Those Facebook video accusations, Tube strikes & other buzzwords – the #DigitalSense Digest puts the headlines in context

Jerry Daykin's #DigitalSense Digest looks back at the most read, shared and talked about articles on The Drum from the past month and asks what they really mean for marketers once the hype has settled.

In the latest instalment of the series, Jerry Daykin tells us what the big headlines from the last month really mean for the marketing industry.

You might be winding down for the summer but the online video war has only been heating up these past few weeks, whilst real time marketing and Instagram also predictably popped up and we’ve thrown in programmatic to complete the buzzword bingo.

Facebook continued its push into the video space with the launch of Periscope-style live video functionality, though it is only available to verified celebrities and influencers to begin with. You can imagine a wider roll out to ‘normal’ users within the Messenger app, but beyond the initial launch hype (and industry excitement) I’ve seen little evidence of huge user demand for the likes of Meerkat and Periscope. An opportunity for fast marketers to grab a few easy headlines, but not one for the rest of us to worry about quite yet. It’ll add more fuel to the fire that is the rise of ‘vertical video’, once a foolish mistake but now a genuinely valid behaviour where consumption also occurs on mobile.

The big drama came when YouTuber Hank Green accused Facebook of “lying, cheating & stealing” to exaggerate the scale of its video offering. His post was a little inflammatory but makes some points marketers should be aware of. The platform does indeed favour content which keeps people on the site so posting video natively (instead of embedding YouTube) is a must; it also has a long way to go in terms of preserving content rights and building a genuine super user community.

The real question is on how it counts views – three seconds of well-planned content IS definitely enough to impact consumers and drive brand results, but of course it’s not the same as someone watching a full 30-second YouTube commercial. Facebook video opens up a lot of possibilities for animation and short form content, but it’s yet to prove it can compete with YouTube for truly getting people to watch longer content. Marketers should be wary of pushing their agencies to put view counts on such starkly different platforms on the same reports.

Elsewhere in Facebook HQ, its Instagram team started opening up its ads API. Though only live in select markets, it’s a great step for marketers. We like to moan about ‘having’ to promote our content to beat algorithms but truth be told social platforms only really have scalable value once we do have paid tools to drive sizeable, targeted reach. We’ll all need to think about the role Instagram plays in media mixes though – it can be as much as twice expensive as Facebook but attracts a younger audience and (based on engagement and survey results) a more engaged and attentive one.

London’s latest #TubeStrike predictably got people talking this month and was pretty much unavoidable on social media channels. With limited awareness of the issues actually being debated, the public mood seemed to be one of frustration and little sympathy. Some brands of course saw this as the perfect time to show off their real time marketing abilities and a whole string waded into the fold… awkwardly, consumers themselves didn’t really seem to notice with limited responses and engagement across the board. Seasoned responders Innocent seemed to manage the most popular commentary, but even so 500 retweets doesn’t seem a runaway success.

I’m all for brands trying to be more relevant to consumers, but jumping in on these most crowded of conversations is far from a shortcut to wide visibility and response. Marketers investing in this activity need to be cautious of the over optimism which seems to surround it, well exemplified by this piece on Jon Stewart’s retirement. Certainly Arby’s did well to respond to what was ultimately humorous criticism, but would we really call 3,000 tweets over a year a ‘tremendous’ pay off? I was glad to see that piece at least ended with a reminder of the importance of paid media to scale real time activations, something that seems to easily get forgotten.

The world of programmatic continues to mature rapidly with 9/10 marketers citing improved targeting as the main reason to adopt the approach, versus only about half who do it to lower costs. We’ve all still got plenty to learn on this front but it’s healthy for the conversation to move beyond being purely a money saving exercise and into the realms of personalised marketing at scale and insight. Key to that is the need to humanise and interpret the sorts of data these systems can produce, as exemplified by Apple’s use of human editors and not just pure algorithms to drive its music service.

Oh and a spark of hope for the print industry which drives more than half of Twitter buzz, beating TV and radio combined. It’s a sign newspapers have better adapted for the fast paced nature of the platform and are more willing to put their core content up in a digestible way… and that traditional media is far from dead and continues to be a huge driver of digital conversations.

And that was the month that was, or at least what I took out of the biggest stories of the past few weeks – see you next time or follow the ongoing #DigitalSense on LinkedIn.

Jerry Daykin is global digital director at Carat

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