Tonight is Music Ally’s Future Music Marketing event in London, where we’ve gathered a panel of opinionated experts to give their views on whether a selection of technologies are hits or hype – or a bit of both – for helping musicians reach fans.

The second topic up for discussion was video and online advertising: Facebook, retargeting and more. There was an introductory presentation by Music Ally’s head of digital marketing training Claire Mas, followed by the panel debate.

Our panellists for the night: Sammy Andrews, head of digital, Cooking Vinyl; Dino Burbidge, director of innovation and technology, WCRS; Niamh O’Reilly, digital director, Sony Music; Katie Ray, digital marketing consultant, Modest Management; and Jessica Roe, CEO, Level Theory. The moderator was Music Ally’s Eamonn Forde.

“Before a year ago, most of our online content sat on YouTube, but now there’s a lot of competition in the space, where there used to be monopoly,” said Mas, noting increased smartphone penetration and faster, more reliable networks as factors in the growth in people watching video online. On Facebook, there was also the ice bucket challenge – a big wake-up call for marketers about its emerging native video strand.

“Facebook realised ‘this is our golden moment to break native video… it meant autoplay, play counts, playlisting and analytics. And the most powerful thing they did was play with the algorithm, the famous reach you get. That’s Facebook’s superpower. They started giving us what I like to think of as ‘mad reach’… they gave us two, three, four, up to 10 times the amount of reach we used to see,” said Mas.

Now Twitter has its native video feature, startups like Vessel are trying to find a “first window” for shortform video, and Twitch is getting into music on the livestreaming side. Meanwhile, on the advertising side, the industry can now target people specifically on their musical tastes. But they can also retarget: ads that follow internet users around the web, based on where they’ve been.

Retargeting is increasingly sophisticated, but has its complications: for example the different devices people are using, and the different services on which they’re consuming music, from Spotify and Deezer to YouTube and SoundCloud.

Over to the panel, and Andrews talking about her work with Twitch for The Prodigy. “The Prodigy have had a long affinity with games,” she said of the livestreaming service, which has traditionally focused on gaming. “We took a punt on it and decided to unlock one track and license it for a set period of time [to Twitch],” she said of Twitch’s licensed music library, which had the band’s Wall Of Death song, pointing to iTunes and Spotify. “We saw significant uplift in people going and purchasing the track and playing it off the back of that… Going forward, I can see that the platform works, but we’d like to work with them in monetising the audio side.”

Roe has worked with Twitch in her past role working with YouTube gamers. “They were really owning that network over a year ago, and I am surprised that Twitch hasn’t become more mainstream and more talked about really for brands and music artists, because there’s a lot of potential there,” she said.

What about Facebook and native video? Andrews said “it’s the same bloody problem: it’s not monetised, so we’re limited to 45-second clips… but the rate that people are sharing at is far far outweighing YouTUbe at the moment for us… so it’s definitely working, but we want some monetisation there. I don’t think it’s going to be far away.”

Burbidge talked about the idea of “hero music videos” on YouTube, and the idea of artists doing extra content around them. “You might want something that goes for gamers, ‘they’re playing a game’ or ‘this is the making of the music video’. And after the hero people branch off into the hub… A lot of people will just put it on there and say ‘we’ve uploaded all our catalogue’… but YouTube will tell you the rules and why stuff is popular. Same with BuzzFeed, they’ll give you the rules of why something is shareable.”

“We’re still in the process of playing with it,” said Ray, noting that she’s restricted with some artists’ video content over where it can go. But when Modest! works with new acts, it has more freedom to test Facebook video out. She noted that YouTube and Vevo views remain important for things like radio playlists, so there’s a risk of splitting the viewership and having less clout. “It’s the conversation of ‘are we happy with splitting views?’ and testing that process… We’re still very much playing around with it and seeing what the patterns are, if there are any.”

“YouTube and Facebook are completely different. YouTube is the biggest video platform and Facebook is the biggest social network,” said O’Reilly. “The headline last year was the rise of social and the explosive growth of video, but they’re absolutely connected… It’s trying to find ways for artists of making content that’s completely native to each platform, rather than just making a video and sticking it up on everything… We have a job to do to inspire those artists so that they feel comfortable understanding ‘for YouTube I do this, for Facebook I do that, for Snapchat I do this…’”

What about retargeting? O’Reilly said “the big success story this year with retargeting is location. Getting that data about where somebody is, and what they’ve watched… and then you think about what other information? Some of the exciting features that Facebook and Twitter have launched, like custom audiences and location. Location isn’t just about ‘She’s walking past Costa Coffee so lets sell her an iced latte. It’s about ‘she walks past Costa Coffee at this time every morning, and then she goes there, and then she goes there’… And then about serving her relevant information. We’re not there yet, by the way, but that’s the dream.”

Burbidge talked about beacons technology: the ability to know where people have been and push messages to their phone – again, with relevance and not in a spammy way, hopefully. “And the quality of that data is getting better and better as well,” said O’Reilly. “Making sure the quality of that data is high so the message really is relevant.”

As the event came to a close, it was time for questions from the audience. Why as an industry do we still keep treating YouTube separately when we talk about streaming, and why isn’t it part of the UK’s official chart? “It’s still where people consume the most music. That doesn’t help in release week. If we want a chart that truly reflects how people are consuming music going forward, it has to include video,” said Andrews.

O’Reilly said that Sony had neglected building its audience on YouTube and Vevo, seeing it as a retail platform instead. “We’re trying to learn from creators on YouTube and how we can develop audiences there now,” she said.

Read the other reports from our Future Music Marketing event
Messaging apps
Streaming services
Virtual reality, wearables and location

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you understand what’s required for artists to thrive in new international markets!

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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