Warner Bros. Elevates JP Richards To Co-President Of Worldwide Marketing

This week’s marketing moves include the promotion of JP Richards to co-president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures, the appointment of Scott Hargrove as global CMO and EVP of California Pizza Kitchen, Shearman & Sterling naming Nora Shearer to the long-vacant CMO role, the resignation of Victoria’s Secret chief marketing officer Ed Razek, the first appointment of a CMO at Domino’s and Taco Bell’s chief brand officer Marisa Thalberg leaving the company.

JP Richards Promoted To Co-President Of Worldwide Marketing At Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. Pictures has announced the promotion of JP Richards to the role of co-president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros., reports The Wrap.

Richards previously served as EVP of worldwide marketing and chief data strategist at Warner Bros. Pictures, overseeing campaigns for a number of releases. He joined the entertainment company in January 2015. Prior to that, he spent 12 years at Universal Pictures as SVP of digital marketing.

Scott Hargrove Named CMO, EVP At California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen is spicing up its marketing team with the appointment of Scott Hargrove in the dual role of executive vice president and global chief marketing officer, The Drum reports

Hargrove recently served as head of brand and consumer marketing for Snap and cut his teeth for 15 formative years at Coca-Cola.

Jim Hyatt, chief executive and president at California Pizza Kitchen, welcomed Hargrove’s experience in a statement announcing the appointment

“Scott brings to our table an impressive record driving impact at some of the world’s most beloved consumer and tech brands, with a unique blend of digital savvy, creative storytelling and global brand-building expertise.”

Nora Shearer Joins Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling announced the appointment of Nora Shearer as the firm’s new CMO. 

Shearer will fill the position that’s been vacant for more than a year and take over for David McLune, who left for Hogan Lovells in May 2018. 

She joins the firm from Norton Rose Fulbright, where she served as a chief marketing officer and has over 20 years’ experience in the legal and finance industries, with a focus on marketing and business development strategy. 

At Shearman & Sterling, Shearer will lead the firm’s business development, as well as marketing and communications teams.

“Nora has an impressive track record of developing and executing international business development strategies and I am delighted to welcome her to the firm. Her vision and in-depth understanding of the legal marketing landscape will be invaluable to us as we continue to implement the firm’s strategy,” said Kimberly Gardner, Shearman & Sterling’s executive director of strategy and innovation. 

Victoria’s Secret CMO Ed Razek Is Out

Victoria’s Secret CMO Ed Razek, who recently found himself embattled for his controversial comments regarding representation and the VS brand, is retiring from the position.

The resignation comes at a time when Victoria’s Secret is struggling to find a brand identity fit for changing times. 

Razek joined the company in 1983. He’s exiting the women’s lingerie company in coincidence with the casting of their first openly transgender woman as a model.

Domino’s Hires First Chief Marketing Officer

Domino’s is hiring their first CMO, former VP of marketing and food development at McDonald’s, Emily Somers. Somers will be replacing former sales and marketing director Tony Holdway, who departed in June. She begins her new role on August 12th.

Taco Bell’s Chief Brand Officer Leaves Company, Nixes CMO Role

Taco Bell’s chief brand officer is vacating her role.

Marisa Thalberg first joined the restaurant chain four years ago as chief brand engagement officer, later becoming chief marketing officer before again being elevated with the title of global chief brand officer.

During her time leading the marketing efforts for Taco Bell, Thalberg oversaw numerous initiatives to expand Taco Bell’s cultural relevance, such as concept pop-up stores, a Taco Bell-themed hotel in Palm Springs and multiple movie trailer spoofs to announce new menu offerings.

She will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for Yum Brands Inc., Taco Bell’s parent company. Melissa Friebe, SVP of marketing, and Tracee Larocca, SVP of advertising and brand engagement, will fill in for Thalberg’s duties; Taco Bell has stated they will not be seeking a replacement for the chief marketing officer role.

Check out our careers section for executive job openings and to post your own staffing needs.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, August 5th. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing OfficerSharkNinjaNeedham, MA
Vice President, Film MarketingNew York UniversityBrooklyn, NY
Chief, Marketing And Communications OfficerSCRRA/MetrolinkLos Angeles, CA
Senior Vice President of Marketing

Clear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
Vice President of Marketing, International
RokuSan Jose, CA
Chief Marketing Officer
Founders Brewing Co.Grand Rapids, MI

Make sure to check back for updates on our Careers page.

Twitter To Remove Third-Party Data From Ad Targeting

This week sped by. We learned Twitter will remove third-party data from ad targeting, Twitch launches its own broadcasting software and Facebook is getting ready to test subscription VOD services. 

Also: Facebook’s trusted marketing partner secretly collected and stored a vast amount of user data. Facebook took the first step in its plan to integrate Instagram Direct with Facebook Messenger and ads sideshow to “Stories;” Twitter apologized to its users for sharing their data with advertising partners without consent and was spotted testing “Snoozing Notifications” at certain times; Facebook revamped Workplace, Instagram posted a job opening for meme liaison and more.

Twitter Will Remove Third-Party Data From Ad-Buying System 

The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter plans to remove outside data sources from its ad-buying system. 

Why it matters: To provide critical data for advertisers, marketers and internal use, Twitter collaborates with various data providers for insights into trends and customer behaviors. The problem, though, comes from the fact that the creation and sourcing of the insights is out of Twitter’s control. And we know from recent history, like Cambridge Analytica or the most recent Hyp3r case, that this practice may lead to the misuse of data by these third parties.

The details: However, per Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions at Twitter, the new policy is not linked to the rising concerns about data protection and privacy online, but is meant to simplify buying for advertisers and allow Twitter to focus on other priorities, such as new products and technology.

“We want to make sure we’re creating and developing the best possible experience for every advertiser, agency and marketer utilizing the system,” she said.

Twitch Launches Its Own Broadcasting Software 

This week, Twitch released its own broadcasting software, “Twitch Studio.”

Why it matters: Until now, Twitch streamers have been using third-party software to deliver streams to their viewers. The goal with “Twitch Studio” is to provide users with an easier experience getting started and attracting more users to the platform. 

The details: Cheng Cheng, Twitch’s director of product management for the creator experience told The Verge, “We’ve been listening to our users give us feedback, talk about their experience, how they started streaming, how they progress. And one really consistent pain point was that multiplayer entertainment is really fun, it’s really engaging, but the bar to really get started is quite high.” 

Facebook Will Test Selling Video Subscriptions

Facebook will test subscription sales of video on demand services, according to Variety

Why it matters: Facebook is playing catch-up in the video wars, especially in the wake of the success of  theSVOD-aggregation play by Amazon and Apple and Roku. A company representative said in a statement for Variety, “We’re testing video subscriptions on Facebook, starting with a limited set of partners. We’re excited to bring more of people’s favorite shows and videos to Facebook, where subscribers can enjoy the content together with other fans. We’ll be listening to feedback from our community.” 

The details: The video subscriptions will be available for four services: BBC and ITV’s BritBox, CollegeHumor’s Dropout, MotorTrend App and Tastemade Plus. The test with the four partners will be available only to users in the U.S. and will be launching in the next few weeks. Payments will be processed by Facebook on behalf of the SVOD partners. In the future, additional partners to the video-subscription platform might be added depending on initial user interest.

Instagram Ad Partner Secretly Tracked, Collected And Stored Users’ Public Data

Business Insider reported that Instagram and Facebook’s trusted advertising partner, Hyp3r, has been secretly collecting and storing users’ data, including location and stories. 

Why it matters: Per Business Insider, the data misuse happened because of Instagram’s negligence when a combination of configuration errors led to the illegal collection of huge amounts of public user data, such as personal bios and photos that were supposed to disappear after 24 hours.

The details: After being confronted with Business Insider‘s findings, the company sent Hyp3r a cease-and-desist letter and admitted that the startup broke its rules.

“HYP3R’s actions were not sanctioned and violate our policies. As a result, we’ve removed them from our platform. We’ve also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way,” a spokesperson said in a statement. 

Facebook To Integrate Instagram Direct Messages With Messenger

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is moving forward with its plan to merge its systems and let users exchange messages throughout all its mobile apps. 

Why it matters: The initiative promises to allow for Instagram users to communicate with those using Messenger, which currently is impossible. However, with rising concerns about privacy and data-sharing practices, the move might be met with hesitation among users. Some experts say that not being directly associated with Facebook is what makes the separate products thrive. 

The details: At the moment, Facebook engineers are busy rebuilding Instagram’s chat feature using Facebook Messenger’s technology. Instagram Direct’s look won’t undergo any major changes but the underlying technology powering the service will, Bloomberg reports. 

Facebook Adds Slideshow Option To Facebook “Stories” 

Social media expert Matt Navarra, shared a tweet revealing that Facebook added a still image slideshow in Facebook “Stories.” 

Why it matters: Stories perform really well, especially with younger audiences and the new option has the potential to provide marketers with more opportunities to easily create content, which can help to boost engagement.  

The details: The new option provides a simplified way to add a stream of images, which will play out through Story frames. 

Twitter Apologizes For New Data Privacy Bugs 

“You trust us to follow your choices and we failed here. We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again,” Twitter said in a blog post dedicated to the recent discovery of more data for ad targeting bugs, which means that user data on the platform may have been shared with advertising partners even when a user asked it not to. 

Why it matters: Twitter says the bugs were fixed on August 5. It is unclear when the company realized that user data was being processed without their consent. “We know you will want to know if you were personally affected, and how many people in total were involved. We are still conducting our investigation to determine who may have been impacted and If we discover more information that is useful we will share it,” the blog reads. 

The details: According to the company, the bugs may have resulted in two things:

  • “If you clicked or viewed an advertisement for a mobile application and subsequently interacted with the mobile application since May 2018, we may have shared certain data (e.g., country code, if you engaged with the ad and when, information about the ad, etc) with trusted measurement and advertising partners, even if you didn’t give us permission to do so.
  • As part of a process we use to try and serve more relevant advertising on Twitter and other services since September 2018, we may have shown you ads based on inferences we made about the devices you use, even if you did not give us permission to do so. The data involved stayed within Twitter and did not contain things like passwords, email accounts, etc.”

Instagram Is Hiring A Meme Liaison 

Instagram is bringing a meme liaison on board to resolve the heated situation after the social media company deactivated 142 popular meme accounts, according to The Atlantic

Why it matters: The company appears to suffer from a disconnect with the young audience and is trying to resolve the issue with the help of a social pro who better understands social sharing. 

The details: Lila King, Instagram’s head of news and publishing partnerships, told Mashable, she wants to hire someone who’s “equally fluent in the language of memes and the business of digital publishing.” She calls that person “a unicorn, basically.”

Twitter Is Testing “Snooze Push Notifications” For A Set Time Period

Also, Twitter was spotted testing “Snooze Push Notifications” for a set time period by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong.

Why it matters: This option is good news for marketers and social media managers who need to constantly keep abreast of their Twitter account, but don’t want to get notifications in the middle of the night or in the middle of an important meeting. 

The details: The new option would allow users to snooze push notifications for one hour, three hours or 12 hours at a time. The notifications would still be displayed in Notifications tab, but wouldn’t buzz during the chosen snooze periods.

Facebook Revamps Workplace 

This month, Facebook will roll out the updated version of Workplace, a tool that helps employees chat, collaborate and manage projects, Engadget reports

Why it matters: The change is due to the fact that the “classic” Facebook design previously used had a few flaws, which were enterprise customers’ pain points. Thus, almost half of them were using the old and inconvenient notification experience to figure out what they should be looking at next. They would then have to click through or, more often, move their cursor to the left-hand rail to select the appropriate group or work chat. 

“For the world of work, we needed a slightly different emphasis on slightly different UI components,” Kyle McGinn, Facebook’s director of product for Workplace told Engadget.

The details: Workplace is moving away from the classic “Facebook” look into the more original one. The most noticeable change is the new navigation bar on the left-hand side of the screen with three large circular icons: home, notifications and chat. The users can discover many relevant shortcuts in a second slightly wider column by clicking on these.

Facebook Watch To Broadcast Australian News 

The social media giant announced in a blog post that Facebook Australia partnered with seven local news publishers with the goal to experiment with new formats and develop sustainable video businesses on Facebook.

Why it matters: With Facebook’s plans to create its own TV device, the initiative makes a lot of sense, especially considering that according to a study published by the social media company, news and current world affairs are among the most popular areas of interest for Australian audiences (39 percent). It is possible that if successful in Australia, Facebook will run similar tests in other regions. 

The details: Premium news content from Australia’s leading broadcasters, such as Nine, Seven, SBS, Sky News and 10 will be available on Facebook starting today. It is important to note, that, per Facebook, publisher partners will keep full editorial control over the content produced and will collaborate with Facebook to understand which stories, topics and formats are resonating with audiences.

Campbell Brown, Vice President Global News Partnerships at Facebook said on the matter, “This is exactly the kind of partnership we want to have with the news industry. Australia’s newsrooms are doing innovative, high quality work with video. Facebook is proud to support their great journalism and excited to bring this work to Watch.”

Study Reveals How Much Users Are Willing To Spend On The Most Popular Apps

A new study conducted by McGuffin Group examined what users would consider a reasonable subscription fee if their favorite apps were paid. 

Why it matters: Paid subscriptions could solve the problem of data misuse and potentially make an alternate business model to advertising. 

The details: According to the study, users are willing to pay the most for YouTube subscription–over $4 per month. Google Maps and Drive secured the second and third places with $3.38 and $3.31 per month respectively. Interestingly, the fewest amount (64 percent) of users would be willing to pay to use Facebook and the subscription price they consider fair is $2.92. WhatsApp was named the app that most users (89 percent) would be willing to pay for. 

“Instagram Scheduling” Comes To Facebook Creator Studio

Facebook added Instagram scheduling to its Creator Studio.

Why it matters: For a very long time, Instagram scheduling has been many marketers’ and social media managers’ pain point. 

The details: The new feature promises to solve the problem, allowing to schedule directly from Creator Studio dashboard and see what the posts will look like. 

Note: “Instagram Stories” cannot be scheduled yet. 

Years Later Facebook Admits It Owns Instagram And WhatsApp 

Also, Facebook is rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp it acquired a few years back by adding “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook” alongside the other two, The Information reported

Why it matters: In a statement for The Information, the social media giant said, “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook.” However, it seems that the real goal is to use the child companies’ rapid growth in order to put out fires around constant data safety issues associated with Facebook (the most recent being the Netflix original “The Great Hack”).  It was also reported that Mark Zuckerberg isn’t happy about the fact that Facebook doesn’t get enough credit for Instagram and WhatsApp rapid growth. 

The details: Per The Information, a source familiar with the matter said, “The move to add Facebook’s name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under.” 

EMarketer: TikTok Might Be YouTube’s Biggest Rival 

EMarketer recently published “Is TikTok The New Launching Pad For Video Creators?” post, diving into the idea that TikTok might beat YouTube and become the next number one platform for video creators.

Why it matters: The main difference between TikTok and YouTube is that while YouTube is about long-form content with higher production value, TikTok is focused on shorter, simpler clips, therefore making the content creation process on the platform easier for beginner creators.

Christoph Kastenholz, founder and CEO of Pulse Advertising told eMarketer, “YouTube serves a certain platform purpose with longer-form video, predominantly,” said “TikTok serves a completely different purpose. … It’s very user-centric. That makes it very easy for the user to create content.”

The details: Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, said, “YouTube has been a home for video creators for more than a decade. But it’s starting to see real competition from TikTok as well as other social platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. All of them want a piece of the massive audience for creator content that YouTube has built.”

It is important to mention, however, that although TikTok is exploding, it isn’t exactly stepping on YouTube’s heels just yet. Thus, for example, last year, TikTok was seeing 500 million monthly active users, while eMarketer estimated that YouTube had 1.6 billion monthly active users worldwide in 2018, which made up 66.3 percent of all digital video viewers.  

58 Percent Of Content Creators Have To Deal With Copyright Claims On YouTube Study Finds 

To elaborate on the above news, a study from music licensing company Lickd found that 58 percent of participating creators had to contend a copyright claim on their online content.

Why it matters: According to Lickd, it becomes harder for creators to upload videos without having their content hit with a copyright claim.

The details: Lickd CEO Paul Sampson said, “Despite Article 13 being called out as a potential win for the industry – because it requires platforms that host creative works uploaded by their users to fairly share the income they generate with creators – it is very clear that those very creators do not share that view. Combine this with the risks associated with using unlicensed music, then suddenly the potential to generate revenue through content at risk for Creators and the music industry. We are constantly challenging the music industry to make sure that no party, including creators, lose out. Providing claims-free commercial tracks is one of the solutions.”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, August 9. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Mobile Plays Major Role In Back-To-School Purchase Decisions, Study Finds

For consumers preparing for back-to-school season, smartphones play a number of important roles in the process from price-checking to photo references, according to a new study by AdColony.

AdColony’s first Back to School shopping survey reveals consumer sentiment in regards to purchasing decisions included buying for oneself. Data shows moms are more likely to go back-to-school shopping for their children than dads, at 62 versus 32 percent.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they prefer to shop both online and in-store, while 25 percent said they prefer to shop online. Seventy percent of these online shoppers turn to their smartphones, the study found. Mobile advertising is influential to consumers during this time. Just over half (53 percent) said they have purchased something on their mobile device directly from an ad. Seventy-five percent said they would purchase something on their mobile device directly from an ad if the product was relevant to them.

Even those that shop in-store use their phones, AdColony found, and the most popular reason (55 percent) is to compare prices. Shoppers also used their phones to receive special deals and promotions (47 percent), take a picture for reference (41 percent) and look up product reviews (40 percent).

Smartphones are also considered an essential school supply, respondents indicated. Nearly all (90 percent) are planning to buy a smartphone for students in middle school, high school or college. Even 20 percent were planning to buy one for their elementary school child.

The National Retail Foundation (NRF) predicts record-level spending of $80.7 billion for back-to-school in 2019, based on its annual consumer survey. College students planned to do 45 percent of their shopping online, and of all online shoppers, a majority are planning to take advantage of sales and free shipping.

The study was conducted via AdColony’s platform and compiles over 1,200 responses from North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Central and South America. Respondents were roughly 50/50 male vs. female with ages ranging from 14 to over 75.

Hanes Promotes Male Body Positivity With Musical ‘Every Bod’ Campaign

Hanes launched a new campaign for its Comfort Flexfit boxer briefs called “Every Bod” that encourages men to feel comfortable with their bodies.

The activation includes 15- and 30-second spots that feature men with various body types from “hitting the gym bod” to “rocking that dad bod,” all singing about how “every bod is happy in Hanes.”

The “Every Bod” campaign will run across “specific” network and cable channels as well as online video and content across Facebook and Instagram, according to a release. 

The light-hearted spots don’t take themselves too seriously—after all, everyone is singing off-key in their underwear, out in public, no less—but they tackle an issue for which men are often ignored.

“Society continues to perpetuate unrealistic expectations that impact how all of us, including men, feel about the way we look,” Sidney Falken, chief branding officer for HanesBrands said in a release. “Every Bod reminds men that being comfortable with themselves will also make them confident.”

Being comfortable in one’s own skin (and underwear) is a subject often tackled by and for women in marketing today. The demand for more inclusive marketing has created entire committees, spawned brand partnerships and forced beauty brands to re-think their strategies.

But men are impacted by social and marketing standards as well. A 2017 study by Google and Dove+MenCare found that just seven percent of men can relate to depictions of masculinity in media.

Plus-size model and influencer David Fadd encourages men to speak out about their body image and confidence.

“There aren’t a lot of guys that are pushing this idea of body positivity,” Fadd told BBC. “It’s sort of looked down upon to have body insecurities, [as if] only teenage girls go through those things.”

A recent study by the University of the Sunside Coast (USC) in Queensland, Australia found that when 110 men were shown fit men on television shows or commercials, their own body image declined by an average of 11 percent.

Holler’s Branded Stickers Generate Millions Of Views For Snickers

Snickers reaps the sweet fruit of its first sticker messaging campaign, launched in partnership with messaging tech company Holler (formerly Emogi). The campaign resulted in over 42 million views from tens of thousands of participants who included the branded, animated images and stickers within their messages across multiple platforms. 

According to the Holler case study, with the help of branded stickers, the candy brand was able to turn 61,318 consumers into brand advocates, and the creative content received a total of 42,888,113 impressions.

Per Holler, the most successful sticker, was “Excited,” driving the highest level of impressions and engagement. And in terms of demographic, the campaign reached the 25-34 age group the most, while the 35-44 demographic showed the most active engagement with the content. 

It’s not just cute fun at play here. According to consumer research, it’s not surprising that content and stickers that provoke feelings of excitement lead to higher engagement. Holler is using data, indicating that people who are excited are more likely to make purchases, to inform their business strategy and brand partnerships. 

AList shares Snicker' First Messaging Campaign

“By targeting people at a time when we know they are more likely to be influenced by a Snickers message, this allows us to deliver Intelligent Reach through a tailored message based on their online signals, and deliver Intelligent Conversion by providing a compelling offer when they are most susceptible. Given our findings that light buyers are even more susceptible to purchase when in an excited mood state, if we can identify and target these buyers we can use digital implementation to improve brand penetration,” Holler said in the report. 

Gary Arora, Global LaunchPad Lead, Mars Incorporated said in a press release, “Working with Holler is one of our first forays into the messaging space, which we’re very excited to dig into further. We saw incredible results from our first campaign, garnering 42 million views and converting 61,000 brand advocates across the platform. We are thrilled to be part of our customer conversations in an authentic way, and at the perfect moment in time. When folks are talking about needing an afternoon pick me up, Snickers will be there.”  

Although the partnership with Holler was Snickers’ first messaging initiative, the company has been relying on mobile technology and social media in general in its marketing efforts. For example, Snickers recently launched its debut micro-gifting campaign which allows fans to send a personalized message and gift redeemable for a Snickers bar at Walmart stores nationwide. 

Report: US Consumers Watched More Streaming Content In Q2; Have No Patience For Ad Buffering

US consumers viewed 130 percent more hours of streaming content in Q2 2019 versus Q2 2018, according to Conviva. Among the findings, connected TVs led device category growth, video thrived on social media and buffering ads are causing a “crisis” in audience abandonment.

Conviva’s Q2 2019 State of the TV Streaming Industry report compiles data collected from streaming video applications using the company’s proprietary sensor technology. The video optimization company claims to analyze more than a trillion real-time transactions per day.

The report says that ad buffering is causing a TV advertising “crisis” because audiences are abandoning longer ads with lower quality. Seventy percent of audience abandonment occurs during an ad running between 10-20 seconds, compared to 48 percent that abandons during ads running 10 seconds or less. Fewer audiences abandoned the content during pre-roll ads compared to mid-roll.

Even small decreases in buffering result in much longer average content play times, the report states. During Q2 2019, a reduction in rebuffering ratio from the 0.79 percent average measured in 2018 to 0.46 percent in 2019 resulted in 12 percent more engagement.

Streaming activity declined in Boston, New York and San Francisco, the report observed, while Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix demonstrated the most streaming consumption. The report noted that total consumption figures have been normalized based on city population size. Conviva did not speculate as to a reason for each market’s respective growth or decline.

In terms of viewing hours, connected TV usage rose 143 percent, which the report attributed to Roku specifically. The streaming service held an overall 43 percent share of all connected TV viewing and experienced a 173 percent surge in viewing hours. Roku also accounted for roughly 54 percent of all live viewing via connected TVs during the quarter.

Social media video uploads increased during Q2 2019, including 15 percent more on Facebook and YouTube. News media experienced the most growth in average total video views, at 197 percent, while entertainment led in terms of growth of views per video at 99 percent.

Ninja’s Successful Mixer Move Shows Influencers Can (And Should) Diversify Platforms

Influencers who maintain audiences across diverse platforms are able to make business decisions that might otherwise spell disaster.

Last weekend, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a professional esports player and online personality, began streaming exclusively on Microsoft’s Mixer platform. For an influencer, the move seemed crazy. After all, he was the most popular streamer on Amazon’s Twitch platform with 14.7 million followers. Blevins even claimed to earn over half a million dollars per month on the site.

The influencer, known for his wild hair colors and skills in Epic Games’ battle royale game Fortnite, was able to not only survive the risky move to a new streaming home but thrive because Twitch was not his only outlet. Blevins maintains audiences across social media, YouTube, and offline through a line of merchandise.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand (including influencers) receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, a.network established the Social Index and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties.

(Editor’s note: AList is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the social media landscape, click here.)

According to estimates by a.network’s Social Index, Blevins added nearly 112,000 new followers across the three major social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), which generated $211,268 in earned media value (EMV). This figure does not include YouTube, on which he had 22 million subscribers as of August 6.

Since Blevin’s announcement, Mixer experienced an 11 percent growth on its four major social channels, adding 50,000 new social followers. These new followers are equal to $72,241 in earned media, per Social Index.

“It’s a fascinating move which has generated great results for the Mixer brand, as they are already seeing a positive return on their investment with Ninja,” Jocelyn Harjes, director of marketing science at Ayzenberg told AList. “The Mixer social channels following growth over the past few days alone as generated nearly $75,000.”

Launched in 2016, Mixer is Microsoft’s interactive livestream platform that offers incentives to streamers and their audiences through a virtual currency called Sparks. The service, tied closely to the Xbox gaming platform, hosts weekly Mixer Matchups tournaments at Microsoft Store locations. Audiences can view and “follow” livestreams for free and subscribe to a streamer to receive exclusives for $5 per month.

As of August 6, Blevins had already become the second most followed streamer on Mixer with 706,425 followers and over one million subscribers. Blevins has generated 4.1 million views on Mixer, reached Level 42 status and earned 126,548 Sparks through his activities. He is second only to David “TheGrefg” Cánovas Martínez who has 54.3M followers.

Blevins’ swift rise on Mixer is no doubt being aided by a promotional campaign through September 30 that offers a free one-month subscription to his channel. 

Blevins has attracted multiple brand sponsors over the years from Red Bull to Electronic Arts. His rise to fame was bolstered by his esports career and the explosive popularity of Fortnite. His mainstream status has earned him guest appearances on talk shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and he became the first esports player to be featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. 

If Blevins had focused all his energy on Twitch, he would be in an entirely different position today. Influencers of all sizes should take care to nurture audiences on multiple platforms, customizing messages to each, the same way that any entrepreneur creates a professional network. That way, if opportunity strikes—or if a platform is discontinued—your audience will be happy to follow you anywhere.

IAB: US Digital Ad Revenues Reach $28.4B In Q1 2019, Highest Q1 Yet

US digital advertising revenues for Q1 2019 were the strongest first quarter on record, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reports. The landmark $28.4 billion represents an 18 percent rise over Q1 2018, which IAB attributes to the quality of digital marketing today.

The latest IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report figures, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), indicates a consistent climb of digital advertising revenues in the US since 2015. The data was compiled from company surveys that included online advertising revenues from web sites, commercial online services, free email providers and all other companies selling online advertising. PwC notes that it did not audit the information.

It’s no secret that digital advertising has steadily grown over the years, which can be attributed to several factors from mainstream consumer usage to more diverse ad offerings, according to the report. IAB, in particular, believes that brands are investing more because of the inherent trackability of digital advertising which allows for better consumer connections.

“The continued growth of digital ad spend is a reflection of its ability to help brands and publishers reach consumers and build meaningful one-to-one relationships,” said Sue Hogan, IAB senior vice president of research and measurement in a prepared statement. 

“Digital marketing offers brands the scale and reach they need to grow, while also providing the data they need to optimize campaigns for efficiencies. These first-party insights allow for significant connections with consumers and long-term value for both.”

IAB will compile its annual full-year report based on the first and third quarters of 2019. According to the full year 2018 report issued in May, digital advertising revenues reached a historic high of $107.5 billion in the US last year. It was the first time that digital advertising revenues surpassed $100 billion.

Out of all categories, print media was the only platform to suffer losses in ad revenue last year. Digital usage meanwhile, grew 20 percent YoY even though the digital audience only grew one percent YoY.

Brands will adopt new digital video ad formats at a higher rate in 2019, IAB predicted in its digital ad spend report, especially stories and shoppable ads. Over half of respondents—59 percent—planned to increase their spend on advanced TV (ATV) over the subsequent 12 months, with half reporting increases in OTT.

EMarketer: US Cord-cutting Households Will Soon Catch Up To Traditional Pay-TV

The number of cord-cutting households continues its upward climb in the US and may soon match—then overtake—households with traditional paid-TV subscriptions, eMarketer predicts. If the analyst firm is correct, nearly 25 percent of households in the US will drop traditional TV by 2022.

According to the latest pay-TV forecast from eMarketer, cord-cutting households will jump 19.2 percent in 2019 to 40.2 million this year, while pay-TV households drop 4.2 percent to 86.5 million. Satellite providers will see the largest decline in subscriptions this year, eMarketer predicts, dropping 7.1 percent.

US consumers are not only subscribing to fewer traditional pay-TV but watching less of it when they do. EMarketer cited its April 2019 forecast in which US TV time would drop three percent in 2019 to an average of three hours and 40 minutes. While this decline is felt across all age groups, it is especially true among viewers 17 and younger, who will watch an estimated 10 percent less traditional TV this year.

Viewer losses to traditional TV providers may be a self-perpetuating problem, according to eMarketer forecasting analyst Eric Haggstrom. 

“As viewing time and the number of TV households drop, networks will have to sell ads at higher prices to account for lost viewership,” Haggstrom said. This, combined with rising programming costs, are making it more difficult for cable, satellite and telco providers to turn a profit on subscriptions, he explained.

“It seems that they are willing to lose customers rather than retain them with unprofitable deals,” said Haggstrom, noting that consumers are forced to pay higher prices for internet in order to raise profit margins.

Subscribers often drop services when prices rise and promotional deals don’t get renewed, and thus the cycle begins again.

Several traditional TV providers have responded by offering their own OTT programming including Disney, ESPN, HBO, Showtime and STARZ, but price point may still cause hurdles for consumers looking for the best deal.

A March 2019 report by Hub Research found that 36 percent of respondents would drop an existing OTT service before subscribing to another one and 24 percent said they already had “too many.”

EMarketer’s observations are aligned with a 2018 study by Magid, which found that eight percent of pay-TV subscribers were “extremely likely” to cancel and not get another one in the subsequent 12 months. By comparison, this number was six percent in 2017 and 5.7 percent in 2016.


Kmart Australia Launches AR Campaign, Taps Country’s Growing Interest In Tech

Kmart Australia launched a mobile augmented reality (AR) ad campaign that lets consumers see its furniture and home decor products in real-life context. The campaign taps into Australia’s growing interest in the technology, as well as the retailer’s pursuit of digital engagement.

The mobile ad campaign, created by OmniVirt and launched August 1, is being served programmatically across a number of websites including Buzzfeed and Apartment Therapy. Selecting the display ad allows consumers to virtually place 3D rendered merchandise into their environment using their mobile device’s front-facing camera. No app download is required.

The budget retailer campaign continues a trend of brands using augmented reality to close the “imagination gap” between visualizing a product and purchase. Similar campaigns and dedicated apps have been employed by IKEA, The Home Depot, Pottery Barn, Overstock and Lowe’s, among others.

Kmart Australia, a subsidiary of Wesfarmers, unrelated to the US chains, reported an eight percent revenue increase in 2018 and “strong performances” in the sale of home merchandise. The brand attributed this growth to its expanded online channels and 10 new retail locations opened throughout the year.

“With more new stores opening across Australia and New Zealand, the growth of our online business and expansion into new markets, we are on a mission to improve the Kmart shopping experience for all our customers, who are at the heart of everything we do,” the company stated In a June 2019 job post for a head of digital marketing.

In a sign that it’s a digital-first road ahead for the brand, one of the key responsibilities listed in the job posts is the expectation to “transition the marketing model to fully embrace digital engagement with [Kmart Australia] customers.”

The Australian government has invested time and resources into the development of AR, VR and 3D web technologies through a dedicated laboratory. In March 2018, Australia’s federal research agency—Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)—announced The Immersive Environments Lab dedicated to this purpose.

The country has also attracted global technology brands in recent years with Alibaba, Dialog, Square and Cybergym establishing regional headquarters in Victoria.

In 2018, Magnify World Expo was held in Melbourne for the first time as part of the Victorian Government Digital Innovation Festival. AR and VR are expected to become a $150 billion market across all industry sectors, according to Magnify World head of innovation Matt Coleman.

“We think there’s going to be around a $1.6 billion AU ($1 billion USD) revenue opportunity for new companies and corporates in the Australian market over the next two years,” Coleman told ZDNet. “It’s much bigger than everybody thinks.”