Amazon Opens Program For Creating “Watch & Shop” Apps For Fire TV

What Happened
Amazon is launching a program that invites video content owners to create shoppable streaming apps for their content on Fire TV streaming products. The so-called “Watch and Shop apps,” which now has its own section under the Apps tab, allow Fire TV users to view and purchase a curated list of items relevant to the video they are watching. Because Fire TV viewers are already logged in with their Amazon account, they can purchase the item directly from the product description page or add it to the shopping cart for later.

What Brands Need To Do
Buying products from inside a video is not a new concept — YouTube introduced a click-to-buy feature in January 2009. But with more online retailers start experimenting with interactive video each year, it becomes clear that simply dropping a link or a “Buy Now” button into a video ad is effective enough in converting customers. The friction of putting in the payment information alone is usually enough to stop shoppers in their path.

Obviously, this new program offers brands a great opportunities to explore shoppable content as both a new promotional tool and a direct sales channel. For example, a popular makeup tutorial app can create a Watch and Shop app that displays the cosmetic products that are being demoed in that particular video segment. Of course, this being an Amazon program, it would require brands to sell their products on Amazon.com.

Currently, this program is invite-only, and brands that wish to apply will need to have a Youtube channel with a minimum of 15 videos, a YouTube developer key, and, most importantly, a list of products you would like to feature in your videos, along with their unique identification number (ASIN) as listed on Amazon.com. For more information on how to apply, please check the source.

Shoppable video content has been undoubtedly on the rise for the past few years. It is especially popular among fashion and beauty brands. Birchbox, Dr. Brandt Skincare, Beautyblender, and SheaMoisture are among the first ones to try out a shoppable video layer created by video company MikMak that enables users to purchase branded products on Instagram Stories and Snap Ads with a single URL.

 


Source: Amazon Developer Blog

Honda Teams Up Epix To Stream Movies To The Back Seats

What Happened
Backseat passengers in Honda’s  2018 Odyssey minivans can now stream over 2,000 movies from MGM’s Epix network, including the “James Bond” and “Star Trek” franchises, as the two companies announced a content deal on Wednesday. This marks the first time an OTT service is available directly through a connected vehicle’s rear-seat entertainment systems, as Variety notes. However, Honda owners will need to have an Epix subscription through a participating pay TV provider in order to access the content.

What Brands Need To Do
While it remains to be seen whether the partnership will actually result in increased subscriptions for the network, this deal between Honda and Epix could harbinger more similar partnerships between auto and entertainment brands to supply content for connected cars. Research firm McKinsey estimates that connected cars could account for 22% of all vehicles on the road by 2020, which is set to unleash an influx of additional media time and attention that brands can capitalize on to reach consumers. While it is still a few years off till the technology fully matures, smart brands should start thinking about how to conquer this emerging in-car media space now.

 

 


Source: Variety

 

Dish Integrates With Amazon Alexa For Hands-Free TV Control

What Happened
On Monday Dish Network launched an Alexa skill that will allow users to watch TV hands-free. Once activated and paired up, Dish says pay TV customers using either its Hopper or Wally receivers will be able to search for programs, change channels, as well as pause, rewind and fast forward television just by asking Alexa. This marks the first time a live TV content provider have integrated Alexa for voice control. Previously, Alexa is available as the voice interface on Amazon’s own Fire TV streaming player and Fire TV Stick products.

What Brands Need To Do
There is no denying that voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are taking over smart home devices and conquering the smart TV is merely a part of that. Last week, Google announced it is working with GE and LG to integrate Google Assistant into a slew of connected home appliances for voice control. Alexa, on the other hand, has enjoyed an early lead in conquering the smart home space with various third-party integrations. Now adding Dish Network to its roster of supported device, Alexa is able to infiltrate the OTT TV experience as well, further broadening its reach. For brands, now is the time to start formulating a voice strategy and start thinking about how they can leverage Alexa skills to enhance their services and customer experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Engadget

Header image courtesy of Dish Network

Amazon Debuts 4K TV With Fire TV OS And Alexa

What Happened
On Tuesday, Amazon announced a new lineup of 4K smart TVs that run on the updated Fire TV software. Integrated with Alexa support, users can evoke Amazon’s virtual assistant to conduct voice search for content or access Alexa skills via the remote control. As is the case with Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices, Alexa will show you many results visually instead of just speaking them back. Working with two TV manufacturers, this new Amazon Fire TV lineup will be sold under either the Element or Westinghouse brand depending on the regional market, with prices ranging from $449 for the 43-inch model to $899 for the 65-inch.

What Brands Need To Do
This announcement continues Amazon’s hot streak of integrating Alexa in smart home devices. In the past month alone, the ecommerce giant introduced two new Echo devices – the Echo Look and the Echo Show – to push deeper into the conversational home gadget space. The Alexa-powered smart TVs are but another way for Amazon to make Alexa omnipresent in a connected household. As conversational devices continue to conquer the smart home space, brands that wish to stay ahead of the curve need to start leveraging the developer tools available to create voice experiences for the likes of Alexa in order to reach customers at home.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Fortune

Liquor Brand Diageo And Amazon Team Up To Create A Shoppable Show

What Happened
British alcoholic beverages company Diageo teamed up with Amazon for a shoppable video series to promote its “Reserve” portfolio of premium liquor brands. Titled “World Class List,” the series is done in the style of an unscripted travel documentary that sees a host visiting and tasting locally flavored cocktails in five cities around the world: Barcelona, Mexico City, San Francisco, Sydney, and Taipei.

The show is now available on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, with further video-on-demand partners and markets to follow. Curiously, the shoppable version is not currently available in the U.S., but U.K. and German viewers can click on embedded links to shop the liquors featured in the show from Diageo’s ecommerce site.

What Brands Need To Do
This is an interesting case of a CPG brand leveraging an OTT streaming platform to distribute shoppable branded content and directly drive sales. Amazon Prime currently boasts over 76.2 million users worldwide, which makes it a valuable channel for brands to put their branded content on. In addition, recent reports claim that Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV soon, which should further expand its reach.

For more in-depth analysis how brands can leverage global mega-channels and niche micro-channels to effectively reach key audiences, check out the Global Culture section of our Outlook 2017.

 


Source: AdAge

Header image courtesy of Diageo’s YouTube

Hulu Launches Live TV Service In Beta, Adds NBC Programming

What Happened
On Monday, Hulu announced it has reached an agreement with NBCUniversal to add programming from NBC and Telemundo-owned networks to its upcoming live TV subscription.  This rounds out all four major broadcasters for Hulu’s live service, which is set to launch in the coming months. Moreover, this deal also gives Hulu a nice boost in terms of sports programming, as it gains access to a range of NBC-owned sports content, including Sunday Night Football and the Olympics. The comprehensive lineup should give Hulu an edge as it sets to compete in a crowded market against other OTT live TV services including DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.

Update May 3: Hulu Live service is now available (in “beta”) for $39.95 a month. Per Ad Age, this live TV service will include “dynamic ad insertion capabilities, meaning advertisers can serve messages to specific targeted audiences. The navigation screen will also allow for additional advertising opportunities beyond the 15 and 30-second spots.”

What Brands Need To Do
Hulu currently has over 12 million subscribers in the U.S., making it the third biggest OTT streaming service after Netflix and Amazon Prime. Unlike the other OTT streaming services, Hulu is an ad-supported service, and the upcoming live TV service should continue to make the case for Hulu as a brand-friendly platform. With U.S. cord-cutting households hitting over 25%, it is important that brands look for new ways to reach those viewers and take advantage of the addressable viewer data that those OTT streaming platform offers to explore better targeting options.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Netflix Inks Licensing Deal With iQiyi, One Of China’s Top Streaming Services

What Happened
Netflix announced on Tuesday that it has signed a content licensing deal with IQiyi, one of China’s biggest OTT streaming services and a subsidiary of the country’s search giant Baidu. Details of the agreement are still scarce at the moment, but it seems most likely that Netflix’s original content will be able to get into the Chinese market as a result.

This announcement practically indicates that Netflix has officially given up on entering the Chinese market directly as a service provider. This deal will allow it to bypass China’s regulatory roadblocks while also allow it to open up a new revenue stream. It is worth noting that iQiyi itself is in the midst of transitioning from an ad-supported video platform to a subscription model similar to Netflix.

What Brands Need To Know
The open nature of the internet has made it possible for content platforms to reach customers across national borders, and the proliferation of smartphones has granted internet access for more customers than broadband ever did. These new digital mega channels, led by Netflix, the self-proclaimed first global TV network, reflect an increasingly globally homogenizing consumer culture and interconnected communities.

This allows brands to reach customers across the globe that have more in common in terms of their interests and media habits than their geography. Although Netflix is an ad-free subscription service, it does allow product placement in its original shows such as House of Cards. Plus, there are several other smaller yet global-reaching platforms such as musical.ly and Twitch that are much more open to brands.

For more in-depth analysis how brands can leverage global mega-channels and niche micro-channels to effectively reach key audiences, check out the Global Culture section of our Outlook 2017.

 


Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Hyatt Partners With Sonifi To Update Room Entertainment With Streaming Service

What Happened
Hyatt is updating its in-room entertainment choices by offering hotel guests access to a number of OTT streaming services. Partnering with Sonifi, an L.A.-based interactive content and connectivity solutions provider, the global hotel chain will let guests access popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu for free through the World of Hyatt app and a Chromecast device. Fourteen Hyatt hotels are already equipped with the new streaming capability, and the company says it has plans for a broader rollout.

What Brands Need To Do
This is the latest example of a hospitality brand aiming to modernize their guest experiences with over-the-top streaming services. Previous examples include JetBlue Airlines, which has been providing its passengers with free Amazon Prime Video streaming for in-flight entertainment since late 2015.

While Hyatt is appealable for recognizing the growing popularity of streaming services and shifting viewer behaviors, it fails just short of providing a truly personalized experience for the guests. According to the press release, there is no need for the guests to enter a code or personal credentials on the TV to access the streaming services, which eliminates the hassle of signing in and preempts any privacy concern guests may have. 

 


Source: Sonifi (press release)

 

Amazon Prime Wins Streaming Rights Of NFL Thursday Night Games

What Happened
Amazon has reportedly shelled out around $50 million to livestream ten NFL games of the new season, five times more than what Twitter paid last year. Interestingly, Amazon won’t stream the games to anyone who wants to watch online for free as Twitter did. Instead, the NFL Thursday night games will be a new addition to the ever-growing list of perks for Amazon Prime members.

What Brands Need To Know
On a larger picture, this deal signals the continuing shift of live sports viewing from TV to online streaming. Amazon reportedly beat out the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for the bid, which underscores how determined the ecommerce giant is about growing out its streaming offering. The decision to only allow Prime members to stream this also points to the company’s core strategy that positions the membership program as the lynchpin for fostering customer loyalty.

This marks a very different approach than Twitter, who bought the rights last year to raise its profile as a live-streaming platform and generating revenues from selling the ad slots allocated for local TV ads at a high price. In comparison, Amazon wouldn’t necessarily be interested in selling ads (although it could very well use those ad slots to promote its services and original shows.) Researches have shown that Prime members on average spend two times more than regular shoppers on Amazon every year. Therefore, it makes sense that Amazon would pay the big bucks to secure the live-streaming rights of NFL games and use it to drive signups and retain subscriptions for Prime. Other brands should learn a thing or two from Amazon’s strategy and start thinking about ways to improve and integrate their loyalty programs so as to establish a long-term relationship with customers.

 


Source: Re/Code

YouTube TV Goes Live In Five U.S. Markets

What Happened
On Wednesday YouTube officially launched its live TV streaming service YouTube TV in five regional markets, including New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area. This marks yet another high-profile entry of a tech giant into the OTT streaming market, as the battle for retaining TV subscribers and, more importantly, selling TV packages to cord-cutters and cord-nevers, continues to heat up.

Announced a little over a month ago, the “skinny bundle” from YouTube will cost $35 per month and cover live TV programming from all four major U.S. broadcasting networks —  ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC — as well as their affiliated cable channels such as ESPN and Bravo. YouTube also says it will soon add several AMC Networks channels, such as AMC, BBC America, BBC World News, IFC, Sundance TV and We TV to the service’s standard tier. Previously, the AMC Networks was reportedly working on an ad-free streaming service of its own for cable subscribers.

What Brands Need To Do
This launch marks another channel for brands to reach the audience that has abandoned linear TV viewing in favor of time-shifted viewing, as YouTube TV will carry all the live TV ads. Taking the vast user data and the sophisticated ad operations that Google owns into account, it seems likely that the search giant will be offering some ad tech integrations with the streaming service and allow brands to target audience in a more granular, personalized manner.

 


Source: Marketing Land

Header image courtesy of YouTube