More People Watching TV Online Than Ever

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Broadcast and cable television has long been a staple in many households, but according to Adobe’s Benchmark Report, that is changing. There has been a recent shift away from broadcast and cable television toward Internet television, the digital distribution of television content via the Internet. Though viewers aren’t fully cutting the cable cord just yet, the dramatic increase in online viewing is eluding to the inevitable fact that, someday (maybe sooner than later), cable TV viewership will be the minority or even non-existent.

Adobe’s researchers tracked 165 online video views and 1.53 billion logins over the course of one year and found that total TV viewing over the Internet grew 388 percent in mid-2014 over the previous year. Moreover, the number of unique viewers more than doubled, growing 146 percent since last year.

According to analyst Tamara Gaffney, three factors have driven the growth in online viewing: 1.) More apps and sites for watching, 2.) More content to watch on those apps and sites and 3.) The World Cup.  Sports are somewhat the “pioneer” of online viewing content and almost a gateway to other online content. In the case of the World Cup, the Internet was the only place to watch the games that were not aired on television. People came for the World Cup but stayed for everything else.

In 2014, for the first time ever, viewers now watch more movies online than sports. An average of 4.5 movies per month per person are streamed, versus only 2 just a year ago, an increase of 125%. Episodic television viewing has also seen an increase since last year by 81%.

The increase in online TV, however, doesn’t mean people are turning away from the television itself. 10 percent of online viewing is happening on game consoles, Apple TV and Roku devices, which viewers use to pipe TV from the Internet on their big screen. In addition, one in four televisions sold is now a smart TV, meaning it has Internet capabilities and online viewing options built in. Though streaming devices are increasing in popularity, 51 percent of all online TV viewing happens on an iOS app, according to Adobe’s figures. This means the viewing is happing on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, rather than the television. Apps such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and major network apps make it easier to watch what you want, when you want and how you want, and viewers are embracing that freedom.

With this shift in viewers’ habits, advertisers and content marketers need to make the shift as well if they want to continue to reach their consumers. According to the Benchmark Report, alongside the increase of online video viewing, online video advertisement viewing has also increased. Viewers watched an estimated 2.08 ads per video in Q2 2014; up 25.8% year-over-year. In Q2 2014, the ratio of ad starts per video was 66% higher in sports content versus non-sports content. This poses an opportunity for advertisers and content publishers to develop strategies around ad placement that will hopefully improve the way ad engagement is measured for online TV viewing.

Further reading:

http://www.zdnet.com/online-media-tv-streaming-rises-388-percent-yearly-report-7000034899/

http://www.wired.com/2014/10/online-viewing-soars-internet-tv-will-tv/

http://www.reelseo.com/video-views-jump-43-per-cent/

Apple brings in DuckDuckGo

As revealed among Apple’s new products earlier this month, iOS 8 for the iPhone 6 and OS X 10 (Yosemite) for desktop will be adding some additional privacy features to their Safari web browser. In a preview page for Yosemite, Apple includes a blurb that reads: “Safari now gives you more control over your privacy on the web… You can also now search the web using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you.” You may be asking, what in the world is DuckDuckGo? And you would not be alone.

DuckDuckGo is a new search engine that famously touts itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” It goes against the grain of Google and Bing that track their users’ activity to target advertising and to acquire data for their search algorithms. While few Internet users today have heard of it or used it, DuckDuckGo’s numbers are growing and will continue to do so thanks to this publicity from Apple.

Some bloggers are speculating about how DuckDuckGo got its way into Safari’s settings. Becoming integrated into a browser’s settings is a lucrative position. Google currently has a contract to be the default browser on Apple devices through 2015, probably to the tune of $1 billion per year, and surely rakes in a fortune from ads on Apple devices.

So did DuckDuckGo pony up? I doubt it. The way I see it, Apple has other vested interests at play: 1) to situate itself as a privacy-conscious brand, and 2) to eventually promote an alternative to Google, its chief competitor.

Internet privacy is a hot topic in today’s culture, and, largely, a discussion for another time. But it would suffice to say that there is a demand in the American marketplace for tech companies to take a stand for Internet privacy. Neither Apple nor Google nor Microsoft has a stellar reputation in that regard, yet. So among the tech giants, there is still an opportunity to carve out some market share by becoming a champion of Internet privacy. Apple is showing that privacy is a key component of its new operating systems, and lending a hand to DuckDuckGo transfers some of that “privacy capital” from DuckDuckGo to Apple.

And it should be self-evident that Apple has been wanting for some time to stop sending referrals to its primary competitor, Google, as recently evidenced by Apple’s removal of YouTube and Google Maps from iOS. Ever since Google acquired Android back in 2005, Google has virtually been Apple’s sole competition in the smartphone market, and it must pain Apple to send so much business towards Google through Safari’s search queries. Even though Safari users are at liberty to change their settings to another search engine, the only options today are Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Being the only one of today’s three operating system giants to not also offer its own search engine service, Apple is stuck between a rock and a hard place and has to refer its users to a competitor’s search engine, either Google’s or Microsoft’s (Yahoo is intertwined with Microsoft’s Bing).

But things may change now that Apple has taken notice of DuckDuckGo and has added it into Safari’s search engine settings mix. By simply offering DuckDuckGo as a fourth search option, Apple both gives a nod to Internet privacy supporters and opens the door for Safari users to conduct their Web searches without filling the coffers of Google or Microsoft.

When Apple’s contract with Google runs out, could we see Apple set Safari’s default search engine to DuckDuckGo? Would Apple even give DuckDuckGo the coveted “default” status for free, if it would take away some of Google’s competitive edge and give even more credence towards their Internet privacy strategy? I would not be surprised if they decide to do so.

UPDATE: DuckDuckGo has now been blocked in China, presumably over DuckDuckGo’s unwillingness to comply with filtering regulations and/or track the activity of its users. Could this be China’s preparation for the Chinese release of the iPhone 6 coming in early 2015?

Further reading:

http://searchengineland.com/big-win-duckduckgo-apple-adding-safari-private-search-option-193081

http://marketingland.com/ddg-apple-safari-86025

http://www.cultofmac.com/296542/ios-8-security-measures-keep-data-private-ever/

http://www.apple.com/osx/preview/apps/

http://www.hargray.net/news/read/category/Technology/article/bgr-yahoo_offers_to_help_apple_purge_google_from_the_i-newscred

https://www.eff.org/who-has-your-back-2014

http://searchengineland.com/china-blocks-duckduckgo-privacy-search-engine-203855

http://www.cnet.com/news/search-engine-duckduckgo-now-blocked-in-china/

Takeaways from Google’s Transparency Report

Google has been in the news recently for having publicly released a Transparency Report that analyzes how many emails sent to/from Gmail accounts are protected with encryption. In Google’s terms, an unencrypted email is as “open to snoopers as a postcard in the mail,” meaning that anyone from an identity thief to the NSA can simply read unencrypted emails without difficulty as they pass across the Internet. This issue concerns anyone who sends private information via email, which today includes just about everyone.

As part of their Transparency Report, Google released a chart showing the percentage of emails that were encrypted when sent between Gmail.com and list of high-traffic email domains. Domains, in this sense, equate to companies that either send or receive emails to/from everyday Gmail users, from social media networks to ecommerce websites to personal email services. The chart can be found at the link below. While reading this chart, it is important to consider which domains send/receive emails that contain sensitive, private information and which domains mainly send newsletters containing public announcements. For example, some domains such as Groupon.com and ConstantContact.com encrypt very few of their emails sent to Gmail users, but these companies’ emails are generally newsletters sent in bulk to hundreds or thousands of people, for which privacy matters little.

On Google’s report, many high-traffic domains that send private information do, to their credit, encrypt the vast majority of their inbound and outbound emails: Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Linkedin.com, Twitter.com, AOL.com, MSN.com, and Yahoo.com.

The red flag that many readers may overlook is that two notable high-traffic email domains, Comcast.net and Roadrunner.com (Time Warner Cable’s ISP/email service), encrypt less than 1% of their emails sent to Gmail accounts.

According to Google, email encryption via Transport Layer Security, or TLS, can greatly deter snoopers and is as easy for companies to enable as flipping on a switch. Even so, Google announced that they will be stepping in and releasing a new plugin for their Chrome browser that will encrypt emails end-to-end. Google even plans to make this plugin’s encrypted emails so secure that not even Gmail itself can read the contents. At first glance, this may seem strange for Google, a company that relies on selling advertisements targeted towards users based on the contents of their emails. But perhaps Google sees the long-term value of fostering consumer trust and loyalty by getting ahead of the hot topic that is online privacy.

Google’s Transparency Report:
http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/saferemail/

Further reading:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/06/03/google-email-security-gmail-snowden/9920473/

Net Neutrality Discussions Allude to ‘Common Carrier’ Precedents

The latest development in ‘net neutrality’ discussions has been the involvement of several lobbyists and interest groups, mostly speaking on behalf of Silicon Valley Internet content producers, who support the notion that the FCC regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as ‘common carriers’, like railroads and utilities. These groups appeal to legal precedents put in place over the past century that regulated permissibly monopolized businesses and aimed to prevent these ‘common carriers’ from prioritizing their services to the highest bidding companies and then grossly overcharging or neglecting service to the little guys.

These negotiations come at a time when the FCC, ISPs, and other interested parties are vying over whether ISPs can sell ‘fast lane’ Internet connections to those content producers willing to pay for faster service to customers. Content producers, especially streaming audio and video services, worry about what limitless fees and charges could be coming down the pike if the big ISPs like Comcast and AT&T, who have monopolies or duopolies over most local consumer markets, use their leverage to demand higher fees for faster service or else. ISPs have responded with concerns that government regulation could stifle innovation, which has been key to the growth of high-speed broadband Internet service across the country. Both sides have valid concerns about the future of their revenues and their customer bases as we move forward through a constantly evolving Internet landscape.

So what do you think? Would subjecting ISPs to utility-like oversight lead to a more level playing field? Or should multiple ISPs be free to compete for your business, even if ‘fast lane’ priorityservices were part of the mix? Which path would lead to a more free, open, and affordable Information Superhighway?

In the meantime, get used to seeing some back-and-forth between content providers and ISPs:

netflix-verizon

 

Further reading:

http://bgr.com/2014/06/12/netflix-vs-verizon-internet-streaming-speed/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/20/
congresscritters_sound_off_to_wheeler_on_net_neutrality_plans/

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/
SB10001424052702303409004579568152094345342

Are You in Line with Global Screen Time Study?

A recent study on the 2014 Internet trends by Mary Meeker, has delivered some extremely interesting information on use by gadget and by country.  The U.S. is sixth in the world when it comes to screen time, with a whopping 444 minutes a day in front of a screen—that’s a whopping 7.4 hours ON AVERAGE each day.  What may or may not be surprising to you is that smartphones take up the majority of our time with 151 minutes, followed by TV (147 minutes), laptops/PCs (103 minutes) and tablets (43 minutes).  And at 7.4 hours a day, the U.S. is still only sixth!  The top five consist of Indonesia (540 min), Philippines (531 min), China (479 min), Brazil (474 min) and Vietnam (466 min).  These numbers are astounding when compared to countries like France and Italy who only spend 326 minutes and 317 minutes, respectively.

Some other key points from the study show that mobile, including smartphones and tablets, are still becoming increasingly important in data consumption.  Mobile data traffic increased 81% from last year, and since only 30% of the world’s population has a smartphone at this point, there is plenty of room for mobile traffic to increase.  These studies may be alarming to people with static websites, especially since there are over 2B users of smartphones and tablets combined and only 1.5M users of laptop and desktop PC’s combined.  By switching to responsive website design, your business could be reaching so many more people!  Mobile web design is obviously becoming more and more important.  With people spending the majority of their screen time on smartphones, don’t you want your site to be compatible?

Are these astounding figures in line with what you expected?  Higher?  Lower?  What do you think?

For more information, please click below.

2014 Industry Trends Report Slides by Mary Meeker

How Much Time the World Spends Looking at Screens, Visualized by Jamie Condliffe

FCC Talks Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met Thursday, May 15 to discuss the hotly debated net neutrality issue.  It might sound boring, but trust us—it’s important!  For those of you who have no clue what net neutrality is, it revolves around the idea that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally by the Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.  One of the main splits in opinion refers to the legalization or ban of “fast lanes,” which would give people and businesses the opportunity to pay for prioritized access, making their sites load faster than the sites that do not pay.  So for instance, ESPN’s website would load quickly because they can afford to pay for the fast lane, but Average Joe’s sports blog would load much slower.

Ideally with net neutrality, ISPs would not be able to block any legal content or favor certain traffic over others and should be open about how they handle Internet traffic.  These were the three principles that formed the basis of the FCC’s Open Internet Order that was enacted in 2010.  After the D.C. Court of Appeals deemed this an overstep on the part of the FCC in January, they overturned the act, leaving the FCC to rewrite rules that were publicly announced yesterday.

The rules proposed by the FCC passed narrowly with a 3-2 vote, and while the FCC speaks adamantly about preserving an open Internet, many see the new rules as approval of the “fast lane” system.  The new rules emphasize the need to treat all legal Internet traffic equally; however, they allow “fast lanes” for customers who are looking for prioritized access.  The FCC did state that these “fast lanes” are acceptable as long as the ISPs don’t slow down other traffic below what the customer has paid for.  Now that the regulations have passed the vote, a 120 day comment window opens for the general public to offer their opinions.  What do you think?  Do you think “fast lanes” count as net neutrality?  We’d love to hear your opinions!

For more information on the net neutrality issue, check out the following articles:

Tentative FCC Internet rules would allow fast lanes” by Mike Snider & Roger Yu

FCC on Net Neutrality: How it Happened” by the Mashable Team

FCC and Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Before Today’s Big Meeting” by Jason Abbruzzese