Yahoo unveiled a creative patent for “smart billboards” that will learn a whole lot more about the audiences moving past them and serve relevant copy. Sort of like a display ad, only next to the highway. The patent is for sensors – including drones – that will “watch, listen and capture biometric data from people to target them with personalized advertisements.” I’m curious how Yahoo’s “smart” billboard technology differs from Clear Channel’s “Radar,” a smart system syncing mobile phone data to billboards. Clear Channel is obviously a monster in the out of home space, with lots of real estate. Sounds like an interesting asset to pad Yahoo’s portfolio, but one can’t help but wonder if the patent is, in the spirit of Yahoo these days, a day late and dollar short.
Salesforce, having been reported interested in buying Twitter, has walked away from the deal. Disney and Google are rumored to have considered, but passed. Twitter earnings are due to be released October 27, and it will be interesting to see what its team has in mind for increasing consumer engagement and revenue, without an infusion of capital. Twitter’s user base doesn’t hold a candle to Facebook, and yet Twitter has such profound brand recognition. You can barely watch any type of sports analysis without mention of one athlete’s Twitter feed. Twitter is front and center in the presidential election. Television networks are using Twitter data regarding TV viewing as an alternative to Nielsen. One idea is that Twitter should become a non-profit, a la National Public Radio or Mozilla. While Twitter can’t seem to find a financial footing – it lost over $100 million in the second quarter – it has become an important piece of the cultural landscape. Without pressure for consistent growth and profit, perhaps it could survive.
…but Google is failing to hold The Media Ratings Council accreditation for mobile. It will take some time and investment in its platform infrastructure to regain accreditation — which it will. I mean, it’s not like Google is on a budget or anything. But the issue does raise a whole host of questions for the digital industry, mostly around definitions, like “rendered” versus “served.” Thank goodness for the MRC, because keeping aligned a rapidly evolving industry with digital barons, like Facebook and Google, has got to be a nightmare,
This political campaign is wearing everyone down. A long-time radio talk show host abruptly quit, while on-air, citing an inability to take the vitriol this election has brought. Granted, with a cume of just over 2,000 listeners, the station is not nearly as competitive as the top stations in the market, which have 8x the listenership. But how do you dig out of a ratings quagmire if you can’t elicit civilized discourse? With that in mind, how awesome is it that a creative shop from perhaps the nicest country on earth – Canada – took this moment to start a social media campaign providing much needed election therapy, by telling us Americans all the ways we are appreciated.
Netflix Exceeds Expectations
In a bit of a surprise to the media industry, Netflix added over 3 million new members this past quarter, with the majority of them internationally, and 370,000 new US subscribers. Part of the assist came from really good content, like Narcos, which limits churn. Perhaps the most ironic question we might ask is: To what extent did Netflix’ linear TV campaign help increase subscribers?
There are just a few elements to this story I find intriguing. This week Google announced its plan to launch a web TV service, titled “Unplugged.” Going live in 2017, Unplugged has signed up CBS and is in talks with Fox and Disney. First of all – great name, right? I wonder what it cost to obtain that URL? Secondly, the price point is $25-$40 monthly, which is a bargain compared to the cost of bundled cable. And, third, with Netflix surprising market analysts with a large influx of new subscribers, I wonder if Unplugged’s launch wasn’t fast-tracked. And, speaking of timing, it couldn’t be better since it dovetails Google’s unveiling of its artificial-intelligence home system. “Google, turn on CSI.”