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Week In Review: Roku Shows Brands What (And Who) They’re Missing, Facebook Fucks Up Again

1. Roku Shows Brands What (And Who) They’re Missing

Roku rolled out a new tool called “Activation Insights” that shows brands the incremental viewers they are missing by only advertising on traditional linear rather than OTT.

Why It Matters

According to a recent study by Magna (and as backed up by the anecdotal results of a recent study by TV[R]EV–download all 56 pages of it here) brands are shying away from OTT.  

At a time when close to 30% of viewing is now on OTT,  brands are spending less than 3% of their ad budgets there. The reason, as we learned in our report, is that buying OTT is so complex, and the measurement so hard to ascertain, that brands are avoiding rather than embracing OTT advertising.

Roku is taking a clever position by reminding brands that OTT is additive, that it’s a strong complement to traditional linear TV, not a replacement for it. By pointing out all the incremental viewers that they’re missing by not spending on OTT (or inside Roku’s walled garden, to be real about it) the Roku sales team is able to make a compelling argument.

Even more clever: the two case studies they cite in their propaganda are not Millennial DTC Instagram Hipster brands–they’re OG ice cream shop Baskin Robbins and OG all-cappers RE/MAX real estate brokers.

And they’re pretty impressive case studies at that: 86% of 18-49 year olds who saw a Baskin Robbins ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV—even factoring in OTT’s smaller reach, that still gives the Jamoca Almond Fudge makers a 10.6% incremental reach. (And what is “Jamoca”? Did someone just not know how to spell “Jamaica”? Is it a play on “mocha”? Enquiring minds want to know and Google is no help.)

Back to Roku, RE/MAX  numbers were equally impressive: 81% of 25-54 year olds reached on Roku missed the ad on linear TV, for an incremental reach of 9.2%.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a rival OTT network, ad tech company or walled garden (e.g., Amazon) then these numbers are a great sales tool for you too–it’s not like people who own Rokus watch ads and those with Fire TVs don’t or that they avert their eyes when the ads are on platforms like CBS All Access or Hulu that Roku doesn’t sell.

If you’re the measurement industry, that Magna stat should be a good reminder as to why you need to get your act together. Ditto all the networks, ad agencies and brands who are your enablers.

If you’re Scott Rosenberg and the Roku team, take a bow, Activation Insights is a smart move and should help move the whole of the ad-supported OTT ecosystem forward. Rising tides lift all boats and all that.

And if you’re confused about all this ad-supported OTT stuff, buy our report. Because we’re going to keep flogging it every few paragraphs until you do.


2. Facebook Fucks Up Again

There’s no use sugarcoating it. The gang who couldn’t shoot straight just leaned in to yet another major fiasco. (I’d keep count, but I’ve run out of fingers and toes.)

This time it’s a clearly doctored video that makes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out to be a slurry speeched souse. A video so fake that even Rudy Guiliani felt compelled to delete his tweet about it.

But Facebook?

“We remove things from Facebook that violate our Community Standards, and we don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” the PR-savvy platform told Politico.

(NB: Google pulled it off of YouTube pretty much immediately.)

Why It Matters

Facebook manages to shoot itself in the foot on an almost daily basis. It’s so firmly planted into people’s lives–how would anyone know when your birthday was or how fabulous your Alaska cruise was–that for a long time the general reaction has been to roll the eyes, tsk-tsk at how awful things are–and go right back to using it.

That may be changing both for people and for brands.

CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman abruptly pulled his entire health and fitness empire of off Facebook and Instagram this week after Facebook closed down an innocuous group with 1.6 million users that CrossFit supported. The group was associated with popular South African Professor Tim Noakes and promoted his high fat/low carb/no sugar diet, a diet that, in this Year Of The Keto, is about as controversial as suggesting that thirsty people drink water instead of vodka.

While CrossFit isn’t the NFL or Nike, and its absence from Facebook will not break Zuckerberg, it’s worthwhile to read Glassman’s list of reasons, number 5 in particular:

Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice.

Read that in light of the Pelosi video and this sentence from Vox

Facebook failed in 2018 to prevent people in Myanmar from inciting hatred and genocide on its platform, which is something Facebook acknowledged after harsh scrutiny and pressure.

Or this (Vox, ibid.)

Facebook has also waffled on how to handle a host of other content on its platform, including anti-vaccination hoaxes and misinformation.

Another Pelosi video or two, and CrossFit may not be all that far out front of other brands in pulling out of Facebook altogether.

You can only listen to them whine “we’re trying to figure this out” for so long while they’re busy collecting millions of dollars a day from the world’s biggest brands and selling user profile information from the majority of the world’s adult humans.

Or to put it another way, remember when ads used to end with “AOL Keyword XXXX”?

And then all of a sudden they didn’t?

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Zuck and Sheryl, admit you’re a media platform and hire some people who have experience in running media platforms to clean things up. (e.g., not your friends from Palo Alto.)

A video being false, doctored and clearly intended to be defamatory should be an open and shut case of “things that get banned immediately” whether the target is Trump, Pelosi or some girl in Pleasantville Middle School whose classmates are being cruel.

If you’re a brand manager, you have leverage. Tell Facebook they need to clean up their act or you’re taking your dollars elsewhere.

And mean it.

Remember, people remember TV commercials they saw as kids. They don’t remember Facebook dark posts (that name!) they saw ten minutes ago.

If you’re a Facebook user, maybe it’s time to think for real about what life after Facebook would look like. And how you’d feel if the kid who sat next to you in Honors Algebra in 9th grade didn’t get to wish you a Happy Birthday next year.