POV: Targeting Tribes Through Tech

People have always connected over shared interest, forming unique relationships over similar passions. What was once limited to physical proximity has expanded into fan communities online. Constant connectivity has made it easier for people to connect, forming strong, loyal fandoms whether they know one another or not. In this POV, we discuss how brands can utilize technology to target these fandoms, or tribes, and message to them in an authentic and transparent way as a means to leverage brand equity.

POV: How Can Consumers Trust Brands With Personal Information

Download the POV here.

You may think of consumer data collection—and the resulting privacy concerns—as “corporate evil-doing”. But really, it’s just a delicate value exchange that most brands have yet to figure out how to manage.

In order for consumers to trust brands with their personal data, brands must actively take steps to ensure that:

  • Consumers consent to data collection
  • Once collected, data remains secure
  • Data proves helpful to both the brand and the consumer

Learn more about how to win that consumer trust by downloading the POV here.



From ‘Like’ to Love: How Brands Can Woo Users on Messaging and Dating Apps

How can brands connect with dating app users?

Where audiences go, brands follow, especially when those audiences are young and hard to find on traditional media. As a result, several brands are experimenting with the best ways to reach people on messaging apps. As seen in the report, the combination of brands, messaging, and dating is creating some unusual results, as seen in the following examples.

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MAGNA GLOBAL Flash POV: Stephen Colbert Will Take Over The Late Show in 2015

One week ago, David Letterman announced he would be retiring as host of CBS’s Late Show.  Yesterday CBS put the speculation on his replacement to rest with the news that Stephen Colbert (current host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central) will be the new host of the Late Show when Letterman departs in 2015.  While the exact departure date for Letterman has not been set, Comedy Central has already decided The Colbert Report will end its run at the end of 2014.  The burning question everyone has been asking since the news broke has been answered by CBS: Colbert will drop his “conservative” character when he moves to the Late Show.

This move reflects an overall shift in the late night daypart, which seems to be both a cyclical changing of the guard and an effort to keep younger viewers tuned in.  Just one month after taking over The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon has lowered the show’s median age by six years (52 versus 58).Prior to Fallon taking over, Jimmy Kimmel had been the youngest of the 11:30pm Broadcast programs with a median age of 54.  The shift to a personality like Stephen Colbert should help keep CBS competitive with the younger set.

In the age of digital extensions and the importance of social media, CBS needs someone like Stephen Colbert who can be directly competitive with both Fallon and Kimmel.  In terms of full episodes, Colbert Report generates more total streams and time spent than Fallon and Kimmel combined.  However, the broadcast hosts have the advantage when it comes to short clips, with The Tonight Show’s YouTube channel generating about three million subscribers and Kimmel’s just over four million.  Comedy Central’s entire channel has just under three million in total.

There has no announcement yet on whether Craig Ferguson will continue as host of the Late Late Show following Colbert, or what will replace The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.  Former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver had been considered the heir apparent in C0medy Central late night, but he has since moved over to HBO.  As the press noted during the week of speculation leading up to CBS’s announcement, two late night staples—Conan O’Brien and Chelsea Handler—will become available in the near future, as their contracts expire in 2014 and 2015, respectively.  For now, we can expect more rumors to fly.

Impact on TV Viewing

We expect this transition to be very similar to the shift that just occurred at NBC.  While the first week will show growth due to increased interest, once the initial sampling stops the show will settle back to its normal levels.  We expect to see a slight shift in the median age, again similar to what occurred at NBC.

Can TV Be The Mobile Cookie?

Most industry folks would agree that the Holy Grail of marketing is to create a) highly targeted advertising b) at scale. This is, however, no easy feat…

As we point out in the recently released Second Screen Fallacy report, the simultaneous usage of a mobile device while watching TV (a behavior true of most mobile users at this point) is the best means we have of personalizing the TV experience. But while mobile offers the best means of personalizing, TV continues to be the most effective medium for reaching audiences at scale.

Recognizing that “second screen” is a nebulous and often misleading term, in this case we are using it to represent a two-screen advertising strategy, regardless of which you would consider the “first” and “second” screens.

A recent Forbes article does a great job of describing what we might call a “marriage of convenience” between Twitter and TV networks and their hybrid offspring: Twitter Amplify, which enables complementary content to be served up to users on the second screen.  But we have started to observe a different dynamic occurring between the two screens; TV content is now starting to be used to contextually target a user on mobile platforms.

Not only do marketers want to know who the users are, but also what mood they are in, and what interests they’ve recently indulged in (cooking, sports or X Factor?) so we can target them with right message at the right time, according to their specific mindset.  Ultimately, TV provides rich behavioral insight for mobile targeting, and this dual screen dynamic is opening the doors to richer and more personalized mobile targeting, powered by hefty TV audience data.

In my previous life as a digital media planner, the daily banter with ad ops would include: “how many cookies do we have in the cookie jar,” because some of our campaigns were so targeted it would sometimes take weeks to gather enough cookies for a fully-fledged retargeting campaign.  But TV  is a ready-and-waiting, data-rich cookie pool which can now be activated, thanks to the “second screen” industry.

And so far, it is showing promise.  AdTonik, a “second screen” startup, found that using TV as a “cookie” off which to retarget mobile ads has resulted in a reported 3-10x increase in mobile engagement (compared to straight-up mobile buying).

Meanwhile, at the Lab, we are starting to establish best practices in this nascent space. In partnership with Collective, we have conducted research (to be released soon) focusing on Collective’s cross-screen targeting capability, TVA.  Our research demonstrates that re-messaging people sequentially (meaning within 10 to 40 minutes of TV exposure) across screens yields the highest ad breakthrough.  We also found that using the same creative across the two screens is more effective than switching (at least until breakthrough has been achieved).

Another potential twist on this theme, from our resident broadcast visionary, Brian Hughes, is to reverse engineer the flow of data, using mobile as the “cookie” to make TV advertising more targeted and effective.

Simulmedia, for example, already allows you to buy targeted local TV ads based on content people are watching,” he noted; “why can’t we use the richer data available via mobile to create more targeted TV ads?”

The Eyeballs Will Be Monetized

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 5.30.32 PM

Much has been made of Google’s newly-awarded Pay-per-Gaze patent for a mysterious “head mounted gaze tracking device which captures external scenes viewed by a user wearing the head mounted device,” (I wonder what they can be referring to), which would monitor the pupils of those wearing the device to infer emotion and track what ads they are looking at.

If it’s not too wild a presumption to think they are referring to Google Glass – and while there are certainly a few technicalities they need to work out first – it seems to be the obvious delivery mechanism for the patented technology.

At the Lab, we’ve been in the business of “monetizing eyeballs” for years using eye-tracking technology and other attention and emotion-detecting technologies to benchmark the ad effectiveness. With the prevalence of webcams, and the advanced sophistication of biometric software in the past year, we’ve been able to amass sample sizes in the thousands in our research studies.

Being able to do this with Glass, and gauge consumer sentiment to stimuli out in the real world, is an extremely exciting proposition for research.

Considering how invasive it is, the key is to have consumers opt in, and have a pretty good incentive to do so. We imagine just a sample of the population would participate, as in a large scale research study or Nielsen panel. Or perhaps, consumers at large will be paid to have their personal data tracked, possibly paving the way towards a data economy where consumers receive micro-payments in exchange for sharing personal data, as envisioned by Jaron Lanier in his book “Who Owns The Future?”


For more information, contact [email protected].

On the Brains and Brawn of Google Glass

Google Glass in da Lab!

As Computerworld cited this week, Google Glass will not be available to consumers until 2014. This was something we forecast in the Lab’s 2013 Outlook as one of the life-changing technologies which would remain on the horizon for the time being.

The article cites consumer comfort levels with Glass as a reason for the ‘delayed’ launch, but as we said at the start of the year, perhaps bigger hurdles (by no means not the only ones) might be cost and battery power.

Back in December, Glass engineer Babak Parviz said “[Battery power is] a valid concern. We have done a lot of work in this area, and it is still a work in progress. Our hope is that the battery life would be sufficient for the whole day. That’s our target. So you would put the device on in the morning and you’d go about your daily routine. By the time you got back home, the device would still be functioning.”

Having tested Glass at the Lab, we’d be lucky if the battery lasted 2 hours, so there is a long way to go in that respect.

At the Lab, we imagine a future where consumers will be wearing their tech… The smartphone has changed many-a-consumer’s lives practically overnight. But because of its cumbersome form factor (it’s all relative…), we believe it represents a bridging technology to a world where tech will retreat into the background – as Pranav Mistry elegantly puts it in his 2009 Ted Talk, to “help us to stay human and stay more connected to our physical world.”

The smartphone will, however, continue to have a major role in this future – not as the interface that consumers interact with, but as the ‘brains and brawn’ behind our peripheral interfaces. A great example of this is Kickstarter darling, the Pebble Watch, which uses Bluetooth to harness the functionality and processing power of a smartphone to display its notifications.

Looking into our crystal ball, we imagine that within two iterations, Glass will also be powered by the smartphone. This makes sense since the phone is both a powerful, and a subsidized product. This will start to help solve two of Glass’s biggest issues: battery life and expensive guts.

Flash POV: Viacom’s Deal with Sony: Are They Hedging Their Bets?

Although neither company has made any official statements, news reached the press late last week that Viacom and Sony had come to a tentative agreement for streaming the former’s networks on a yet-to-be-released Sony video platform. Details are sparse, as the two companies are presumably still working out the finer points of the deal, but here is what we know thus far:

+ The service would feature live feeds of the Viacom networks, the same as any MVPD would get
+ It will be initially available on connected Playstations and potentially Sony Smart TVs

The new streaming service would be competitive with similar products in the works from Google and Intel, but if the deal holds, it will be the first of the three to have secured live TV feeds. With content owners up in arms about Aereo’s live TV service and MVPDs facing increased competition from over-the-top solutions, this type of agreement seems counter to the industry’s interest in protecting the existing TV model. So why do it? We can only speculate at this point, but here are two potential reasons:

+ Viacom doesn’t have corporate ties to any particular multichannel provider, and has been notoriously aggressive in its negotiations them. We seriously doubt NBC Universal (Comcast) or the Turner Networks (Time Warner Cable) would be part of this kind of deal unless it was somehow synergistic. With multichannel subscriptions set to peak this year (see the latest Media Economy Report), perhaps Viacom is laying the groundwork to make sure its channels are viewable in a broadband-delivered video world.

+ Theoretically, the live feeds streamed via Sony’s service would include only the national ads. Since multichannel providers typically have some local ad time to sell every hour, Sony could possibly generate some ad revenue by filling in those gaps.

We estimate that there are currently about 22 million connected Playstations in the US today, which will give Sony’s new video service a relatively small footprint to start with. There will have to be subscription fees to finance the carriage of Viacom’s networks, which will further limit uptake. All in all, we don’t expect it to have any meaningful impact on the marketplace, especially since the user experience won’t be a la carte or on demand; it will be the same as receiving the networks via cable.

However, it does bring a familiar issue to the forefront, one we have been citing for some time now. The MVPDs control most of the broadband connections in the country. As consumers eschew traditional cable subscriptions for broadband video delivery, those companies will naturally charge more and more for internet access to make up for those losses. This was confirmed by former Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, who was quoted in a New York Times article as saying: ”The reality is, if everybody watched TV over the Internet, and we were out of the TV business, then we would have to recover more money from the Internet service.”

At that point, the question becomes: is it really “cord-cutting?” Or just “cord switching?”


For more information, contact [email protected] or [email protected].