Amid Hollywood strikes, consider shifting ad investment to podcasting and YouTube for resilient, influencer-driven content.

Summary:

  • The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike, bringing Hollywood to a near-standstill
  • Some projects have already made the jump to podcasting
  • YouTube, meanwhile, is seeing a YoY revenue increase and increase in upcoming ad spend commitments
  • Online influencers may have increased promotional opportunities, making them a lucrative part of any current advertising strategy

A defining moment for the film and television industry

Whether you’ve mostly read about it in the news, or have experienced the firsthand disappointment of seeing your favorite show resorting to reruns, you’ve no doubt become aware of the many repercussions of both the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) strikes. The writers and performers in both unions are seeking better pay and working conditions, as well as fairer contracts for the longevity and legacy of their work.

All of this might leave advertisers in a bind: how can they support the creators behind their favorite art, while navigating potential losses of revenue in a rapidly changing film and TV landscape?

By following the lead of studios and strikers alike: pivoting their strategy.

Some TV mainstays are already pivoting to podcasting

While some effects of the strike will take time to be apparent, network television felt them almost immediately. Shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Daily Show have all shut down production since the announcement of the strike.

Although the writers’ contributions to these shows can’t be overlooked, some elements of the talk show format translate very handily to an audio medium—and we’ve seen precedent for this.

You might have heard about Craig Ferguson’s latest venture, Joy, a Podcast, which launched just this month. The television personality’s pivot to podcasting should come as no surprise to fans of The Late Late Show, which saw the host hold his own against some of Hollywood’s biggest names. With ample airtime to display his interviewing talents, and a less rigorous recording schedule, this podcast’s weekly format seems a natural fit for Ferguson’s persona to flourish, while allowing him to hold conversations that fall outside of a studio’s promotional schedule.

And he’s in good company. Fellow former talk show hosts Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, and Chelsea Handler have already taken their talents to podcasting, hosting successful shows on Apple, Stitcher, and iHeartPodcasts, respectively.

As for TV programming stuck in production limbo? Advertisers would do well to reallocate resources to other channels drawing consistent audiences. While consumers may tire of late night reruns, a genre which suffers from lack of topicality, there’s always something new and current for them to consume online.

So, who is still producing content amid the Writers’ Strike and SAG-AFTRA Strike?

The answer is simple: just look online.

YouTube, which is not a part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, also does not rely on the content creation of WGA writers or members of SAG-AFTRA. As such, it remains largely unscathed by the strike. In fact, YouTube’s Q2 earnings showed overall revenue rising 4% year over year—a notable reversal in a trend that saw declines in the previous three quarters. With the recent integration of unskippable 30-second ads into YouTube’s TV app, and nearly 45% of YouTube viewing accessed via TV screens, the channel once synonymous with laptop screens is already evoking the traditional television user experience for audiences.

And advertisers are acting like it. Recent reports reveal that, per senior ad-buying execs, advertising commitments to traditional TV networks have declined in spend by 15%. On the other hand, their plans for fall? An expected increase of at least 10% to 20% of ad dollars committed to YouTube spend.

Podcasting, too, has experienced minimal slowdowns during the SAG-AFTRA strike, and in fact, may be benefiting from the scarcity of actors’ presence on film and TV. Although union members are not allowed to promote struck projects on podcasts, they could still make guest appearances outside of that. And unless they are scripted fiction podcasts operating under a WGA contract, they are also unaffected by the WGA strike.

Elsewhere on online content platforms, some influencers do work under the SAG-AFTRA Influencer Agreement—but the rest do not, and are not bound by any strike rules. This means they can continue to produce fresh content as per usual, delivering advertiser impressions uninterrupted.

In fact, with film and TV studios unable to use SAG-AFTRA members to promote their projects, the reach of influencers is likely to factor into studios’ updated promotional strategies, leading to increased content output and audience engagement.

The upshot of the film and television industry facing an uncertain foreseeable future? Entertainers are resilient, and when the show must go on, sometimes all you need to do is change the channel.

Edited by Rubi Mora

Additional Reading

Everything You Need to Know About Podcast Advertising

The Ultimate Guide to Audio Advertising for eCommerce Brands

 

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If You Take a Browser's Cookies...

Summary:

  • Google is in the process of turning off cookies for Chrome users, a lion’s share of the browsing market.
  • This could affect the number of conversions advertisers can report on, necessitating change to their measurement and attribution models.
  • Veritone One is ahead of the game here, using tracking methodologies that are unaffected by this change and continually updating our approach to deliver accuracy and campaign optimization.

A World Without Cookies?

First things first: internet cookies may be much-maligned (no one really likes navigating those permission banners when they visit a new site, do they?) but they can be very useful for a consumer.

For example, cookies save the items in your shopping cart when you leave a website—as well as your login info when you come back to it. But they’re also a useful tool for advertisers, allowing them to target and re-target users based on their web history and interests. As such, they’ve served as an integral part of the ecommerce experience.

Until now.

As we entered 2024, Google phased out cookies for 1% of Google Chrome users, which amounts to approximately 30M users. This will limit cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default.

By this time next year, Google plans to officially phase out cookies for 100% of Chrome users. And that’s significant: Google currently holds 66% of the browsing market share.

Now, you might ask yourself, why would Google do that?

Google is shifting to a proprietary algorithm, one that better tracks users and is a lot more secure and private than cookies, which traditionally track users across the web and may leave them vulnerable to privacy breaches.

This is good news for Google and advertisers that advertise on Google. It’s a challenge, however, for those that use other marketing platforms that still rely on cookies and older methods to target users.

That’s because this change in cookie policy will impact audience targeting and how advertisers track and record data and attribution models (such as First-Click and Multi-Touch). While clients should not see a dip in sales, advertisers can expect fewer reported conversions—which may have the unintended effect of making campaigns seem less effective.

As advertisers, we know this isn’t ideal. But there are ways to approach this and stay ahead of the game, and Veritone One is here to help. By acknowledging the changing landscape of digital advertising—and adapting to a few of the strategies below—advertisers can continue to leverage efficient targeting tactics and combat a cookieless future.

Targeting Through First-Party Data

One way to circumvent cookie depreciation? Invest in your first-party data, or CRM.

Collection of users’ first-party data is not affected by Google’s emerging cookie policy. Additionally, first-party data has always been considered inherently more privacy-compliant than third-party data.

First-party data also allows for strong hyper-personalization: brands can tailor their own data based on users’ individual preferences and behavior, and from there build custom audiences to target and retarget.

Plus, brands can collaborate with advertising and measurement partners by sharing that personal data, allowing partners to onboard and build a lookalike or retargeting audience. This can both expand reach and increase customer lifetime value for the brand.

Second- and Third-Party Data

From a vendor perspective, as well, the depreciation of cookies should be no cause for concern, as vendors can continue to provide brands with second- and third-party data to further identify consumers’ demographics and priorities. Second-party data would consist of the vendor’s site-owned information, such as a user’s age, gender, and geographical location, provided by said user when they set up an account on that site. Third-party data, meanwhile, is anonymized data from partners like Experian that vendors can use to match with email addresses or device IDs.

Neither of these sources of information rely on cookies; as such, we don’t anticipate any reduction of fidelity on vendors’ recruitment processes.

Consider Contextual Targeting

While cookie-based targeting uses the historical behavior of individual users, advertisers can easily target ads based on the actual site, audio, or video content that a user is currently consuming, placing relevant ads that align with the content consumed. Your ultimate goal with this approach is to serve an ad that complements a consumer’s current “interest,” regardless of who the user is or their past browsing history.

What about reporting?

From a reporting perspective, the end of third-party tracking cookies can certainly disrupt an advertiser’s strategy—but it’s not the end-all be-all of how advertisers can demonstrate successful campaigns. On the question of pixel tracking, consider the approaches below.

Claritas

Claritas has never been fully dependent on cookies as a measurement solution; as such, they are very well prepared to navigate this change.

Instead, Claritas uses their proprietary Identity Graph, encompassing a comprehensive product suite, to connect with consumers beyond the cookie. This includes a combination of data from the US Census, American Community Survey, and First Part Financial Track Survey, as well as third-party data for financial-related data points. It allows them to identify an audience with data points rooted in who users are and what their household looks like, including their IP address, postal data, segmentation and demographic information, financial and product consumption history, and more.

On top of this, Claritas is rolling out an AI-Driven In-Campaign Targeting Enhancement Beta in the service of driving more conversions. This feature is based on over ten-thousand highly predictive demographic and behavioral indicators, allowing advertisers to hone in on the best-performing audiences week over week. So far, results are promising: in an initial testing phase of over 350 campaigns, advertisers saw an average of over 15% increase in performance with the same volume of impressions.

Podscribe

Podscribe, too, has long transitioned away from the use of third-party cookies. Their web tag instead sets a first-party cookie, which will remain unaffected by Google’s policy.

When possible, Podscribe also requests that brands include first-party data with conversion events, such as hashed emails, which tend to have a better match rate to household IP addresses in the Tapad Device graph and allow Podscribe to match cross-IP conversions with better accuracy. They also rely on mobile ad IDs (IDFA, GAID) for in-app events.

These first-party data points not only improve the accuracy of their tracking methodology—they also future-proof that methodology pretty handily.

Brand Lift Studies

Great news here! Brand study vendors don’t rely on cookies for recruitment, so brand lift studies do not appear to be impacted at all. We don’t anticipate any reduction in the fidelity of brand study recruitment processes arising from the depreciation of cookies.

Brands have a direct integration with partners like Nielsen and Kantar, which allows them to use ad-log data in lieu of cookies and tags. Instead, first-party data comes from logged-in data and device data. For third-party audience data, they leverage device IDs to reach audiences through our data partners.

Since these partners are already set up in a cookieless environment, Google’s cookie ruling does not affect them.

And don’t worry—Veritone One is on it.

The best news? Veritone One is already implementing these solutions to stay ahead!

In a landscape where change is the only certainty, Veritone One again emerges as a beacon of innovation. Our winning combination of awareness and preparedness have left us with no concern that the depreciation of cookies should impact our business. By proactively adapting our strategies to meet the technological landscape of today and beyond, we can continue to outpace the dynamic shifts in the advertising world and scale positively for our clients.

Edited by Rubi Mora

Veritone One Teamed Up 1-800-Flowers and DraftKings to Tackle The Big Game and Valentine’s Day

Summary:

  • Big Game ad spots can be cost-prohibitive for most brands, driving brands to get creative.
  • Veritone One brought two of our legacy clients together for a strategic brand play that capitalizes on the Big Game and Valentine’s Day—without the Big Game price tag.

The Huddle

For those of us in the industry, the Big Game means one thing above all else: prime advertising real estate. And that doesn’t come cheap: a 30-second spot during the 2023 telecast cost advertisers an average of $7M.

To be a part of the conversation this week while maximizing ROI, a brand has to get creative with their strategy. Or, they can partner with an agency like ours.

“With Valentine’s Day taking place just three days after the Big Game, it was crucial for us to find creative ways to capture the attention of consumers across the country, which is why we approached Veritone One,” said Abhay Patel, Brand President of 1-800-Flowers.com.

So Veritone One put together a game plan to play matchmaker for two of our biggest brands, teaming up 1-800-Flowers.com and DraftKings to tackle both the Big Game and Valentine’s Day messaging with ultimate efficiency. The result? Our innovative “Don’t Forget the Flowers” campaign.

The Big Matchup

The “Don’t Forget the Flowers” campaign is the first of its kind, stemming from previous conversations to develop potential cross-promotions between the two advertising giants. Both the Big Game and Valentine’s Day are huge marketing opportunities in general, but for these two brands and their demographics, they are especially resonant.

“With so much hype around the Big Game, it’s a challenge to cut through the noise,” said Jason Danahy, Head of Revenue, DraftKings Media & Sponsorship of DraftKings. “When Veritone One approached us with the idea to collaborate with 1-800-Flowers, we were immediately intrigued. This unique collaboration allowed us to attract new customers to DraftKings by thinking beyond traditional advertising and forging a partnership that no one saw coming with a brand that shares our audiences, especially this time of year.”

Between the campaign’s launch on January 22 and May 12, for every “Don’t Forget the Flowers” eligible bouquet purchased, customers received a $10-$50 DraftKings gift card to be used for online and fantasy sports gaming. For sports fans hoping to celebrate their loved ones this holiday, it’s a win-win.

Everyone Wins

“This campaign allowed Veritone One to do what we do best: develop a winning advertising strategy based on creativity, extensive audio and video advertising experience, and intuitive matchmaking skills,” said Richard Varalla, our VP of Account Management. “The Big Game set the stage for 1-800-Flowers to drive visibility and sales in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, creating a dynamic opportunity for our team to develop a creative and comprehensive strategy apart from purchasing a big ad spot.”

Patel agrees. “By matching us up with DraftKings and helping conceptualize the promotional offer to develop a first-of-its-kind campaign, Veritone One was able to help us get in front of football fans outside of the traditional thirty-second ad.”

With conversions as their end game, both brands are poised for victory. Veritone One couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this winning team.

A Black podcaster speaks into his microphone.
Diversity in Practice: Amplifying Black Voices in the Podcast Space

See how Veritone One is implementing DEI values into our media plans.

Summary:

  • Despite growing listenership and demand for Black-hosted podcasts, only 14% of podcasters identify as Black.
  • Veritone One has led a thought leadership initiative to combat the lack of diversity in podcasting, including an 15-20% increase of ad spend on minority-owned podcasts.
  • By retooling internal processes to produce quantitative data that informs more diverse media buys, we are helping clients and networks value underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.

An Industry-Wide Problem

Let’s set the scene: it’s Podcast Movement 2022 in Dallas, Texas, and the Veritone One team is excited, as always, to connect with and learn from our peers in the industry. Among the usual encouraging insights, however, was one disconcerting takeaway: the lack of diversity in podcast advertising and namely, the lack of Black podcasts in the space. According to that year’s The Creators, a study by Edison Research in collaboration with Sounds Profitable, just 14% of podcasters identify as Black and/or African American.

While we appreciated the industry-wide visibility Podcast Movement brought to this issue, we knew that bringing attention to it was just the first step. So, in response, our SVP of Growth Bart Roselli, Account Strategist Kedric Walls, and Senior Podcast Buyer Morganne “Mo” Cameron led the thought leadership initiative for our agency to support underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.

Speaking to Black Listeners

2023’s edition of Infinite Dial, a long-running annual study by Edison Research, reports that 45% of Black Americans ages 12 and up listen to podcasts each month, while 28% are weekly listeners. The study broke down the top ten podcasts Black Americans listen to as a whole and found that over half feature Black hosts, illustrating the demand for Black voices in the space. The Breakfast Club, Drink Champs, and The Joe Budden Podcast are among the shows topping the list for Black podcast listeners.

People want to hear Black perspectives, to learn from them and in some cases, see their experiences reflected. Another report from Edison Research, in collaboration with SXM Media and Mindshare, the Black Podcast Listener Report, revealed that 75% of Black monthly podcast listeners frequently or occasionally follow or seek out podcast content that focuses on Black narratives and features Black voices, with 63% considering it “crucial” for podcasts to do so.

Furthermore, of special interest to our clients is the fact that Black weekly podcast listeners are more likely to engage with podcast advertisers than the overall U.S. weekly podcast listener. After hearing an ad spot on one of their favorite podcasts, for example, 52% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 44% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) purchased a product or service.

Currently, Veritone One is focused on guiding the creation of new content that speaks to listeners’ wants and needs, with the understanding that an increase in resonant content for listeners will lead to a demand for advertising inventory from our clients. This then becomes a positive feedback loop: if our network partners continue to see a push for these types of placements, media plans, and advertising opportunities, they will continue to push for these shows to be created and supported.

Our Impact So Far

Anyone can “talk the talk” when it comes to wanting to see diverse creators in podcasting, but at Veritone One, we’re fortunate enough to have the infrastructure and leverage in the space to walk the walk. This means, for example, focusing on growing discoverability for DEI-centered content across our media plans and overall buy strategy.

Over the last few years, our teams have forged deeper relationships with key vendor partners that stand behind amplifying a range of voices—Slate/ForeverDog, Studio71, SXM/Midroll, iHeart – Black Effect Network and Outspoken Network, Lemonada Media, Acast LGBTQ+ Voices, and Urban One Podcast Network to name a few—for our client brands.

So far, Veritone One has seen an estimated 15-20%—and growing—increase of ad dollars into minority-voiced podcasts. These ever-evolving long-term partnerships serve as a test-and-learn tool for our clients to understand, connect, and broadcast to wider audiences.

As we look ahead, we intend to expand our advocacy and amplify the influence of diverse voices in a meaningful way to drive results for our clients. In addition to thoughtful media rationale and strong recommendations on our media plans, we are building naming conventions into our tech and internal processes to support our strategy with quantitative data.

This is where Veritone One’s proprietary data comes in; with years of historical spend under our belts, we are uniquely positioned to make a compelling argument for diversity that’s motivated by our values, but proven out by dollars and cents.

Beyond internal processes, we are dedicated to remaining educated on the state of the industry through participation in engagement research and webinars, such as “Understanding Black Audiences & Their Connection to Audio,” powered by SiriusXM Media. Per the Black Podcast Listener Report, 48% of Black monthly podcast listeners have been listening to podcasts less than a year. We know listenership in this demographic is only growing, and on behalf of both our agency and our clients, we strive to meet listeners where they are.

Diversity teaches us to acknowledge. Inclusion teaches us to learn, connect, and build. And at Veritone One, we are just getting started.

Edited by Rubi Mora

Meet the Author

Conor Doyle

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Conor leads Veritone One’s strategic direction, overseeing client success, media investments, and product development. With a focus on comprehensive AI-powered solutions, he empowers teams, drives growth, and maintains strong relationships and reputation in audio/influencer media.

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