If you came within a five-mile radius of a WiFi signal Monday, you probably heard about the launch of Tidal, the new music streaming service and Jay-Z’s newest project. Artists turned over their social profiles in anticipation and support, and millions watched the livestream of the big unveiling.Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.58.01 AMAnalysis abounds on what this means for the music industry and artists (just Google “Taylor Swift + Tidal” and you’ll see what I mean), but what is the impact on advertisers?

It’s tempting to say “it’s ad-free, so there won’t be one,” but if Tidal wants to survive long term after this initial publicity blitz, it will have to embrace some form of a brand integration strategy. There is room for unique premium branded content plays – not ads per se – but videos, behind the scenes shows… exclusive, engaging content. An off-the-cuff example is Red Bull – I can easily see them pairing up with Tidal for their music integrations or death defying stunts.

Once Tidal embraces brand integrations, we start talking about competition – digital radio is growing and it is sought after environments for brands. It’s effective in longer storytelling and targetable for local, among other things. Another player in the mix will most likely increase audience fragmentation to a certain degree, but ultimately it is also another environment for brands to play with… assuming enough consumers jump onboard to make it worthwhile.

At the end of the day, consumers are value conscious. Yes, most music enthusiasts do want to support their favorite artists (and Tidal’s differentiating factor, aside from superior sound quality, is that it’s the “musician’s streaming service”), but a desire to support artists has yet to be proven to be enough for adoption (especially when subscription price point is fairly high). And in turn, brands follow consumer behavior, so Tidal needs to figure out what its audience is – most likely it will be affluent, 30s-40s – users who want premium content and are willing to pay more for the allure of Jay-Z’s affiliation.

We’re in the earliest stages of Tidal’s launch, so I’m guessing we’ll learn much more in the coming days, but in my opinion, the new kid on the block has some work to do to entice consumers and brands to catch the wave.

It is an incredibly exciting time to work in digital media. Traditional buying methods are becoming a thing of the past. Brands and agencies are moving towards automation, fueled by data and technology. The technology is being applied across video, social, mobile, and even television. Programmatic buying is not the future; it is the present.620x325xprogrammatictalkgraphics1-620x325.png.pagespeed.ic.9bMg2SvlQFWith any newly established media technology, there comes a slew of questions, concerns… and acronyms: DSP, DMP, RTB, SSP and so on. So it’s understandable that programmatic can seem overwhelming for those not directly working in the media field. That being said, here a few things everyone should know about programmatic buying: (more…)

Recently in the world of online media, there has been a lot of talk about viewability, lack of brand safety and the amount of click fraud infiltrating the digital video environment. Articles from media outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times make the online video arena sound downright scary. Why would you ever invest? It’s like living in an episode of the Walking Dead.Taking a step back puts things in perspective. Yes, the online video ecosystem is extremely complex and can be overwhelming. But there is hope. And there is strong rationale as to why to invest.

Online video is one of the fastest growing media, across all demographics – people watch video on their phones, desktops, laptops, tablets. It’s a fact. eMarketer states that in 2014 there are 194.5 MILLION internet users who watch video content online, that number will grow to 212.5 million in 2018. Let’s just say online video is not going anywhere.

What needs to change is tracking and reporting methodology, across the entire industry. Standards have not yet been fully established by the IAB (they are getting there, slowly) so advertisers have limited understanding of whether ads are being viewed in full and in what environments. I am not usually one for rules or regulations, but in this case, they are a must.

So what’s the solve? –  Adoption of viewability metrics, across all industry players – agencies, brands, publishers, EVERYONE. Introducing a new way to purchase and plan online video would help advertisers and agencies understand the full value of their investment – and rates (specifically, CPMs, for the media folks out there) would reflect the actual value of each online video environment.

Eventually, the implementation of viewability metrics will create the ability to evaluate video performance, reach/frequencies etc. across all media channels – TV, desktop, mobile. And at some point, digital video and TV may be on a level playing field. But that might just be wishful thinking.

Image: New York Times

This past week was the 4th year of the Digital Content NewFronts, the digital world’s response to the long-standing TV Upfronts, which take center stage for anyone in the media industry this time of year.

The NewFronts are a who’s who of brands and talent, all trying to one-up each other and bring the “next big thing in digital” to the table. Big media brands are partnering with A-list celebrities, creating original content, and promoting a slew of new ad products (thank you, Hulu).

But glamour aside, I see two big unanswered questions associated with the NewFronts. Yes, digital video ad spending is on an upward trajectory–estimated to reach $9.25 billion by 2016 (according to eMarketer), but the jury’s still out on data and audience.

First and foremost, digital planners and buyers love data. I love data—and there’s plenty of it among multiple digital platforms. But making it accessible and available–let’s just say that’s easier said than done. With big media brands launching new products and content, most of which is untested, there is limited data transparency going around.

Second and equally important is building and retaining an audience – a long-term audience – one that will continue to return to the brand after a three to four-month series has ended. This has been a challenge for many brands in the digital space and is a hesitation for advertiser participation.

On the plus side, the NewFronts have created a noticeable momentum in the industry. If you can get past the celeb-infused announcements, there is a striking trend… the convergence of content across multiple digital platforms.

Some want to rebrand the NewFronts as “Omni-Fronts” or “All-Fronts,” which I respond, hey why not? It would be a truer representation of what we as an industry are trying to achieve. It’s the acceptance that consumer behavior is changing due to technology advancements and access to video content is being demanded across all screens, consuls, devices, platforms… not just during prime time viewing periods. And, lastly, let’s be honest, there is little that is “new” about digital video, the focus now is on how, where and when it is consumed.

By Jackie Coffey, Associate Digital Director

Yes, that’s right, all media is social. You can add that hashtag to just about anything. Does that make it social? Technically, yes. Realistically, eh – no.

But what about all media being digital? That’s a bit harder to swallow in this TV-centric age, but are we moving in the right direction? HELL YES. And may I add FINALLY.

At the Ad Age Digital conference last week, themes stretched from…

1. Leading a purpose-driven work environment (GSD&M was built on purpose; it is engraved on our floor, literally).

2. Embracing the story that data is telling. Listen to it, use it, and change the status quo. But remember that behind data there is a consumer.

3. Brands need to start adding value to consumers, not interrupt their experiences. Starting with content and understanding the user experience.

And last but not least: Stop planning, Start adjusting.

This takes us back to the notion that all media is digital. As marketers we need to understand what consumers are thinking, how they are behaving and what they will do next. Our job is to predict the “next big thing” and help put our clients ahead of the curve. To do this we need to stop battling for the user’s attention and start providing them with something that they actually need, want and are looking for. We should also re-address the value of “traditional” media spots, banners, and ad placements.

Technology is a game changer, data is driving insights, we are able to adjust on the fly, and consumers are adapting alongside. Soon we will be able to access any and all content, by simply asking, or searching or saying the program title. The channel number and name of site or network will soon be irrelevant. So what does this mean for marketers? Options need to be included in upfront plans and we need to focus on how the user is accessing content. We must be able to adjust and optimize on a real-time basis and develop content strategies based on what story that data is telling. The technology is there, so let’s use it.

So what is the prediction coming out of the Ad Age Digital Conference, well, this is it: consumers will drive how content is provided. And it starts with digital and gets better with data.