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August 2017

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Are We Suffering a Hangover from TV Binge?

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Ofcom’s annual survey on Great British media habits this month revealed that binge-watching is on the up. The report found that almost 10 million Brits skip sleep or say they’re tired due to binge-watching.

Eight in ten adults in the UK – 40m people – say they use catch-up technology such as BBC iPlayer or subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch more than one episode of a programme at a time, with 35% watching several episodes of a show once a week (Guardian). The most popular ‘binging’ television shows, it found, are Orange Is The New Black, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones.

The rising popularity of consuming television in this way heavily leans towards the younger generation; a third of the UK population ‘binge’ at least once a week but that rises to 62% of 16-24 year olds (Guardian).
The era of the television binge has been aided by the increasing number of devices available, accompanied by improving internet speeds and the growth of on-demand streaming services. Brands are also getting on board, including Disney, which this month revealed plans to remove all content from Netflix and create its own global streaming video on demand platform.

More and more television suppliers are also beginning to release complete box sets on demand rather than just showing live episodes. These include Amazon’s live-action version of the cartoon series The Tick, as well as Sky’s Guerrilla with Idris Elba  and The Night Of featuring Riz Ahmed. The latter saw 67% of viewers watch the series ahead of schedule and before the final transmission of the last episode (Olive).

Releasing content all in one go seems more of a feasible option for brand new shows or those that have arrived from across the Atlantic, in order to gain and establish a solid fan base. Once the series is established, producers should stick to the weekly format in order to allow a series to build, allowing for a longer media cycle and aiding fan discussions, whether online or by the kettle.

Even though the power may no longer be dictated by the television schedule and, though sole television binging is increasing, 58% of people still prefer to watch big national events live instead of on-demand (Guardian) and 86% of television is still watched live (Thinkbox).

There is a place for on-demand, as is there a place for live TV in consumers’ lives. The idea of “Box Set Britain” will always be thwarted, if only by social media, with many live shows working alongside Twitter conversations (#GBBO #Muggy #WinterIsHere). There’s also the draw of bringing families together in a common experience, especially with live events such as sporting events and reality television contests. This is one hangover that is not here to stay – unlike mine from the last bank holiday.

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On Target: How Accurate is Geo Data?

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The use of digital data has been successful for countless brands, responsible for shifts in awareness and consideration. The use of online data in campaigns supposedly allows direct targeting of consumers, but just this month research from Nielsen stated that only 50% of ad impressions served in the UK aimed at targeting women actually reached women. So about as reliable as flipping a coin.

The results of the survey are troubling, but not surprising, thanks to low-target hit rates – and next in the firing line has been geo-data. Geo-targeting has long been the boast of many a digital media owner, and, when managed carefully, can be the keystone of digital campaigns. But using it successfully requires that available data is used in the right way.

The typical way geo-targeting is used is to “fence” a certain area and collect the device IDs of those within it, and then serve ads to those devices either at that time or at a later date. It could be anyone who has been near a brand’s out-of-home ad, visited one of their shops, or passed through a place associated with a certain activity (e.g. an airport, or a concert venue).

Its logic can’t be faulted – we are defined by the places we go; they indicate how we spend our time and our hard-earned money. However, as geo-targeting has become more widespread in digital media plans, people are starting to realise that without careful planning it is not all it seems.

The issue is the  quality of the geo data available. When a mobile device user goes online and an ad call is registered, their device ID is recorded and is attributed a “location” signal. The latitude/longitude data relayed back to the advertiser can be up to 6 decimal places (d.p.) of accuracy – meaning within a metre – but the amount of 6 d.p. data being passed through the exchanges is very low.

This is all down to feasibility. GPS accuracy takes time to hone in and mobiles tend not to be fixed in one position for that long.  If you think about when you open Google Maps or Uber, it places you within a circle with a diameter of about 20-30 metres at first, before narrowing down to between 5-10 metres.

Realistically, location data up to four decimal places is the best we can expect from exchanges – this is accurate to about 11 metres, which isn’t a problem for some purposes. However, we then run on to the problem of reliability.
Even if we get data that looks ‘accurate’, it isn’t necessarily reliable. The lat/long data we’re receiving may not actually indicate where the user is – some may be fraudulent, and some just incorrect. It is the responsibility of ourselves and media owners to pick up on patterns such as the lat/long being the wrong way round, locations in a line, centroids, and randomisation of location. All of these can be picked up by algorithms, but not all media owners and planners are aware of the significance of these issues or are as conscientious about dealing with them.

Geo data offers a highly valuable indicator of behaviour – so we shouldn’t give up just yet. Problems can be avoided by remaining diligent, and by working with partners known to be trying to combat ad fraud and mistaken co-ordinates, and only using location data of a certain quality.

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Watch Out, Facebook’s About

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Another month in Adland, another announcement from Facebook – and again, it’s the roll-out of a feature that seems somewhat familiar. Not content at turning Instagram into Snapchat with its version of Stories, its next target appears to be even bigger; YouTube.

As a new home for original video content, Watch extends Facebook’s brand into yet another category. It’s aiming to become a go-to destination for video consumption, rather than its current state of serendipitous video discovery via the News Feed, conveniently hosted within the existing app.

Facebook have put time and resource into this project most probably because the product will provide yet another stream of advertising revenue, alongside its current video ad model.

Current experiments with “mid-roll” advertising – interrupting video clips with crudely timed ads on short-form video – appears to be going down like a lead balloon. And rightly so – it’s far from a desired user experience.

Within Watch – where users will be able to indulge in longer form video – ad placements before the content will feel a lot more like YouTube’s current pre-roll delivery mechanism, a set-up far more acceptable to users and less damaging to brands which invest.

The soon-to-come tab on Facebook can be likened to YouTube’s Red and Snapchat’s Discover sections. These platforms have already done the hard work of guiding publishers to create unique, original content that works across mobile in short form. Facebook will be looking to swoop in on this and go beyond with its ability to share to connected TV screens at the touch of a button – not currently a feature of Snapchat.

With Watch, Facebook’s claim for a slice of the lucrative “TV ad budget” becomes even stronger, with live TV viewership on the decline and social video consumption showing no sign of slowing.

Facebook will hope to see the product scale quickly, launching with hundreds of original shows, including content from the likes of Buzzfeed, Condé Nast, and a 12-part series based on its popular ‘Humans of New York’ page. With 45% share of the ad break revenue being claimed as the loot for content partners, they won’t be short of willing suitors to produce content for them. And we won’t have to wait long. The feature is already being rolled out, albeit for a handful of select users in the US.

It goes without saying that Google will keep a close eye on Watch – though it’s the broadcasters who need to Watch out, particularly if consumption habits keep changing.

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Moving the Goalposts: Why Neymar’s Really Worth £200m

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August had football fans talking – about the return of league football, and summer’s transfer business, but, perhaps most fervently, about Brazilian superstar Neymar, and his unexpected move to Paris St Germain for an unprecedented £198m. At over double the previous transfer record held by Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, fans voiced their concerns at how their clubs are spending their gate receipts. But this transfer goes above and beyond football – players are now a commercial entity, naming their own prices thanks to their marketing potential.

As one of the world’s best, and at only 25 years of age, Neymar could take PSG to the next level on the pitch, but the club’s banking on far more than his value as a player. With this purchase, PSG are tapping into the ‘Neymar brand’ and his huge marketability – no doubt having negotiated a level of image rights and sponsorship sharing between the club and the player that ensures they receive at least some of the proceeds.

With 32m followers, Neymar’s second only to Cristiano Ronaldo (59m) on Twitter. When you throw in his 80m Instagram followers and 60m likes on Facebook, Neymar reaches a whopping 170m social media followers. As a result, he’s already signed on the dotted line with a number of brands – Forbes estimates the player’s endorsements cash in over £17m per year, as the face of Nike, Gillette, Beats, Panasonic and Red Bull, among others.
Big reach indeed, not least revealed at the time of his signing for PSG. His Instagram post holding the PSG shirt currently has over 2.7m likes, and PSG’s own social following increased by 5.3m between the end of last season and the day before Neymar was officially announced. For the club, this is brand exposure that’s worth paying for.

With retail sales of licensed sports merchandising valued at £18.3bn worldwide in 2016, there’s an enormous opportunity for superstars to use their fame in partnerships with brands. Given the Queen of Social Media, Kim Kardashian, is paid £400,000 per brand-endorsed Instagram post to her 102m followers, it’s immediately clear the sheer commercial value Neymar has to any brand.

Another factor in the deal is Nike: Neymar’s the face of the brand that is already the kit sponsor for his new club. The kit sponsorship deal currently sits at around £18m per season. It is, however, rumoured that negotiations are already underway to double it when the contract is renewed. PSG will, understandably, be expecting the signing of Neymar to afford them extra clout in the contract renewal negotiation.

£198 million for a single player is a huge sum, and makes Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80m transfer to Real Madrid in 2009 look like a steal. But if Neymar remains at PSG for the next five years and brings success to the club, both on – and maybe even more importantly, off – the pitch, the deal may in time be viewed as value for money. It’s about more than the game, it’s a celebrity endorsement campaign – albeit helped on by some world-class Brazilian flair.

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Is Big Data About to Get Smaller?

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The UK government this month announced details of its Data Protection Bill (DPB), bringing its policy in line with the EU’s much-discussed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There’s a growing sense that consumers are becoming more savvy about the use of their data. And with these new data protection laws coming into force in May next year, the7stars’ insight team set out to ask the public how they really feel about sharing their personal data, as part of our quarterly consumer tracking panel*.

The survey, The QT, revealed that most people are willing to share at least some of their personal data in return for access to free, discounted or enhanced products or services. Over half of participants said they were willing to share their gender (55%) or email address (51%) – relatively good news for companies looking for direct communication channels to their consumers. Date of birth was also high up on the list, with over a third of the panel (36%) happy to reveal this, meaning that data is available to build a basic demographic picture.

Consumers were least likely to give up photos, contacts and calendar details – only 1 in 20 said they would be willing to share any of this. This is perhaps contradictory to the rise of visual-based social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, and suggests a disconnect between users’ willingness to share photos online (even on open platforms) and their willingness to share this type of content directly with businesses.

This may be explained by variation in attitudes to data by age. The over 65s (less likely to be heavy Instagram users) are the most reluctant to share any personal data, with 1 in 4 saying they wouldn’t be willing to share any data in exchange for access to products or services. This contrasts with the 18 to 24 age group, where over 90% would share some form of personal data in order to access services. Those between 18 and 34 were the most protective about providing their location or address, and those aged between 35 and 44 were most coy about revealing their date of birth.

With the laws being introduced next May, companies will need to ask for explicit and informed consent before collecting and using personal data – a requirement which stretches even to online identifiers such as IP addresses and cookies. Our research suggests that marketers may be more limited in the data they can use once explicit consent is required or, rather, that brands will have to convince consumers to share their data by providing further access to rewards, offers or discounts in return – an approach trialled by start-up People.io.

The good news is that only 1 in 5 of consumers say they wouldn’t want to share any data at all, meaning 80% of the population understand that online products and services have a value and are willing to trade their information in exchange for access. The level of information they are willing to trade and the value of that exchange in the eye of the consumer will be the deal breaker (or maker) for brands.

*The QT is the7stars’ proprietary tracking study. The study is national representative of 18+, and around 1000 participants take part in each wave. This is followed up by online or face-to-face qualitative research.

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What Can Crypto Currency Do For Digital Media?

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Read any article on fintech and you will likely come across reference to digital cryptocurrencies, and the engine that powers them – blockchain.

Blockchain is an immutable, public, distributed ledger that allows transactions to be confirmed by a decentralised network of stakeholders. In simpler terms, it’s a bit like a giant shared spreadsheet, negating the need for a centralised arbiter (such as a bank or government) or the requirement for trust to be established between participants. It is also impenetrably secure by design, meaning that entries cannot be modified or deleted, and the identity of participants’ is verified (but not necessarily disclosed) through public-key encryption.

Blockchain is still predominantly associated with the financial world – and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – but further applications are now being explored, from identity management and voting systems to medical records. It also has the potential to solve several challenges in the world of digital advertising – or, at least, the IAB is looking into it.

With digital ad fraud still a major issue for the industry, blockchain has the potential to provide a robust solution for eradicating fraudulent publishers from the supply chain. There is a misconception that blockchain makes participants anonymous. While this is true in some cases (Bitcoin), it doesn’t have to be the case and, in fact, public-key encryption means that blockchain is actually one of the most secure methods of proving identity.

Therefore, a secure and transparent blockchain database of un-modifiable impression data could mean that fraudsters employing domain-spoofing or bots could be quickly exposed and blacklisted. The same database would also provide agencies with watertight datasets for auditing campaigns. The barrier to this scenario is adoption: for blockchain to work it requires multiple providers at different levels to sign up (brand, agency, DSP, exchange and publisher), and unless a major player takes the leap, this is unlikely to happen soon.

There is also the potential for digital ad buying to be improved with blockchain. MetaX is testing an incentivised blockchain voting system to build collaborative whitelists of validated domains and their associated publishers, allowing buyers to easily identify quality inventory. Blockchain won’t, however, extend to the real-time buying process – it just doesn’t have the scalability. Blockchain typically takes 10-30 seconds to complete a transaction, and the Bitcoin blockchain currently initiates about 5 of these per second. AppNexus on the other hand – one of the largest real-time exchanges – processes millions of ad-calls at the same time. To record this volume of transactions through blockchain would require unprecedented amounts of processing power and data storage.

While these developments are exciting for digital advertising, they are still mostly theoretical. The few companies attempting to realise these blockchain applications are in their infancy, and their tech is still in development – the very earliest we can expect to see some of them launch is 2018. But if the theories do become reality then the future is promising, and we can look forward to increased trust, security and reliability in digital advertising.

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A Week in the Life of the7stars Grad Katy

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MONDAY
I must admit, I had breakfast before I left this morning, but I am a little peckish after my walk from the station so I head up to our bar for some fresh fruit. We are super lucky here at the7stars to have an abundance of seasonal fresh fruit daily (including avocados, it’s true), all the cereal & porridge you could wish for, yoghurts, nuts, snacks and a full-on barista coffee machine.
I head back down to my team and, as we do every Monday morning, we get together for our Team Panda meeting. We have animal team names here, and of course a ‘Zoo Keeper’ to head up each team (it becomes normal very quickly). After catching up on the weekend’s events, we discuss the week ahead, sharing client briefs, chatting through ideas and helping each other out with workload if necessary.
I have a couple of competitive reports to get out this morning and I need to send some papers off to our clients; we booked adverts for them in a selection of weekend titles and they are keen to receive extra copies to share internally.
My friend over in Team Giraffe has just got back from holiday today, so a few of us head to the park at lunch for some chill time and catch-up.
This afternoon’s focus is on preparation for a client meeting tomorrow; we will be presenting a Post-Campaign Analysis followed by some fresh ideas for the next campaign. I nip to have quick chat with the TV and Data teams to make sure we a on track to deliver the information we ned to include tomorrow. Meanwhile, I work with my manager to make the final tweaks to our brand partnership recommendation, before collating all of the information into a sleek presentation. I print off a couple of meeting agenda’s for tomorrow before heading to the gym (another company perk).
TUESDAY
We have a WTF?! session every Tuesday morning. These are really insightful and great for grads, but of course anyone can come along. They cover a new topic every week, offering a bitesize overview of what the different teams do across the agency. For example, WTF is Digital?! WTF is Data?! WTF is TV?! Today, I am going to WTF is Programmatic?!
When I get back to my desk I respond to a few emails and call a couple of media owners to negotiate rates for some upcoming media activity, before heading into the client meeting.
When I get back to my desk, a further client brief comes through; this client is interested in advertising on the London Underground, so I work on collating availability and costs into a plan.
After lunch, I have a meeting with my Project Team. Here at the7stars, our day job in only 80% of our time, we spend the other 20% working on our Project Team and there are over 30 to choose from. We have a People Team, Health & Well-Being Team, Events Team, Social Media Team – the list goes on. I am a member of the Do-Gooder Team and we are currently organising a charity bake-sale so there is lots to organise.
WEDNESDAY
Wednesday is home to our weekly Company Meeting. At 9am, the whole company piles into the Penthouse, and with teas and coffees in hand, we discuss everything from new business we are pitching for to ‘Cool Shit We Like’. We clap new starters in and each team shares exciting client updates.
After today’s Company Meeting, I head over to Google’s London offices where I have a grad training day; Google’s offices are enviable to say the least. After a super hands-on day getting stuck into a brief to launch the new Google Chromecast, I leave a little wiser (awesome learning opportunity), a little richer (having won a £50 Amazon voucher in the pitch challenge) and maybe also a little heavier (they have free food everywhere).
THURSDAY
This morning, I am briefed on a £200k press and radio plan for our client. We need to turn this one around pretty quickly, so I make this a priority. With some great audience analysis tools at our disposal, we put together a recommendation of newspapers, magazines and radio stations based on the campaign objectives and the audience we are targeting.
After a busy morning, I am thrilled to be taken for a lovely lunch with a media owner, who we recently booked a cinema campaign with.
When we are back from lunch, we jump on a quick call with a client to talk through our London Underground recommendation. Before I know it, 5pm has rolled around, which obviously means it’s time for the weekly Team Panda Quiz. I grab some team prosecco and beers from the fridge before we start; this escalates and we soon find ourselves gathered in the7stars bar, before heading to a media party in Soho.
FRIDAY
I come in at 8am today which means I can leave at 4.30pm – it’s Flexi-Friday of course! On a Friday, we can start any time between 8am – 10am and finish any time between 4.30pm – 6.30pm. I get a few reports out early and then have some capacity to help my colleague find some hot stories for the Media Flash we send out to clients.
After a strong ‘Media Thursday’ last night, we decide to head for a nice team lunch at our local pub but I can’t stay for too long as I have an important job to do this afternoon…
I’ve seen the7stars win a bundle of amazing clients since I’ve joined and today we are making a video for another upcoming pitch! Earlier, I agreed to be the hair stylist for this video so off I go to style some hair, taking care not to burn Jenny Biggam’s ear with the straighteners.