivering football transfer rumours and celebrity gossip directly to users chat feeds.
Not only that, but we as a quality news publisher have to consider where the ad money’s going. Over half of mobile display spend is now in-app… and much of this is going to Facebook. We however, still believe that advertisers are missing a trick with premium apps. The Guardian’s for example may only account for 2% of global reach, but that generate 25% of all page impressions. On no platform will you find a more engaged guardian consumer.
Linda Stone, a tech exec who worked in emerging technologist Apple and then Microsoft, coined this phrase about fifteen years ago. It refers to the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything.
We have our own obesity crisis in media; too much content, much of it of dubious quality, some of it mislabelled. No wonder that we suffer from this condition.
You’ll probably recognise it yourself; you go online and forget what you went online for, or you multi screen through shows like the X factor – if you are still watching it. TV shows with subtitles would be a preference for my media selection; they force you to pay full attention.
Anyway, Linda says its not good or bad, it just is. Accept that your attention differs with context and scenarios. Driving a car, riding a bike, even having sex. If you’re familiar with the work of Daniel Kahneman, its akin to his system 1 and 2 of decision making. Does everyone know about system 1 and 2?
Advertising is a system 1 industry; brands help consumers make fast, intuitive choices – unthinking choices.
For publishers, it means making sure your content is available where a reader can find it. Don’t make them work too hard to find you.
It means that there should be an ad premium for attention and the environments where you are really committed to the media = when you go to the cinema, in mags and also news brands. Its why the Mary Meeker chart (time spent / money spent) is only part of the story and why Sir Martin Sorrell now says that there are data that proves higher consumer engagement levels with newspapers and mags because of their ability to generate more attention and focus.
Maybe he’s referring to this research, from Canada, demonstrating how the printed newspaper engages. It’s a simple human truth that you cannot usefully do anything else when reading, so it’s not surprising
To back this up, we found a study about reading by Washington University. The key result: 92% of Millennials retained their concentration highest when reading in print. 92%! We should, as people who choose where to invest our client’s money, sit up and take notice.
In a world of peak content, where you’ve never short of things to read, watch or listen to, be very aware that the same person in different contexts and environments is like to be displaying very different levels of attention. Slapping ads across the web without thinking about the context or environment and asking the consumer to make a connection to your campaign, is asking too much.
You still paying attention?
This time last year when we presented our trends presentation we talked about the death of clickbait. We talked about the irritation that internet users were showing to misleading article headlines and the rise of social platforms like “This” that only allow you to share one article a day – thereby ensuring that people have actually read what they have shared on a social platforms.
Typically the debate hasn’t gone away this year…. but the answer is way more complex than simply re-writing a few headlines and making better use of social signals. The question rather is around purposes. Is it to curate or to create?
The two largest viral sites have faced contrasting fortunes of late. In June last year, Newscorp stuck the boot in to Buzfeed declaring that its “easy to come up with a website that I guarantee you would hit a million hits within four weeks".
Easy maybe but with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti in October revealing just how far that strategy has carried the company: BuzzFeed now receives 5 billion content views per month – clearly they’re doing something right.
Buzzfeed are getting serious about content creation: In the summer of this year they hired Ex Guardian US head Janine Gibson and a month later held a joint investigation with Newsnight in to the mismanagement of the Kids Company charity. Buzfeed are getting serious.
When you look at the staffing levels required to get in to news you realise its no small commitment. News is big business and everyone wants in on it.
Upworthy have a steeper hill to climb if they’re to convince people that they’re getting serious however.
After being declared "the fastest growing media site of all time" in an article in Fast Company in 2013 by 2014 they were confronting the issue of declining traffic, blaming it on rapid expansion and training of editorial teams- but more likely a result of backlash against Clickbait,
By July 2015 Upworthy were announcing a refocusing of their business upon story creation rather than curation during the course of a Mea Culpa presentation where the apologised for inventing clickbait: http://www.slideshare.net/UpworthyAdmin
So Upworthy feel responsible for clickbait… but is it too late to change people’s minds?! A move to empathetic, data driven story telling. Covering topics such as workers wages, and diversity may be the answer but time will tell.
The last few years are littered the corpses of curation apps that have been heralded with much hype but have ultimately failed to live up to expectations. The demise of the likes of Circa, and Summly (the news aggregation app sold to Yahoo by a 17 year old in 2012) both point to the primacy of producing original quality content.
And it’s not just the viral sites that are getting in on the act. Everyone needs actual human editors. Why? Because they want your attention.
In the past few months, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all announced new curation features that rely on humans to sift through and select the best content from their massive collections of user posts.
While Facebook has been doing this to your News Feed for years with an ever-evolving software algorithm, its News Feed algorithm is still a work in progress; computers alone can’t always detect things like sentiment or context when compiling info about a news event. Algorythms can go wrong and this is why real human editors matter.
But it’s not just social platforms who are becoming dependent on journalists. Journalists are becoming increasingly dependent on social tools too – whether they like to admit it or not.
An article by Newswhip Owner Paul Quigley highlights how social signal technologies (like the Guardian’s Ophan system) are used by journalists to identify the stories, events and videos that are likely to become hits.
He feels there is a reluctance to admit this dependence – as if social signals are like performance enhancing drugs.
But the role of the journalist has changed. Before digital, consumers had no role in documenting news. After digital they do. Journalists need social signals to sift through the noise. Every minute:
Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content,
72 hours of YouTube content is uploaded.
Clearly in such a world it’s prudent to consider the use of social signals as the wisdom of crowds not mob rule
So if you get creation at one end of the content spectrum, and curation in the middle… what’s at the other end? Downright theft?
It’s a risky strategy and you can come in to a lot of stick if consumers latch on to it. Take this mock Lad Bible twitter feed for example…. They’re not retweeting or “crediting” people’s jokes but rather copying and poasting and using them as their own. And its being noticed.
It’s not just the small players who are at it too…
In November this year a video went viral that levelled some pretty damning accusation at Facebook:
The video, created by a Munich-based YouTube channel was released in November, and quickly notched up more than 1.1 million YouTube views in that time.
In a nutshell the 5-minute video that offers a simple explanation of the problem of “freebooting” on Facebook, when copyrighted videos are ripped from other sources (mostly YouTube) and uploaded to the service without permission and then monetized by facebook.
In Response: Facebook does use a system called Audible Magic to detect copyright-infringing videos but its far from perfect and free booting will only come under more scrutiny next year.
What does the curation vs creation debate mean for advertisers? Ultimately it’s about context. Creating quality content is the only true route to reaping the benefits of context.
Going back to Jonah Peretti, he says himself that news drives repeat visits. It drive usage. Reputation in content creation can’t be built over night however – it has to be earned – and at a time when quality content sites are at a premium this is more true than ever.
Let’s admit it, we’re all neophiles
We love the new. New toys, new tech, new partners – it’s a very human condition.
And in our industry, we really love the new. But we also love running with the herd; we do what other people do. So when new and exciting things come along, and then we start reading about them in the trade press, it’s a signal that we can start using them.
This chart captures that brilliantly – we saw it in the Wall St Journal. All of these businesses capture a tiny fragment of a users day, yet their valuation is sky high.
It’s why we are fascinated by changing business models – there’s money in them!
AMP, Facebook Instant Articles
AMP homepage is 6 x lighter in code and loads 5 x less trackers.
Or most of them.
This chart shows how new news firms are finding it hard to stay alive and how the emphasis is moving from the content provider to the platform. You’re seeing the clear division of platform and content, between the host, the platform and the supplier of content (the publisher). Some publishers now get more than half their traffic from social, rather than from Google or direct. You’re now either a destination or a distributor.
So you’re seeing publishers try very different approaches:
The Times still resolutely behind a paywall. The Sun emerging from behind one.
The Huffington Post aiming to produce ever more content than before with project Donatello – driving their number of contributors from 100k to 1 million. Reminds me of something a huffy journalist once said, “everyone can write. Not everyone can write well.
Micropayments: Companies like Blendle and Tipsy who organise small payments for publishers for each article read. Blendle started by two journalists from Holland, going to us this year.
And Washington Post. last time, we talked about collaboration. The Washington Post have done this. They offer free access to their digital platforms to subscribers of over 100 US regional papers. They have launched their free app pre-loaded on each Amazon Fire tablet.
Perhaps, most interestingly, they are uploading all their content onto Facebook Instant Articles.
Now, I’m not sure I’m willing to bet against Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post and the founder of Amazon, when it comes to how the internet works. So we should sit up and pay attention to this move.
Some early results from Instant articles – more shares, more likes, more comments
Why – primarily because it is loaded more quickly, so warrants more shares – which leads to more likes and comments
And of course, Facebook’s Instant Articles were quickly followed by Google AMP and Apple News. All about speed (which takes us back to ad blocking), because they tend to adopt whatever the others do.
The ecosystem is leading to businesses to starting up without a homepage at all and just allowing their content to be distributed. Only 23% of Buzzfeed’s total traffic is direct to the site or via its app. The rest comes from You Tube, Facebook and Snapchat.
Within this section, we should mention video
There’s a seemingly inexhaustible demand for video content from advertisers but some publishers have found it hard to get big numbers to view what they expensively produce. In the last week, HuffPo and Time have both announced a scaling back of their video production. Commentators speculate that hosting video on your site is asking too much of a mobile first generation who are used to finding things in one place – like Twitter, here
Murdoch once said, “content is king, distribution is King Kong”. The economics of video would suggest he had a point.
So the big trend to watch is whether publishers can find profit in having their content distributed by others…
I came across this nice quote from the CMO of Sonos as she discussed why focus groups don’t work on millenialls any more. She actually said that the front cover to Nirvana’s album Nevermind (the baby swimming towards a dollar) summed things up perfectly. Millenialls cynicism just jars so much the previous generation’s idealism. And just for definitions sake, I’m defining millennials as roughly people aged up to 34.
For the CMO of Sonos, she’s finding it nearly impossible to hold a focus group where she can talk to 18-34 year olds about their hopes and dreams with a view to informing a comms strategy to engage with them. They just see through everything – they see brand messages everywhere and as we‘ve seen from the higher incidence of ad blocking amongst this age group, they can not not see the marketing.
Millennials get a hard rap though. Some of the more damning assessments of them refers to them as lazy, entitled, spoilt and narcissistic.
I saw a great sarcastic quote over Christmas that really put things in perspective however: Yes Millennials are really spoilt with their £200 ipads in comparison to the asset rich older generation who, you know, are all asset millionaires and were lucky enough to still be able to buy a home in London without financially crippling themselves.
Either way, generations differ and those difference are here to stay.
In fact when it comes to media those generational differences are widening. Millennials are in fact getting more different from older generations as time progresses. And the younger end of the spectrum: Minillennials (our 12 to 18 year olds) – even more so.
Figures from the US have show that while 50+ year olds actually spend more time watching traditional TV in the last five years, for 18-34 year olds the decline has been dramatic, with 18-24 year olds leading the charge.
The picture in the UK is little different with Ofcom reporting that Children now spend more time online than watching TV, with 12-15 year olds spending 19 hours online a week in total.
The good news for us is that kids trust in news sites has increased bounds in the last year
Compared to 2014, there have been increases in the numbers of 8-15’s who believe that what they read on news sites is true.
Cynical they may be? But it’s encouraging to know that in a world where there is a scarcity of premium quality content sites, future generations aren’t planning on consigning traditional news brand to the bin.
That said…. Perhaps that finding should be tempered by the finding that 20% of teens believe Google results are the truth. Naiive too perhaps?!
While news sites might be more important to minillennials than ever before, the same can’t be said of Facebook according to Ofcom’s research.
Fewer kids say Facebook is their "main" social media profile than ever before.
For the young abandoning facebook, it’s all about visual social platforms. Instagram is far an away the most popular site with facebook coming a mere third.
In fact Instagram is so popular that we’ve now even seen the emergence of Finsta’s or Fake Instagram accounts. Kids are now presenting an idealised version of themselves to the world on one account and a sillier more playful version under a fake account.
A generation with multiple personality disorders or is it no different to me presenting a different version of myself on facebook and linkedin?
Snapchat is the big mover however with a fifth of teens considering it their most important social platform.
Its rise (according to one media commentator) comes hand in hand with an evolution of attention. “We have insect-like attention spans these days. To combat this, Snapchat’s finger-on-the-screen mechanic of one-time-only views forces users to dedicate full attention.”
Snapchat is claiming 100 million active daily users and a staggeringly 6 billion video views are registered on snapchat every day.. Clearly they’re doing something right.
What does all this mean for publishers and brands? Well we’re all looking for new audiences. We all need to future proof our customer base. Arguably news brands have been good at doing this for decades… why else are record numbers of people reading the news?
The question is can you do this by acting as a destination site or do we need to take ourselves off platform to where mini-lennials are?
For many the answer is the latter and as a consequence we’re now seeing publishers hire Snapchat specialists: CNN, National geographic and Vice all publish content on Snapchat discover.
That doesn’t mean Snapchat doesn’t come with its workflow challenges – you have to recruit specialist staff, you have to shoot video in portrait etc. Publishers can’t get the benefit of traffic to their sites because the platform is self-contained.
Marketers love the new. Maybe this will be the year they experiment with Snapchat. However, persistent issues around content discoverability and the disappearing nature of content will could well limit its appeal.
Either way mini-lennials are all to play for.
For years now, the outdoor industry has talked about the 3rd space, the place between home and work. It’s a good sell. But outdoor companies, like all of us, face a battle for attention.
A few years back, NVision introduced us to the concept of smart boredom – tech has sold us on the idea that we can’t do nothing anymore. Idle moments at a bus stop of looking up at buildings or the sky are now seemingly beyond us. It’s a good example of how tech has changed human behaviour.
Podcasting also helps fill that 3rd space void, that bus stop moment
As you can see here, total listening time to podcasts is on the rise. 50m Americans listen to at least one podcast each month.
It was probably one podcast, Serial, that reminded us of the power of narration, our love of stories. Serial, an investigation into the murder of an American teenage, has been downloaded 73m times.
Back in the 19th Century, Dickens’ novels were published as a single chapter in a magazine each month. Serial effectively does the same. Tech hasn’t changed us that much.
It’s also lucrative – you can see the average cpm here. And rightfully so.
Podcasts should be a powerful platform for advertisers. Why? Because they are self-selecting. We don’t choose all our media – some is just on in the background serving different need states like keeping us company. But we choose to listen to podcasts and it follows that therefore value the content. We pay attention to it. Not partial attention. That should be a premium opportunity.
Yet when you listen to a podcast, you hardly ever hear advertising. Maybe Squarespace or MailChimp, or Audible. But as yet, none of the everyday brands. Acast, a Swedish company, are trying to change that by aggregating podcast inventory and make it easier for you to buy.
Meanwhile, other advertisers have taken matters into their own hands
General Electric created their own podcast – an eight part series called The Message that solves a fictional mystery- it’s been downloaded over one million times.
Adobe has started turning its marketing white papers into podcasts for execs short on time.
So far in this presentation we’ve established that there’s a serious attention issue at there, and that arguably Millennials have more of a problem than everyone else.
Whatever the prognosis what is inarguable, is that online we are paying more and more attention not just to written content but to visual content too.
The growth in online video is well documented so we won’t cover that now, but you only have to look at the dynamics of our social networking habits to see this trend in action elsewhere. The Pew Institute reporSt that that Pinterest and Instagram usage doubled Since 2012, while growth on Other Platforms (FB, Twitter and Linkedin) is much slower. And Pinterest and Instagram are all about the visuals….
Pinterest even introduced a pioneering visual search tool last year, enabling users to hover over elements of an image and search for more images like it.
It kind of works… I was searching for some lightbulbs and ended up with a bowl of sugar cubes, but generally its pretty good and signals the start of a shift in the old norms about how we process, search and store information online.
BUT: Any guess for what the fastest growing form of visual language has been in the last year? ANSWER: Emojis!
So we all know what an emoji is right? These little icons originated in Japan in the late 90s and literally mean ‘picture’ (e) and ‘character’ (moji). Emoji it’s the fastest growing form of communication in the UK and we send about 6bn on a daily basis. You can go to this real time emoji tracker online now and have a look at which emojis are being used on twitter as we speak.
Research on our own Guardian Crowd has shown that the primary reasons for using emojis are to critique someone, emphasise emotion and say something they can’t express with words. What an inarticulate bunch we are!
So how many of you were aware that emojis are governed by the Unicode Consortium – a non-profit group formed in the 1980s to promote standardised coding? We got a sneak peak as to what they are planning to release this year and the award for the most superfluous surely has to go the full avocado / half avocado combo!
We’ve even seen emoji keyboards come on to the market for those who can’t be bother to type real words anymore…
But the growth in emoji usage has naturally come hand in hand with a debate about what exactly this all means. As one journalist said, “It may seem superfluous to qualify tiny pictograms of see-no-evil monkeys in this way, but as emoji usage continues to increase, it only makes sense to start treating them as a language and figuring out just what it is we’re trying to say.”
A group of researchers have started to do exactly that with their emoji sentiment ranking. They have studied 1.6 million tweets covering off 750 emojis across 13 European language to assess what sentiment each one tends to be associated with.
Some of the results are obvious. The present has a high positive sentiment – everyone likes receiving presents right? The crying cat has a negative score attached to it… but so too does the policeman!
The fact that they managed to make such generalisations across 13 languages was actually another really interesting fact… because (NEXT SLIDE)
As you can see (and as we might all know deep down)…. People in different countries communicate with each other very differently face to face. Perhaps when you go back to your desk, bear this in mind when talk to your Dutch colleagues… they don’t mean to be confrontational that’s just they way they are. Try showing them a winky face emoji maybe!
Could emojis become the language that bridges this gap?!
What does this all mean for advertising and media however?
The abundance of information is making the battle for customer attention even greater. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and emoji are just the next evolution of communicating, sometimes even complex thoughts or emotions, with simple pictures.
Look at this simple example from Bud Lite from the 4th July.
Last year GE launched an emoji campaign to explain the “science” behind emojis. Including a microsite and a Twitter invitation to see their “periodic table of emoji”.
Ford and Dell have both got in on the act of creating new digital emoji stickers for consumers to share while Dominos are evening trialling a service whereby you can text them to slice of pizza emoji and they’ll automatically send you your favourite pizza. Sounds dangerous to me!
Either way they’re in their infancy and as one recent ad age article pointed out, like with so many emerging digital trends, the one inhibitor of broader take up is tangible ROI.
While it might be a little far fetched to suggest that we’ll start publishing the Guardian in emoji, there is a broader question around the increased use of visual language – both off platform as a means attract new audiences and also as a means of engagement when people are on plartform.
This is happening.
At CES in Vegas in January 2016, 40 exhibitors demonstrated VR.
7 million headsets are predicted to be in use by end 2016, with the industry understandably going after the gamer community first.
It is an extraordinary experience and with wildly different price points, it is not a standard start up industry.
Zuckerberg thinks this is the next big tech revolution. Are you willing to bet against him?
VR is not to be confused with AI, thought that will also excite. But VR is ready to go now, and could scale first.
AI – help us do things in our ever busier day to day lives
Prices go from $20 to $600, from Google Cardboard to Oculus Rift. The NYT gave away over 1m cardboard headsets last year for their story on Syria.
Oculus Rift will sell for $600 and start shipping end March partnering with VR game makes on 1st round of shipments. Package includes an Xbox 1 Controller and a VR game, Lucky’s tale.
We think VR will really take off when it becomes a standard feature of high end smartphones rather than just products like Samsung Gear.
The challenge is two fold:
1. the creation of content (specialist) rather than the adoption of the tech. Content is specialist and expensive to make
2. Showing what it can do. The irony would be that you only “get” VR when you get a VR set. But maybe the Google cardboard price point makes that a problem that can easily be overcome.
If you want to climb Mount Everest without climbing it, go to Glastonbury without going or visit a bombed out town in Syria, you now can. Among others, the travel, fashion and porn industries are very excited.
As are publishers. The idea of putting our audience into the heart of the story is, of course, incredibly exciting. And our clients will be very interested too. Test driving a car from your sofa, seeing your holiday destination before you book, trying on a coat before you buy – it all becomes possible via these various technologies.
Not to be confused with VR, is AR
The founder of Oculus rift thinks the two concepts will blend into one. Until then, we can just watch and wonder…
74% are currently using it = 18% of total online population.
Blocking all ads is the main motivation for the software, but people are more tolerant of ads that don’t interrupt their user experience.
61% would prefer to have ads than pay to access content without.
From the media briefing:
Ad-Blocking is a Young Person’s Game – But Not For Long
Ad-blocking has captured a lot of headlines in recent months, despite the fact it’s still just 28% of online adults who say they are deploying one of these tools.
The heaviest consumers of the internet, 16-24s, are at the very forefront of the trend, with over a third of them blocking ads. But that presents something of a paradox: older groups are the most concerned about their privacy and personalized recommendations/ads and yet are the least likely to be blocking ads.
That’s surely a symptom of awareness; currently, older groups are the least likely to know what ad-blockers are. As such tools become more mainstream, there can be little doubt that usage levels will creep upwards and show fewer variations by age. It’s certainly telling that 55-64s are already about as likely as 16-24s to be deleting cookies on a regular basis, an action which is rather more established and well-known among internet users.
In light of this, trying to resist the spread of ad-blocking feels rather futile. It’s akin to the complaints that traditional suppliers in other sectors have been levelling at disruptor services such as Uber and Airbnb; rather than hoping that the problem will disappear and that consumers will suddenly become ultra-moral or self-aware, we need to recognize that the game has changed.
With our research showing that smartphone owners (and those with an iPhone 6 in particular) are already ahead of average for using ad-blockers, this is a trend which is here to stay. And which will get much more mainstream in the months ahead.
But what are we doing on our apps? From blindly following a street address on google maps, to avoiding speaking to an operator when ordering a taxi via Uber, to looking up train times, and inconsequential pieces of trivia on Wikipedia while attempting to win a pub quiz, we outsource more and more of our thinking to our mobile phone.
Yet this picture really varies by industry too.
The app is the start place for search now in many cases. Forty four per cent of product searches on mobile start on Amazon not Google according to Brian Beck, the senior vice president of the e-commerce specialist Guidance. Only Thirty four per cent of mobile shoppers start on a search engine. If they need to, they’ll search broadly. If they don’t they’ll plump for the more convenient option of in-app search.
The phenomenon of outsourcing our lives to our phone is referred to in a recent report from for the IAB as Digital Amnesia: Forgetting information that you trust to a digital device. The same report reveals that a whopping 80% of European internet users now say they use the internet as an extension of their brain?
One final thoughts on apps… are we seeing the death of the hyperlink. An article on Fortune entitled “Facebook, Twitter and the death of the link” paint such a picture with publishers not wanting to send people outside of their walled environment and even claiming page load speeds improve without hyperlinks.
In the old days of the web, links were a way of showing that you had done your research, a way of supporting your facts and assertions, and also a way of paying your respects to other bloggers writing about the same things. But as blogs became media companies, links started to get buried at the bottom of stories, and aggregators in many cases never bothered linking to the original source at all.
App indexing and deep-linking practices will grow as app owners look to improve content discoverability and engagement.
Marketers will take advantage of the opportunity, provided by both Google (App Indexing API) and Apple (Search APIs) to surface the content of their apps in mobile search engines. They will begin deep-linking into app-based content from advertising, Web sites or other apps to facilitate mobile consumer journeys and conversions.
Google mobile search results will increasingly include "app-first" content and offer the ability to "stream" content from apps that are not installed on devices. Therefore, apps will become more like interlinkable Web sites.
What does this all mean for advertisers? Well, returning to Rob Norman’s quote at the start of this section he believes that we are about to see a new power structure in advertising. Some pillars, such as Facebook and Google, are in place, but the rise of retailer as media owner, and service players (such as Uber and Airbnb), has yet to play out to anything like its full extent. The fact that there are 1.5 million apps out there is irrelevant. There’s probably room for about 50 apps in consumers’ lives – as media owners we need to be one of those apps and as brands you need to have a presence on them.
Let’s talk about information overload: Information overload is a paradox. Just because there is more information available, it doesn’t mean one can consume more. There are 17 new webpages published every second. Think about that…17, 34, 51, 68, 85 published in just five seconds. Is somebody supposed to consume that?
Finally just a bit of fun… where DO we draw the line with social signals? How reliant should we get with it? Would you entrust this advice to your business or to your sales team.
Take the Crystal app for example. It scours your social profiles and all of your contacts and assesses what sort of person they are and how you should talk to them. It even optimises the way you right emails to your contacts!
Like a Myers Briggs personality type test on speed!