Friday Roundup: Week Ending December 2, 2016

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By Natalie Munio

Netflix makes holiday travel less painful, CNN taps Casey Neistat for his millennial following, Amazon enters the header bidding race, OK Go has another amazing video (and a good cause to go with it), and the Salvation Army wants you to give those holiday cards you see on Facebook a second look.

Here’s this week’s top stories in advertising and marketing.

It’s that time of year again – hours spent uncomfortably seated on airplanes journeying across the country to visit family for the holidays, or crammed in the back seat of a crowded car with friends on your annual holiday road trip. Luckily, the days of tired conversation and carsickness from reading your book in the backseat of a car are long gone thanks to a recent announcement from Netflix this week. The streaming service has just announced it will bring offline downloads to phones and tablets available for both Android and iOS. Viewers can now choose from select shows to download and watch later without internet. As reported by Business Insider, most available shows for offline streaming are Netflix originals, including Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the new Netflix series, The Crown, but more are expected to join the new service once altering their standing agreements with Netflix. The app now features an additional section on the homepage that lists which shows are available for download. 

For anyone not yet familiar with Casey Neistat and his daily journal-style vlog on YouTube, well, you’re about to be. Neistat has accumulated a following of more than five million over the last couple of years through his social media accounts, many of which are young, hard-to-reach millennial viewers – and CNN took notice. On Monday, CNN announced it had bought “Beme,” a social-sharing app developed by Neistat for an undisclosed amount, though its speculated to be upwards of $25 million. It’s been reported that all of Beme’s employees, along with Neistat, will now join CNN to begin working on a new startup that will tackle news-based coverage largely through a mobile video format. In a statement, CNN said the new company will “be devoted to filling the world with excellent, timely and topical video and empowering content creators to use technology to find their voice.” CNN undoubtedly hopes Neistat’s younger audience appeal will help to package news in a way that sparks interest in younger audiences.

Amazon has entered the world of header bidding and brought a cloud-based solution aimed directly at publishers along with it. Header bidding, otherwise known as pre-bidding, is a popular programmatic technique that allows publishers to offer their inventory to multiple sources at once, meaning more brands can bid for the ads at the same time. In other words, the idea is that by allowing multiple sources to bid on the same item of inventory at once, publishers can make more money. Advertisers are also keen on the new medium because it “levels the playing field” for distribution. AdAge recently reported Amazon plans to announce the new cloud-based header bidding solution in the next week, and that the format will now rival Google and Facebook’s efforts with competition in the new sector. Watch out.

The indie rock-band, OKGO, has been known for their visually enchanting music videos over the last decade, with the likes of “Upside Down & Inside Out” filmed in zero gravity (check them out if you haven’t already). But this week, the band debuted its latest video, and it’s one that stands out from the rest for a couple reasons. First and most notably are the visual aspects, such as that a shot spanning only 4.2 seconds was somehow stretched into a full blown 3 minute 42 second music video. But more importantly than the visuals, the video was made from a unique partnership with a very unlikely brand. While brand collaborations are nothing new, certainly choosing to work with a salt brand is. Morton Salt, known for its blue packaging and yellow “umbrella girl” on its label, was tapped for the project after the brand decided it was time to “make Morton mean more than just salt,” according to a spokesperson. To get the message out, Morton created the “Walk Her Walk” platform, described as “a promise to make a positive impact in the world.” Cut to, Morton sought out OK Go to assist in creating a video around the concept, and the result is 4.2 seconds of magic. In a statement, OK Go singer Damian Kulash explained, “We want to show that a single moment can contain so much wonder, so much beauty, so much change. We hope it helps to inspire people to use their moments wisely.” Check it out here.

While throughout the holiday season, many are used to seeing smiling faces of parents and kids wishing their families and friends a Merry Christmas on holiday cards or in Facebook posts, very few are used to getting a closer look at the reality that exists behind what those few inches of canvas space and happy faces disguise. In a new campaign, the Salvation Army in Canada teamed up with Grey Canada to use Facebook 360 photos to offer a more realistic look at families living in poverty during the holiday season. By way of a series of interactive Facebook 360 photos, users were able to click on a seemingly ordinary holiday photo of a family, soon realizing they were interactive and told a drastically different story. When users began to pan around the 360 image, the realities of poverty were exposed – dirty living conditions, broken appliances, small spaces. “Poverty isn’t always easy to see. Especially during the Holidays,” the images read. What’s more, each of the homes featured in the ads were real impoverished homes belonging to families living in poverty. The campaign demonstrates just how deceiving appearances can often be, with the hope to drive donations to the cause online, particularly around the holiday season.