« Back to Posts

Week In Review: T-Mobile And Sprint Push The 5G Angle.  Is Branded Content The Answer For Brand Safety.

1. T-Mobile And Sprint Push The 5G Angle.

Realizing that mergers of all kinds now seem to have a giant target on their backs (and there are a lot of media mergers going on right now), Sprint and T-Mobile are using the “5G is good for America” angle to pre-sell their deal, even going so far as to create a website “5G for All” to spread the gospel. The TL;DR version of the site is that America’s dominance in 4G allowed businesses like Uber,. Snapchat, Instagram, Venmo and Square to take off and that a powerful American 5G market will allow the next generation of American tech companies to thrive and take off as well.

Any guesses on which American president that message is aimed at?

Why It Matters

Presidential pandering aside, they do have a solid point. 5G is important because it will allow some great homegrown technology to take root, but even more important because it breaks the monopoly the MVPDs have on broadband in the U.S. — over 55% of localities only have one large broadband vendor, in most of the rest it’s just two. (Those are the areas where FIOS and Uverse have set up shop.)

Breaking that stranglehold is great because competition is always for the best—but also because it solves the “no more net neutrality” issue.

As we’d explained many times, the lack of net neutrality was an issue because with only one player in a market, the “free market forces” that FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai was counting on to prevent bad behavior didn’t exist. With 5G, they will exist and with three new broadband providers in each market, there’s an excellent chance that at least one of them will see preserving net neutrality as their main differentiator and a great selling point.

On a more macro level, the shift to 5G will also allow more and more television to be watched digitally—not on digital devices, but transmitted to our TV sets via a digital (OTT) connection, which is great news for everyone pushing advanced advertising units like interactive and addressable—5G will help TV get to a more personalized future much sooner.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD that sells broadband, start preparing for a post-monopoly world, as it looks like this merger will likely go through.

If you’re a network or an advertiser, start/keep on preparing for a more digital world, one where the advertising you’re selling/buying can be far more personalized, dynamically inserted and measured more effectively than it is now.

In other words, the future.


2. Branded Content May Be The Answer To Social’s Brand Safety Concerns

In a recent Axios article by the always on point Sara Fischer, our buddy Nick Cicero of Delmondo fame suggested that branded content may be the way for Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms to avoid brand safety issues, and we think he may be on to something.

Why It Matters

YouTube, if you recall, got busted yet again, this time by CNN, which discovered that ads from major brands and U.S. government agencies were running against videos from white nationalists and pedophiles. This, despite all their promises and best efforts.

The backlash was not huge—UnderArmour backed out, but P&G which had just returned, didn’t. But that’s this time. If it keeps on happening, there will be pain.

That’s why branded content makes so much sense: it’s never going to be brand “unsafe” (unless the brand falls asleep at the wheel and doesn’t vet it first) and it’s a way to reach the creator in question’s audience. It’s also something that can easily be ported to TV to fill in for all those TV commercials the networks are going to have to do away with.

That, and creators like branded content, or at least they’re starting to, because they realize that it frees them from YouTube’s grasp so they can strike their own deals with brands and it gives them a steady source of income that isn’t always in danger of being undermined by the latest whims of whatever platform it’s running on.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a brand, especially a brand that’s worried about brand safety issues on YouTube, then go heavy on branded content. You’ll still be able to engage the sort of influencers that are big with a younger audience, and you’ll soon be able to use some of that branded content on TV.

If you’re a TV network (or even an MVPD or vMVPD) you might want to work that in reverse, creating a stable of creators you can offer brands looking to create branded content and run those videos on your network as well as social networks where you can also reach out to said creator’s fan base and drive them to your shows.

All without placing ads against a single objectionable video. (Or, as CNN calls them “extremist channels.”