Spotify Ad Studio Launches New Conversion Metrics For Artists, Labels

Spotify Ad Studio unveiled a new set of streaming conversion metrics that reveal how listeners responded after listening to an ad. The addition was made in response to labels and artist teams who requested more insights into how a campaign impacted consumers.

New metrics available inside Spotify Ad Studio include how many listeners listened to the artist after hearing the ad, whether the ad performed better with existing listeners or new ones, songs saved to playlists and more.

Labels and artists can already see who is listening to their music through Spotify for Artists, but the additional metrics in Spotify Ad Studio allow more insight into campaigns. Following an activation, users can see how audiences reacted.

“You’ll learn how audiences engaged with your ad, and you can use that information to inform your future promotional strategies,” said Spotify in a blog post.

“Given their importance to artist teams, we intend to offer these types of conversion metrics for future advertising products.”

Spotify says that “hundreds” of artist teams, labels and music marketers have used Spotify Ad Studio as part of their promotional plans since its launch in 2017. The allure is discoverability, the company says, as Spotify users are already listening and in the mood to discover new music.

To prove this point, Spotify pointed to a campaign by music marketing agency Wavo ran for Rich the Kid and Interscope. An ad featured a sample of Rich the Kid’s new song, along with an introduction from the artist. Of those who heard the ad, 38 percent went on to listen to his music. Almost 20 percent of those listeners streamed Rich the Kid music for the first time that month.

“With Spotify’s new advertising capabilities, we’re getting insight into not just how our campaign is resulting in streams, but deeper actions for an artist like how those listeners are turning into fans and adding a song to their playlist or hearting a song,” said Conor Clarke, CEO and co-founder of Wavo alongside Spotify’s statistics. “Those are the holy grail of metrics for an artist to know.”

Spotify had over 200 million monthly active users as of February 2019. Premium subscribers reached 96 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 36 percent year over year (YoY). The company reported that both Audio and Video format ads grew more than 40 percent in the fourth quarter and audio ads remain the largest contributor to total revenue.

The company made changes to its data policies in the second quarter of 2018 that were designed to improve performance measurement. These metrics, Spotify told investors, continued to drive revenue growth of 77 percent YoY in third-party measurement tools.

Apple TV+ Marketing With Celebrities, Relies On Exclusives Over Ad Revenue

Apple unveiled its new subscription entertainment platform, Apple TV+ on Monday, creating a monetized home for the brand’s original programming. The announcement focused heavily on storytelling and creators like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Oprah Winfrey.

Apple TV+ launches this fall as a separate subscription service accessible from within the Apple TV app. It will house the brand’s original content and while specifics were not provided, Apple is marketing celebrities to sell the promise of quality.

The promotional video featured J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Damien Chazelle, Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Hailee Steinfeld and Reese Witherspoon, all talking about the process of storytelling.

Another video announced that Oprah Winfrey would be coming to the Apple TV+ platform, although it did not specify in what capacity. Even Sesame Street’s Big Bird made an appearance.

Unlike Netflix or Amazon, AppleTV+ will not host a catalog of licensed content in addition to originals. Instead, it was designed to attract new subscribers based on exclusivity. Apple users will still be able to access partner networks like HBO and Showtime through the standard Apple TV offering, but it will require switching over to another app.

While Hulu, Disney, VUDU and others prepare to woo advertisers next month at IAB’s Digital Newfronts, Apple TV+ will be ad-free.

This may seem like a strange move for a service launching in 100 countries, but as one marketer pointed out, Apple may not be focusing on revenue so much as perceived value.

It remains to be seen if Apple TV+ original content is inspiring enough to pay for yet another subscription. According to Deloitte, 47 percent of US consumers are becoming “fatigued” by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want. The average US consumer subscribes to three services as it is, Deloitte found.

Unlike many of its competitors, Apple has the ability to bundle services like music, games, TV and news. Apple TV+ also has the ability to reach the brand’s existing global user base.

In a note to Wall Street investors called “Apple Poisons Netflix,” Needham analyst Laura Martin asserted that Apple has strong consumer awareness and no marketing costs.

“Netflix has an inferior competitive position to Apple over time, as we see it, in both: a) customer acquisition costs; and b) content costs,” wrote Martin “Apple has zero consumer acquisition costs since it will first target its captive 900 million global unique users, which are the wealthiest consumers in the world.”

Google’s New Stadia Platform Leverages Burgeoning Gaming Video Content Market

Google unveiled Stadia, a new video game platform, at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Tuesday. The cloud-based service provides instant access to games on a variety of devices with a tie-in to YouTube, Chromecast and Google Assistant, providing game publishers (and possibly advertisers) with a new way to reach the $5.2 billion gaming video content (GVC) market.

Stadia is not a console, but rather a “playground,” Google explained. Anyone with a Google account and high-speed internet connection would be able to log into the service and access a game without the need to download or update. Essentially, the games live in Chrome, allowing users to access the titles from a TV, laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

Google says that its goal is to make games available in resolutions up to 4K and 60 frames per second with HDR and surround sound. Stadia launches later this year in the US, Canada, UK and “much” of Europe.

Other details such as pricing and game titles are scheduled to be announced this summer. The announcement did not mention anything about advertising opportunities and Google did not immediately respond to requests for information.

Google is focusing its primary attention on YouTube integration, stating that over 200 million watch GVC on the platform every day. The idea is that after watching a trailer or video of someone playing a particular game, the viewer could immediately try the game for themselves. Dubbed “Project Stream,” a 2018 beta test allowed users to try the just-released Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey across devices.

A special controller is currently in development that allows a player to capture and share gameplay, access Google Assistant if they get stuck and use the platform wherever there is WiFi. It also features a built-in microphone and those who saw the controller at GDC noted that, as a nice touch, the Konami Code is printed on the back.

Titles already confirmed for the Stadia platform include Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, an unannounced title from Q Games and Doom Eternal. The GDC demo included NBA 2K19 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider as examples of how developers could make real-time changes such as art style or how players could share a specific point in the game for others to jump in.

Google also announced the formation of a first-party studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment.

A 2019 study by SuperData found that just 23 percent of streaming service users are familiar with cloud gaming but 69 percent were familiar with online video streaming like YouTube. It is possible that Stadia could bring these demographics together.

SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen noted that while Google’s technology and sudden entry into the gaming market are impressive, the giant will have to offer more than convenience and novelty.

“One thing that was noticeably absent from the announcement was how Google intends to differentiate on content,” said Van Dreunen in a blog post. “Porting well-known titles and franchises is an obvious first step, and the integration with YouTube is novel, to be sure. However, to claim a meaningful share of the market, Google will have to acquire exclusive content that will draw consumers to its offering and that’s precisely the missing component currently.”

Amazon Promotes ‘Good Omens’ With A Veritable “Garden Of Earthly Delights”

To promote the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett-created mini-series Good Omens, Amazon pulled all the stops with an activation appropriately titled ‘Garden of Earthly Delights” that takes over an entire block on Driskill and Rainey Street in downtown Austin.

The activation serves as a welcome respite for beleaguered SXSW attendees with manicure stations with butterLONDON and Cosmedix, a salon for hair braiding in partnership with SexyHair, and a pen of adorable (and adoptable) “Hellhounds” courtesy of Austin’s Animal Center.

Along with the usual beer and wine stations, the main feature of the activation was a 20-foot free with pickable “prophetic apples” and a replica of Crowley’s 1926 Bentley.

“Protesters” walk tirelessly around the perimeter of the event warning attendees of the impending end of the world, lightly discouraging people from entering and accusing those in line at the activation of witchcraft.

“With the end of the world imminent, we figured what better place than SXSW to celebrate a few of the good things our world has to offer?” said Mike Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Studios in a press release. “We’ve created an immersive experience that Good Omens book fans will love, but also anyone who might like to celebrate Armageddon. You never know what type of apocalyptic creatures may be inhabiting Austin during the SXSW festival, so we are happy to provide an escape for all to enjoy the end-of-times with us.”

Benson is referring to actors who are roving around the festival, portraying “bickering angels,” nuns, demons and Witch Finders, all of whom are prophetically foretelling the end of the world.

The activation is holding a variety of events throughout the festival, including parties in partnership with Entertainment Weekly and Buzzfeed and a portrait studio.

Amazon, which released the trailer for Good Omens only earlier this week, is clearly putting significant efforts into the promotion of the series which stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen and comes out May 31.

Vanity Fair Napkins Turns John Mayer’s Fake Oscar Party Into Marketing Opportunity

Vanity Fair Napkins created an animated commercial on musician John Mayer’s Instagram page. The last-minute team up was made possible by an agile marketing team who jumped on Mayer’s recent jokes regarding Vanity Fair—both the publication and the napkins.

Monday morning, Grammy award-winning musician John Mayer shared an animated commercial on his Instagram page. In the ad, a man asks a woman for her number. When she tries to write it on a Vanity Fair napkin, he changes his mind. The spot ends with the Vanity Fair logo and the slogan, “We can only make the napkins.”

The official Vanity Fair napkins Instagram also shared the video, calling Mayer a “NapkinInfluencer.”

Vanity Fair parent company Georgia Pacific created the spot after an unexpected plug on Oscar night.

Last weekend, Mayer hosted a fake Vanity Fair after-party at his home, down to the blue carpet backdrop and set pieces. Celebrities including comedians Bob Saget and Jeffrey Ross celebrated with Mayer, posting photos on social media that to the untrained eye, appeared to be have been taken at the real Oscar party.

Mayer broadcast the party on his weekly IGTV show Current Mood. Party guests accentuated the joke by posing with Vanity Fair paper products and pretending the brand was a sponsor. Mayer was then struck with an idea for a Vanity Fair napkins commercial and shared it with the viewers. Little did he know that Georgia Pacific’s communications manager Melissa Kinard was watching.

Kinard signed into her business account and began interacting with Mayer’s audience as the Vanity Fair brand in real-time. The next day, she and her team were developing the commercial. Kinard was traveling at the time of this writing, but Georgia Pacific was happy to share the process.

“We were able to turn it around really quickly last week,” Georgia Pacific senior director of communications Anna Umphress told AList. “We animated his commercial word for word. [Mayer]  thought it was a fun thing and shared it on his show Sunday night.”

Mayer’s post has received over 100,000 likes and 1,100 comments in the first 12 hours.

Vanity Fair redesigned its packaging in 2017 and has adopted a marketing narrative of everyday use. Umphress said the plug by Mayers offered a fun way to engage a younger audience.

“I’m really proud of the team here for first, recognizing the opportunity and then working really hard to make that real-time interaction happen so that it was still relevant for John and his followers,” said Umphress.

“We’re always looking for these opportunities, but they have to be real and authentic to the brand,” Umphress explained. “In this case, it really was an opportunity to personalize our message to consumers and this really took it to the next level.”


Netflix Takes Cues From HBO, Plans ‘Highwaymen’ Speakeasy For SXSW

Netflix is bringing a speakeasy to SXSW next week to promote its original film, The Highwaymen. Riding high on its Oscar wins, Netflix will be able to leverage filmmaker respect while taking part in the experiential marketing playland that is SXSW Austin.

The Highwaymen tells the story of two former Texas Rangers that are sent to hunt down the notorious Bonny and Clyde. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play the titular roles, under the direction of John Lee Hancock (The Blindside).

Dubbed “The Highwayman House,” Netflix’s pop-up activation will take over Banger’s Basement and simulate a 1930s speakeasy. To get visitors in the mood for the Bonny and Clyde caper, attendees will be greeted by actors in character and given a name. In addition to their new identities, attendees will receive an RFID bracelet to unlock experiences around the location.

Musical acts will play at the speakeasy each night, adding to the 1930s period vibe.

Interactive elements will include photo ops with a “Wanted” poster, gambling tables and playing games. Those that interact will earn points that can be redeemed for “premium custom swag” including hats, watches, flasks, patches, pins, bandanas and denim jackets.

Netflix has also partnered with Bunkhouse Hospitality to give additional speakeasy treatment to guests of Hotel Saint Cecilia and Hotel San Jose. These guests will have the opportunity to drink custom cocktails inspired by The Highwaymen and catch a ride to the activation inside a vintage car. Platinum and Film Badge holders will be able to watch the world premiere screening on March 10.

SXSW has become a haven for experiential activations and Netflix has taken a cue from HBO’s buzzworthy Westworld activation last year. HBO wowed attendees with a two-acre Western town complete with recreations of the show’s Coronado Hotel and Mariposa Saloon, filled with Season Two easter eggs and over 60 actors and stuntpeople to engage attendees.

Netflix took home three Academy Awards for its original film Roma this past weekend, winning best director, best cinematography and best foreign-language film. Director Alphonso Cuaron also made history as the first person to win an Oscar for best cinematography on the same film they directed.

During the ceremony, Martin Scorsese announced that his latest project, The Irishman, will be a Netflix original movie—adding additional clout to the streaming platform as a viable outlet for filmmakers.

Last year, Netflix hosted a filmmakers lounge at SXSW in a bid for creative attention and shared five world premieres during the event—feature films First Match, 6 Balloons and The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, as well as the documentary feature, Take Your Pills and documentary series Rapture.


Hennessy Debuts Ridley Scott-Directed Branded ‘Seven Worlds’ Short Film

Cognac brand Hennessy is releasing their four-minute film The Seven Worlds directed by Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator). A 60-second version of the film will air during a commercial break on the most prestigious motion picture award night, the 91st Oscars.  Ridley brought his futuristic style to showcase that “each drop of Hennessy X.O. is an Odyssey.”

Created in 1870, Hennessy X.O. or “extra old” was the first cognac to be classified as such due to its aging process.

Giant golden men, fiery red skies and an ethereal forest are all parts of the journey through the Hennessy XO’s seven flavor profile. The seven notes materialize into the different realms of Sweet Notes, Rising Heat, Spicy Edge, Flowing Flame, Chocolate Lull and Wood Crunches which all peak into the Infinite Echo.

For the film, Ridley teamed up with former visual effects experts he worked with on cult hits such as Alien and Blade Runner. The composer from All the Money in the World and The Counselor wrote the score for the Hennessy film.

“I was attracted to this project because I was inspired by the potential for art and entertainment to bring this story to life,” Scott said in a statement. “Hennessy has a great product, and I was lucky enough to have the freedom to interpret this and create something amazing. I think people will be stunned when they see the film.”

Last September, the cognac maker disclosed its campaign collaboration with the English filmmaker—an end to his 15-year hiatus from the advertising industry. Initially, the ads were set to be 3D, but now the film is part of an interactive multichannel campaign, not only featuring the movie but a ‘making of,’ behind-the-scenes content and an interview with Ridley Scott.

“It is an honor for Hennessy to partner with a visionary like Ridley Scott,” said Hennessy global CMO Michael Aidan. “This film showcases Ridley’s artistic genius conveying the essence of Hennessy X.O through entertainment that transcends traditional advertising.”

This is not the first time Hennessy partnered with an artist for a campaign. Last summer, the brand worked with Alexandre Farto aka “Vhils” to design a limited “very special collector’s edition” bottle. It was unveiled in December during the Miami Art Festival. One 750ml bottle was valued at $1,000.

Last year, liquor sales rose and revenue growth was up 5.1 percent according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Cognac was one of the key drivers with sales jumping from $250 million to $1 billion. According to the president and CEO of the council, Chris Swonger, the results show millennials tend to favor spirits over beer and wine.

Brands Relied On The Tried And True For Super Bowl LIII

Unsurprisingly, celebrity dominated the commercials of Super Bowl LIII. But what’s more interesting, and perhaps surprising, are the other trends of futuristic tech, art and emotional appeal.

Artistically-Inspired Commercials Take The Lead

Some brands turned to art to create cultural resonance and a sense of nostalgia. Both Coca-Cola and Burger King drew upon Andy Warhol’s cartoonish and simple art for their respective commercials and despite the vintage aesthetics, it came across as rather contemporary and even a little edgy. Andy Warhol once famously noted “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”

Moreover, it was a subtle reminder to viewers that the brands have been around for a long time and are rooted so deeply into American culture, much like football.

Expensify’s groovy collaboration with 2 Chainz also had an artistic bent, weaving in and out of animation, taking place in a surreal world with off-the-wall imagery.

Emotional Appeal Remains Important

Studies show that people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions and that emotional responses to ads are more influential on a person’s intent to buy than the content of an ad.

Whether happy, sad, afraid, surprised or angry—these emotions can be manipulated with finesse into an impulse to buy.

This year, Google’s ad inspired the highest emotional engagement according to Ipsos. Ipsos tests the ads in a realistic situation by recruiting an audience of 37 people to watch the ads at a Super Bowl party. Participants could even bring friends. Each viewer was fitted with a wrist bracelet and finger sensor that could capture galvanic skin responses that could provide insight into how emotionally engaged each attendee was to each commercial.

Back To The Future

While some brands focused on nostalgia and plying your heartstrings, others imbued their ads with futurism. Some notable examples of this were Pringles’ “Sad Device” commercial and Intuit’s (slightly) disturbing “RoboChild.”

Celebrities Remain In The Mix

According to MarketWatch, “with a celebrity endorsement, sales for products endorsed by athletes go up by an average of 4 percent.” Amazon’s Alexa Super Bowl commercial involved not only one but five celebrities from different backgrounds, including Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson, Cardi B, Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Bezos himself.

Marketers know that a familiar face is likely to magnetize the viewer’s attention—it’s the original influencer marketing after all.

Super Bowl Social: Pepsi Dominates Conversations; ‘Avengers’ Flexes Hashtag Muscle

February 3 was Super Bowl Sunday—a day for competition among football players and the brands that dish out millions for coveted air time. According to social media analytics company Talkwalker, Pepsi inspired the most social media conversations among Super Bowl LIII advertisers with its bare-chested Maroon 5 performance and Spongebob tribute, while Avocados from Mexico and a new teaser for The Avengers: Endgame battled for hashtag supremacy.

Talkwalker measured 30 days of social media engagement for the Super Bowl and its advertisers, ending at midnight on February 2. Twitter served as the main source of conversation during this time, with over 8.7 million tweets—nearly 87 percent of all social media activity for the Super Bowl LIII.

For the previous 30 days, Super Bowl 2019 received over 10 million mentions and 60.8 million likes/shares on social media. This number peaked on January 20 and 21 after the Conference Championships and again on February 3 during the Super Bowl, itself.

The Top Five Hashtags About Super Bowl LIII Are:

  1. #SuperBowl: 1,600,000
  2. #SBLIII: 672,600
  3. #NFLPlayoffs: 411,000
  4. #SuperBowlLIII: 233,600
  5. #AvengersEndgame: 173,400

The New England Patriots emerged victorious on the field as well as on social media, although with a much smaller gap. The Patriots were mentioned 370,800 times (52 percent) versus the Los Angeles Rams with 341,500 mentions (48 percent).

Coca-Cola took a break from Super Bowl advertising for the first time since 2006, giving the upper hand to its century’s old rival, PepsiCo. While Coca-Cola aired a brief pre-game spot, Pepsi dominated the air space with two star-studded commercials and the half-time show.

This gave Pepsi the opportunity to shine with its “Pepsi is More than Okay” commercial featuring Cardi B, Steve Carrell and Lil John. The :60 TV spot complained about the common response to asking for soda: “Is Pepsi okay?” The brand’s #PepsiIsMoreThanOkay hashtag went on to garner 48,000 mentions on social media.

Pepsi was the most-talked-about brand during Super Bowl LIII with over 71,800 accumulated mentions which peaked after the halftime show. Not all of that attention was positive, however, as fans wanted to hear Maroon 5 play “Sweet Victory” in memory of SpongeBob’s recently-deceased creator.

Before January 2019, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi had an equal social media exposure. That all changed over the last 30 days, says Talkwalker. Thanks to its Super Bowl LIII involvement, Pepsi earned 596,700 mentions in North America versus Coke’s 155,900. In addition, Pepsi’s social engagement rose to 3.5 million shares and retweets, whereas Coke received 1.5 million.

Overall, brands that featured collaborations or mashups won the day in terms of social media engagement.

Doritos’ collaboration between Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys (#NowItsHot) was shared over 57,300 times across social media.

Bud Light, meanwhile, partnered with HBO to promote the final season of Game of Thrones. A light-hearted “Dilly Dilly” spot quickly turned dark when a stranger entered the jousting arena. Bud Light garnered over 13,400 mentions for the period piece mashup.

Budweiser’s emotional “Wind never felt better” campaign has earned 17,800,000 views on Youtube so far.

Avocados from Mexico kept its #AvocadosFromMexico hashtag trending thanks to 96,000 mentions over the past 30 days.

The number one non-sports hashtag went to Marvel Studios with a teaser for The Avengers: Endgame with 173,000 mentions. When the official Avenger’s Twitter account posted the teaser video, it was retweeted 71,767 times and liked 145,957 times.