Tasting Table And Newsy Tap Apple’s tvOS To Reach Millennials In Leanback Mode

tvosWhen Apple baked tvOS into its fourth-generation set-top box, the next-gen operating system also opened the floodgates to third-party apps.

It was a pivotal moment for app and game developers, who could for the first time tap into Apple’s emerging TV ecosystem via a new software development kit (SDK).

And for large and mid-tier publishers, the new SDK represents an inroad to a burgeoning Apple TV user base – and new monetization potential.

Tasting Table, which was founded in 2008, is a digital publisher focused on food and epicurean lifestyle with 8 million monthly users across its site, 3.7 million per month, per comScore, apps, social channels and heritage email newsletter.

Video has grown as part of Tasting Table’s overall revenue mix, said Geoff Bartakovics, co-founder and CEO. An upswing in custom orders for branded video led Bartakovics to increase the publisher’s revenue forecast for 2016 by $2.5 million.

Tasting Table also makes 10 to 12 editorial videos per week and dedicates a team of six to video production.

While Tasting Table looks to social platforms to amplify its content and reach new audiences, especially on Facebook, only 30% of its traffic actually comes from social.

“That’s where my interest in channels like tvOS and Apple TV comes from,” Bartakovics said. “We’re looking for new people we can introduce to the Tasting Table brand, sign them up for our newsletter and ultimately monetize them there later. We’re not like other larger publishers who are looking to do a 10-cent rev-share with Facebook.”  

Because Tasting Table is a relatively small publisher, it has historically lacked the development resources needed to be a first mover on new channels and platforms, such as over-the-top or, more specifically, tvOS.

The publisher has a curated restaurant app for iOS dubbed “DINE,” but that is largely the result of its January acquisition of restaurant app Flavour.

Tasting Table uses JW Player as its video player across its owned and operated sites, so when the video platform released an open-source Apple TV App builder this month, the publisher was among its first pilot customers.

It worked with JW Player to create a tvOS app within days and received Apple’s blessing for entry into the App Store within a day. Within two days of the app’s debut, it was featured on the tvOS discovery page. Two or three weeks later, Apple named it among its Best New Apps.

“I think it’ll be a lot more difficult to get attention on the home page in two years,” Bartakovics said. “We’re still trying to [gain traction and discovery] with our iOS app because competition there is so fierce. Getting an app out sooner than later through JW’s app builder for tvOS was kind of game-changing for us.”

Apple’s tvOS also gives Tasting Table a canvas to explore long-form video content that might not work on mobile, where it instead prioritizes lighter, quicker bite-sized content.

Newsy Tries On tvOS

Similarly, Scripps-owned video publisher Newsy sees a future in reaching cord cutters or “cord nevers” on connected TVs (CTV).

Newsy publishes more than 1,000 videos per month and gets between 1 million and 3 million video views per day across multiple verticals, including top US news, entertainment and politics.

To date, the publisher has worked with SpotX as its ad server and supply-side platform, but it recently expanded its usage to begin monetizing CTV with SpotX’s SDK for tvOS.

Newsy as an organization is relatively new to video monetization and ran its first pre-roll ad in 2014. But as Apple TV and other platforms grow in interest with millennial audiences, it’s keen on exploring emerging channels.

“While it’s true that many OTT devices and apps are still in their early days, we see today’s consumers as an incredible opportunity to build and monetize audience while establishing ourselves as the go-to OTT news brand,” said Blake Sabatinelli, GM of Newsy.

“Excluding social, Newsy distributes the same content to all platforms, [but] in the future,” he said, “I could see creating more long-form content for OTT to help bolster our offering.”

Reaching CTV Users Across Screens

The supply pool is deepening in CTV. From Q3 to Q4 last year, SpotX claimed advertiser spend on CTV increased 570% while publisher CPMs doubled on average.

Right now there is less saturation of apps in OTT than in mobile so discovery is naturally easier, but that’s changing with the influx of gaming apps and the like, according to Allen Klosowski, VP of mobile and connected devices for SpotX.

“We expect CPI-style strategies to become common on CTV in the near future, but executed across screens,” Klosowski predicted. “Advertising a CTV app on a smartphone or desktop then tracking the download and install onto the CTV device is a complicated task. … This will be greatly helped by the use of advertiser identifiers in CTV platforms, something that Apple TV and Roku support.”

Although some large publishers with big databases may begin to deploy remarketing tactics across desktop, mobile and OTT, for some it’s just a matter of reaching certain volumes or scale on mobile or OTT before they actively target or monetize there.

Tasting Table, for instance, has a login onsite so the publisher can begin to create a map of which users are coming from desktop, mobile apps, mobile web and ultimately OTT.

Tasting Table hasn’t extended a login for OTT yet “since you want to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible to capture new viewers,” said Jeroen Wijering, co-founder of JW Player.

But at a certain point, he said, “you could in theory apply that login to Roku and AppleTV as well to start to understand logged-in users cross-platform.”

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