Laura James Joins Trailer Park London’s Production Team

Laura James Joins Trailer Park London’s Production Team

Laura was previously responsible for the launch and management of the Vox’s Eater London social channels

Trailer Park London has added Laura James to its production department.

An experienced producer, Laura joins from Vox, where she was responsible for the launch and management of the Eater London social channels, organically growing the London audience across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Prior to her role at Vox, she worked with Saatchi and Saatchi, We Are Social, Jamie Oliver and DDB, managing online and social media campaigns for world renowned, global brands such as Visa, Samsung and of course Jamie Oliver.

Trailer Park’s executive producer, Adam Booth, comments: “Laura’s in-depth experience across content production for TV and social media makes her a great addition to our London team.”

Laura adds: “Trailer Park’s Hollywood heritage, combined with their innovative and award- winning integrated campaigns, makes them an exciting place to work! I’m chuffed to be part of such an interesting group of people and look forward to getting stuck in.”

Trailer Park’s recent work includes projects for Red Bull, the International Olympic Committee, Manchester United and Sony Music, as well as campaigns for Royal Navy in partnership with WCRS.

Inside Unlikely Journey of Uncle Drew, From Ad Campaign to Feature Film

Inside Unlikely Journey of Uncle Drew, From Ad Campaign to Feature Film

Inside the Unlikely Journey of Uncle Drew, From Ad Campaign to Feature Film.

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Activision Blizzard and Disney ESPN eSports

Activision Blizzard and Disney ESPN eSports

A landmark deal struck between Activision Blizzard and Disney ESPN means that, for the first time, an esports competition will be broadcast in a primetime slot on a US sports channel.

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Liberty Global go epic

Liberty Global go epic

Check out this very epic and very pretty piece of branded content for Liberty Global. Essentially a montage of homages to TV and cinema, made entirely from recreated iconic shots from other films. The piece celebrates storytelling in a unique and engaging way.

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VidCon 2018

VidCon 2018

At the risk of coming across like a bit of a prat in the first sentence of this article — this summer we at Trailer Park London turned our back on the French Riviera in favour of the California Coast. These are the sacrifices we make. You’re welcome.

Anyway, the point is that I, along with a cohort of my Hollywood-based colleagues from Trailer Park LA, are here at VidCon and not at Cannes. I solemnly swear that my personal obsession with both Mexican and Korean food played absolutely no part in the decision and the fact that I have an extensively researched list of taco-trucks and Koreatown spots lined-up is purely coincidental. Nor does the choice have anything to do with my fast-approaching thirtieth birthday (54 days and counting!) and a desperate attempt to cling on to my youth. Honestly. It’s genuinely a lot more rational than all that.

For me at least, the clue as to why I’m here and not at Cannes is in my job title — I’m a Content Strategist. Note: Content. If you’re looking for the future of content, and particularly what younger audiences are choosing to consume (as opposed to what we’re paying for them to consume) then you won’t go far wrong in coming to VidCon. It’s by far the biggest gathering of digital-first creatives, and their enormous legions of fans, in the world. Importantly too, it was created by creators. Hank and John Green conceived the whole thing back in 2010. And incidentally if you don’t know who Hank and John Greenare then your need for VidCon is borderline terminal and you should book your last minute flight to LA right this very second.

Now, I appreciate the word ‘content’ is somewhat ambiguous, even when applied to ‘digital’ (which I guess is equally ambiguous), but at VidCon every single creator and fan — all 25,000+ of them — will understand exactly what you’re talking about when you talk content. And they don’t mean ads.

A conversation I had with my mate’s son recently brought this into sharp focus for me, (he’s 17 and obviously thinks I’m an idiot btw), even if it is a sample size of one. We were discussing Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner and after both waxing lyrical for 10 minutes about how much we loved it, it occurred to me that while I was calling it a ‘spot’ or an ‘ad’ or a ‘campaign’, he called it a ‘YouTube video’ or just ‘video’ and even (heaven forbid) ‘content’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I struggle with the word content. And it’s in my job title! It’s a horrid word. It suggests that whatever the thing is, it exists only to fill a container. It’s a placeholder word. For occasions when calling something a show or a programme seems too old-hat, when vlog seems a bit too reductive, or video or image or bit of text is too limiting. It’s basically become industry terminology for a thingy. Which is fine. We make lots of thingies for the internet, so a word like content is rather handy. I, for one, don’t want to change my job title to Thingy Strategist. And it’s that flexibility that makes the term so appealing for independent creators of the ilk that we’ll see speaking at VidCon this week.

But I suspect that many in the more traditional world of advertising, indeed many of those lovely folk currently quaffing rosé in Cannes, dread the word. Either because they look down on it or because they live in fear of someone asking them what it actually is. But for younger audiences it’s common parlance. It’s the word they use to describe the thingies on the internet that they like or hate, but ultimately, watch. I used to baulk anytime I saw a creator say something like ‘subscribe for more great content’, but I get it now. I don’t like it, but I get it.

These creators need a broad, flexible and loose term to describe their creative output because, from their perspective, it can be anything they want it to be. When it comes to the stuff they make, they don’t think in terms of ‘30 second spots ‘— they think ‘as long as it needs to be’. They don’t think ‘how will we find the audience?’ — they think ‘how will the audience find it?’. They don’t think about ‘how can we reversion for multiple platforms?’ — they think ‘what platform makes sense for this idea?’

Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ — ad or content?

This is the big point for me when it comes to younger audiences compared to the Cannes-set. Cannes see ‘content’ as the added value stuff from an ad-campaign. Younger audiences see ads as inferior to content — only when an ad is really really good, as LDNR was, does it move into the realms of content. Only when it becomes an opt-in experience does it move into the world of genuinely valued viewership amongst Gen Z. And ultimately, this is why we’re here at VidCon and not at Cannes.

One of the most common things I find with our clients is that they are always striving to engage younger audiences in a more genuine and authentic way — they are moving (or indeed have already moved) from a platform-centric approach to a truly audience-first model. And where better to learn about these audiences than spending a few days amongst twenty-thousand of them?

So for me, picking VidCon over Cannes was a no-brainer.

VidCon 2018: You heard it here first — TV is not dead

VidCon 2018: You heard it here first — TV is not dead

It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to complete my VidCon speaker quote bingo card. ‘Brands don’t understand creators’ — tick. ‘You need to speak fast on YouTube’ — tick. ‘What about Vine? Jk! lol.’ — somehow yes, two years on, still tick. But the whole ‘nobody watches TV anymore’, ‘I don’t even own a TV’ and ‘TV is dead’ thing is notably absent. The more cynical amongst you may speculate that this u-turn from that most common of VidCon hyperbole of years gone by has something to do with the fact that the whole thing is now owned by Viacom, but alas I think it’s just another signal of an industry that’s matured a lot in the last few years and no longer feels the need to be so combative with the traditional media world.

There are a lot of big TV companies here from all over the world and not just those within the Viacom stable. That’s not an entirely new thing, digital teams from the big guns have always attended, but there seems to be a consensus amongst attendees that I’ve spoken to that there are more ‘traditional’ TV people here than ever before — you can spot them as they’re usually the first ones to the free bar. Perhaps spurred on to attend by GroupM’s State of Digital report, published earlier this year, in which they asserted that “time spent with online media will overtake time spent with linear TV for the first time, globally, in 2018.”

Personally, the most surprising thing about that prediction for me was that I was flat-out convinced that I’d read that exact same thing from countless other sources in 2017, 2016, 2015 and so on and so forth. But anyway, it seems that we are finally at the consensus that linear TV can’t be complacent and expect that just because everyones’ furniture is pointed at it, it will be fine. Interestingly though, the feeling towards the TV industry here at VidCon, on the Industry and Creator tracks at least, has been decidedly welcoming. And, from what I hear, more so than previously. It doesn’t feel like us vs them anymore. The hatchet seems to have been buried between digital and linear.

Now, the numerous TV folk here will have liked a lot of what they’ve heard over the past couple of days. Mike Vorhaus, of Magid Insights, in his annual whirlwind State of Online Video keynote was keen to clarify that “TV is NOT dead”. And seriously, if Mike Vorhaus is saying it, then you can bet your house on it. Indeed, the Magid Media Futures survey found that the TV set is still the most popular primary medium for entertainment. Note, that we’re talking about the physical set here, not the content.

CREDIT: Magid Media Futures 2017

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that ceases to be the case amongst millennials where laptops or PCs take the top spot, but the fact that 24% still do favour TV as their primary platform is pretty significant. The complete abandonment of the television as a device for consuming media isn’t happening, it’s just there are more opportunities to consume media, often at the same time.

We are, of course seeing the consistent growth of OTT and VOD. I would be insulting your intelligence by jumping into a whole ‘you know, Netflix is a big deal’ thing, but I do think this stat from a Nielsen talk yesterday warrants particular attention. Jan 2018 saw 7.9 million consumer hours spent on OTT content on TV sets via connected devices, spread fairly evenly across Games Consoles, Smart TVs and Digital Streaming Devices. So what? Well linear TV consumption accounted for four-times that. Ultimately, the TV is still primarily used for watching what we would traditionally call “TV” — i.e. linear broadcast.

Interestingly, at their big keynote yesterday, YouTube announced Premieres, which allow creators the chance to prerecord content, set it to go live at a specific time and notify their subscribers of said time. Thus providing a collective viewing experience for their audiences. It is essentially appointment-to-view TV. They also talked up how the UEFA Champions League final and the Royal Wedding were both broadcast live on YouTube to enormous audiences. What stood out to me about that is that they were both TV feeds — the former from BT Sport, the latter from BBC One. So appointment-to-view and live were two of the main fanfare points for the YouTube keynote. ATV and live — which is essentially what linear TV is.

So with digital platforms now hosting ATV and live, TV sets accommodating OTT and VOD, aren’t we all just doing the same thing but in slightly different ways to slightly different audiences? Is a 60 minute Netflix original drama really any different to it’s BBC One equivalent? Is a YouTube Premiere from a creator really any different to the big Saturday 8pm ATV slot? Is a YouTube Live Stream of the UEFA Champions League final any different to the BT Sport broadcast of the same match? And are hours of live-streaming of classic Doctor Who on Twitch any different to the same thing on a cable channel?

Ultimately, no, not really. I guess my point in all this is that sometimes we can get so lost in acronyms, OTT, VOD, AVOD, SVOD, TV, ATV and so on and so forth, that we forget what this is all about. It’s just storytelling with cameras.

So far, so obvious. Right? So why I am I writing about this? Well I fully expected to come here and hear the exaggerated statements asserting the death of TV, but what I’ve been met with is a digital video industry that wants to embrace and go on a journey with the TV industry, rather than leaving it behind.

Fraudulent influencers, Fake News, safeguarding issues, monetisation crashes and the pivot from pivot-to-video, the last 12 months have been an annus horribilis for digital video, particularly YouTube. So perhaps its no surprise that VidCon 2018 feels more welcoming to the TV world — digital video can’t afford to be complacent either.

This year, the digital creator and influencer marketing industry is more mature, more serious, more business-minded, more conscious of it’s responsibilities to it’s audiences and creators than ever before. But happily, it is still fast-paced, creative, meritocratic and diverse. Maybe it’s the Los Angeles air, softening my inherent London cynicism, but I for one feel very enthusiastic about it. And on that note, I’m going to race a load of TV folk to the industry bar.

Dear Cannes. Influencer Marketing is hard. So let’s get better at it.

Dear Cannes. Influencer Marketing is hard. So let’s get better at it.

Jet lag is a killer. Three days in to my LA trip for VidCon 2018 and I’m still pretty heavily on European time. And because I’m such a ‘digital native’ (i.e. I’m unhealthily addicted to my phone and the idea of putting it on to airplane mode for a few hours makes me feel physically sick) I’ve been keeping up with the Twitter chatter from Cannes. I’ve noticed lots of talk about an influencer marketing backlash*. Now, I dearly love a good backlash — anyone who’s heard me grinningly talk at length about the decline of Eddie Jones’ England team will be aware of this — but this one seems a bit unfair to me.

It seems that much of the furore is to do with a lack of clarity or transparency of audiences, and some of the more traditional ad industry outlets have jumped on this like football journalists on a faltering England team. Clearly there are issues in the influencer marketing industry but lets take a second before we all pile in and write it off as if the whole thing was smoke and mirrors all along.

There’s a certain amount of hypocrisy here too. Take TV ratings. In the UK, we get these from BARB. For those working in TV, as I myself did for many years, they are a really helpful benchmark for understanding the relative success of this programme vs that programme. “This show got X million viewers, a share of __% in this slot — that’s __% up/down on the slot average.” So for influencing your commissioning strategy it makes perfect sense. That was more popular than this, lets make more of that. I mean, a hell of a lot more goes into an effective commissioning strategy, but that’s a very long conversation for another day.

But for advertisers, these ratings are only so helpful. Primarily because the big numbers are scaled up from a sample size that is alarmingly small. BARB has a panel of 5,100 homes (roughly 12,000 individuals), all of whom have opted in to having a little box on top of their TV that tracks what they watch. I’ll re-iterate this because it’s important. TV ratings in the UK, a country with a population of 65.6 million people, are calculated from a sample size roughly equivalent to the population of Walton-on-the-Naze.

Don’t get me wrong, Walton-on-the-Naze looks lovely and it’s definitely challenging Upton Snodsbury for the crown of most charmingly named English town, but it’s not big.

Clearly I’m massively over-simplifying here to make a point— media agencies do an enormous amount of effective research, testing and tracking to validate TV ad spend and this isn’t me suggesting that advertisers should take all their money out of TV and shove it on digital. Far from it. I worked at BBC Worldwide for years, have since had the privilege of working on some awesome TV focussed ad campaigns and thus am acutely aware of the immense value of linear in reaching enormous audiences.

But it does seem rather hypocritical of the more traditional adland set at Cannes, furiously agreeing with each other that digital influencers need to provide more clarity and transparency about who their audiences are, when their biggest campaign investments on TV are based on such an imperfect science. I love you really Cannes, but I’ve caught Silicon Valley fever out here and I do relish a bit of punchy conference hyperbole.

Anyway. Yes, 100%, it is up to the social platforms and the influencer marketing industry to solve the issues of paid-for fake audiences and bots — any fraudulent activity is clearly completely unacceptable. And yes, influencers also need to be more savvy about the true ROI for brands of viewership of their content. Unilever are absolutely right to be pushing the influencer marketing industry to get serious, self-regulate and spend more time getting it’s house in order and less time being so hyperbolic about how great it thinks it is. And hopefully this very public dressing down for the industry will give it the kick up the arse in needs.

But alongside this, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, marketers, in-house and agency, need to have a good look at their own approaches to influencer marketing. Have you really done the research into who your paying and interrogated the data? Have you put in the level of effort, time and resource these campaigns warrant? Have you thought about building an actual working relationship with the influencers, rather than just throwing money at them? Have you just lumped “influencers” into your brief, as a nod to Gen Z, without really assessing it’s potential ROI?

I feel this comes back to the crux of why I’m here at VidCon rather than at Cannes. The influencer marketing space is challenging — it’s intimidatingly complex, nobody is entirely sure what it is yet, and it’s changing every day. So rather than bemoan it for being so, sipping rosé Champagne at La Baoli**, I’ve come here to learn about how we can approach it in a way that’s genuinely valuable for our clients.

Over the next few days I’ll be attending a few panels which discuss the very topic of ‘fake influencers’, so I will update after that. Who knows? I may completely disagree with myself, decide it’s all a mess, gorge on tequila and drunkenly write a polemic how we should just stop putting so much faith in these young creative folk. I feel its unlikely, but in fairness I’m also not entirely sure what time of day it is. The jet-lag struggle is real

•     •     •

* – They may have changed it by now, but as if to highlight the gaping divide between VidCon and Cannes even further, the original Digiday article somehow managed to mistake YouTube royalty Casey Neistat for Verge editor Casey Newton.

Come on Digiday. You’re better than this.

** – NB. I know they’d never let the likes of me in to La Baoli and rosé Champagne is just for people who think they like Champagne, but actually don’t and are just drinking it because they think it’s fancier. Just get yourself the Blue WKD you really want and give your expenses a break.

Three key takeaways from VidCon 2018

Three key takeaways from VidCon 2018

This year’s VidCon felt more multi-platform than ever before. Just a couple of years ago it was pretty much entirely YouTube’s domain but this year there was significant presence from all the big guns. Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest all joined YouTube in hosting panels (of varying quality and insight it must be said) and many of the platforms made major announcements at their keynotes.

Amongst all the bluster there we a few things that really stood out. Here are the three things you need to do right now, stop doing immediately, and keep an eye on for the future.

Do it now.

9:16 is here to stay, get over it. I know this will be unpopular amongst my filmmaker friends, but we need to have a shift in attitude when it comes to aspect ratios. It’s time to stop begrudgingly re-versioning 16:9 into 9:16 and start considering portrait from the outset. I know the arguments — ‘how hard is it to just turn your phone around?’, ‘the camera is designed to be held like this’, ‘the earth is flat’ and so on — and they are undeniably good arguments. But it’s time to face facts — platform preference and user behaviour has won and IGTV will only reenforce that.

Rather than considering 9:16 as an ‘additional deliverable’ we need to start commissioning, conceiving and producing in these ratios on every single thing we do. No more handing over a made-for-TV ad spot to the editors and asking them to crowbar your beautifully crafted creation into a ratio in which it simply doesn’t fit. You need to be creating bespoke content or shooting your content in a manner that allows for both. Shoot it twice if you have to!

Research from our Trailer Park team here in LA has found that 59% of consumers “find it annoying to turn their phone horizontally”. 35% actually lock their phone in vertical mode! Digital media consumption is outstripping TV, the majority of that is on mobile and the majority of that is with the phone held portrait. Seriously, what more rationale do you need?

Takeaway: This should be obvious, but unless you have a very good reason not to, every digital content brief should be equally weighted between 9:16 and 16:9.

Stop it now.

VR and 360. Seriously. I barely heard a peep about this at VidCon all week. I certainly see its value for PR and experiential, (the Star Wars hyper-reality experience at Disney is seriously fucking cool BTW), but if you’re in the business of reaching and engaging audiences with online video, then it might be worth handing this hot potato over to another team.

I asked some people about the presence, or lack thereof, of VR at VidCon, and the consensus response was generally a big shrug. One guy from a major distributor, who I’m assuming would rather remain nameless, told me “I get it for gaming and porn, but it’s not for us”.

Gone, I hope, are the days when we get briefs which ask us to ‘make some 360 videos’. Bring on the days where we get briefs saying ‘tell this story for us in the most appropriate format’.

Takeaway: Storytelling is still key, VR doesn’t have scale and likely never will, so let’s not be too bothered about it. For now.

Keep an eye on it.

Platform homogeneity. So, YouTube have launched a thing a bit like Instagram Stories and Instagram have launched a thing a bit like YouTube. Facebook is investing in episodic content and longer-form, and so are YouTube, and LinkedIn(!?). And Twitter and Snapchat are trying to woo creators like YouTube have done for years and Skype have got a creators thingy that, I think, is a bit like Twitch, but I can’t be too sure, and YouTube now have Premieres which is basically ATV, and Facebook have something similar and so on and so forth.

Put simply, everyone is starting to look a bit YouTubey but with their own little USPs. That’s great for audiences but it makes for a bit of a clusterfuck for creators and publishers. Where do we focus? Do we need to do all these things? Why is that Brand Partnerships person from that other social video platform camped on my lawn?

One major advantage that YouTube still has is a very mature and developed Content ID system and monetisation model. Twitter asking you to put all your videos on their platform because ‘Hey, #engagement right?!’ is all very well and good, but man’s gotta get that paper, so don’t expect a big exodus away from YouTube anytime soon. But do expect every new content brief to be a lot more multi-platform and a lot more complicated.

I’m not going to outline a full content strategy for you here because (a) we charge for that kind of thing and (b) it’s entirely bespoke to your business needs, but it’s worth just expecting that it’s going to be a bit of a bunfight between the platforms for a while as they compete for the attention of content creators. So just be cautious, don’t get drawn into putting all your eggs in one basket and, of course, always interrogate the ROI.

Action: With so much overlap between platforms, content strategy is more important than ever. I know, I would say that, but seriously — make sure you account for it in every brief.

It wouldn’t be a World Cup special without a run-down of the best World Cup ads, so here’s High Snobiety’s!

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Okay, not strictly about the World Cup, but still about the beautiful game and still pretty big news! After months of speculation, Amazon have finally made a move for a Premier League broadcast rights package, purchasing the exclusive rights for 20 matches per season.

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