Spotify And New Amsterdam Vodka Partner To Launch Branded Podcast

Spotify is partnering with New Amsterdam Vodka to create Ebb & Flow, a branded podcast, which represents a new revenue path for the streaming service. The five-episode series features music influencer DJ Jasmine Solano and her candid conversations with rising hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs.

Spotify currently hosts a variety of non-branded audio programs and it makes the majority of its revenues through advertising and subscriptions but has to pay out about 70 percent of the money made from each music stream to labels and publishers.

Podcasts represent a promising form of revenue, given their relatively low production costs and high engagement. In 2017, about 40 percent of people in the US said that they listened to podcasts, many on a regular basis. A 2018 IAB study found that podcasts have high ad revenue potential, predicting that they will rise to $659 million in revenue by 2020.

“We chose to do a branded podcast less because of the format and more because of the opportunity with Spotify,” said New Amsterdam Spirits marketing director Michael Sachs in a statement. “When discussing ways to work together, we wanted to be sure that we were supporting the latest and greatest that Spotify has to offer.”

The podcast promises personal interviews with guests that include Bryce Vine, GASHI, J.I.D, Saweetie, and Skizzy Mars, who will talk about their struggles moving up in the music industry. Ebb & Flow also fits neatly into New Amsterdam’s “Our Your Soul Out” campaign, which matches music with the spirts brand. One of the campaign’s first trailers follows the story of a drummer rising up to become a professional musician.

In the show’s announcement, Spotify said that it is “focused on fueling the discovery of stories, culture and communities through audio-driven experiences. Podcasts are an integral part of this discovery. And as the number two podcast provider in the world, podcasts help us to bring fans closer to the creators and subject matters they love.”

AMC And Postmates Deliver Edible Marketing For ‘Better Call Saul’

AMC is once again using its fictional Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant to promote Better Call Saul. From August 20-22, fans in Los Angeles and New York City can order a special mini meal of fried chicken and curly fries, then have it delivered for free.

The activation is a partnership between AMC and delivery service Postmates to promote the fourth season of Better Call Saul—a prequel to the hit Breaking Bad TV show. Deliveries will be available at 12 p.m. local time each day and will continue while supplies last. Delivering meals from the famous chicken restaurant allows viewers to feel somewhat immersed in the show’s lore.

To fans of the two shows, Los Pollos Hermanos is as much of a character as Walter White or Saul Goodman are. Last year, AMC launched a pop-up of the restaurant in select locations including Austin, Los Angeles and New York City. During SXSW, guests lined up to get free curly fries and branded soda cups, as well as see actors from Better Call Saul. Thanks to partnerships with local restaurants, this is the first time fans can get chicken, too.

Chicken and curly fries delivered for the promotion arrived in branded containers as if they originated from the real Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant. So far, the activation has yielded numerous social media posts that show off the Los Pollos Hermanos branding. Some even pretended to have met the manager Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

AMC’s marketing team works closely with the Better Call Call production staff to make sure every detail of these activations is in line with the show.

“Being authentic is incredibly important to us,” Theresa Beyer, senior vice president of promotion, activation and partnerships at AMC Networks told AList. “If we don’t work closely with [the show’s production team], there’s a really good chance of not being authentic. Fans know it the second you are not authentic and they will call you out for it. I would never want to disappoint those fans.”

Beyer explained that her team follows the beats of the show and caters marketing around story developments. The traveling restaurant was conceived last year, for example, to coincide with Fring’s debut on Better Call Saul.

“We’ll always use traditional marketing methods but this sort of fan engagement does something that billboards and digital ads can’t,” said Beyer. “[With activations like the Los Pollos Hermanos delivery] we can provoke emotions and engagement in a way that goes beyond media buys. That makes it a very fun way to communicate.”

In addition to the delivery activation, AMC is continuing another marketing tradition from Better Call Saul season three—training videos. On Monday, the network debuted a security training video for Madrigal Electromotive—a fictional business from the two shows—hosted by Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). The video playfully ties into the plot of the show, when Mike takes his security consultant job more seriously than his “employers” expected.

Last year, the network launched a series of employee training videos for Los Pollos Hermanos starring Esposito that covered topics like communication, cleanliness and what to do in an emergency.

Based on what happens on the show, Beyer and her team may continue to use Los Pollos Hermanos, Madrigal Electromotive or something else to engage fans in the future.

“We’re going to follow the beats of the story because we want to be able to get fans excited about what’s coming up in the season and I think the best way is with some big activation or promotion or partnership that gets them deeper into the story,” said Beyer.

Postmates is making a name for itself in the $20 million food delivery market and partnering with AMC is a good way to generate some buzz. The start-up recently added 100 markets nationwide and has made a number of strategic brand partnerships including Walmart and Jack in the Box.

‘Happytime Murders’ Pop-up Invites Guests Into Sleazy World Of Puppets

STXfilms is promoting its R-rated puppet film The Happytime Murders with a pop-up tattoo parlor and speakeasy in Hollywood. The activation immerses guests into the world of the film while driving home its R-rated humor and providing photo ops for social media.

Open to adults 21 and over, The InkHole is a tattoo parlor and speakeasy manned by puppets and actors where guests can take a glimpse at the greasy underbelly of puppet life as depicted in The Happytime Murders. Visitors can interact with puppet and human characters from the film and get clues about its who-dunnit plotline.

The InkHole was scheduled for one weekend only but STXfilms told AListDaily that demand was so high that the activation returned a week later for another weekend full of puppet mischief.

Talking with puppets in The InkHole will earn guests a secret (R-rated) password, which can be spoken to gain access to a hidden speakeasy. Guests are treated to cocktails with names like “Good Time for You” and “DTF (Down to Fluff)” while being entertained by comedians, burlesque dancers and puppet lounge singers on the main stage.

Delving deeper into the speakeasy will reveal even more adult content, from a puppet peep show to BDSM performances. In the “Sugar Den,” a strung-out puppet named Midge offers guests sweet juices so they can get a sugar high with her.

The “Rotten Cotton Girls,” meanwhile, invite people to join them in the Photo Puppet Opp room where they can pose on a hot pink chaise in front of a neon sign of the film’s title.

Marketing for The Happytime Murders has been focused on the raunchy humor of the film, as embodied with the slogan, “No Sesame. All Street.” A pink van has been spotted driving around Hollywood that promotes topless puppet maids. Murals have been painted in spots around Sydney Australia, made to look like brothels complete with puppet prostitutes outside. The film’s name, hashtag and slogan are painted in the style of graffiti, hitting the message home that this is not a story for kids.

Last week, a public service announcement video was released in partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse that discouraged moviegoers from talking during the movie. Hosted by a puppet named Goofer from The Happytime Murders, viewers are warned that being a “moviefucker” and talking during the movie will get you shunned and send you into a spiral of hard candy addiction.

HBO Pop-Up Invited Bumble Users To Watch Movies In A $30M Home

HBO reminded younger viewers about its movie offerings by hosting a “stay home to the movies” event in a $30 million townhome.

For two weeks, users on the Bumble Date and BFF apps had a chance to attend an exclusive event at the Brownstone in New York. Those selected were invited to hang out and watch movies in 10 screening rooms across multiple floors, as well as take photos in several branded areas with the hashtag #StayHometotheMovies. Stay Home to the Movies is a campaign that HBO started earlier this year.

An interactive wall in the house asked people to share their reasons for staying in, and an “excuse generator” helped come up with those reasons. There were also colorful areas like a bathtub filled with movie candy. A wide array of movies was available to appease any genre craving, including Girls TripIT and Back to the Future.

“We’re doing this because for all the buzz we get for original programming, we don’t want people to forget out about movies,” Jason Mulderig, vice president of brand and product marketing at HBO told AList. “The whole idea of the campaign is that staying in can be as good as going out.”

The exclusive event ran from August 15-16, with around 65 people attending each night. An additional 1,200 people signed up for a waitlist that HBO and Bumble launched just 24 hours ahead of the event. Guests took a quiz upon arrival to receive a movie recommendation but were allowed to wander about, mingle and of course, take social media photos to their hearts’ content.

“Bumble was a brand that was on our radar and when we started to think about their audience being younger, socially connected [and] always out looking for something to do, this idea felt like it was a really good fit with something experiential and something [Bumble’s] audience would like. It felt like a perfect match.”

Despite the partnership with a dating app, Mulderig said HBO was not inspired by the idea of “Netflix and Chill.” Instead, the brand wanted to invite people together to recapture the excitement of HBO Saturday night movies for the modern age.

“This [campaign] is really steeped in our heritage,” he said. “Back in the ’70s and ’80s, HBO was one of the first to bring movies into the home and they were special events. That was something that older audiences are nostalgic for, but when you look at the behaviors of someone under the age of 35, they grew up in a streaming and on-demand environment. They may not know of all the places where you can get movies.”

HBO’s core audience tends to skew in the high 40s, Mulderig observed, while Bumble’s audience is a bit younger. He estimated that the Stay Home to the Movies attendees were anywhere between the ages of 18-34.

“We want to be top of mind, so we were trying to figure out how you can bring that experience into the real world and reinforce the specialness of the occasion,” said Mulderig. “The townhouse was reflective of the high quality of movies that we have. Maybe not everyone can hang out and socialize in a $30 million townhouse in New York City, but you can still have the same quality movie experience wherever you are.”

In a digital age where cord-cutting has become more popular, HBO wants audiences to perceive value in its offerings, especially when it comes to movies. To succeed, however, HBO needs audiences to talk about it—something that has happened naturally over several decades already.

“Whether it’s our heritage of movies on Saturday nights or Sunday nights when everyone is watching together, the brand itself have always been inherently social. We kind of own the water cooler.”

HBO’s ‘Random Acts Of Flyness’ Experiential Pop-Up

Random Acts of Flyness may not seem like obvious material for a pop-up experience, but that’s exactly what’s happening over the next two nights as the HBO show takes over a space in New York City.

The recently debuted six-episode late night show created by artist, musician and film director Terence Nance features a variety of interconnected stream-of-consciousness vignettes to showcase some of the major issues facing the black community today.

Aspects of the show, including set recreations and some of its fictional counter-racism products, are featured at the pop-up experience alongside artistic installations. These include a “Black Women Won’t Save Us All” room—where attendees are encouraged to write the names of influential black women on its walls—an audio experience where users can listen to the everyday sounds of black culture, and a meditation room located behind the “Everybody Dies!” game show set.

Lucinda Martinez, senior vice president of multicultural and international marketing at HBO, told AList that, “When developing our promotional efforts for this series, we recognized that Terence’s style of storytelling is unique and thought-provoking and required a non-traditional approach in translating it to our audiences. Watching his show felt like an experience, so why not bring that very experience to life and have potential viewers experience it for themselves?”

Martinez added that the pop-up was one in a myriad of ways HBO reaches its audiences create awareness for its show. Random Acts of Flyness was shown at a variety of festival screenings and it even has a related mobile game called Kekubian Assassin, where a female black character must fight off racist and sexist threats.

“We’re targeting a multicultural millennial audience that feels this series resonates with them,” Martinez explained, stating that this audience appreciates authentic experiences that can be shared with others via social media. The pop-up experience, which will only be shown in New York, is being promoted through the press, social media influencers, tastemaker networks and the artist community.

But even though Random Acts of Flyness deals with sensitive political and cultural topics, HBO regards both the show and the experiences as celebrations of black culture, and they’re not meant to be at the expense of any other culture or point of view. Martinez said that it is this kind of unique storytelling, which covers a variety of topics, that defines the HBO brand.

At the same time, Martinez said that working with sensitive issues requires HBO to “be more thoughtful and intentional” with its targeting and efforts.

“We don’t see these as challenges necessarily, but rather as opportunities to develop new audiences and to present new forms of storytelling, new artists and new voices to our existing audiences,” she said. “As marketers, it is always exciting for us to innovate and explore innovative ways to promote our content.”

‘The Nun’ Ad Removal Reveals Cracks In YouTube’s Review Process

YouTube removed a jump scare ad for The Nun after users complained and it was determined to violate “shocking content” advertising policies. The takedown perpetuates an ongoing history of ad problems for YouTube as it struggles to prevent offensive content.

One would expect the advertising for a horror film to be frightening, but Warner Bros. took it a step further with unsuspecting viewers. A short ad appeared with a black screen, over which a fake computer icon appeared to turn down the user’s volume. Suddenly, a loud bang was played and the demonic nun from the film appeared with a scream.

Many users did not appreciate the jump scare and after a number of complaints, YouTube pulled it from its site. According to YouTube’s ad guidelines, “promotions that are likely to shock or scare” are prohibited, but shocking factors can be judged by whether they appear realistic. This could explain why the ad was approved in the first place, although YouTube did not immediately respond for comment.

In the case of The Nun, Warner Bros.’ unholy character may not be real, but the frustration users felt was very real indeed.

As part of Alphabet, Inc.—the world’s largest seller of advertising—YouTube is under a lot of pressure to appease advertisers, but the jump scare ad shows a frightening truth about how consumer interest can be overlooked. In fact, the ad wasn’t removed until a tweet warning users about it reached well over 145,000 likes. YouTube responded to the tweet confirming that the ad was removed.

Last year, an ad for the game Mobile Strike was banned from YouTube after it was deemed sexist. The spot featured three plus-sized women in bikinis playing the game against one another. While praised for its use of diverse women, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) accused the ad of objectifying women through attire, performance and camera angles.

It’s impossible to keep everyone happy all the time, but YouTube seems to have a harder time than most—at least when it comes to advertisers. YouTube terminated over 270 accounts and removed 150,000 videos in the span of a week last November after brands like Adidas and Hewlett-Packard found their ads were displayed next to sexually explicit comments under videos of children.

Prior to these incidents, much of YouTube’s moderation efforts were automated. In December, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced plans to hire 10,000 employees to moderate and review policy-violating content on the site.

Thoughts? Continue the conversation at @alistdaily.

Viacom Bets On Advanced Marketing Solutions Platform

Viacom reported a drop in its Q3 2018 earnings, with revenues in the quarter decreasing by 4 percent to $3.24 billion. Losses were seen across both the company’s media networks and filmed entertainment divisions despite the buyout of its EPIX investment the previous quarter, gains in domestic box office sales and the continued revitalization of its struggling media networks.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish highlighted the company’s continued evolution during the earnings call, particularly with the increased performance of Paramount and MTV. He also sought to reassure investors that growth would continue as it expands its services and partnerships with OTT platforms, driven further with the recent acquisition of AwesomenessTV.

Viacom’s broadcast networks, which include MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, The Paramount Network and more, collectively saw revenues decrease by 2 percent in the quarter to $2.50 billion. The company reported a 17 percent increase in worldwide ancillary revenues to $158 million, but this was offset by a 4 percent decrease in worldwide advertising earnings to $1.19 billion and a 3 percent decrease in worldwide affiliate revenues to $1.15 billion. However, Bakish emphasizes the strength of the upfront.

“We drove our strongest upfront in five years, with mid-to-high single-digit growth across all our cable networks,” Bakish said. “Reflecting the improved strength of our brands and greater share of viewership across our portfolio.”

The growth in upfront pricing also demonstrates the strength of its Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) portfolio, which includes its branded content, advanced advertising and experiential offerings. The company expects that AMS will grow to deliver about $300 million in revenue by the end of the year, setting up a return to overall ad sales growth in 2019.

Additionally, Bakish announced that Fox has agreed to license the AMS data science platform behind Viacom Vantage ad targeting product. With this deal, Fox will be the first media partner to use the technology to power the linear optimization service across its networks, a deal that also accounts for Fox’s acquisition by Disney.

Viacom will add another 600 hours of content to its digital offerings, which doesn’t take into account the acquisition of AwesomenessTV, a digital network with strong Gen Z appeal. The company is also establishing a stronger presence on digital platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix around the world, the launch of a direct-to-consumer platform and a B2B-C strategy that brings targeted B2C products that are distributed through partners. For example, Nickelodeon’s Noggin channel is available on Amazon Prime Video, and the preschool entertainment channel has seen substantial subscriber growth.

The company plans to leverage brands such as MTV, Comedy Central and BET to create original content for third-party partners. MTV in particular will be using its extensive library of youth-focused and music IPs, which has remained largely untapped.

Viacom delivered a strong revitalization message for Paramount, with both its film and television channels. Paramount Television helped drive a 35 percent increase in licensing revenues, which brought in $404 million in the quarter.

“We’ve stabilized and turned around four critical parts of the business that were under serious pressure 18 months ago,” said Bakish in closing, referring to its domestic affiliates business, audience viewership, domestic ad sales growth and Paramount Pictures. “Viacom is a story of a company broadening its participation in the media landscape.”

Chinese Streaming Service iQiyi Quadruples Down On Nickelodeon Content

Originally published at VideoInk.

Chinese streamer iQiyi will have four times the amount of Nickelodeon content than it did last month. The additional programming comes from an expanded multi-year content deal between the streamer and Viacom-owned Nickelodeon.

Under the agreement, iQiyi will take streaming rights of the Nickelodeon shows “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Shimmer and Shine,” “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Top Wing,” “Rusty Rivets” and “Rise of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Those shows will be made available to the company’s 421 million monthly active users in both Mandarin and English versions.

The increased content helps solidify iQiyi’s position as one of the most dominant streaming services in China with over 121 million daily active users at the end of 2017. It also builds on the company’s past content partnerships with companies like Netflix, Lionsgate, Jukin Media and Paramount.

According to a report released by eMarketer, by the end of 2018, 22 percent of digital video viewers in China will subscribe to the Baidu-owned company, making it second only to Tencent Video which will control 24 percent of digital viewers. In 2018, eMarketer estimates that close to 229 million people in China will watch video via a subscription streaming service that bypasses traditional distribution and, by 2022, more than a quarter of the population will use an OTT service.

Roku: Data-Driven Selling, Programmatic Are The Future Of TV

Roku reported healthy growth during its Q2 earnings on Wednesday, touting the importance of OTT and its newfound place in the advertising market. While the brand is primarily known for its smart TVs and apps, Roku is driven by the rising importance of OTT and the evolution of how TV ads are bought and sold.

“Data-driven selling [and] programmatic-based techniques are, in our opinion, a central component of the future of the way TV advertising is going to be traded,” Roku CFO Steve Louden said during the earnings call with investors.

In June, Roku launched its Audience Marketplace that attracted media giants like Fox, Turner and Viacom. The programmatic solution includes the Roku Ad Insights Measurement suite that was created in partnership with Nielsen.

“From the very beginning, our goal with advertising at Roku has been to elevate [and] evolve the state of advertising—to make TV advertising natively targetable, interactive [and] much more highly measured like any digital media that a modern marketer expects,” said Louden.

A majority of ad revenue on Roku is still being generated by publishers on the platform, the company explained, and Audience Marketplace was a way to help publishers remain competitive. Roku participated in TV Upfront season for the first time in 2018—an experience that left a lasting impression on Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood.

“I think the big takeaway for us [is] that this is really the first year that advertisers are are proactively planning for OTT as part of their annual TV spending plan,” Wood recalled, adding that they have a team to handle traditional TV ad sales as well.

“This is an exciting time to be in the streaming business,” said Wood. “The massive TV ecosystem is moving to modern platforms with streaming at the center of a more dynamic and innovative approach to content distribution.”

Roku climbed to 22 million active users in the second quarter of 2018 who streamed 5.5 billion hours of content. Revenue grew 57 percent to $156.8 million.

Snap Q2 Earnings Tout Ad Revenue Growth And Programmatic Prowess

Snap, Inc. reported healthy ad revenue growth for the second quarter, placing a strong emphasis on programmatic ad marketplace while continuing to underplay backlash over its app redesign.

Despite an overall loss of $353 million, Snapchat parent company Snap, Inc. earned $262 million in Q2 2018—an increase of 44 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Three-quarters of that revenue was attributed to programmatic ad buying, the company boasted.

Once again, the subject of Snapchat’s unpopular redesign was broached, but the company doesn’t appear concerned. In fact, despite GDPR and user backlash, the app increased global DAU by eight percent YoY and only lost one percent each in North America and Europe compared to Q1.

CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel reminded investors that they are building a new Android app from the ground up, which has recently entered a testing phase. Reconnecting with Android users will be a “higher focus” for the company, Spiegel explained, admitting that they will continue to change the design based on user feedback.

The company has been rather busy this past quarter bulking up its advertising marketplace which appears to have paid off. Despite a lower user base, Snap managed to increase its average revenue per user (ARPU) to $1.40 in Q2.

Programmatic advertising revenue is up 485 percent YoY, the company told investors. Q2 marked the debut of Snap Kit, a suite of tools that allows brands to integrate Snapchat logins, Bitmoji integration and Lens Explorer. Story Ads, Lenses and Filters are now available programmatically, as well.

The app faces mounting competition from the likes of Instagram, Facebook and—more recently, YouTube—as Snapchat’s own Stories feature is copied time and again. Instead of panicking, Snap, Inc. has focused on long-term growth.

In addition to beefing up its advertising marketplace, Snap, Inc. is fostering influencer talent. The brand recently announced its Yellow incubator program and just last week began testing “Storyteller” ads that promote popular creators across Discovery and Stories sections.