Netflix Ads in Our Future?

tv watching

Will Netflix ads ever be a thing? Not since the Ross and Rachel will they or won’t they question has there been so much debate among viewers. The streaming game gets more competitive all the time and Netflix announced a price bump early this year for the first time since 2017. More streaming options and a limited revenue source mean the OTT provider is looking for cash. So does that mean the most popular streaming service in the world will allow ads?

Why Add Ads?

Netflix Ads in Our Future?
Netflix ads could finally lead to a profit

Although Netflix has always said it wants to be ad-free, most experts agree the streaming service will eventually need to embrace advertising. They say there’s simply no other way to sustain continued growth. You see, Netflix operates on a yearly loss and hasn’t had any positive cash flow since 2011. Their entire revenue is based on monthly membership fees from three available plans. Other streaming services have additional sources of revenue or use advertising. For example, Hulu offers a cheaper subscription rate for viewers willing to sit through ads. Many feel Netflix should adopt the same model.

Show Me the Money—Netflix Numbers

So what are the numbers for the world’s biggest streaming service? In Canada, Netflix is forecast to have 7.26 million users in 2019. They have 149 million users worldwide across 190 countries. The company has a market valuation and stock price that’s sky-high: $150 billion dollars and $370USD respectively. In March, Netflix was spending $1.4 billion per month on content. Based on the amount of money Netflix is spending, subscriptions alone aren’t going to cut it.

Some feel the time is running out for Netflix’s current business model to work. Netflix ads could be the move that keeps investors investing. There’s an impatience to see how all the money put toward original programming can be monetized. Relying on good content for profitability is playing the long game. The company could run out of investor patience before the content pays off. And the influx of new streaming services is making the situation more desperate.

Original Programming

The success of Netflix hinges on its content. The company is betting on original productions, borrowing money with the hopes of future growth. In fact, Netflix has almost $20 billion in content costs on the book. Even with good content, the competition is fierce. More streaming services means less content to go around. For example, Disney will be pulling content off Netflix over the course of 2019 in anticipation of starting its own service. And Netflix had to pay WarnerMedia $100 million in December to keep Friends another year.

Consumer Ad Acceptance

Netflix has built a reputation on refusing ads and they seem to be stubbornly sticking to that brand proposition. However, some studies show that Netflix ads would generally be accepted. “Cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers” are especially willing to put up with advertising. A study suggests that streaming ads targeted to the viewer have context not found on traditional broadcast or cable tv. The relevance of the advertising makes it less annoying and more inclined to be useful, helpful, or interesting to the viewer. Experts say that if Netflix is transparent about using ads and illustrates the value exchange, consumers may be more open than they think. If Netflix ads mean more original programming and a cheaper subscription cost, that may be an acceptable trade-off.

The Ever-Growing Field of Streaming Services

Here are some of the other streaming services that are scooping up viewers in Canada, often at a lower cost.

  • Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime Canada costs $79 per year or $7.99 per month and includes free shipping, access to Prime Video and Prime Music, plus a few other perks.
  • CBC Gem features live programming, original programming, and CBC Staples such as Coronation Street. Caveat: the service only supports 720p resolution on all platforms.
  • CBS All Access is offering one month free for new subscribers. Once that grace period is over, All Access will cost a monthly fee of $5.99
  • Crave is Bell Media’s video streaming service and starts at $9.99 CAD. However, if you purchase all of the add-ons, you’ll pay $25.99 a month.
  • DAZN is the streaming service for sports fans. It offers live streams of MLS, NFL, European soccer, ICC Cricket and more. Pay $20/month or $150 for the year with the first month free for new subscribers. Sportsnet NOW is another sports-related streaming option.
  • Hayu is NBC Universal’s streaming offering in Canada. Its genre is very specific, streaming only reality tv programming. Cost is $5.99/month with the first month free.
  • Get all the horror programming you can handle for $4.99/month or $49.99/year with Shudder, AMC’s live streaming service.
  • YouTube Premium offers original content made by creators. You can watch YouTube Originals for $11.99 per month.
  • Coming soon: Apple TV+ is set to release in fall 2019.
  • Also coming soon: Disney+ is reportedly planning to charge half the price of a Netflix subscription when they launch. Content includes movies from the Marvel series, the Star Wars saga, and Pixar. Many are predicting a pre-holiday rush when the service launch in November 2019.

Would You Accept Netflix Ads?

Would Netflix ads make you cancel your subscription? What would you need in return to make advertising worth the watch? For now, Netflix remains ad-free. Some think it will stay that way and that ads aren’t the only option. Whatever happens in the future, there are certainly plenty of streaming services to choose from. Surely one of them—or a combination of several—fits your needs.

Trading Services—What’s the Deal?

handshake trading services

Trading services, in-kind trade, in-kind services, trade-outs, countertrade, contra agreements…Whatever you choose to call it, bartering is the oldest form of doing business. When two companies trade products or services, both parties can come out ahead. If the terms are clear and each side benefits, especially in cases where time is swapped rather than materials, the arrangement is a win-win. Key West Video has been known to exchange services for spots in trade shows, radio ad time, and even team-building recreational fun.

Countertrade Advantages

There are absolutely benefits to bartering. Here are just a few:

  • Saves money
  • Forms lasting partnerships
  • Leads to paid work in the future
  • Allows small businesses to preserve capital
  • Keeps employees engaged during slow periods

Trade-out Disadvantages

As long as we’re listing pros, it seems only prudent to list cons as well. Here are a few disadvantages associated with swapping services:

  • No income or profit is generated
  • A precedent could be set for “free” services
  • Services could be devalued if others perceive them as something they can always barter for, but never pay for
  • Bartered work may not get the same recognition in the marketplace

Compelling Reasons to Barter

There are a number of reasons a business may consider trading services.

  • Engage employees who are otherwise unoccupied
  • Purge excess inventory
  • Take care of a service or product need when cash is tight
  • Secure a service you are either unwilling or unable to pay for
  • Conserve cash
  • Generate new customers
  • Charity work that can bring tax breaks and reflect positively on the company

Trading Terms

Trading Services—What's the Deal?
Trading services can happen once or as part of an ongoing agreement.

Trading services can occur in a variety of ways. There are one-off trades where companies make a single deal to exchange services in a set situation. Term agreements are another form of trade out. In this case, two businesses may decide to trade services for an agreed-upon amount of time. Or they could engage in an ongoing agreement that becomes a kind of partnership. Another option would be to state the terms of the trade by giving a value to each service or product and working toward a zero-sum outcome when the trade would be considered complete.

Best Practices

Retail goods or products have a tangible cost as compared to services. Still, time is money. Especially when that time could be spent working for a paying customer. There are material costs and there are time costs. Here are some other factors to consider when trading services:

  • Trade only on the retail value of your services, not their costs.
  • Prioritize by trading for essential services. At the very least, trade for something that has proven value for your business. Otherwise, you may risk getting a reputation for undervaluing your services. That makes people less willing to pay in the future.
  • Trade work only when you have extra time and resources. Prioritize paying customers. Perhaps you can arrange a looser timeline with a trading partner?
  • Know your value. A good rule of thumb to use is to establish a limit on the value of services you’re willing to trade. Make sure the trade is even or of equal value.
  • It’s a good idea to formalize your agreement. That way, both parties are covered. It’s just good business.

Trading Services 101

Identify the kind of ongoing needs your business has, rather than trading services in a desperate situation. Consider your needs and the company that could fulfill them. Then think of what service you offer that would be equally appealing and have a similar value.

Trading Services—What's the Deal?
Consider trading partners aligned with your business

Approach a business you already have a relationship with. That way, there’s already trust and an established connection. By the same token, make sure you can trust the business you engage with for a trade. Be sure of their ability to deliver and the quality of their work. As a rule of thumb, treat trading partners as you would any other client.

Be selective. You don’t want to become known as a bartering business or you’ll never make a profit. Try limiting the number of businesses with which you’ll trade or a total service value per quarter you’re willing to trade.

The Right Swap

When it comes to trading services, be realistic about what you’re trading. How long will that project take? What happens if it takes longer or your trade partner asks for extras? Finally, understand the tax implications of a trade-out. Under the right conditions, trading services can be a very satisfying business transaction. Just like trading that granola bar for a cookie when you were a kid, a good trade makes everyone happy.

Animation AMA with our Animators

NewTO family animation

At Key West Video, we work as a team. Projects demand attention from our producers, editors, animators, scripting—in short, most of what we work on comes together thanks to a united effort. The people who handle animation use their imagination and talent to bring projects without people to life. We’re lucky enough to have some really talented artists working for us as animators. Today’s blog is all about giving you some insight into their work, their creative inspiration, and how they connect with an audience through characters and icons.

Do You Draw Everything by Hand?

In the past I’ve done some frame by frame animation, but typical now it’s all done digitally. A lot of the times you don’t even need to draw every single frame. The software will interpret certain motion or elements to fill in the gaps. If I was to make a simple animation of a person waving, for example, I would only need to tell the software where to start and stop the wave. The rest is filled in automatically.

At Key West everything is made digitally and animated using Adobe After Effects, so we rarely need to draw things by hand. The only thing I would draw by hand would be the frames for a whiteboard animation, and even then it would be on the computer via my drawing tablet.

What are the different kinds of animation?

Traditional hand-drawn animation, 2D vector-based animation, 3D animation and Stop Motion would be the main ones, although you can break each down into more specific subcategories as well.

There are so many different kinds of animation, from whiteboard to stop motion.

What are the steps for animating a project?

No matter how complex or simple, we always need to start with a storyboard. This is basically a simplified version of what we think the animation should look like. It will describe key moments or actions, along with image mock-ups to represent each scene. After these are approved, we need to build and create any additional elements that weren’t covered in the storyboards. If there is voice over narration or character dialogue, we need to time it out so that we know how long each scene and animation action needs to be. From there, we get into the animation proper. If one of the characters is speaking, we also need to sync the characters lips with the dialogue.

The first step would be writing a script. Once the script is approved, we create a storyboard based on it. Visual assets that will later be animated are usually created at this point as well. After a few revisions, the storyboard is approved and we have the voiceover recorded. We start the actual animation process after the voiceover has been delivered to us. The in-depth steps of animating the visual assets usually includes character rigging, scene composition and keyframing rough movements before polishing them further. Music and sound effects will also be added at this point. Like the storyboard, the animated video will go through a number of revisions before being approved and rendered out for final delivery.

Can you make an animated character do anything?

Although we’re often limited by time, budget and the tools at our disposal, it is more or less possible to make a character do anything at all. Being free from the restraints of reality is what makes animation great!

Yes!

What do you enjoy animating?

I really like animating people expressing emotion. Even in a simplified style, it’s fun to try to convey the emotions within a more limited, or less detailed, style. I have animated more ‘this person is confused’ and ‘this person looks worried’ than I can count.

Characters! I love animations that let me tell a story and show people interacting.

Do you animate outside of work?

Yes! I like to draw, but I also like making short films that mix animation and traditional video. I’m also currently working on a children’s story.

I like to practice frame by frame animation in my downtime.

Animation AMA with our Animators
Animator Sarah drew this piece for the Anime North 2019 cover competition

How long does a one-minute animation take?

It really depends on the complexity of the subject matter, but a typical corporate-style explainer video of that length can be produced in a matter of days or weeks.

It varies greatly depending on what sort of content we’re showing during that minute, but if the production process remains steady from scripting to final animation render then I would say around one and a half to two months.

What are some of the most difficult things to animate?

Walking and walk cycles are notoriously difficult, especially for animals. The more legs, the more time it takes. This is why you will so often see walking characters from the waist up. It saves so much time!

Paper! Every now and then I’ll end up with a cartoon stack of paper that needs to fall all over the place and it’s always time-consuming. Nature effects like water and fire can also be tricky.

Chartwell Retirement Residences: Video Series Case Study

Chartwell Retirement Residences logo

Partnering with a subject matter expert can be a marketing stroke of genius. We’re working with client Chartwell on a video series and they’ve chosen to align with personal finance educator Kelley Keehn. That means Chartwell and Keehn are teaming up to answer questions and guide customers through the financial aspects of choosing a retirement residence. On today’s blog, we’ll take a look at how a financial SME is helping a successful Canadian company connect with viewers.

Partnering with an SME

Kelley Keehn is no stranger to Key West Video. We worked with Keehn on a round table discussion about women and money. For this project, Chartwell is using Keehn as a recognizable and successful figure who can speak about finances as they relate to retirement living. Keehn has the knowledge and confidence to address the issues of the target market and she’s accustomed to being in the spotlight.

Chartwell Retirement Residences: Video Series Case Study

Chartwell Gets a Boost with SME Partnership

The idea of introducing someone unrelated to a company as part of a business plan isn’t new. Whether we’re talking about an influencer, an endorsement, or an SME, it’s become common practice. Choosing to work with someone who has expertise related to your field can reflect really well on your business. Here are some of the benefits Chartwell is getting from working with an SME:

  • Gives clients confidence in the business
  • Acts as a personal recommendation from an expert
  • The SME can be a bridge to their followers, introducing new business
  • Addresses the financial concerns of clients
  • An SME who is trained to be on-camera makes the viewer comfortable by speaking with confidence and authority
  • Shows Chartwell is making an effort to connect with the audience and address common questions

Chartwell Series has a Wide Reach

Chartwell Retirement Residences: Video Series Case Study
A still from one of the French videos

The Chartwell video series is still in production but will eventually consist of 14 videos, divided into four financially-related sections. Each video is kept brief at about 90 seconds. The four topics covered by Keehn are planning, affordability, financial myths, and family & money. In each, she’s speaking to the retiree or the caregiver—likely a family member—who will be making the decision about a retirement residence. Kelly speaks directly to the camera and the Key West Video team also shot b-roll at some Chartwell residences to support the series.

Expert Advice

With 187 retirement properties across Canada and the US, Chartwell has a large customer base.  Video is a great way to reach people in every location. Final versions of the series will be produced in both French and English, making the information even more accessible. If you think your business could benefit from some expert advice, call us today and we can discuss how best to connect with customers.

Plastic-Free Lifestyle Tips

Plastic waste on the beach

Plastic free July is a global movement, run out of an office in Australia. This month is a reminder that we need to stop using so much plastic if we want to keep our planet inhabitable. Check out the website for information to help you identify waste, especially single-use plastics. Even better, it’s brimming with ideas for alternatives to using plastic. Take the Pesky Plastics Quiz to raise your awareness of the plastics you may be using and to give you ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint.

The at work section of the site  has suggestions for personal use reduction, tips for reducing plastic in the kitchen, and how to engage co-workers to band together for a plastic free July. Today is plastic bag free day, so that’s a good place to start.

Zero Waste Movement

We love convenience. Dinner delivery is just a phone call away and Amazon will drop anything you want on your doorstep. The problem is, all this convenience comes with a lot of packaging resulting in a lot of waste. One consumer-led, grassroots group of individuals and businesses has blown the whistle on all this trash to lead the zero waste movement. As stated in the name, the goal of those involved is to eliminate garbage altogether. But there are some baby steps society will need to take first. Act by changing the way you think to cut back on the need to produce so all the plastics we consume.

Plastic-Free Lifestyle Tips
Zero waste means none of this ends up in a landfill and less of it will even be produced

Zero waste shops are starting to gain traction. The idea is for customers to use their own reusable materials such as jars and tote bags rather than have the business supply plastic packaging. If you’re using your own container, it will be weighed empty and then weighed again once you’ve filled it up with product. In Canada, Bulk Barn started a reusable container program in February 2017. In Toronto, Unboxed is a grocery store with a zero waste mandate.

Canada’s Banning Single Use Plastics

Single use plastics—those items we use once and then throw away—have been given notice. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would ban single use plastics possibly within two years. Items on the chopping block include plastic straws, cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates, cutlery and balloon sticks. Fast-food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene, which is similar to white styrofoam, will also be banned.

Plastic bags, which can take up to one thousand years to decay, not only end up in landfills but also in the ocean. Marine life continues to be harmed by the glut of plastics infiltrating their ecosystem. A 2016 study found that only nine per cent of plastic waste was recycled in Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada says that Canadians throw away more than 34 million plastic bags every day. The obvious solution is to ban it at the source and our government agrees.

Alternatives to Plastic

Here are just a few of the plastics we encounter every day and what you can use instead.

  • Straws. Use stainless steel or go without.
  • Bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle. Yesterday.
  • Coffee. Invest in a great commuter mug. Yesterday.
  • Plastic Bags. So many reusable bags are designed to take up little space in a purse or even a pocket. Stash a reusable bag in your backpack or something else you carry every day so it will be there when you need it.
  • Take out packaging. Ask if you can use your own containers. Banning that, ask for paper boxes and say no to the plastic bag, plastic utensils, and wad of napkins.
  • Plastic Utensils. Stash a set of silverware at work. Every dollar store has cheap cutlery that works great for this purpose.
  • Food to Go

The take-out industry is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to single use plastic. It’s also an opportunity for you to can a personal impact. If you grab breakfast on the way into work and step out at noon to get lunch, that adds up to a lot of waste. Keep that routine going two or three times and week and multiply that by forty-two working weeks yearly and you’re looking at a lot of garbage.

Check out this video from the University of California. It’s about the amount of garbage produced by the take out industry and how single-use items are clogging landfills. Not only is there some fascinating and shocking information, but there are also some great ideas on how each of us can reduce waste.

 

Packaging accounts for nearly 30 percent of all waste generated across the country according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Reusable Containers

There’s more to reusable containers than your disorganized Tupperware shelf. Cafeterias, restaurants and shops are starting to give consumers the option to reuse. Even some major brands are recognizing growing consumer demand and the need to offer reusable packaging for plastics reduction. A new international shopping platform called Loop would do away with disposable containers for things like shampoo and laundry detergent. Instead, those goods will be delivered in sleek, reusable containers that will be picked up at your door, washed and refilled. The brands are selling the new option as durable, convenient, and reusable.

Initially, Loop will offer about 300 products, with plans to add to the list later. Partners include Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, Mars, and Petcare just to name a few. Loop plans to expand to by the end of this year or early 2020, so keep your eyes peeled. This Loop explainer covers the basics.

Ban Personal Plastics

The most important part of reduce, reuse, recycle is the first two words. If we reduce and reuse materials, new ones don’t need to be made. We have the power to prevent waste before it’s produced. Lead the way in your office and show everyone how easy it is to work toward being waste free.