AT&T Fuels Its Direct-to-Consumer Video Dreams; Pubs Pivot Away From Viral Vids

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An Otter Acquisition

Most people are still busy digesting news of AT&T’s $1.6 billion acquisition of AppNexus – but the telco already has another little deal up its sleeve. AT&T is in the process of securing full ownership of Otter Media, the streaming media company it started as a $500 million joint venture with The Chernin Group in 2014, reports Digiday. AT&T is also in discussions with TV programmers to bring their cable content onto Vrv, a subscription streaming video distribution platform owned by Otter. Vrv mostly focuses on video content in the sci-fi, gaming and anime categories, but it has the infrastructure and direct-to-consumer ties AT&T needs to build out a channel store like Apple and Roku. “They already have full bundles and skinny bundles, so what’s next?” said Peter Csathy, founder of digital consulting firm Creatv Media. “[To] offer individual subscriptions all conveniently accessed through one app and on one bill.” Digiday has more.

Viral Video Antidote?

Publishers are pivoting to a different kind of video. Outlets including Vox, BuzzFeed and The New York Times are putting more resources behind long-form and episodic content rather than short viral videos, Axios reports. Viral clips, ubiquitous on Facebook just a few years ago – remember the watermelon? – proved an unstable source of ad revenue because their popularity was beholden to Facebook’s ever-changing feed algorithms. It may not make sense to ditch short-form video altogether, but long-form content may be a more effective way to grow a dedicated audience and licensing fees. Just look at Netflix’s recent deal with Vox to develop a news and explainer series. Selling ads against a series or show is also easier “in part because potential partners really understand what a premium show or episode is as opposed to a viral video – there’s transparency around it," Shani Hilton, BuzzFeed’s VP of news programming, tells Axios. More.

Programmatic’s Unbrand Rebrand

Many of the longest-standing and best-known ad tech companies are fading away. It’s the end of an era for DoubleClick; Rocket Fuel was sunsetted by Sizmek and Amobee did the same with Turn. Collective rebranded to Visto in late 2017 and AppNexus will shed its name later this year after AT&T completes its acquisition, according to AdExchanger sources. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, perhaps, but for programmatic technology the rule is “whatever it takes to wash off this smell.”

But Wait, There’s More!

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