YouTube music is a big challenge for Apple and Spotify.

wpid-wp-1447694139732.jpg

Earlier this week, YouTube launched its much awaited Music app, in the US. This is intended to cement the stronghold which the popular video streaming site has over the younger online age groups and to seriously enter the music streaming market. YouTube has been quietly, incredibly popular among younger audiences for consuming music, especially over the likes of Apple Music which is much more premium and Google Music which is too poorly promoted.

Youtube poses a huge challenge however, to music streaming’s biggest  platforms; Apple and Spotify. This is especially true while both suffer with some fairly major problems. Apple, firstly has failed to retain most of the free trial subscribers it got on board. While you can point to the figures of platform vs platform, per user, it’s a pretty bad result given this was a big launch, with the app being automatically added to every iPhone. Spotify has another problem, people are not signing up to premium as much they need to be. The result is that Spotify has to work much harder to sell as space to reach its younger audience who are seemingly unwilling to pay.

Music is an attempt, by Google to do two things. Firstly, to capitalise on the youth market which they have been incredibly successful in doing to date. Secondly, and more urgently it is to monetise YouTube. Famously loss making since its purchase, YouTube has been a long term investment for Google, and this is now coming into fruition with YouTube Red, of which music is a part.

But what makes YouTube music different? Well, it’s been growing a lot of channels over time, to the point at which many are now commercial businesses with loyal audiences. Those audiences it now feels would pay the monthly fee to be ad-free and get special content and features.  Google also has a lot of information about the people who use YouTube, that’s allowed them to create curated playlists through a mixture of human oversight and machine learning. It’s something that Apple struggle with because of their stance on user data collection, Spotify also have no way to gather this information.

Human and machine curation is an interesting approach, Google is using the raft of information about each user to get as much insight as possible, but much like Facebook M, a human go-between ads common sense and context to everything

YouTube music won’t allow you to create playlists like Spotify does though, it focuses in on core feature that the end user wants, the belief (and possibly correct assumption) is that the average person doesn’t want to create playlists, they want to consume content. YouTube allows you not just to listen to music, but to save video content offline to watch wherever you might not have connection. While it has the same 30million odd tracks that the other services have, it also has videos, concerts and a host of other content.

Most importantly, YouTube has done what Apple actually does best. It played the long game and now aims to enter an industry to disrupt it. It has the information, the data and the loyalty to just get away with is

YouTube Red, and YouTube Music are currently available in the US, and should be coming to Europe soon.

Marketers miss the true power of the Second Screen

Second Screen TV Tablet

 

Increasingly, we’re being told about the ‘power of the second screen’ and how 60% of men, in particular, have their tablet, or smartphone in front of them while consuming TV content. This has given rise to a sea of TV/Network related apps which aim and espouse to give the TV viewer more immersion into what they’re watching. The days of non-interactive television are coming to an end. But what about when the programme isn’t on, does the second screen still play a role when you’ve gone to the kettle after your programme?

 

The answer, according to this post from Google, is an emphatic, yes – especially using their search and YouTube tools, obviously.

 

The report, outlines both YouTube and Google trends around and following TV output, broadly speaking, it shows a year-on-year increase of viewers interacting on YouTube with other fans, and the shows, while on Google, carrying out research into shows, cast, episode information, etc.

 

The data from Google shows, that in the immediate two week period before a show premiere, interest peaks on both channels, with viewers and audiences hungry for information on a show, while current and long running shows generate search and YouTube activity year round (possibly due to syndication when not airing), new shows have peak interest around the premiere, which tails off to a degree following this, until the season end.

 

What the data also shows, is that while people may still be using second screen apps, which are run, usually directly by the network or show – they still go back to Google and YouTube for the more social awareness aspect, and research into shows – basically to see what other people thought of it, what other people expect from a show and whether there will be more episodes.

 

While there’s a lot of information to digest, and not all of it particularly new, what it does do is allow brands who either sponsor a show, or have their products placed in it, to use the suite of Google advertising tools at the right time, for the right audience in an incredibly targeted manner.

 

An example of this might be, Jameson’s Whiskey – Don Draper’s whiskey of choice on AMC’s Mad Men. This show is slightly unusual, in that it displays both characteristics of a new show, and a recurring show on Google – the season hiatus which dragged the show break on while the show was on Netflix gives a good idea of both kinds of above search interaction.

 

Jameson can, with data like this, take the second screen away from the television, where people are already bombarded with ads, and are not giving the tablet their full attention, to the kitchen, where the viewer might go afterwards. Using specific key terms for ads, and SEO they can monopolise in the run up and duration of the show, timing ads to run during the show run, or catch up and repeat times – the growth of DVR and catchup services, unfortunately makes viewing times much more fluid in our On Demand world. Pre-roll ads on YouTube can also take advantage of the status of the drink within Mad Men.

 

Ultimately, as second screen grows alongside on demand viewing and contextual advertising, it’s important to consider that the second screen isn’t just on the sofa, it follows a viewer around their house, while apps are useful for during the show, people will watch YouTube or search Google around the show when they can give it their attention, this is where brands can monopolise on interest, it isn’t always about the flashy app, sometimes digital marketing is about the age old principles of timing, placement and emotional connections – you don’t need to be always on, but you need to make sure people see when you are.

The iPad is here!!! Now what’s it all about?

Here at last! Steve Jobs finally announced the new iPad (iSlate turns out to be just fan speculation) to a crowd of gathered journalists. Now that we’ve all gotten our jaws off the floor at what a gorgeous and sleek device the iPad truly is – let’s see what’s under the hood.

IPad seen here with dock and keyboad... isn't it lovely?

Only half an inch thick and weighing .9kg you won’t even feel the pad in your bag. These measurements were generally to be expected given Apple’s love of the slim and the need for portability which would outdo its rivals. The battery will last you about ten hours, which is a lot longer then most laptops and netbooks available on the market today.

The screen is somewhat smaller than most were expecting at only 9.7”, this however is still perfect for magazines, books, movies, music, writing and pretty much anything else you can think of! It uses LED display with IPS meaning that from whichever angle you see it at you get no fading and still get a good strong image.

The first of the TWO models, which has WiFi only is shipping in March, with the follow up second model will have both WiFi and 3G and will be shipping in America, anyway, in April.  The basic version will be just $499 which is about €350 and well below what anyone had previously expected. Rumours are rising about who on this side of the pond will be getting the 3G rights, AT&T, traditional American carrier of the iPhone is said to already have secured its deal, so if history is to be repeated then it looks like O2 might have it in the bag. The 3G version will probably be more expensive, but even then will still be affordable and give e-readers and other tablets, slates or pads a run for their money.

Speaking of e-readers, the iPad will come with a brand new native app; iBook. This app will, essentially be an e-reader  and bookshop all in one, and allow you to download books straight to the device without ever leaving iBook and read them on the large, crisp display. Exactly how this reading experience will compare to e-ink, which is designed  to mimic paper is hard to tell. Apple are probably aiming more for the magazine and newspaper market, and trying to pick up ebooks while they go.

iBook store will give Amazon a good fight, but will it win over book fans? Hard to tell, doesn't bowl me over too much...

Apple are also reporting that the full 140,000 of their apps, currently available in their app store will be ready to go for the iPad for when it comes out in the shops, by which time there will be a whole mountain of apps ready for the platform as developers speed up creating new apps specifically tailored for the larger screen and faster processor. This also goes a long way to securing and keeping Apple’s 99.4% market share of all applications, leaving Nokia and Google in the shade with little hope in the short term of gaining any major ground.

Also bundled In are all the apps we know and love from the iPhone, such as Contacts, Safari, Mail, Maps, etc.The layout of the interface is extremely similar to the iPhone/iPod screen, just with more space between apps also allowing for a background image, and allowing for the multiple home screens which you can swipe between for your various applications.

Some standard ideas still follow through from the iPhone with a multitouch screen, allowing for a more flowing navigation of your files and apps. The 30-pin connector located just under the standard ‘Home’ button are also some friendly and familiar faces, and fit in nice and seamlessly with the device and make it look more like an iPhone then just the screen of a MacBook taken off the keyboard.

Some new innovations come with the A4 chip which has been designed by the Apple team specifically for the iPad, which is supposed to make the device far more efficient than others.

The iPad also comes with a choice of storage sizes all flash based, 16, 32, and 64GB, which is similar to the iPhone storage and should be enough to hold anything you really want to carry around, given that the iPad isn’t really a netbook, but more than a phone the storage sizes aren’t hugely surprising.

Still no flash?

Some things missing, however are making small holes in the otherwise glowing facade of Apple’s latest product. Apple had an excuse for not having flash on the original iPhone, and maybe even on the 3G, but for the iPad? Certainly not – for such a media oriented device it is quite unusual for it not to carry support for one of the most used animation tools and what can often be the basics of many websites out there today. Many people expected support for the popular plug-in, and there is a minor sense of disappointment at it not being at the party. Two other things which were speculated were a webcam and USB port, although these were probably filed under the category of “they’d be handy” and mostly on a small number of fans wish lists, few really ever expected that either would make a real appearance.

Prices start low and go up depending on what you’re looking for, as you can see below;

16 GB  32 GB  64 GB

Wi-Fi                   $499   $599   $699

Wi-Fi + 3G           $629  $729   $829

Rumours have also been circulating over the magazines and newspapers which will be signing up for the new iPad. So far it has been suggested that the New York Times, Vogue and Wired are just some of the publications which are waiting to release their own apps or iPad formatted editions.

Over all it looks to be a brilliant device, and although there wasn’t a huge amount of surprises hidden away other then the name, the iPad has still managed to impress. Whether it will kill off the e-reader, it can’t be said until people actually begin reading on the iPad. It will also be interesting to see how Apple regulate their books.  Which we’ll also have to wait and see for, given the current debates on how ebook downloads should be regulated.

A desirable device, but the question at the end of the day is, do you really need one and if so, why would you need it?

But you WANT it!