3 posts categorized "Television"


Bing Gets into Fantasy Football Projections, as Mobile Ad Spending Continues to Rise


For some Americans, September is the beginning of a new year—a time to forget the past and make the most of the future. More specifically, the 2015 NFL season is about to kick off.


Are You Ready for Some Football?  

According to The Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there were 41.5 million fantasy sports players in 2014. This market represents more than fanaticism; marketers view them as an opportunity, especially on mobile. 

Bing Predicts, for example, has taken strides to improve its prediction algorithms and provide fantasy football players with immediate statistical data using a bounty of helpful metrics. The improvements include individual player projections that analyze several data points such as social signals, recent games, match-ups, and roster changes as well as adjustments to the coaching staff. 

Additional features include updates on free agents as well as “Power Rankings,” which is a list of predictions for division winners and likely playoff teams.  

Does this sound too good to be true? This Microsoft service is not without its own motivations. Despite significant gains on Google in the most recent quarterly earnings report, Microsoft hopes the new player algorithms will provide enough incentive for fantasy players to keep using Bing well after the NFL season.


Familiar Territory  

This is not the first time an algorithm or prediction-based software has made the rounds in fantasy football leagues. Yahoo, in fact, uses a company called Pro Football Focus to make its predictions. Additionally, Bing Predicts branched out in recent years to other sporting events like the World Cup and Wimbledon, as well as big events like the Academy Awards and US elections. 

Bing’s marketing initiative follows a familiar path. As mobile behavior increases, so too will the marketing spent in this arena. According to eMarketer, search ads, like the ones you’ll see on Bing, are predicted to reach nearly $14 billion this year. Harnessing the fantasy market isn’t just about helping users win fantasy games: it’s about winning consumer dollars.  

But will it help you in your fantasy football quest? Maybe. According to Walter Sun, Principle Applied Science Manager at Bing, during the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup, Bing went 15 for 15 in its predictions. Last NFL season, Bing’s game predictions were just shy of 70 percent accuracy. 

Whether or not users score the perfect fantasy season is irrelevant to Bing’s marketing plans—they are predicted to have a favorable season. 



AOL Deal Will Help Verizon’s Mobile Advertising Push


Over the past two decades, AOL Inc. has undergone some massive changes. What was once a portal for dial-up internet access, AOL suffered under the merger with Time Warner. After starting over again six years ago, AOL managed to increase its value by acquiring relevant sites like Huffington Post and Tech Crunch. Perhaps most importantly though, AOL took a dive into the deep end of the mobile advertising pool – and it looks like their gamble will pay off.

Last Wednesday, Verizon Communications Inc. announced that the company will be acquiring AOL Inc. in a $4.4 billion deal.

With the latest trends predicting a greater shift toward mobile use by consumers, many corporations have been seeking to carve out a piece of the market share. Currently, the mobile market lies directly in the hands of two leading companies, Google and Facebook. Facebook Inc., of course, owns and operates the largest recurring mobile app user base, while Google provides several integrated apps like Drive and Maps, while providing  the most popular search engine for users as well. As a result of their products’ frequent use, these juggernauts have had the mobile advertising market in a virtual stranglehold.

All of this, however, is poised for a change.

By acquiring AOL, Verizon has the opportunity to integrate advertising and content programming with one of the most ubiquitous wireless networks in the world. The assets provided by AOL include several websites with marketable content, but most importantly, Verizon will receive a mobile video-streaming service out of the deal. As consumers continue to shift away from paying for traditional TV bundling packages and move toward mobile video-streaming services, Verizon wants to provide such a service to new and existing users.

With the overcrowded wireless market in the United States, Verizon is looking to offer even more to customers to get them on board. While they have been searching for opportunities to increase their brand saturation over rivals like T-mobile and AT&T, they have concurrently been developing their video-technology wing by acquiring other tech companies like upLink, EdgeCast and OnCue. Unfortunately, their original plans for a mobile video-streaming service lacked an advertising component.

Now, with the acquisition of AOL Inc., Verizon has the opportunity to create a brand-new revenue stream for the company, for the first time ever. Verizon has been known for years for having excellent data streaming and calling services, and they have generated an enormous amount of brand awareness in that time. The next step in their business’ evolution involves the creation of a mobile-integrated advertising platform that they can use exclusively on their mobile video-streaming service. The plan is simple with potential for success, but one cannot imagine Google Inc. sitting idly by as Verizon takes a bite out of their market share.

Only time will tell. Expect to see Verizon’s new streaming service in late June of this year.


The Story of SMS Donations for Disaster Relief


Text-to-donate programs have taken off in such a big way that it’s hard to recall quite when they started. Hurricane Katrina, certainly, was an early milestone, the first major disaster to collect SMS donations as part of the relief effort. Since then, organizations like the Red Cross and Christian Aid have increasingly focused on text-to-donate. It’s much more convenient for well-meaning but time-poor citizens who want to help but won’t go through the rigmarole of entering credit card details online.

Since Katrina, the victims of every major global disaster have in some way benefitted from SMS donations, but the concept of engaging the public en masse via their mobile devices has it’s roots in something more trivial: American Idol. 

Yes, the glorified talent contest. That American Idol. From the time the show launched in 2002, the voting system used to determine the public’s favorite singing sensation was largely SMS-based. It helped inspire AT&T engineer Marian Croak to develop a similar use for text messaging as a disaster relief tool during the aftermath of Katrina in 2005.

Rather than submitting votes via SMS, Croak came up with a way of allowing donors to give money simply by sending a text, the charge for which would show up on their next bill. She readily admits the soaring popularity of American Idol helped the general public get used to the idea of engaging with large organizations via SMS messaging. A poll conducted by her employers in 2008 found 22% of respondents reported to having learned to text as a direct result of the hit show’s voting system. The subsequent upsurge in text messaging undoubtedly contributed to the readiness of a mass audience to use the technology in new ways.

After the success of the Katrina relief program, SMS messaging took it’s place in the donation landscape, proving to be the perfect method for contributing ‘impulse’ donations. The relief effort for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti raised an unprecedented $30 million from SMS messaging. The bulk of the money came from single $10 donations but perhaps most significantly, text-to-donate allows organizations like the Red Cross to build a database of donors, making it easier to reach out for help during future crises.

The good news for charities and non-profit organizations is that AT&T, who patented Croak’s donation system in 2005, have no plans to monetize it. SMS messaging has proven the most effective way of getting more people to donate money to good causes, and long may it continue.