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WEEK IN REVIEW: Amazon Launches Its Own FAST, Hulu, AT&T Get Attributable.

1. Amazon Launches Its Own FAST

Happy 2019.

While rumors of Amazon launching its own FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV Service) have been swirling about for a few months now, few expected it to come from IMDb. (Because let’s face it, few actually remembered that Amazon owned IMDb.)

Nonetheless, the IMDb branding is going to help the new service, unimaginatively called Freedive, both with perception and with marketing.

What Amazon is actually launching is pretty similar to the Roku Channel with a bunch of hit older movies most people won’t mind watching again (Memento, The Last Samurai) and a bunch of TV shows reruns (The Bachelor, Heroes) that could make effective background noise.

Better still, they’re available on demand (versus at a specific time) and with a limited ad load.

Why It Matters

There are two huge reasons why this matters.

1. Amazon gets to show off its targeting chops.  You’ve no doubt heard us say on here that “Facebook knows who we want to be, but Amazon knows who we really are.”

(Pretty deep, huh?) 

What that means is that “Likes” on Facebook tend to be aspirational. So that someone might “Like” Starbucks, even though they only get coffee there once or twice a year.

Amazon, OTOH, knows that they have a standing order for Maxwell House. (While all Google knows is that they’ve searched for “coffee” and “coffee bars” a few times, not whether they’ve actually bought anything.)

So Amazon can target ads directly to people who have bought or browsed similar products.

They can, if they want, also run ads that aren’t interruptive ads. So that, say, Patagonia could pay for an ad that reached Memento viewers, only it wouldn’t run during the show, but rather, as a “sponsored post” on the Amazon home page the next time a Memento viewer logged in, with some sort of message about being brought to you by Freedive or “because you watched Memento”, maybe even with a photo from the movie in it. (We’ll leave them to figure out creative specs, but you get the picture.)

The ad targeting piece of Freedive could be a huge boost for Amazon and it’s a great way for them to show off how much better their data is.

2. FASTS are taking off big time, and their reduced ad loads are the reason.  Well that and “free,” always a crowd favorite, but we can’t but think about how NBC is getting all proud of cutting their ad load by 10% and how that means 14 minutes per hour instead of 16 (or something similar) versus Freedive and Roku Channel, which are running about 6 or 8 minutes per hour, which is a noticeable difference. Or as our colleague Mike Shields wrote last week, “Jesus there are a lot of $#*&@ ads!”

What You Need To Do About It

Keep your eye on what the various FASTS are doing to differentiate themselves—original programming, better old movies, different types of advanced advertising tactics (overlays, interactive, consent-based, etc.).

If you’re an advertiser, especially a CPG brand without a lot of first party data, it’s probably worth it to talk to Amazon and see what kind of targeting data they have for you. People may not like toilet paper on Facebook, but they buy a lot of it on Amazon.

Finally, if you’re a network, keep figuring out ways to cut those ad loads. It’s not just consumers who are getting tired of them, it’s advertisers too, who like the idea that FASTS can make them one of two or three advertisers in a pod, not one of eight.


2. Hulu, AT&T Get Attributable.

Meanwhile back on the measurement front, both AT&T and Hulu announced that they’d be adding in some kind of attribution to their ad measurement this year, so that brands can measure what the industry is politely calling “business outcomes” or “multitouch attribution” but which is known in the real world as “so, did the ad work?”

Why It Matters

Obviously that’s a subjective question based on what you wanted to ad to do: boost mindshare, create an image, introduce a product or get cars flying out of the showroom.

AT&T (Xandr, to be Xact) is going to do this via DirecTV and DirecTV Now set top box data, while Hulu will be using its own data. They’re going to join A+E and AMC, both of whom have also rolled out ways to use business outcomes to help prove the value of their advertising .

It’s a smart move, in that with so many different ways to watch TV, panels just aren’t cutting it anymore (see our take here) and so a system that can take into account what a viewer actually did after seeing an ad and tracks their journey through the funnel, is going to provide a valuable extra layer of measurement while helping to prove the value of television using digital-style metrics.

What You Need To Do About It

Regardless of where you’re working, you should probably educate yourself about multitouch attribution and business outcomes and all that. Even if it’s not on your horizon for this year, it’s coming and it’s going to be important and something you’ll need to talk about at meetings and all that. (But don’t fear! TVREV is here to help!)

If you’re AT&T or Hulu, take a bow, because you’ve done good, getting on board early when it still gives you an advantage and a point of differentiation.

Kudos, friends.