Aldo's Notes #7

The one with Alexis Ohanian; streaming stats; the future of content; content generation tips from the pros; WhatsApp payments and Facebook's CatchUp.

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btw, all the articles below have been published first on Aldo’s Notes.

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This week:

The power of new media for distributing a message

Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, recently made the news.

Within the context of protests across the United States, and indeed the world, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Alexis resigned from the Reddit board and suggested a black candidate should replace him.

Alexis Ohanian was asked by many media types for an interview.

Instead, he gave an exclusive to Serena Williams on Instagram.

For those who don’t know, Alexis and Serena are married.

The topic of the discussion is obviously the main reason to watch the clip in its entirety.

And I thoroughly recommend you do.

I have found it extremely enlightening.

Within the context of this blog, the intersection of digital platforms/marketing/publishing, what caught my eye was Alexis’choice in terms of the distribution of his message.

Serena Williams has, at time of writing, 12.4M followers on Instagram.

The video on IGTV has been viewed, so far,1.4 million times.

IGTV is the long-form video offering from Instagram.

Why would Ohanian go to The New York Times (9.4M followers on Instagram), to The Washington Post (3.3M followers) or BBC News (13.5M followers)?

Serena Williams’ reach is comparable or a lot better to that of many of these major players in the news industry.

With Serena, gone are any issues of mistrust in the media and of how some outlets aim for a ‘gotcha’ moment.

The interview can be more constructive as both parties have discussed the issues for a long time before appearing on the screen.

Serena offers the perspective of a global personality directly impacted for many, many years by this topic.

As such, the interview strikes a chord that might have been difficult to strike had the interviewer been, with respect, a less known individual.

Additionally, Serena’s followers and fans are likely to be more interested in a conversation between her and her husband than the average NYT or CNN follower.

The final result is, to me, a much more genuine and valuable conversation.

The sort of conversation that we should be having as a society.

Longer-term, my belief is that Serena Williams will be a bigger media company than most of the current media companies.


This is how the pandemic is impacting streaming

ComScore has released an analysis on the performance of data-using media over the last few months.

Data usage was already trending up in January and February 2020.

Across the board, YOY usage was up 16%.

COVID-19 likely caused the further increase seen in March, April and May.

Smart TVs, phones and streaming boxes saw the biggest YOY increase post-pandemic.

This is likely to be linked to more people staying at home and spending more time on the couch.

Within the ecosystem of streaming apps, who were the winners and who were the losers?

By using the February weekly average of total hours, Comscore reveals that Disney did particularly well. Of course, this is a relatively new service so new users may be a factor in its performance.

Amazon did well. The increase in online shopping may have had a positive impact on the number of Amazon Prime members. This in turn would increase the numbers of viewers of Amazon Video as it is part of the service.

Hulu on the other hand is the app the did not perform as well. Its index was flat in May versus its performance in February.

Top Streaming Apps by Total Hours

For all other content providers around the world the figures above can provide some guidance.

Each country will have its own set of data peculiar to the timing and extent of lock-down measures introduced.

However, if your performance is not at least 20% above February, as it’s in the case of the United States, you are probably losing market share of attention.

To other content providers but not necessarily directly competing against you.

It may be that your audience is migrating to TikTok…


The content of the future will be synthetic

A fascinating presentation by Amy Webb about Emerging Tech Trends for 2020.

What captures my imagination in particular is the section about synthetic content production.

The trend is towards digital twins. It will become easier and easier to produce a digital copy of yourself (or anyone else for the matter).

And not just a single copy but, being digital, infinite copies of yourself.

Already five years ago, a new member joined the Japanese pop group AKB48 and quickly became the most popular.

However, Eguchi Aimi was not real and nobody realised for over a year.

She was an early version of synthetic media.

Synthetic media is created by using people, photos, videos, text, objects as inputs.

The output is a realistic-looking and sounding artificial digital content.

This allows for a wholly automatic generation of video and textual content at scale.


Tips on how to generate amazing content

Hamish and Andy are two of the most popular entertainers in Australia.

Their career spans nearly two decades in radio and television.

During the interview featured in the video below, they share their experience of content ideation and production.

These are the main take-aways of the interview:

Don’t over-prepare content. Leave room for spontaneity. It’s about finding the balance between preparation and leaving enough room for spontaneity.

In every ad break, they describe to each other using one sentence what they are going to talk about during the next five minutes of on-air time.

By placing ‘small bets’, you allow the ideas that best resonate to blossom into big bets.

Otherwise, you might stake too much on what seems to be a good idea but turns out not be one.

Don’t publicly state on overly ambitious goal at the beginning. This puts too much pressure on the experiment. Start small and see where the experiment takes you, if anywhere.

Also, the next idea shouldn’t play in the same arena of previously successful ideas. Otherwise, you run the risk of the new idea constantly being compared with the old one (and unlikely to be a positive comparison).


WhatsApp payments: Brazilians celebrate as first in the world

WhatsApp has announced that Brazil will be the first country to get its digital payment functionality.

Users will now be able to send money to each other or to purchase from local businesses.

All from within a WhatsApp chat.

Crucially, this payment feature is enabled by Facebook Pay, paving the way for a future of digital payments across the Facebook ecosystem of apps.

Initially, users will need to use a debit or credit card issued by Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and Mastercard networks.

WhatsApp is also partnering with Cielo, the leading payment processor in Brazil.

They are also making their system open so more partners can be on-boarded in the future.

Using the payment features is free for users while businesses pay a processing fee similar to what they are charged currently to process credit card payments.

This is a major step for digital payments outside of China.

Brazil is the second-largest market for WhatsApp with 120 million MAUs.

Small businesses can already publish their catalogs through the WhatsApp Business app. Users can therefore easily browse the catalog without having to leave WhatsApp.


How Facebook can help you call loved ones

Facebook has launched CatchUp.

It’s an experimental app aiming at making telephone calls easier.

Not in the sense of pressing a button.

In the sense that, according to Facebook, the reason people often don’t voice call family and friends is that they don’t know if they are available and they don’t want to disturb.

CatchUp solves the problem by showing when other users of the app are available to talk.

It also helps to make group calls easier.

This app was developed by the NPE team at Facebook, “a small team experimenting with New Products and Experiences.”

CatchUp is being trialed in the US for a limited time on both iOS and Android.

Have a great week!

Aldo Mencaraglia