The Digital Download: New Instagram video offering, new Pinterest partner, NewFronts

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This has been a big week in digital, as many industry giants had their NewFronts in New York. Still, Pinterest and Instagram have newsworthy items of their own.

Though the NewFronts will go on through next week, many of the industry’s biggest names – including YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, Hulu and The New York Times – held their events throughout the last few days. Their announcements, and plans to focus on video and virtual reality (VR) have dominated the news cycle, but that’s not all that’s happened in digital this week.

Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube all have new things in the works, while Yahoo has come up with a shortlist of bidders as it prepares to auction off its main Internet assets. Should chief executive (CEO) Marissa Mayer’s loses her job in the sale, she is poised to gain about 55 million other things in its place.

Original video content, virtual reality headline at NewFronts

According to new research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), ad spend on original digital video programming has increased by 114 percent since 2014. That same report, the IAB’s third annual Digital Content NewFronts: Video Ad Spend Study, also found that 68 percent of the 360 marketers and media buyers surveyed believe that original digital video will become as important as TV in the next few years.

So it’s only fitting that video content was one of the main themes of this year’s NewFronts. BuzzFeed talked about the massive amount of views its content, such as the Tasty Food Network, receives, while AOL, Yahoo and Hulu discussed their foci on original video content.

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The New York Times also announced new video series, most of which will have VR – another NewFronts theme – components. VR is also a big topic for AOL, PopSugar and YouTube.

Instagram brings video to its carousel

Video has proven to be a solid strategy for Instagram advertisers, of which there are more than 200,000, according to Facebook’s recent Q1 earnings call. As of Tuesday, they can now include up to five videos – or a combination of video and photos – in a Carousel.

The swipeable format, which launched in March 2015, has resulted in greater ad recall, as well as a 58 percent increase in conversions. Incorporating video could help raise that number even more, as Instagram’s video views have increased 40 percent since last year. Format pioneers include Taco Bell, Macy’s, IBM, Airbnb.

Also this week, Instagram started testing brand pages and contact buttons, which will allow users to email businesses directly.

Pinterest partners with Millward Brown Digital

The market research unit of WPP, Millward Brown Digital is a well-respected source of industry analytics, such as how much time people spend consuming digital video each day (a lot) and how confident marketers are when it comes to data (…less so). Partnering with the firm, Pinterest aims to better verify business value for its advertisers.

Millward Brown Digital’s data can give marketers more insight into how their Pins are performing. More specifically, these insights let brands know how their Promoted Pins are affecting brand perception and awareness.

Walgreens, for example, saw a lift of more than 15 percent in positive brand perception, brand favorability and purchase intent for female consumers between 18 and 24. Similarly, Promoted Pins for L’Oréal’s Lumi Highlighter product resulted in a 25 percent lift in purchase intent.

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YouTube reportedly planning to bring cable TV online

TV is the one medium with serious potential to be affected by the closing chasm between traditional and digital. YouTube is reportedly working on a paid subscription service, Unplugged, which would sell bundles of cable TV channels online.

Following Red, the video giant’s first paid subscription service, Unplugged would likely involve a bundle of popular cable channels mixed in with a handful of major broadcast networks. Apple and Amazon have both discussed doing something similar.

Unplugged, which YouTube wants to sell for less than $35 per month, could launch as early as next year.

Yahoo sale could mean staggering severance

With the auction for its core Internet assets on the horizon, Yahoo has shortlisted a handful of bidders. The full list is unknown, but includes Verizon and TPG Capital, one of the world’s largest private equity firms whose past acquisitions include Neiman Marcus and Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Verizon is seen as the front-runner and many believe AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will displace Mayer, who has been Yahoo’s CEO since 2012. If that does happen, Mayer will receive a severance package worth $55 million.

Though Yahoo doesn’t have a specific deadline, most analysts expect an official decision to be made within the next two months. The price is estimated to be between $4 and $10 billion.

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