It's CJRW's final day of SXSWi 2017. It was another great day of learning and enjoying the sights and sounds of SXSW.  Below are a few highlights from today's sessions, we hope you enjoy.

The Last Frontier: $73 Billion Land Grab 

At the SXSW session, “The Last Frontier: $73 Billion Land Grab,” Jeanine Poggi, a media reporter from Advertising Age, lead a discussion with Rich Cusick, Lead Chief Product Officer at Gracenote/Nielsen, Scott Boyarsky, Vice President of Video Entertainment Products at Comcast, and Mark Lee, Senior Manager of Business Development at LG Electronics, about the future of TV advertising, the data that will drive decision-making and the new ecosystem that will make addressable TV a reality. They also discussed the fact that in the near future, marketers will understand households at the device level and make informed decisions about which ads appear when and where based on preferences, viewing behavior and consumption history.

Poggi introduced the panel and then asked, “What will content look like in the future. How will we personalize it?”

Lee from LG opened the discussion, saying, “What we try to do is focus on consumer needs. We want to break down walls between viewing. Make it easier to get to the content that you want for the device you’re using. Improve the living room experience.” He also went on to say, “The TV experience is more of a shared viewing experience. The VR experience, for example, would be very personal. But we are still seeing ‘flipping channels’ as an experience that many people want.” Lee told the crowd, “You need to ensure it’s always about the viewing experience. No matter what you want to watch. It needs to be seamless, if it’s a TV app or cable or On Demand, etc.” He also spoke to the fact that marketers have to balance personalization with privacy. “LG takes the privacy of their customers very seriously,” he said. “It’s a balance in terms of consumers wanting to interact with shows and content and keeping their privacy.”

Cusick shared with the session that people are “used to seeing content as streaming. I could see personalized streaming channels in the future.” He also said, “We are seeing lots of innovation in autos. We know who’s driving, the music they like, etc. The key is how to meld that type of data with viewing habits to get a more targeted list of what consumers might like.” Cusick feels that 100% of advertising in the next 20 years will be programmatic. Not all of the panel members or crowd agreed with that statement. Cusick also talked about the struggle with the explosion of content. He shared data from ReadUP that says there are currently 400 original TV shows in production. “There are 100 things in your Netflix que but no time to watch it all,” he said. That lead to the issue of how content creators get their programming viewed by consumers. “If it doesn’t get viewed in the first week, it will probably fail,” Cusick said. “You need to promote during the first week of content being out there. Shows are released across the entire year not just the fall. You need to let people know when your content is available.” In terms of dealing with data and privacy issues, he said, “As long as you ask and let people know how you are going to use their data, there should be no privacy issues.” He also said, “The more data the better. It’s where the world is going. It’s better for advertisers because it’s more efficient. It’s better for consumers because they get the content they want.”

Comcast’s Boyarsky told the attendees, “We are moving to an IP delivered world. Five years from now, I suspect that there will be more tailored personalization. It’s not there yet, but more opportunities are coming. We’ll be able to tell who is front of the TV at what time. I’m not sure if programming will automatically send you what you want down the road. But it might use a best guess effort to get you a menu of things you might like.” He went on to state that we need to offer interesting content at the right time to viewers. “When we are looking at personalizing the video experience, we want a broader base of info to see the consumer’s entire spectrum. The more data we have, the better to be able to personalize,” he said. “Taking it to next level, deep meta data, deeper machine learning and AI is going to make content come together in more meaningful ways for viewers. Maybe one day you can come home to a more personalized news feed. Quickly see news clips about the companies you own stock in. We aren’t far off from that.” Boyarsky also said that it’s clear that consumers today associate with specific shows or actors more so than the channel, app or provider. “People want more of an ala carte menu to choose from. They don’t want to stay on one network all night,” he said. “They are not as channel or brand loyal as they once were.” He also went on to say that, “People don’t come home and sit on the couch and turn on the TV like they used to. They have computers, phones, etc., to take their attention. Their attention is being sliced up and divided in a million ways.” In regards to privacy, Boyarsky said, “If consumers see value in giving up their data, they will be happy to do so. I don’t mind giving up data about my driving habits to get better routes to get around traffic. It’s when a company extracts data in a non-transparent way, without providing value back, that you will find consumer resistance.” He also spoke to the future of addressability by saying, “The next thing is the personalized experience for the whole connected household, not just TVs. How does the TV fit into the overall ecosystem of the connected home?”

15,000-Year-Old Marketing Strategy: Why it Works

What is the oldest marketing strategy?  Storytelling.  From the beginning of communication, the man who told the best story of his hunt ultimately was building his “brand” as a stronger human.  

The panel consisted of Donny Osmond, and yes, THAT Donny Osmond who stated he’s been “working in the entertainment industry for 54 years, but who’s counting.” He was joined by his son and OzComm media company owner Don Osmond, Shonte Taylor, Neuroscientist & Success Coach for Shonté Jovan Taylor LLC, and Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing for Microsoft and Board member of the Internet Marketing Association.

The session was part Q&A and part storytelling lessons from the legendary Donnie Osmond, who had a great story for almost each scenario discussed. One of the core topics was the emotional connections and how the story empowers others to build that emotional connection.  The underlying motivation is the thing you must understand.  Donny Osmond noted his methods of setting up particular songs on a set list by using the same strategy each time, telling a number of stories that relate to the song and other scenarios like winning Dancing with the Stars to start making emotional visions prior to announcing the next song to be played.  Marcoux related this method to what he calls “Trans-media storytelling.” It’s a method of telling the story at different points in differing media settings and then inviting the user to go as deep down the rabbit hole as they’d like.  No matter where they enter the story, they need to be able to understand and be offered the additional steps/options.

A few good examples of how companies pull you into their store, things like Game of Thrones food trucks at events, makes the real-life connection stronger when referenced in the digital world. Marcoux also warned, “Facebook marketing is not the silver bullet; we are over indexed on digital, and we are drowning in data.  We almost lose sight of the customer.”

Just as a positive memory or emotion can help make a connection to the story that ultimately leads to the sell, neuroscientist Shonte Taylor said the exact opposite can happen if they are invited into a store that leads to bad memories or experiences; this can forever ruin that brand due to the emotional impact.  “It’s a very risky situation. Inviting someone into the story can have just as many negative as positive effects,” said Taylor.  The overall goal is to control the situation and be strategic so the story most often leaves a person with a positive experience. 

Donny Osmond, again referencing his entertainment background, said that you can’t be afraid to “rebrand or reinvent” yourself from time to time.  It’s often the pivot you need depending on where you are with your brand.

Trust Me, I'm “Influential”

In a panel lead by Brian Salzman of RQ Agency, Brian Irving of Hampton Creek, Katie Cheng of Samsung U.S., and Zach Iser of ICM discussed the intricacies of hiring an influencer. The relationship between a brand and the influencer should not be transactional, but a building love affair that grows over time.

Brands confuse paid efforts and influencer marketing, Irving stated. Oftentimes, brands expect for influencer marketing to have the same ROIs as traditional paid efforts, but it simply cannot be measured in the same way. Cheng said that brands need to understand their ultimate goal. She stated that for Samsung U.S., she has developed relationships not only with individual influencers but with other brands and businesses that align with Samsung’s brand tenants and goals. The relationship needs to be symbiotic so both parties gain something.

Salzman stated that the pay-to-play, or what he calls the “prostitute model,” will never work when a brand is building a partnership with an influencer. He said the brand and the influencer need to date first so they establish a physical and emotional connection. He calls this the “path to partnership.” The connection is crucial for both parties so they fully understand what they are getting out of the partnership.

The panelists all agreed that problems arise when a brand’s agency owns the relationship – the brand must own it. Samsung works with several agencies on different levels, but it gets together all agencies in the room so everyone understands how the influencer marketing campaign fits into the overall picture, and how it is measured. Measurement is not topline sales; measure awareness.

A major goal is to infiltrate the influencer’s “tribe.” Brands can only do that if it makes sense and if it has trust. Gone are the days when celebrities or musicians are worried about “selling out.” Now, it is cool to work with and be associated with brands that fit a certain lifestyle. The love affair is required for a brand to get to a place where an influencer can whole-heartedly integrate a product into their life.

Our Skip Button Love Affair

“Admit it – you love the ‘Skip Ad’ button on YouTube. You love to swipe your thumb past a Facebook ad. You love the option of installing ad blockers on your phone. And so does your customer.

By 2017, social network ad spending alone is expected to surpass banner ad spending for the first time. We are seeing an unprecedented rise in skippable ad formats that will drastically shift our approach to digital marketing over the next five years.” - Christopher Ferrel

Truth. Everyone loves the “Skip Ad” button. Christopher Ferrel of The Richards Group went through data to explain our love of the skippable ads. He said we are entering a new era of digital ads. 

While users are mobile, social and respond more to video, they also demand choices now, defining the skippable era. Ferrel reported that nine percent of folks express joy when talking about the ability to skip, and 82 percent express anger. As you can imagine, messages ranged from mild to NSFW, but the anger was far more pronounced.

Ferrel’s research clearly shows the polarization of skippable ads and a user’s desire to have the choice to skip an ad. And the industry agrees. YouTube just announced that it is discontinuing its 30 second unskippable ad. The discussion shifts from “are people just ignoring my ad” to “how do I create an additive experience for the user so they spend more time with my brand.”

Creative in the skippable era must change. Interestingly, Ferrel recalled a book written in 1938 about cars and billboards that draws very interesting parallels to mobile and skippable ads. 

1938 (Cars/Billboards) 2017 (Mobile/Skippable Ads)
“Modern Tempo”  “Busy” badge of honor
Disruptive tech = cars for all Disruptive tech = smartphones
Physical destinations Digital destinations
Stand out in 7 seconds Standout in 5 seconds
Power of pictures  Power of video
Fewer opportunities to linger  More opportunity to linger
   

 

The two main differences between billboards and skippable ads that creatives need to consider are the power of video and the opportunity to linger longer. Brands need to focus on two things:

  1. Make me care in <:05
  2. Give me a reason to stay

So how can a brand make unskippable ads? Content should get to the core benefit right away. A good example of content that does that is the Snapple Staring Contest with a Bald Eagle. The ad received 1.8M views and averaged one minute, 19 second view time. Snapple challenges you to stare at the ad, and not skip it, drawing you into the brand message and experience. The longer users spend with an ad, the more invested they are. 

Make Your Ideas Matter

What’s the point in having a great idea if you don’t know what to do with it? That’s the question this session set out to solve.  Moderated by TechCrunch Senior Writer and video host Katie Roof, this panel consisted of Mike Maples, Managing Partner at Floodgate Ventures, and Scott Cook, Founder & Chairman of Inuit. 

“How do you come up with the big idea?” asked Roof, opening the discussions.  Cook stated that if you “look for the pain” you will find the problem; the key is aligning your skills and knowledge to ensure you can solve the problem.  Maples also made the point that actually picking the right idea might be the toughest part.  As entrepreneurs, they tend to have options on ideas, or at least variations on ideas.  “If you rush the pick of the idea, it’s a big mistake. The most valuable thing you have is time, and you should honor it with doing something you care about.  Give the gift of your life to an idea that is worthy of that time,” said Maples.

From a venture capitalist standpoint, Maples was able to speak more on picking ideas based on the founders, and less on the specific idea.  “Before product market fit, all you have is the person and their insight,” he said.  It’s those factors that made him the first investor in Twitter. He invested in Evan Williams before he really knew what the idea was and as Evan was shutting down his previous company.  Cook shared those thoughts, but as a company, he knew that it’s the people who always mattered most.  Cook also had a similar story as to how he became an early investor in Snapchat. The founders need to have such a deep passion for their idea that they would make it happen even without money; those are the ones who find the problems to solve.

When it comes to a common factor in successful founders and entrepreneurs, Cook said that they always seem to be at the right place and right point of time.  Recognizing how technology is changing. Is your idea dependent on technology? Maples said, “What’s the leap of faith assumption, the thing that needs to be proved for the idea to work?  Test it fast and cheap. Find that, and then you will get people believing.” 

Maples also sees it as an advantage when you have the time to build your product and nobody really knows what you are doing, saying that time to test, change and adjust is best done in a more controlled environment prior to scale. To a similar point on competition, Cook noted that the focus should be on the customer.  “When companies compete, you can focus on competitors or your customers.  If you focus on customers, you innovate forward and your competitor is always copying and following.”

The talk wrapped up with reiterations of the importance of being an agile and resilient founder or entrepreneur, but to also look for the unexpected.  Cook shared a story of the early Quicken software and its focus on the consumer tax market.  After doing some customer analysis, Quicken realized that many of their customers were actually business owners using the software.  "It was that unexpected piece of information that learning came from,” said Cook.  That was the birth of QuickBooks for business.  Maples expanded on this, saying that an unexpected event can be the sign you need to pivot.  “We try to determine how a founder will be in that moment before we invest in them,” said Maples.  “It’s okay to fail, but lets make sure it’s an idea worth failing for,” he said.

The Evolution of Podcast Advertising

At the SXSW session, “The Evolution of Podcast Advertising,” Nick Quah, editor at Hot Pod, convened a panel of podcast industry leaders who focused on case studies, best practices, insights on what’s ahead for podcast advertising and why podcasts are the gateway to a voice-enabled, on-demand future.

He introduced the panel to attendees. It consisted of Bryan Moffett, General Manager of National Public Media, Matt Lieber, Co-Founder/President at Gimlet Media, Matt Turck, Chief Revenue Officer at Panoply, and Sarah Van Mosel, Chief Podcast Sales and Strategy Officer at Enginuity.

Quah opened the discussion by asking attendees, “Who listens to podcasts?” Some of the roughly 200 people raised their hands. Many did not. He then gave a brief overview of where the industry currently stands. The Edison Research Infinite Dial 2017 study shows that listening increased to 40 percent of Americans, or 122 mil people, in 2016. Twenty-four percent of Americans listen on a monthly basis. That’s 67 million. He also noted that the average listener listens to five podcasts a week. 

Quah then turned his attention to the panel, asking them, “How do you think about podcasting today? Where is the industry going? What’s the value in podcasts?”

Moffett from NPR said, “NPR is all about love. Listeners love NPR. When you sponsor NPR, that love rubs off on brands.” He also noted that there has been no erosion in podcast ads over the last 10 years, although it has changed during that time. Ads have evolved from normal audio ads to host-reads, running mid-show, not just at the start of the podcast. He also said, “Podcast advertising started primarily as 10 second commercials and has evolved to 15 second and even 30 second spots.” Moffett went on to say, “2016 was the year Fortune 500 brands started to flock to podcasts. They are also renewing for 2017 based on the feeling that podcasts are a good use of their money.”

Lieber from Gimlet Media spoke next about podcasting. He noted that podcast ads can’t be an interruption to listeners. “They need to entertain and add to the experience.” He also noted that podcasts are wildly underutilized. “If you look at dollars spent per 100 hours in radio, it’s $10 per 100 hours. Podcasting is $2 per 100 listening hours. But dollars will start to shift. Standardized third party measurement is on the way and that will help podcasts to grow.” He also noted that ad renewal is more than 90 percent year-to-year with advertisers and that ROI is what is bringing them back. In terms of creative messaging, he said, “Ads need to tell stories that are relevant to both the podcasts and the advertisers.” Lieber also shared with attendees that more people are moving into the podcast medium due to in-car connectivity of devices and Amazon’s Alexa allowing them to easily listen at home.

Turck with Panopoly said, “The folks that got us to where we are currently are direct response advertisers. They are still doing it 10 years later because it works.” He also noted that more brands are moving into the space and starting to pay attention to the medium. “Podcasts are becoming part of the media mix for entertainment brands, and others are moving into it as well,” he said. Turck also shared brand lift study information by Slate that showed that the lift given by podcasts is extraordinary (although he couldn’t share the actual figures). “It’s about the intimacy of the medium,” Lieber said. “People feel like they are part of the show. Friends with the hosts. They have a relationship with the hosts.” 

Van Mosel from Enginuity said, “I’m watching and seeing over time the deep engagement with this audience.” She noted that podcast listeners are not hearing ads in other audio media like Pandora or Spotify since they pay for the content. “You can reach them here,” she said. “The key? You have to have authenticity in your ads. You can’t try to fool people. Ads have to be transparent and authentic.” Van Mosel went on to state that technology has informed them about how advertising has worked. It has dictated how much advertising to run and where to place it, based on listening patterns of the users. 

Quah also played numerous samples of how commercials from iBooks and Ford are tailored to really fit into the broadcasts and include the podcast show’s talent the vast majority of the time.