Aldo's Notes 2020 05 10

The One with The New Normal of content production, Fortnite parties, new TikTok ad formats, and an advertising slump.

Hello World

this week:

Kate Lewis, Chief Content Officer, Hearst Magazines was interviewed by Brian Morrisey of Digiday on the ‘new normal’ of content production during COVID-19.

My main takeaways for the conversation:

  • Hearst Editorial has a ‘4 points of light’ mantra:  "grow audience, generate buzz, collaborate, experiment to learn."

  • A lot of video production at Hearst pre-COVID involved celebrities, presenting a challenge in a COVID world

  • "It turns out, celebrities themselves are phenomenal shooters"

  • "We have almost too much footage coming in that we can't edit it fast enough"

  • Post-COVID it's hard to tell what kind of COVID-style content production will stay and what will revert to the old style

  • Higher-end production (e.g. Bazaar) will probably still require expensive production

  • Much of the remaining video though doesn't need to look that polished as much of it is distributed via Youtube (i.e. with more limited production levels)

  • What COVID has done is to open Hearts' mind to the "quick and dirty" (and cheaper) possibilities of production

  • Consumers expectations have also changed towards more quick and dirty but more authentic content

  • What kind of content resonated in COVID times? 60% of March content was directly COVID related. In addition to that, there was a lot of COVID adjacent content. Hearst produced 1,000 more stories when compared to other months.

  • Digital audience in March was 30% up YOY

  • Newsstand in groceries stores is up 12% YOY

  • Digital subscriptions on Amazon are up 100% YOY

  • Ecommerce was up 133% YOY in March

  • Hearst Magazines doesn't want to be the daily news re: COVID-19, leaving that role to NYT and Washington Post


The BBC reports that Fortnite is celebrating reaching the milestone of 350 million users.

A live concert is taking place on the platform and features Dillon Francis, Steve Aoki and deadmau5.

Epic, the firm behind Fortnite, says that during April users spend a combined 3.2 billion hours on the platform.

The party will take on a new island with players invited to 'leave their weapons' and 'hang out with friends'.

It's another step in the direction of setting Fortnite as a platform rather than simply a game.


TikTok to add AR to ad formats

Digiday reveals that TikTok is getting ready to launch a new ad format in Q3.

The new format would allow a brand to develop AR brand effects.

Users would be able to add these effects to their surrounding while creating their videos.

For instance, a car might zoom along the kitchen table.

Such a product would bring TikTok's offering closer to that of Snapchat and Instagram AR offerings

Given TikTok's scale and speed of product delivery, it will be an interesting few months ahead.


Publishers pull programmatic inventory

Digiday reports that some publishers are reducing the available inventory for programmatic advertising.

The advertising market is currently weak and you would think that that would drive prices down.

Reducing prices risks setting a new 'anchor' benchmark that will be counterproductive in the future.

Advertisers might remember the 'low CPM of 2020' and baulk at the prospect of spending more when the market returns to some sort of normality.

To avoid this scenario, it appears some publishers are choosing to pull some inventory off the table for their programmatic offerings.


Reach reveals slump in ad revenue

Further confirmation of the state of the advertising market comes from Reach as reported by the Guardian.

The publisher owns UK titles such as the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, the Daily Star amongst many others.

Revenue in April slumped by 30.5% compared to the previous year.

The issue was compounded by a fall in digital revenue despite extra traffic to its digital platforms.

Some advertisers are choosing to blacklist content related to coronavirus whereas a lot of the readers' appetite is focused on the pandemic.