Only 3% Of Marketers Agree With Video Viewability Standards

Marketers continue to invest in video this year, but are frustrated with the current advertising landscape, according to a report by the CMO Council and ViralGains.

The report, “Engage at Every Stage: An Investigation of Video Activation” surveyed 233 senior marketing leaders during the first quarter of 2018, of which roughly 109 hold the title of CMO or senior vice president of marketing. Some 43 percent of respondents represent companies with revenues greater than $1 billion, and 47 percent hold the title of CMO or senior vice president of marketing for their organizations.

Digital video is considered more important than other media investments by 28 percent of respondents and 40 percent say that video is growing in importance. However, nearly all marketers disapprove of viewability definitions.

According to the Media Rating Council, a video view is defined as 50 percent of content playing for two consecutive seconds with the sound off. The survey found that only three percent of respondents agree on this definition. Of those who agreed, 30 percent admit that they can only approve of it because there isn’t a better metric to embrace.

Inspired by companies like Proctor and Gamble and Unilever drawing lines in the sand for digital advertising to provide better transparency and trust, 95 percent of respondents agree that digital media’s “free ride” is over. Despite this zeal for change, 52 percent of respondents were unclear about how to act or facilitate change, indicating a need for improved leadership and direction across the digital advertising industry.

Of the respondents, 163 indicated that they are actively investing in digital video advertising. According to the report, 96 percent of marketers intend to increase video investments in 2018, with nearly half increasing spend by up to 25 percent and 15 percent indicating an increase of more than 50 percent.

Marketers are placing an emphasis on social media for their video efforts, the survey found. Twenty-six percent of respondents have earmarked more than half of social media investments for video ad placement.

Advertising Drives Alphabet, Inc. Revenue Up 26 Percent in Q1

Google parent company Alphabet, Inc. reported first quarter 2018 earnings of $31.1 billion, a year-over-year increase of 26 percent.

Non-ad revenue streams such as Google Play, cloud apps, services and hardware rose 36 percent in the first quarter to $4.35 billion.

The Price Of Programmatic

A majority of Alphabet’s income in the first quarter—$26.6 billion—comes from Google’s programmatic advertising services. Paid clicks on Google’s own sites and apps rose an impressive 59 percent year-over-year, compared to 48 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

Cost per click (CPC) on Google’s own sites and apps fell 19 percent annually, a slightly larger drop than 16 percent in the fourth quarter.

Google CFO Ruth Porat said that the company benefited from strong mobile search growth, as well as desktop search and YouTube.

All About That Assistant

A major emphasis was placed on Google Assistant during the first quarter earnings call—not surprising considering the company’s experiential marketing efforts at SXSW and Assistant-focused commercials aired during the Academy Awards.

Google Assistant can now help users with over one million tasks, according to the company. During the Q&A session, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that their goal is to help users complete actions on mobile devices, rather than simply give search results. Pichai said they are “very excited” about mobile opportunities.


Brand safety was addressed, as well, with Pichai outlining recent efforts by YouTube to prevent offensive content before it has been posted. Using a combination of human and machine learning, over six million videos were flagged and removed before going public, Pichai said. Monetization requirements were changed for users recently, as well, restricting monetization to channels with over 10,000 minutes viewed. In the first quarter, channels earning more six figures per year rose 40 percent.

YouTube continues to grow. Pichai noted that over 100 videos have surpassed one billion views and the exclusive Coachella livestream boasted one million views.

Macy’s ‘Deeper Beauty’ Campaign Focuses On Empowerment

Beauty is more than skin-deep, Macy’s declares to promote its spring line of skincare products. But “Deeper Beauty,” a new interview series that offers inspirational stories and makeup tips from five powerful women, hopes to align the retail brand with a more empowering view of cosmetics.

“Driven by Macy’s belief in the embrace of all types of beauty, the campaign reminds women that true beauty is more than skin deep—it is about overcoming judgment, accepting oneself, and being inclusive of all expressions and routines, no matter how minimal or bold,” the company declares in a press release.

The video series starts with a 60-second spot featuring each of the brand’s interview subjects, which range in professions from chef to film director to software developer. The spot will additionally include an original poem, much in the vein of Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl spot, written by Pavana Reddy.

“The ‘Deeper Beauty’ campaign is a celebration of every woman, everywhere with its theme, ‘find your beautiful, inside and out,'” the company states.

The interviews themselves, hosted by Heben Nigatu, are an eclectic bunch, ranging in subject from everyday makeup tips to reflections on their careers and ambitions to their professional and personal role models.

“Welcome to the Macy’s Beauty series about being more than just beautiful,” Nigatu declares at the beginning of each video.

The “Deeper Beauty” interviews are part of the third season of Macy’s substantive rebranding efforts that began last fall. This spring’s tagline of “Find Your Beautiful” focuses not just on improving brick-and-mortar store visits, but establishing Macy’s locations both in-store and online as helpful tools for consumers to discover the sort of look that works best for them.

Macy’s “Deeper Beauty” campaign puts the retailer alongside other supportive makeup and beauty brands, such as Glossier’s body-positivity social campaign “Body Hero” and Revlon’s “Live Boldly” partnership with Gal Gadot. With such an established brand adding its voice to beauty-as-empowerment messaging, the beauty industry seems to be shifting wholesale to “attainable” over “aspirational” brand ambassadors.

IAB Continues Transparency Push With Acquisition Of DigiTrust

IAB Tech Lab has acquired DigiTrust and will integrate its neutral identifier technology into services for the digital marketing ecosystem.

As it comes just a month before the GDPR compliance deadline, IAB’s acquisition of DigiTrust is timely. DigiTrust’s technology and services can provide additional infrastructure for IAB’s GDPR Transparency and Consent Framework initiative, the company said. IAB Tech Lab is developing standards for transparency, consumer protection and “appropriate consistency” across its services.

DigiTrust creates a neutral identifier for its members to use online that replaces third-party requests such as cookies. Since thousands of companies use their own cookies to track user behavior, a universal token would, in theory, provide more accurate tracking data to marketers and speed up web page viewing, since multiple cookies would no longer be necessary.

A neutral ID would serve as a baseline for related commercial offerings, explained IAB Tech Lab senior vice president and general manager Dennis Buchheim in a press release.

“Audience recognition is central to ad relevance and effectiveness, privacy and consent, measurement, attribution, anti-fraud efforts, brand safety and more,” said Buchheim. “Our vision is to bring together Tech Lab’s expertise and technical standards portfolio with DigiTrust’s footprint, storage mechanism and real-time services to help move the industry forward in audience recognition, privacy controls, etc.”

Despite the acquisition and all the consumer data that comes with it, IAB Tech Lab promises to remain a neutral third party. IAB Tech Lab and DigiTrust will not collect, store, share, use, buy or sell consumer behavioral data or personal information, the company said.

“We recognize that audience recognition and privacy standards necessarily entail great responsibility by our members on behalf of the consumers they reach globally,” added Buchheim. “This work must be governed appropriately and implemented responsibly, without bias. We’re looking forward to working with and supporting all DigiTrust members.”

P&G Returns To YouTube, Wary Of Programmatic

After taking a year-long break from buying ad space on YouTube due to numerous ad fraud and brand safety concerns, Procter & Gamble is tentatively back on the platform.

P&G, which spends $2.75 billion on advertising annually, will manually okay videos and channels it advertises on. So far, it is only considering ad space on 10,000 channels, compared to the 3 million it placed ads on back in 2017.

“We paused advertising, and for the past year, we’ve worked extensively with YouTube to improve brand safety,” said Tressie Rose, a P&G spokesperson, in a statement to Bloomberg. “We now feel the right measures are in place for P&G brands to have the option to advertise on YouTube.”

This special relationship with YouTube may serve P&G well to keep its brand safe, especially since YouTube is embroiled in yet another brand safety scandal, as CNN reported on Thursday. More than 300 different companies saw their ads algorithmically placed in front of white nationalist content.

“We have strong values-led guidelines in place and are working with YouTube to understand how this could have slipped through the guardrails. We take these matters very seriously and are working to rectify this immediately,” a spokesperson for Under Armour, which has paused its advertising on YouTube, said to CNN.

Despite YouTube’s efforts to compensate for the flaws with its algorithmic moderation systems, such as promising to drastically expand its human review team, video ads continue to appear beside extremist content without the video hosting service intervening.

P&G seems to understand the platform’s limitations, taking moderation into its own hands, in line with its previous efforts to “cut waste” from its digital advertising budget. If YouTube can’t (or won’t) step up to protect its brand partners, P&G has committed to protecting itself.

“We are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. The company has not specified just how it plans to do that.

‘God Of War’ But With Dogs Is PlayStation’s Friday Gift To You

With “Dog of War,” PlayStation UK took a break from serious God of War video game marketing to lightly poke fun at the process.

On Friday, PlayStation UK posted a Twitter video that was supposedly a look inside the brand’s last meeting before God of War launches. Someone arrives late and frazzled to a meeting in which they are presenting, making awkward jokes about dogs before realizing that he misheard the game’s title and created a campaign around “Dog of War.” This concept may be the stuff of anxiety dreams, but the resulting video tapped into the internet’s love of dogs and proved to be a big hit for PlayStation UK.

The video was already viewed over 55,000 times on Twitter in the first seven hours and over 97,000 times on YouTube. Fans responded positively to the post, saying that they would buy the dog version anyway.

PlayStation UK’s “Dog of War” campaign follows a growing trend on Twitter in which brands make light of the marketing process. This kind of transparency transforms a campaign from “buy this” to “look at this.”

MoonPie often takes a meta approach, for example, joking about the marketing process, from keeping a boss happy to crafting a “viral” campaign.

God of War, while it shares the name of its first title in 2005, is a continuation of the popular gaming franchise that shifts from its Greek mythology roots to Nordic. The game is available exclusively on the PlayStation 4 console and was announced at E3 2016.

The last two years building up to God of War‘s release has culminated in some rather creative marketing activations.

PlayStation sponsored the March 18 episode of Family Guy, which aired ad-free except for God of War trailers before and after the show.

On February 10, PlayStation sponsored the basketball halftime show between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. The activation, dubbed “War on the Floor,” featured a 3D image of God of War gameplay projected onto the hardwood.

Brands Celebrate Earth Day 2018 With Recycling, Conservation And Donation

Did you know that Earth Day is on April 22 this year? If you forgot, there are many major brands out there that will remind you.

While we’d love to see more brands join this list, here are just a few companies making minor marketing efforts for Earth Day—from creative ways to conserve resources to cleaning up and recycling. For those who don’t want to put energy in, there are companies donating to causes that protect the environment.

Save Water, Save Money (On Porn)

Internet pornography site RedTube took the most creative approach to Earth Day cause marketing this year, launching The Save Water Challenge, offering to reward pornography enthusiasts a free weeklong subscription to its premium service for taking shorter showers.

PornHub, RedTube’s parent company, has a history of announcing charitable campaigns, so this effort is another feather in their cap.

Land’s End, T-Mobile And Jet Blue Endorse Environmental Causes

Outside of pornography, the majority of brands’ Earth Day efforts consist of offering individuals the opportunity to make minor contributions to large-scale causes.

Land’s End promises to donate $4.50 to the Save Our Monarchs Foundation for every monarch butterfly design customers pay $6 to have embroidered on certain articles of clothing and accessories. Additionally, the company will provide customers with milkweed seed packets for any orders placed on Earth Day. To wrap up the charity, the company plans to plant three and a half acres of flowers at its headquarters in Wisconsin.

T-Mobile is promising to make it easier to donate to The Nature Conservancy, allowing its customers to take a $5 increase on their next bill to donate $5 dollars to the charity. Additionally, the company will donate $250,000 (0.000625 percent of its 2017 global revenue) to one of four different Nature Conservancy projects, which it is graciously permitting its employees and customers to vote on. The company will also donate up to 50,000 trees to the charity, but only if users Tweet using a specific hashtag on April 17, which it should be noted is not Earth Day.

JetBlue likewise is seeking customer engagement, offering four $15,000 grants (0.0033 percent of its revenue in Q4 2017) for causes that users can vote on. Additionally, on the island of Puerto Rico, the company’s green initiatives include “a planting and gardening workshop for JetBlue crew members,” “lettuce farm maintenance” and “tree nursery maintenance.”

Apple, Staples And Hasbro Take The Recycling Approach

Apple and Staples are making it easier for its customers to recycle their electronics. Apple will “make a donation” to Conservation International for every device returned to them for recycling until April 30, and has built a new robot named Daisy that makes it easier for them to disassemble recycled iPhones. Staples is celebrating Earth Day by becoming “the first and only national retailer to accept both single serve and traditional coffee brewers for free recycling in stores.”

Hasbro is likewise joining in on the “circular economy” bandwagon, and will allow customers to return their Hasbro toys to be recycled “into materials that can be used in the construction of play spaces, flower pots, park benches, and other innovative uses.” It should be noted that the company TerraCycle is doing the actual recycling; Hasbro is sponsoring consumer shipping.

Both Hasbro and Apple are also touting their existing sustainability efforts. Hasbro now uses exclusively renewable energy in its US operations, and Apple likewise is 100 percent carbon neutral in powering its own global facilities. These figures only apply to operations directly owned by each company, such as retail spaces, corporate offices, data centers and the like. Since both companies contract out production to “manufacturing partners,” the factories that actually produce their products are not included in these totals.

Blue Marble, Allbirds And Other Brands Think Conservation 

Pre-mixed cocktail manufacturer Blue Marble will send “a contingent” of employees to clean up litter at Newport Beach in California for four hours on Earth day. They also made a video.

Eco-friendly shoe brand Allbirds has released limited runs of three new colors of its shoes, which are made with organic and recycled materials. “These limited edition hues are naturally dyed to celebrate Earth Day, and they won’t last long,” Allbirds’ online store reads.

In anticipation of Earth Day, Wrangler released a report on April 18 that found that conservation-minded cotton farming practices are in fact more effective at conservation than conventional cotton farming practices. It should be noted that the report contained no new research, but was a summary of 45 studies that have already been conducted on the matter. For cotton farmers on the fence about these conservation efforts, Wrangler produced an informational video about soil health.

Purina informed the press that it plans to be “fully zero waste to landfill” by 2020. Additionally, it has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per ton of production by a full 6.8 percent in just 11 years.

1 Hotels has announced a sweeping, multichannel awareness campaign at three of its locations. The company will make lobby space available to guests looking to learn about “various environmental issues,” and provides phones and computers to those looking to contact their representatives. Additionally, the company will dim the lights at its hotels during dinner on Earth Day to “raise awareness about a more sustainable and responsible future.”

Have we missed any corporate press releases bragging about their Earth Day efforts? Let us know—email

Top Virtual Reality Activations By Brands In 2018 So Far

A wave of virtual reality activations in 2018 highlights a storytelling approach to TV and film marketing that is likely to continue throughout the coming months. Here are some of our favorites thus far.

Silicon Valley VR: Inside The Hacker Hostel

HBO heralded the return of its hit show Silicon Valley with a VR app that invited viewers directly into the main characters’ home, which was faithfully recreated in 3D. Inside the Hacker Hostel includes 750 interactive items and video challenges from the show’s characters Dinesh and Gilfoyle send users on missions ranging from destroying old hard drives to solving a code crisis.

Users can follow a series of tasks or have free reign to do whatever they like in the virtual environment, making this activation a unique way to interact with a show’s lore.

Ready Player One: Oasis

Just as with the book-turned-film, VR users create a custom avatar before jumping into the action. Currently in beta, Oasis offers access to multiple “planets,” each with their own themes and objectives. Each of the planets was created by a different development studio, giving the four games a unique look and feel.

Warner Bros. and HTC Vive took over Brazos Hall at SXSW last month to promote the Ready Player One film with eight pieces of virtual reality content across separate demo bays. The experiential marketing activation was designed to further push the promise of virtual reality toward mainstream adoption while showing the film’s immersive entertainment qualities.

Nickelodeon SlimeZone

SlimeZone allows up to six players to step inside the world of Nickelodeon franchises, including Spongebob Squarepants. Donning masks from shows like Invader Zim and The Rugrats, participants can interact with one another, as well as the world around them. Activities include art projects, watching cartoons, basketball and other challenges, but Nickelodeon’s trademark green slime is never far from the action. SlimeZone is available at IMAX VR locations in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, with plans to include Shanghai, Bangkok and Manchester.

The experience comes from Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab, an R&D entertainment division launched last year. Nickelodeon also recently invested in Dreamscape Immersive—a startup building VR attractions enhanced with environmental effects, an indication that AR, VR and mixed reality have become priorities for the children’s network.

Social Media News: Playable Ads, AR Shopping And Paying For Privacy

In case you missed the social media headlines this month, here are the most important things marketers should know.

Snapchat: Shopping With Selfies

Face swap? How about face shop? Brands on Snapchat can now sponsor a photo lens that allows users to buy products or learn more without leaving the app.

Adidas, Clairol, King and STX Entertainment are the first to use the new Shoppable AR feature, which was announced on Wednesday.

Instagram: Focus On Friends

Facebook’s Instagram announced another Snapchat-like feature this week—a special image that when scanned, allows someone to follow a specific account. Dubbed “Nametags,” the feature is similar to Snapchat’s QR codes.

Meanwhile, portrait mode in Instagram Stories just received a new mode called “Focus.” Snapping a photo in the new mode will keep the subject in focus, while slightly blurring the background. The new feature is available on iOS at launch, and rolling out to select Android devices beginning Wednesday.

Users can mention other accounts with the new “@mention” sticker, which works the same as tagging someone in the caption. While advertised for friends, the implications for influencer marketing are obvious.

Facebook: Play, Pay And Privacy

Facebook is testing a new “playable ad” format that would allow users to try a game before they install. Developer Miniclip was one of the developers who tested the ad in beta. Facebook will provide more details about playable ads during its annual F8 event May 1.

Would you pay for Facebook? During his testimony before the US Senate, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that users are not able to opt out of being targeted for ads, saying, “that would be a paid product.” He also said that there would always be a version of Facebook that is free—causing many to speculate as to whether the social network will adopt a tiered level of membership in the future.

As the GDPR deadline looms closer, Facebook has updated its terms of service but it’s clear what the company wants users to move along. When asked to accept or decline Facebook’s new terms of service, users will see a big blue button marked “I accept,” while “See your options,” including the ability to decline the terms is smaller and less conspicuous.

Frosted Flakes And PRETTYMUCH Premiere Single On Cereal Record

Bringing unprecedented innovation to the grain industry, Kellogg’s has announced today that it has set records by manufacturing the first-ever vinyl out of chocolate Frosted Flakes cereal.

Partnering with Simon Cowell–assembled boy band PRETTYMUCH, Kellogg’s is releasing the single “Hello” for the first time on a 3D-printed, edible, chocolate-flavored record.

“Through our music, we’ve always advocated for having fun and living your greatness in everything you do ’cause it’s just so important to stay true to yourself and have a good time doing it!” said PRETTYMUCH member Brandon Arreaga in a statement, adding in a bit of a non sequitur: “So, we thought, what better way to do that than release our newest song on the first ever record made of Chocolate Frosted Flakes?

The record, which according to Billboard will survive seven to ten play-throughs of the single, will be distributed to select members of the band’s fan mailing list at a Kellogg’s-branded cafe in New York City. For the less fortunate, the record will be passed out for free to customers at the cafe while supplies last.

Additionally, the official music video for the single features Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger dancing alongside the boy band, who also sit down in front of a blue screen to have a hearty meal of the chocolate cereal.

Those that miss the chance to visit the New York location will have a second chance to buy the record on April 21 at Reckless Records in Chicago, in celebration of Record Store Day.

The vinyl itself is as loosely based on Frosted Flakes as it is around the concept of a vinyl itself, with a substantial dark chocolate coating forming the actual grooves read by a record player’s needle.

It should also be noted that while vinyls are known for their durability and unmatched sound quality, the PRETTYMUCH/Frosted Flakes single is somewhat lacking in both categories.

This is hardly the first time Kellogg’s has taken advantage of bizarre brand partnerships—to promote its family of products in 2016, the company released a Captain America: Civil War–themed virtual-reality experience.