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March 2017

Want TV Like Transparency? Buy Digital Like TV

By | Blog

Want TV Like Transparency? Buy Digital Like TV

Over the past few years, advertisers have shifted meaningful spends over to online video, and to YouTube in particular. To some extent, they have little choice in the matter — if you are trying to reach certain audiences, you need to be where they spend their time.

This transition was going fairly smoothly until a few weeks ago when a leading YouTuber, PewDiePie, made anti-Semitic remarks on his 54 million subscriber YouTube channel. This led to a chain of events wherein a number of corporate UK brands pulled their ads from YouTube because those ads were being shown next to terrorist and hate videos. That was soon followed by major US advertisers — AT&T, Verizon, GM, Johnson and Johnson, among others — who said they were pulling their Google display and YouTube buys because Google isn’t doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive content. Now advertisers are increasingly struggling to reconcile a need to be on the world’s largest video platform in front of a difficult to find audience and a need to protect their own brand integrity.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece telling digital creators that if they wanted TV ad dollars, they should behave more like TV. Today, I find myself telling media buyers that if you want total transparency on where your ads run, you need to buy digital more like you buy TV.

YouTube is a self-described video platform, and they are the largest in the world by every measure. They rely on a global set of talented creators to populate their platform with a wide range of programming. Over the past decade, they have created many automated mechanisms through which advertisers can connect with that programming. With the smartest engineers in the world solving the problem, those will only improve over time. They also constructed Google Preferred, which allows advertisers to serve their ads in front of the top 5% of popular YouTube channels. Both of these programs do in fact provide base levels of protection for advertisers, but as we have seen recently, only go so far. Brands are still finding themselves running in front of offensive programming, and PewDiePie was a channel within Google Preferred. With the platform delivering over 5 billion views per day, it really is hard for YouTube itself to make any guarantees.

Having said that, it is actually fairly straightforward for advertisers to run brand safe campaigns on YouTube — simply buy the programming directly from publishers and channels, just like on television. In the traditional world, an advertiser would not necessarily buy “Comcast” at scale and cross their fingers, hoping their ads actually run on Modern Family. Similarly, buying the YouTube platform blindly is not the most effective way to associate with the exact programming you desire.

Most premium content providers — like BuzzFeed, NBCU, Viacom, Vevo, and my company Defy Media — all have sales forces tasked with selling everything from standard media to custom integrations. We all control our owned and operated inventory on YouTube and can be completely transparent about where ads run. We can specify channels, programs, and even specific videos, and as a result can offer protections that even YouTube can’t within its own platform on our content.

Most importantly, we all offer professionally produced programming that every day attracts millions of viewers in target demographics.

These are the audiences that advertisers can’t access as easily on television because they are spending increasing amounts of time on digital outlets.

Many of the headlines paint a picture that the YouTube fallout is a potential boon for television in the current upfront season. My word of caution to anyone who is considering that is that you should explore the alternatives before returning to that safe harbor. You’re going to overspend to try and hit an audience that is watching less and less television. I’ve spent the better part of the last year talking to marketers about three core challenges – How to reach young people, how to do it through video, and how to do it on the platforms where they live their lives. Moving dollars to television won’t get you any closer to understanding those same three challenges.

There is inappropriate programming on all media platforms. Over the course of the last century, agencies and advertisers have learned how to work with them in order to achieve their marketing objectives, without worrying about brand safety. Hopefully, this is the moment they can truly lean into doing so on YouTube as well.


-Keith Richman, President of Defy Media



Gen Z Comprised of Tolerant Techies

By | Acumen Insights

Research by Nickelodeon as reported by Kidscreen examined the technology habits and behaviors of the Gen Z demographic.  The research revealed that this generation is not an introverted group. Rather, they are very social but through digital means. Respondents reported that on average, they have not met 60 percent of their Facebook friends in real life. They are also highly likely to consider digital friends, whom they have never met, as being part of their social circle.

Friendliness and openness appear to be a strong characteristic of Gen Z. Approximately 93 percent of respondents reported having a friend from a different group. Eighty-one percent reported having a friend of a different religious affiliation. Because of this, this generation is more tolerant and it values social causes.

Gen Z individuals are also very tech-savvy. Approximately 40 percent of them reported owning a tablet and 17 percent reported having a smartphone. With the older Gen Z respondents, there is a general shift from content consumption to content creation. Respondents have embraced a “maker” mentality such that they create things if such items do not already exist.

Finally, Gen Z individuals tend to be closer to their parents. Many of them reported that their parents were their best friends and that they were greatly influenced by their parents. When asked to choose their role models, the respondents said: mom (78 percent), dad (58 percent), grandparents (26 percent), YouTube stars (19 percent), and teachers (18 percent).

Coffee Consumption amongst Millennials

By | Acumen Insights

Research conducted by the National Coffee Association examined generational trends in coffee consumption. Over the past eight years, gourmet coffee beverage consumption has soared from 13 percent to 36 percent among 18-24 year olds, and from 19 percent to 41 percent for those 24-39.  For espresso-based beverages, consumption increased from 9 percent to 22 percent for 18-24 year olds, and from 8 percent to 29 percent for respondents 25-39.

The results revealed the newer generation of coffee lovers is not content with the coffee that their predecessors enjoyed. The market share of “gourmet coffee beverages” is primarily younger Millennials (18-24). This category is known as “specialty coffee” and includes: gourmet traditional coffee, espresso-based beverages, and iced or frozen drinks. Older Millennials (25-39) are more likely to drink: espresso-based beverages, cappuccino, mocha, espresso, gourmet coffee, caffe Americano, flat white, cold brew and nitrogen-infused coffee.

Millennials are continuing to change coffee consumption patterns and behaviors. Millennials view “value” differently—not as price her ounce, but as a brand’s philosophy, authenticity, and commitment. Millennials will purchase coffee from companies that reflect their own values. Because of their high levels of individuality, Millennials also prefer getting more customized coffee beverages. Millennials have also turned coffee-drinking into a more public activity and are drinking coffee more out-of-home than previous generations who drank coffee primarily at home. Finally, Millennials tend to be more sophisticated in their coffee choices. As a result, they are more likely than older generations to experiment with new beverages and preparation methods.

Generational Views on Organic & Genetically Modified Food

By | Acumen Insights

Research by Pew Research examined generational differences in attitudes relating to organic produce and genetically modified (GM) food. The results revealed that younger adults are more likely than older ones to believe that organic foods are better for their health. Approximately six in ten adults younger than 30 (61 percent) felt that organic food is better health-wise and 57 percent of those 30 to 49 agreed. However, when considering seniors (age 65 and older), just under half (45 percent) believed that organic produce is healthier than traditional.

Younger adults are also more likely to believe that GM foods are worse for health than non-genetically modified alternatives. When looking at the 18-29 age group, 48 percent of respondents felt that foods with GM ingredients are worse than foods without GM ingredients in terms of health. However, when considering adults 65 or older, only three in ten respondents (29 percent) felt this way.

Younger respondents also expected that GM foods will lead to harm for the population as well as problems for the environment. Twenty-one percent of younger individuals (18-29) believed that GM food would lead to problems for the population, while only 8 percent of those 65 and older felt this way. Similarly, 25 percent of individuals 18-29 believed GM foods will create problems for the environment. Only 9 percent of seniors (65+) believe this to be the case.

Lastly, there are generational differences in eating habits. Younger adults were more likely to follow a vegan diet—both those 18-29 (12 percent) and those 30-49 (12 percent). Only 5 percent of adults aged 50 and older reported being vegan or vegetarian.

What Separates Gen Z from Other Generations?

By | Acumen Insights

Research by Barkley examined the behaviors, attitudes, and motivations of a portion of Gen Z (those aged 15-19) compared to other generations. The results revealed key insights that separate Gen Z:

They want to work for their success, not be discovered. Independence and personal success are very important to this generation. Over half of Gen Z respondents reported that personal success is the most important thing in their life. This is 10 percent higher than Millennials. They were the most likely generation (69 percent) to believe that becoming successful has little or nothing to do with luck. This generation was also the one that placed most emphasis on winning individual awards (over 40 percent). Achievement is so important in their lives that Gen Z respondents ranked grades in school (over 80 percent) as more important than hanging out with friends (over 60 percent) and social media (over 40 percent).

They believe that equality is non-negotiable. Gen Z respondents are similar to Millennials in that they place high value on equality as an important social issue. The following types of equality were ranked as important social issues by Gen Z respondents: racial equality (72 percent), gender equality (64 percent), and sexual orientation equality (48 percent). Their views on equality carry over into their views on advertising. Approximately 60 percent reported that they like to see ads that show diverse types of families. Over 70 percent reported liking ads that show real people and not just gendered stereotypes.

They want brands to be real so they can be unique. Gen Z respondents pride themselves in being unique. When asked how they would like others to view them, a third reported they wanted to be considered unique.  Because of this, approximately half of the respondents said they would pay extra for a product that is consistent with the image they want to convey. Gen Z respondents also want more reality in advertising than the oldest generations. Over 70 reported liking ads that show real people in real situations. Similarly, over 70 percent reported not liking ads that make life look perfect.

They have their own system of rules and etiquette for how they use social media. For Gen Z respondents, each social media platform serves a different purpose. Facebook is still primarily used amongst Millennials (87 percent) but 77 percent of Gen Z respondents still use Facebook regularly. Rather than posting and engaging, however, they are more likely to scroll though content for informational purposes only. Approximately 45 percent of Gen Z respondents use Twitter compared to 34 percent of Millennials. For Gen Z users, Twitter is used to get information right now. Gen Z leads in Instagram usage with 63 percent using the platform while only 47 percent of Millennials do so. Instagram is used by Gen Z to create aspirational versions of themselves through creativity and editing. Gen Z respondents also lead in Snapchat usage with 61 percent using the platform while only 34 percent of Millennials use it. Gen Z respondents use this app for picture storytelling—to tell their friends exactly what they are doing in the moment.

Millennials and Hispanics Heaviest Mobile Data Users

By | Acumen Insights

Nielsen conducted a survey of 45,000 U.S.-based adult (18+) Android users to examine their data usage habits. The results revealed that Millennials have the heaviest data usage across all generations. More specifically, younger Millennials (18-24) drive much of the data usage. On average, younger Millennials (18-24) use 14,115 MBs of Wi-Fi data and 3,212 MB of cellular data per month. Older Millennials (25-34) use 11,176 MBs of Wi-Fi data and 3,588 MB of cellular data a month. Overall, the results revealed that the older the generation, the less data (Wi-Fi and cellular) they use.

Of the racial/ethnic groups, Hispanics are the heaviest data users of both Wi-Fi and cellular. Hispanics use 10,098 MBs of Wi-Fi data per month. However, a third of their usage comes from cellular data alone (3,805 MB). They are a top consumer in the mobile market and they have the highest level of satisfaction with their mobile providers compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

When looking at Wi-Fi usage alone, Asians/Pacific Islanders are second to Hispanics, followed by Blacks/African-Americans, then Whites. With regard to cellular data usage, Native Americans/Alaskan Natives are second to Hispanics, followed by Blacks/African-Americans, then Asians/Pacific Islanders. Although Native Americans/Alaskan Natives use the least Wi-Fi, they are heavy cellular data users. Approximately one third of their usage comes from cellular data.

Gen Z Values Technology in the Classroom

By | Acumen Insights

Quizlet conducted a survey of 20,000 students and teachers to learn about their views on technology in the classroom. The results revealed that there was a significant difference in how students and teachers view technology. Teachers (80 percent) were more likely to report that technology makes learning more fun compared to students (51 percent). Millennial teachers were the most likely to report this; 88 percent said technology makes learning fun. Meanwhile, 82% of Gen X teachers and 79 percent of Boomer teachers said the same. When it comes to students, Gen Z students were the most likely to report that technology makes learning fun—with 57 percent of them reporting this. Approximately 47 percent of millennial students reported the same.

With regard to teaching, 38 percent of teachers said that technology helps them teach. Younger generation teachers are more likely to report that technology helps them teach—with 47 percent of millennial teachers reporting this. Approximately, 38 percent of Gen X and 36 percent of Boomer teachers said the same.

In terms of learning, 66 percent of students said that technology helps them learn. Gen Z students were more likely to report that technology helps them learn—with 70 percent of them reporting this. About 64 percent of millennial students reported the same.

Overall, Gen Z students had more positive views about technology in the classroom compared to Millennials. They were 28 percent more likely to report that technology is class helps them more quickly than traditional teaching methods. They were 24 percent more likely to say that technology in the classroom makes learning more fun. And they were 12 percent more likely to say that learning apps help them more quickly that traditional teaching methods.

Millennials and Vacation Shaming

By | Acumen Insights

Vacation shaming refers to feeling guilty or experiencing shame from coworkers when taking a vacation. Research from Enterprise Holdings revealed that Millennials, compared to other generations, are most likely to experience vacation shame. Of the employed Millennials in the survey, 59 percent reported feeling shame for taking or planning a vacation compared to 41 percent of individuals 35 or older. Not only are Millennials the most likely to be vacation-shamed, but they are also the most likely to shame others. Approximately 42 percent of Millennials reported that they shamed their coworkers whereas only 22 percent of those 35 or older said they did so.

The consequences of vacation shaming could likely lead to individuals not using their well-deserved vacation. Approximately 56 percent of respondents surveyed reported receiving paid vacation as a benefit from their employer. However, 41 percent said they still do not use all of their vacation days. Of those who reported having unused vacation days, 40 percent said they had five or more vacation days left.

Respondents provided two main reasons for not using their vacation days. Some respondents said they had a desire to roll over their vacation days for a longer vacation in the following year. Other respondents reported that they were too busy to take time off from work.

There is a gender disparity in the use of vacation days. Women are more likely to use all of their paid vacation days. Sixty-three percent of women reported using all of their vacation days. Only 52 percent of men reported doing so.

Tweaking Retail Strategy for Millennials

By | Acumen Insights

Millennials (or Gen Y) are often stereotyped as being a completely new type of consumer. However, research by Mizuho on 1500 Millennials found that they behave similarly to other demographics. What separates Millennials are their unique preferences. Results from the research revealed:

Millennials are not that different. Millennials will soon become the largest group of consumers in the United States. Despite media claims that suggest the 2008 recession heavily impacted millennial shopping behavior, Millennials’ behavior is closely aligned with other demographic groups. For example, Millennials are similar to other generations in that they still delay home purchases but still save for them, still purchase cars despite rideshare popularity, and defer marriage and children in the same manner as the general population.

Millennials still shop in physical stores. Despite doing many things digitally, 54 percent of Millennials continue to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. Millennials place high value on “experiences”. Being in a mall or store allows them to have an “experience” and allows them to touch and feel products. When it comes to purchasing decisions, Millennials value price, quality, availability, and shorter delivery times.

Millennials still stop at specialty retailers. The preferred specialty brands of Millennials include: Nike, Adidas, Old Navy, Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, and Under Armour. Over 43 percent of Millennials preferred luxury specialty brands that are easily accessible.

Millennials prioritize brands that focus on healthy lifestyles and exercise. Approximately 70 percent of Millennials indicated that health/fitness is “important” or “very important” to them. Further, 80+ percent reported working out weekly. In the upcoming year, 70 percent plan to spend more on athletic apparel and footwear. Their preferred brands include: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and Puma.