The Next CTV Land Grab: A Peloton Screen?

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March 30, 2021
The Next CTV Land Grab: A Peloton Screen?
The Future of CMS
Could User Panels Be a Panacea for Digital Identity?
Around the Water Cooler
The Next CTV Land Grab: A Peloton Screen?
Image sourced from Peloton
The virus that shall not be named took down many brands in 2020, but Peloton was not one of them. If anything, the lockdowns boosted sales and helped make the connected exercise device manufacturer a true household name.

But Peloton can’t coast on last year’s sales — the company has to innovate if it wants to keep users (and shareholders) happy. That’s what makes this announcement about a new branded content partnership with Verzuz so interesting. Could Peloton’s long-term business strategy include evolving into a fitness-focused media company that just so happens to own its primary distribution channels?
Why This Matters
Peloton and other connected exercise devices (like The Mirror, Tonal or the Hydrow Rower) are basically new screens in the CTV equation. They’re smaller than the living room TV but bigger than a tablet or phone — and the user is definitely engaged with the content in a unique way.

And though each device (and screen) currently exists within its own, closed ecosystem, the Verzuz deal shows that the device-makers can open up that ecosystem to the partners they choose — and those partners can include advertisers.

This particular partnership will bring Verzuz content — essentially live-streamed “battles'' where two hip-hop and R&B icons play their best hits — to Peloton’s screens for solo workouts and group challenges. But would it be so hard to imagine swapping a Verzuz ride for a special workout “created with” another fitness brand like Lululemon or Athleta? Or a month-long challenge “inspired” by SmartWater/Gatorade/insert performance beverage of your choice?

Branded content may just be the first level of inception though, as Peloton, Mirror and other connected exercise device screens can also serve as distribution channels for CTV ads. As Peloton’s founder John Foley told Wall Street analysts: “The beautiful thing about our model is the scale … where we go from 2,000 people consuming a class to 20,000 people consuming that same class and that same instructor.”

Of course, running ads in a scalable way would require integration with an ad serving platform — but there’s no shortage of startups that could make it happen. It would also require user buy-in because Peloton bikes aren’t cheap — and someone who paid upwards of $2K for their equipment may not want to see ads (or branded content) at all. What’s worth considering is whether Peloton will roll out an ad-supported or subsidized bike in the future — enticing an entirely new crop of buyers with a lower cost — and sparking the next CTV land grab in the process.
The Future of CMS
If your CMS and its ad tech plugins are not working together, the clash will contribute to lower yields, less enticing placements for advertisers, frustration from the content team, and worst of all, bad customer experiences. It’s time to take control and make the needed changes to improve your site. Your site will reap the benefits:
  • A better user experience leads to more time - Consumers will increase their average time spent on site, and site viewability will improve dramatically.
  • People have an easier time finding you in Google - Search engines favor faster loading sites with a better UI, which leads to higher rankings and more clicks.
  • You get more ad revenue opportunities - The right solution eliminates the need for plugins or outside vendors, providing improved monetization and efficiency.
  • Editorial staff and executives are happy - With fewer headaches weighing things down, publishers can invest more where it matters—bringing in better talent, introducing new site features and measuring customer experience and yield more holistically.
Why This Matters
For many publishers, building a unique solution that fixes the issues with the CMS and ad tech stack is a major undertaking. Even for publishers with the resources to build, may decide that maintaining and updating is too much to commit to, especially across growth channels like mobile and video where new innovations come out frequently.

Facebook rolled out Instant Articles several years ago as a product that was essentially designed to replace the CMS. Similarly, Google created Accelerated Mobile Pages which was a set of specifications designed to help publishers' sites work better on mobile devices and mobile search. Yet many publishers balked at giving up control, data and user relationship to an already dominant tech player. So Instant Articles and AMP (no longer owned by Google) did not grow to completely replace the CMS. Rather, they offer specialized customer experience improvement and increases in monetization to only specific parts of a publisher’s business.

Some large publishers now offer CMS platforms that publishers can license, including Washington Post and Vox. These publishers built their own suites of customer publishing and ad tech that work well for their needs, and are making extra revenue by allowing other publishers to benefit from their development work.

Kargo’s offering, Fabrik, combines the best of a modern CMS with monetization capabilities that is improving performance for sites like Empire Media Group and Radar Media Group.

Now that you know there’s a better way, there’s no going back. Consumers want a better user experience, there is more ad revenue to monetize and your entire company could be working more efficiently and effectively with a better solution to content management and advertising.

Be sure to check us out at the AdMonsters Virtual Publisher Forum.
Could User Panels Be a Panacea for Digital Identity?
There's an 800-pound gorilla in the privacy landscape—and that would be panels, according to Adweek opinion contributor Chuck Shuttles, Chief Panels Officer at Hyphametrics. He writes: Panels represent that bridge between device-delivery data (i.e. census) and person-level data that is fully permissioned for use in the cross-media/advertising ecosystem.

This isn't coming out of thin air either. In late 2020, the WFA proposed a Global Framework for cross-media measurement (potentially providing a powerful means of measuring impressions across screens) which includes:
  1. Panels
  2. Census Data & Identity
  3. Private Reach and Frequency Estimator
  4. System Outputs
For panels to work in the way we're talking about, Shuttles says: "To maximize the value of panel data to calibrate device delivery data, it must definitively measure all persons, TVs and digital devices within a panel home." 
Why This Matters
Many a pub, who still has a living, breathing print component (and of course there's Nielsen), knows all too well the value of panels — but maybe you haven't thought about using them in this way. We did.

In late 2019, we spoke with Aaron Braxton, Senior Director, Business Intelligence/SEO at Complex Networks, about Complex Collective—something akin to a research panel—including 30,000 brand enthusiasts who provide the company direct dialogue and feedback on editorial content, trends, consumer attitudes, and new products.

Senior Editor, Lynne d Johnson, asked him: Do you see this as a sales tool, or is it more than that?

To which he replied:
There are opportunities to segment audiences based on behavior. And we will have very robust data right down to individual audience profiling. That becomes a very powerful thing when we’re talking about providing content to very specific targeted audiences on very specific platforms based on how they’re engaging with the platforms.

It will also help us build content types, like superfans of comedy on YouTube vs superfans of comedy on Facebook, because those are very different populations. It will offer very specific avenues of execution for our brand partners on things they’re building for themselves or in conjunction with us. To maintain high engagement we are working closely with them not only through passive signals, but we are looking at them as individuals.

There's definitely an angle in here for pubs looking to figure out this identity thing before the cookie goes completely away.
Around the Water Cooler
Here's what else we're reading and talking about this week...
  • Substack Is Getting More Money for Monetizing Newsletters (Axios)
  • ID5 Raises $6 Million to take on LiveRamp (Insider)
  • Medium’s paid content plans go bust (The Verge)
  • Yahoo Is Back From the Dead as a Verizon Media Brand (Axios)
Sweet Tweet
There's a big vessel blocking the flow for others #WhatTheFLoC #notSuez
Worth a Listen
Paid Newsletter Subscriptions Popularity, HBO Max With Ads and Microsoft Eyes Discord
eMarketer analyst Nina Goetzen discusses why paid newsletter subscriptions are having a moment and why marketers should (or shouldn't) get involved? Also, HBO Max's upcoming ad-supported offering and whether Microsoft buying Discord makes sense.
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