Keeping Google My Business Listings Safe From Hijackers

The issue of hijacked Google My Business (GMB) listings — when a person other than a business owner or representative gains control of the local profile — continues to grow. 

Unethical marketers are phishing through many listings in the hopes of hijacking, ultimately succeeding through using the “claim this business” or “manage this listing” link on a local profile. Clicking on this link generates an email request for control over the listing that is sent to the registered owner of the profile. Business owners that are unaware of what these emails mean could unwittingly surrender control of their business listing and find their location marked as closed, as well as other objectionable changes to their local information.

Google is aware of the growing issue and advises business owners to remain cautious. A Google spokesperson recently told Search Engine Land, “If a merchant ever receives a request to manage or to transfer ownership from an unknown person, they should decline the request.  The rights to own or manage a Business Profile can only be granted if the verified merchant accepts the request or the requester proves their affiliation with the business.”

Why does it matter?

It is obvious to say that any form of false information in Google Maps and Search is not ideal for both companies or consumers. However, these phishing attempts in order to hijack Google My Business listings are significantly bad for small businesses. False online information can lead to a negative impact on sales, especially during COVID when the majority of consumers are obtaining information through a Google search.

How can you be proactive about this issue?

To start, as Google suggests, decline any request to manage or transfer ownership from an unknown person. Beyond that, this growing trend highlights the importance of a strong local SEO management program and agency partnership that can keep on top of listing status and puts your business’ security first.

For more information about True Media’s Google Search and Local Search marketing capabilities, contact us.

Connected TV in Your Media Strategy

As the media industry continues to be unpredictable with the disruption of COVID-19, advertisers are finding it harder to connect with their core audiences. 

Connected TV has continued to see an increase in viewership since the beginning of this year and it’s expected to continue to rise while paid TV households (those with a subscription to traditional paid TV services) continue to decrease. By 2023, according to eMarketer, non-pay-tv households (cord-cutters) will hit 68.2MM users (vs 56.3 in 2021), while pay-tv households dip to 63.4 (vs 73.7 in 2021). Ad spending in this space by 2021 is showing to be $11.36 billion dollars and by 2022, $14.11 billion. 

As the incline in Connected TV users grows, advertisers should start to strategically think about how to utilize this service to its fullest potential to reach their core audiences. Knowing that a majority of the population is going to be consuming content within this format, this type of targeting should undoubtedly be a successful tactic in advertising efforts and future strategies. 

Outside of traditional video, CTV buys and layering core audiences, there are additional opportunities and publishers that you can tap into that allow for expanded advertising. Examples like VideoAmp and Tremor/Alphonso, publishers that have ACR data, allow advertisers to target audiences who have seen a competitor’s TV ads and then target those users in real-time with their own advertising. Another example of expanded advertising opportunities with CTV is utilizing Origin, which is an offering within our programmatic efforts that gives you the ability to send trivia questions about your brand to your core audience as a different approach to capture consumer attention. Publishers, such as Hulu, can build out branded slates that live at the end video ads that allow for an additional call to action type of brand advertising.

When thinking about the next strategy approach for clients, it is important to include innovative ways to not just reach your audience, but also keep their attention. With the high consumption rate for Connected TV expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, utilizing this format could serve as an excellent solution to target your core audience.

At True Media, we will continue to utilize resources and research to help determine the best approach within this tactic to capture consumer attention and ultimately convert them to favor your brand.  For more insights on Connect TV advertising in your media strategy, contact us.

The End of the TV Upfront?

June 2020- No big parties, no celebrity photo ops, no late nights, no trip to New York, less hype about new shows, few(er) clients making commitments to linear TV a year out (with no media plan), no rushed buying with “revised rate cards” going up every week (with audiences going the other way).

Has the antiquated and overhyped TV Upfront, which saw 60-70% of annual TV dollars invested in a 4 week period, finally gasped it’s last breath?

If so, what is the new buying and selling process? How are “traditional” broadcasters evolving and what are the key takeaways from the Non-Upfront.

TV and Video Futures

We evolved the discussion from TV buying to Video buying 10 years ago to better reflect the reality of consumer behavior. While “linear” TV remains the cornerstone of driving reach quickly and coverage for any video buy, each year as linear TV audiences decline, audiences must be repatriated via an increased spend allocation to VOD, ad-supported streaming services that don’t require a cable subscription (eg CTV Throwback, Hayyu, GEM), YouTube, Facebook video and others.

TV is projected to see a 15.6% decline in advertising investment in 2020 (eMarketer).

Most of the spend decline has happened in the months April through July; no sports playoffs, no Olympics, and many categories /clients are cutting, reducing or shifting TV spend to the fall or to digital. However, with sports (NHL, NBA, MLS playoffs, Golf and tennis Majors) returning in August/September and the easing of COVID-19 related brakes on ad spending, the fall YOY investment levels with TV broadcasters will be similar to fall 2019 (-1 to -3%).

In fact, the same eMarketer forecast has TV rebounding 9% in 2021 vs 2020, a net loss of 6% vs 2019.

What Innovation did the Non–TV Upfront Bring?

First, it is important to note that 70% of Canadian households still have a Pay TV subscription (i.e. cable or satellite) and 30% of those services are now delivered via IPTV Next generation Platforms (like Rogers Ignite). Although penetration has been declining 2-3% annually, Pay TV HH’s are still dominant and provide the basis for any video buy (note: Gen –Z target or budget limitations may drive a non-linear TV strategy). Long-form video (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +, Crave) has grown quickly to 20% of Video viewing, however, most aren’t ad-supported, so it has actually increased demand, and costs, for the audiences to Linear TV /AVOD.

Major English Broadcasters Agree on Audience Segments

In a truly Canadian collaboration, Bell, Rogers and Corus have all agreed to sell inventory based on the same 19 Environics audience segments, with the first collaboration anywhere in the world. This will allow media buyers to buy near-live inventory via a self-serve platform (Cynch for Corus and Rogers, SAM for Bell) against a much richer profile that incorporates behavioural data with traditional demographics for a more robust picture of the viewing audience. 

Bell is also offering the ability to buy digital and outdoor against the same in-depth segments, as well as a first in market TV Attribution service which will report TV impact on website visitors.

VOD, in App and Streaming Options

All major broadcasters continue to provide options to buy their programming delivered via an app/online (you must authenticate that you have a Pay TV subscription). There are now more opportunities to reach cord-cutters via services like CTV Throwback, Corus shows on YouTube or STACKTV and connected TV (Samsung).

VOD viewing continues to rise and Bell, Corus, and Rogers have more hours, more shows and more geo coverage allowing them to extend unique reach by up to 17% over a Linear only buy in an on-demand, non-skippable, reduced commercial load environment.

CBC’s Gem offers Canadians various levels of programming. All Canadians can access, without any paid subscription, the same level of programs offered through conventional television. A free authenticated subscription (ad-supported) unlocks on-demand current and past seasons, live streams of CBC TV (including local channels). Further paid premium subscriptions allow for early access to exclusive content. During Covid-19, Gem’s average weekly video views soared by 84% (mostly on the strength of news content).

How Do We Envision a Better “Non-Upfront” Market?

Our True Media approach is more about partnerships and is driven by client needs and client focused buying.

Clients have an increased need for agility which means we will pursue more flexibility in buying commitments, cancellation clauses, shifts in timing and platforms.

Every discussion should start with sharing business KPI’s and then a collaboration on measurement strategies, and on innovation. Agencies should share the creative strategy (and ideally the concepts/execution) to better amplify the message in the right content.

Negotiations happen once a quarter, with a monthly optimization, across Linear and Digital, AVOD and OTT, seamlessly and simultaneously with, soon we hope, one standard measurement.

For more information on how True Media can help you reach your audience and meet your goals, contact us.

As president at True Media Canada, Bruce Neve is setting a new standard for how media is approached and purchased, and his commitment to advertising is changing the way the growth of Canadian-first companies is addressed. He brings with him more than thirty years of experience leading major media agencies; driving strategy, planning and buying across all platforms for both English and French Canada.

True Media Canada COVID-19 Media Impact, Part 4

There has been a considerable shift in consumer behavior over the last four weeks driven by the current realities of work, play, freedom of movement, health and wealth. 

The key question that is on everyone’s mind is once we start to return to “normal”, which habits will persist, what changes were only temporary and will revert to pre-pandemic, and which trends that were already emerging will be accelerated. 

There are few people who doubt that daytime TV and news audiences will return to pre-pandemic levels as we return to work, school and play. As we start to make up for lost time, OOH will see a surge and radio consumption will shift back to in-vehicle listening. However, there are key shifts/increases in consumption we have seen over the last few weeks that we believe will stick, or have an impact on the landscape moving forward. 

While it’s still speculative and early in the curve, we will make some media consumption predictions with focus this week on Millennials. This group is tech-savvy and has the greatest financial power to allow them to engage with a wider range of technology (i.e. smart TV streaming devices, games consoles, smart speakers, smartwatches, tablets). 

Within the current pandemic state, Millennials have substantially increased their consumption of video content to pass time and keep up to date on news. There have been gains across linear TV, online streaming and VOD. While there have been gains in linear TV viewing, we don’t expect this to stick. These audiences are tech adapters and expect to watch what they want, when they want on the devices they choose.

While new programming may have been discovered through linear TV, we anticipate they will track down any shows of interest and revert back to their primary consumption sources: VOD and online streaming. We anticipate continued accelerated growth in consumption for the two. This has created a bigger, and now national, opportunity for advertisers. 

The video landscape continues to change with emerging platforms such as Quibi, which recently launched on April 6th. It is a mobile app platform with episodes of 10 minutes or less featuring big celebrities and content creators. It was built for the millennial audience who are already comfortable with short-form “quick bites” storytelling and streaming from their mobile. With 1.7MM downloads so far in North America, we expect this platform to see continued growth and contribute to increased consuption of video among the millennial audience – especially if they are planning to stock up on original programming and allow option to watch on TV screens (less limiting when watching for longer periods of time). We anticipate Quibi to make waves in Canada with Canadian-specific content and representation from Bell Media.

Video conferencing is now the new normal. Houseparty significantly outpaced the others in the first week of March with its growth in global downloads. This app launched in 2016, but didn’t gain mass popularity across North America until the pandemic. It has been a key platform, especially for Millennials, to socialize with friends while staying at home. This app may have solved a basic human need for the interim, but we expect a drop off in usage as it is replaced by in-person socialization. 

Besides Online Video, another impact of social distancing is finding new ways to communicate and engage with friends and family. This has had a large impact on consumption and usage of social media, with increases across the board. For instance, 41% of TikTok’s user base was GenZ across 2019 (GlobalWebIndex), but there has been a surge in downloads (+18% in downloads March 16th to 22nd) and uptake in usage with the millennial audience. Though we expect TikTok to stay as part of their “social tool belt,” time spent and login frequency will likely decrease post pandemic. Nonetheless, it definitely remains one to watch moving forward.

Another key space benefitting from Millennials is eComm. This group leads the pack across all categories, especially for essentials. Food/grocery products, household essentials and personal care products are at the top of that list. We predict that eComm will be preferred over brick-and-mortar even post-pandemic due to safety and convenience, and that purchases will more likely be thoroughly researched and planned out in advance. Discretionary purchasing will be deprioritized. 

Final Thoughts

While it is hard to deny that things have changed dramatically, we believe that many behaviours will fairly quickly revert back to pre-pandemic times. Brand discovery and new habits may happen, but how “sticky” they are post-pandemic will be based on that relationship during this crisis. There are opportunities to pivot and capitalize on enduring and accelerated changes in consumer behavior, media consumption and pricing. 

Video is becoming an increasingly popular and important channel within the media mix, which are supported with the strong gains in the past month. With our anticipation of this holding strong, explore how you can use video from both an organic and paid perspective. Investigate those platforms that are seeing acceleration across adaptation and determine if they are something worth investing in, and potentially being first to market.

Video Trends and COVID-19

Over the past few weeks as workers across the United States have settled into new routines, social distancing and working from their kitchens, dens, basements, and even bathrooms, we have seen a dramatic shift in media consumption and habits.

  • Americans are searching for news and coronavirus information, homeschooling tips, and ‘drive-by baby shower ideas.’
  • Publisher paywalls are coming down in order to provide greater access to COVID information.
  • Out of home viewing has declined significantly as commuting and shopping ground to a halt.
  • Online shopping for grocery items and household essentials is overwhelming websites and causing delays.
  • Americans at home are spending significantly more time with their TVs and connected devices — from local news to Netflix binging.

Interestingly, linear TV viewing is slightly down in the early morning hours, as workers may be sleeping a little later since they don’t have to commute. But by 8am, TV sets are on and stay on throughout the day. Local News is an important source of information for Americans, and connected TVs are a fast growing source of entertainment for viewers of all ages.

While we all wait for the COVID-curve to flatten, we are starting to see a flattening of the curve when it comes to video viewing. Americans have adjusted to work-from-home settings and have settled into new routines. The week that ended on March 29 shows that the rapid growth in total television viewing over the past 5 weeks has slowed. Only a week before,  week-over-week increased in double digits — ranging from +12% to +42% across different demos. The following week flattened out across the board for most components of TV usage.

The current, higher levels of television usage is expected hold throughout the mandatory shelter-at-home period, and we anticipate that some of these trends may have an effect beyond the pandemic. Streaming services were in a growth mode before, and will likely benefit more in the future. There are still a lot of original programs left to binge on Netflix. YouTube continues to grow. And new services are challenging the established brands. For example, Quibi launched with a 90-day free trial, adding yet another option to the menu.

When the recovery begins, certain COVID-influenced behaviors will likely remain. People may be wary of returning to the office, large crowds, subways, sporting events, and concerts. There will be a continued need for information. According to recent research from GlobalWebindex, many people say they will continue to consume video much like they are today.

Marketers, particularly those that have halted or cut ad spending during this crisis, will need to look at the new consumption patterns and engage with their consumers accordingly.

As SVP Activation Strategy, Vaughn provides strategic direction to our agency, playing a crucial role in planning for the future growth of the agency, including molding and training activation teams.  He understands the correlation between brand, content, and channel to drive incremental, measurable results. His background in media strategy from start to finish allows him to lead his team in focusing on the acquisition of the most efficient, relevant, engaging and effective media touchpoints for client media plans, while always looking for innovative solutions along the way.

True Media Canada COVID-19 Media Impact, Part 2

Each week new insights and data emerge, providing a snapshot of evolving consumer behaviour as it continues to respond to the increased restrictions on physical movement and the reality that it will be many weeks before returning to “normal.”

We thank our many media and research partners who continue to report on trends each week. Below are key highlights of the actionable data and insights that have been observed thus far:

Television & video viewing continues to increase and shift by daypart, by content and by platform.

According to a survey commissioned by Rogers on Canadian media behaviours, 73% of Canadians are turning to their TV because they need an escape from all the negative news in the media, seeking comedy above all else (net +37) followed by Documentaries, Drama, Action/Thriller and Children’s Programming.

This trend also extends into connected TV. Samsung Canada released several key insights regarding the changing habits amongst its Canadian user base:

  • Streaming viewing is up 85%
  • Ad supported video on demand viewing up 91%, subscription video on demand viewing up 82%
  • Time spent with connected gaming consoles is up 118%

There is very little expectation among consumers that brands should stop advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent global Kantar study reveals that a clear majority of consumers expect to see advertising during this time. However, tone and content must be carefully considered. The study indicates the “don’ts” of messaging during this time, which include using a humourous tone and exploiting the situation to promote the brand.

Radio/Audio continue to be heavily consumed, but the place of listening, device, and formats are changing. It also offers local feel and “companionship” via known on-air personalities.

A new study from Nielsen reveals that 83% of Americans are spending more time with radio as a result of COVID-19, and 51% agreed that listening to radio helps them feel “less stressed” during this time.

How has Digital purchasing behaviour changed?

True Media Canada will continue to share research and actionable insights to help all of our clients successfully navigate the rapidly changing and difficult environment.

Endless Opportunities with Programmatic Video

Video is here to stay, but the way in which audiences are consuming video advertisements will be ever-evolving. This past year, digital video on desktops and mobile apps began to hit a plateau when it came to viewer growth, engagement, and ad spend, while CTV and OTT gained a stronger foothold in the industry.

Although the platforms in which users are consuming video are changing, the key is to look at video holistically, and not just by device type. When planning a video campaign, all platforms need to be taken into consideration, including programmatic video, OTT, CTV, cable, broadcast, and social video. The best and most strategic campaigns will take all these avenues into consideration to plan a cohesive campaign. The beauty of viewing video as an overall video strategy across these mediums allows you to shift dollars in accordance with shifting user behavior and doesn’t lock budgets into unnecessary silos.

The positive thing about what seems to be a limitless increase in platforms is the increase in which to reach our target audience. Increasing reach is typically always positive — Especially for clients who are more familiar with traditional television buying, this is a great opportunity for them to somewhat remain in that comfort zone, just on a new “channel.”

The process in which to purchase inventory has taken steps to become more efficient and fair. Header bidding is specifically a win for publishers, as it allows them to better monetize their ad inventory. It can also be a win for advertisers, as it is a more equal playing field and an advertiser in a “lower tier” will have the same opportunity at the inventory as an advertiser in a “higher tier” of the waterfall.

Even though the inventory for OTT and CTV continues to grow, there are still a few areas of concern. For one, omnichannel identity and cross-platform measurement standardization are key areas of concern. Video must be thought of as a holistic channel, but these two challenges make the comprehensive measurement of video efforts more challenging. The key is to do the best with what we currently have, while also pushing as an industry for solutions in both of these areas.

Are We Ready for a Seismic Shift in Local TV?

For the most part, Local TV advertising continues to be transacted on CPPs and GRPs — a holdout from the early days of Nielsen’s demo-based ratings measurement and buying currency. While ratings and GRPs do, in fact, provide a measurement that equalizes the planned and reported exposure across markets with differing populations and universes, local TV is starting to incorporate the same type of currency National TV and many digital channels have been transacting on for year — impression-based currency. 

This impressions-based approach, coupled with data-centric targeting, is smarter in today’s media environment and landscape. Looking at impressions in Local TV allows advertisers to include more relevant programs with smaller audiences, akin to relevant long-tail websites and hyper-targeted content. It allows marketers to incorporate streaming, digital and mobile viewing with traditional linear broadcast tune-in. 

While strategic planning and buying across all screens – using data to identify viewing audiences – is the right thing to do, the industry is struggling to wrap it up into a tidy package. At the recent Digiday Video Summit, attendees agreed that there are several hurdles to overcome. Measurement, accessible inventory, available data and privacy regulations are common obstacles that get in the way of progress.

But that shouldn’t stop the industry from pushing forward, challenging the norm and finding solutions. 

At True Media, we are creating a shift in our mindset and adjusting our structure to align our processes with today’s viewing behaviors and consumers’ engagement with video content across all screens. Adopting an impressions-based approach in Local TV, and creating cross-channel strategies that incorporate all targeted viewing opportunities are just some of the ways we are innovating to deliver measurable results for our clients.

Reaching Your Audience with Connected TV

Connected TV (CTV) is predicted to have an adspend of $7 billion by the end of 2019, and will only keep growing  — forecasted to reach $14 billion by 2023. YouTube, Hulu, and Roku, currently make up about 70% of the total adspend, the other 20% is made up by streaming video services run by TV networks. Despite these incredible numbers, there is still some caution around the idea of CTV ads because of the challenges that present themselves when gauging impact… So how should you approach CTV advertising? 

The first step in approaching CTV advertising is with the understanding that the process of purchasing doesn’t need to be (and won’t be) the same as linear TV. Media buyers are accustomed to purchasing for specific networks and dayparts, but that is not usually an option with CTV  — and that’s okay. 

“The beauty of media in 2019 is that it is (or should be) audience first. This means that we are less concerned about the exact daypart and program an ad ran in, and more concerned about if we reached the correct target audience,”  True Media Associate Media Director Elizabeth Van Kort explained. “The wonderful thing about CTV is that we aren’t held to the same constraints of “how we’ve always done it” and can instead focus on the most effective and efficient way to ensure our client’s ads are served to their target audience.”

Measurement on CTV ads to date has certainly been one of the main limitations of this emerging channel. eMarketer reports that in a March 2019 poll of 350 US marketers, 27% of respondents said that inadequate campaign measurement was a top obstacle that prevented them from investing more in over-the-top (OTT) video ads. 

CTV can report with the same level of data as TV, but that leaves digital marketers hungry for much more. Currently CPM’s and completion rates are the main indicators for effectiveness, but there have been recent advancements in CTV measurement. Specifically Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data, which allows marketers to have a 1-1 linking between a CTV and online user. This allows for true cross-device attribution, and while the scope of this is still limited, it is growing as the adoption of smart TVs increases. 

“For those who use eligible Smart TVs and have opted in to the ACR data, we have a full view of attribution across TV, mobile, desktop, and tablets. This allows us to see a user’s full journey across these devices and how the channels work together to convert a user. Understanding path to conversion is key to developing an accurate attribution model,”  Van Kort said.

Another issue that comes up regularly with CTV is ad fraud. The demand for CTV inventory is high and the supply can be limited — creating an opportunity for advertisers to be tricked into buying inventory that doesn’t exist. This unfortunate reality means working with the right people is even more important. At True Media we partner with Coegi, who has a 3rd party verified fraud rate under 2% and actively work to combat fraud and deliver the highest quality programmatic inventory day in and day out. 

“CTV is definitely still a viable channel for many of our clients. There are safety measures in place to prevent fraud — we should never shy away from a channel altogether, but rather figure out what we can do to mitigate these issues,” True Media Senior Digital Media Strategist Catherine Westhoff stated.