An in-depth look into the cord-cutting trend and what new live-streaming capabilities mean for advertisers

I love TV. The intricate story lines, the relevancy of episodes, and the development of characters are captivating. When you find me with the TV on I am most likely catching up on recorded shows like How To Get Away with Murder or binge watching a new series on Netflix. Seriously, if you need suggestions I have you covered.

Until about a year ago I was actually a cord cutter. For those unfamiliar with this term it is the ditching of traditional pay television. You have heard us use this term in past blog posts such as “Is Rock the Vote rocking young voters?” and “In Television Ads We Trust”.

For a lot of millennials the shedding of cable or never getting pay TV comes down to one factor. Can I pay my bills? Many young professionals would rather spend their leftover income on craft beer and experiences before giving it to a company whose programming they barely watch. There were two reasons my roommate and I went with cable. The first was that she consumed programing that required a pay-TV subscription – she is a fan of football and The Real Housewives – and the second was that new customer pricing wasn’t much more than stand-alone Internet with Hulu, Sling TV, and Netflix.

Now, a year after our decision, not only are there digital platforms to show broadcast and original entertainment like Amazon Prime, Sling TV, and HBO NOW, but there are also social platforms streaming live content.


With all these new ways to watch, I was curious as to how much the television industry was being affected by the cord-cutting trend. Rhetoric in the media suggests cable and satellite doom. However, in reality, only one-quarter of all US TV watchers go without cable and satellite subscriptions, according to a GfK study. The households with 18-34 year olds are most likely to go for alternative TV content and in a Fortune online article, whose numbers are a tad different, the percentage of cable-free homes will rise from 20.4% to 21.9% by the end of 2016. Not a big significance.

The reasons behind the shift aren’t rocket science but here are some cited justifications.

While the cord-cutting trend is growing, as an advertiser I wouldn’t be too worried. Cable still has a large number of TV subscribers and TV network’s content is still being watched – just in a different way.

According to Adweek’s article “Live Viewership May Be Down, but TV Content Is Still the Main Thing People Are Streaming”, TV consumers are spending more time with time-shifted TV, or TV that is watched after the live broadcast. To put this into context, 67% of Hulu viewers enjoy watching network TV shows the most. In fact, a report from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) found that total video consumption has slightly risen over the past year.

The VAB research is particularly interesting as their conclusion was that ad-supported TV brands and video streaming have a symbiotic relationship; they increase viewership. Overall, “there’s been a healthy increase in the amount of time consumers spend with TV brands across platforms – including TV-branded websites, mobile browsers and apps.”

Isn’t that good news?

Looking at these services as complementary instead of conflicting creates a whole new juxtaposition. It brings to mind an old marketing saying – go to where your consumers are.

This is exactly what some brands are choosing to do with their video content and social platforms like Twitter are helping them to do it. Cable and satellite were once sole distributers of live content, but Twitter’s recent deal with the NFL is working to make live sports easily consumable, even for cord cutters.

In preparation for this live-stream of Thursday night football, Twitter partnered with streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One to integrate the online TV experience. The result? Twitter’s live-stream of the Patriots-Texans game caught the attention of 327,000 people; a relatively low number compared to the 17.5 million it captured on TV. For advertisers these games shed light on live-streaming habits. One notable difference is that consumers of live content on social platforms aren’t watching full games. Viewers tuned in for an average of 22 minutes, which is one-third the amount of time expected of someone watching a football game the traditional way.

live-streaming devices

More impressive was the live-stream of the 2016 presidential debates. Its stream on Twitter passed NFL audience numbers and overall attracted 9.5 million between all live-streaming platforms (Facebook, YouTube, news websites, etc.).

The debates offered more insight into the vitality of live-streaming. Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media Today reported an interesting trend. Live-streaming audience numbers increased every debate while TV audience numbers fluctuated. The first debate attracted 84 million people on TV, the highest ever. For the second, TV viewership declined by 20% and then increased again for the third, but it never reached the 84 million the first debate attracted. (Note: overall live-stream audience numbers were drastically less than live TV viewership.)

live-streaming audience size 2016 presidential debate

“As the TV audience declined, more people tuned into the live-streams, showing an increased confidence in, and reliance upon, these platforms as a coverage source.” – Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today

Viewership on platforms is one thing but those who are paying to advertise have said these live-streaming platforms under delivered. Advertisers on Twitter said they saw significant underdelivery from their ads during NFL football games. Below are some of the measurements they are referring to.

  • Expectations of audience size 500,000 avg. viewers. Actual, 243,000 avg. viewers.
  • Expectation of number of times each viewer would see an ad, three. Actual, one.

While this reach might be low compared to subscription TV and for some under performing, as people become used to live-streaming I foresee the audience growing. Something that Hutchinson’s insights might be foretelling. As audiences grow so will the adsphere, giving advertisers more ways to reach consumers. New ad options like Facebook’s mid-roll video ads are already available in live video.

Keep in mind we are in live-streaming’s heyday. Advertisers who figure it out early will only have more success in the future. As Octagon’s Chief Strategy Officer Simon Wardle stated when speaking about the Summer Olympics, “Media buying is going towards not only wanting those traditional media spots, but integrating them with digital, especially when you have live-streaming. Having a presence on those platforms for brands in my mind is essential, because it’s disproportionately likely to be watched by these 18-to-34-year-olds, the elusive teen and young adult audience.”

-Caroline Robinson

Branded in 1926

Last month my family and I were honored to get together and celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. Born in 1926, she has lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To help her celebrate, we held a party filled with activities honoring her birth year including a 1926 trivia game. My aunt also put 1926 goodie bags together. The goodies were items from companies or brands founded in 1926, and included signed posters from the Harlem Globetrotters, pins from the IGA and HomeTrust Bank, Mt. Olive Pickles, Q-tips, Haggar Clothing, and candies such as Godvia chocolates, Milk Duds, Slo Poke, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.

As we stood around singing “Happy Birthday”, I realized we were marking my grandma’s 90 years on earth with brands! We were celebrating their achievements right beside hers. Associating their legacy with her. In today’s culture, consumerism begins when we are born. Even before we can speak and walk we are branded. We may later on choose our own brand identities by associating ourselves with products that match our changing lifestyle, but no longer are the days where we are simply known by the name our parents give us or by what we have achieved. Our personal identity – or brand – is made up of the products we consume and a product’s brand is made up of its users’ stories.


A few weeks later HomeTrust Bank wrote a short content piece highlighting the celebration and the gifts they sent. They shared the piece on social media along with a photo of my grandma holding the goods.

This is just one example of a company integrating a user’s story into their brand and using it to engage with customers. What are some creative ways you have seen brands engage with customers? What ways have you seen brands celebrate their anniversaries?

-Caroline Robinson

Eager to please, eager to keep: The new employee, employer relationship

As recent graduates and young professionals we are eager to please. Competing against the thousands of other resumes in circulation and the lingering notation of the difficulty of finding a job in today’s economy, we strive to shake the most hands, to land the best interviews, and to deliver the best results. However, as we worked our way through school, a subliminal but steady undertone was, and is still, happening in the job market we are now entering… baby boomers are heading out, and milennials are flooding in.

In the age of information it is no secret that younger generations are becoming more skilled, more savvy, and more talented than each previous. And as demands grow, so do expectations. If we are expected the deliver the best, we also expect to receive. A recent Gallup poll reports that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, more than three times the number of non-millennials. The report also notes that 60% are open to another job opportunity, signaling to employers that less and less of their staff see a future with them.

For executives to maintain recruitment and retention they need to understand culture. Employers must show they can support a millenial’s lifestyle just as much as they can support their career. As a result, employers are showcasing their office space as a direct extension of their work culture.

Cubicles are out and nap pods are in.

Millennials value an environment that offers collaboration, flexibility, and technology. The best offices are ones that can adapt to these desires. It’s increasing common to see spaces that offer open floor plans, cafes, fitness centers, game rooms, pet care, and more.

One of Caroline’s previous workspaces had a basketball court and bowling alley.


One of the eateries inside the Red Ventures headquarters. Photo from

Check out Fortune’s article on the “25 coolest offices of the 100 best companies”. What kind of amenities is your office providing? How important is your working space to your productivity, creativity, and plans to stay with your employer?

-Savannah Valade

Watch ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ to get pumped for the 2016 presidential election

This weekend I watched Our Brand Is Crisis with Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton. The movie follows a political strategist, played by Bullock, and her quest to help the underdog candidate win the Bolivian presidential election. This movie is an entertaining watch for those in political communications or public relations, or if you want a fun way to celebrate the 2016 presidential election!

Our Brand Is Crisis, the movie, is currently on HBO Now and was inspired by a documentary also called Our Brand Is Crisis. The documentary covers the 2002 Bolivian election and the team of political consultants who helped with the reelection campaign of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada; I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch the documentary yet, so let me know what you think if you have!

I am sharing this movie because it reminded me how important it is to vote. For the first time millennials match the baby boomer generation in numbers —meaning that each group makes up “31% of the voting-eligible population.” As one of the two largest voter-eligible groups, millennials’ voices are even more powerful than they have been in previous elections. Yet even though we may be eligible to vote, stats have shown we are less likely to show up to do it. Two years ago Savannah and I covered this and the 2014 Rock the Vote ad campaign. In the post we listed voter resources that are still relevant to this year’s election. Check the post out.

For those planning to vote or needing to register, here are important dates to keep in mind.


  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 14, 2016
  • Early Voting: October 20th – November 5, 2016
  • Election Day: November 8, 2016

If you are not in NC, the Rock the Vote website can point you to the right place. Presidential debates are also coming up and will be broadcast on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. If you do not have access to broadcast television, all major news networks will offer a free live stream along with the social platforms YouTube and Twitter.


  • First presidential debate: Monday, September 26, 2016
  • Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • Second presidential debate: Sunday, October 9, 2016
  • Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So YOU tell us, why is it important for millennials to vote? Are you doing anything to celebrate the 2016 election?

-Caroline Robinson

3 takeaways from the Rio Olympics for communication professionals

Last week the Olympic flame was extinguished marking the end of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. While ultimately ending without any major hiccups, the road to the games were like Rio’s cobblestoned streets – a little bumpy.

The 31st Olympiad was special as it marked the first time the games were held in South America. However, as summer 2016 approached, the host country’s economic and political turmoil took the spotlight.

As someone who enjoys watching the competitions and the incredible athletes that participate, I couldn’t help but tune into the variety of stories grabbing media headlines.

At an international event this large there are many lessons applicable to marketing communication professionals, and I would like to share a few of those lessons with you. So here are three takeaways from this year’s Summer Olympics.Rio Olympics logo.jpg

Have trained media staff or public relations plans

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) picked Rio as a host city in 2009, I’m sure they never imagined having to confront some of the issues that arose within the regions of South America. One of those main concerns was the outbreak of the Zika virus. The expansion of the virus prompted doctors and professors from around the world to publicly recommend postponing the games. The response of the IOC (backed by health professionals) was that travel to the Olympics would not cause major spread of the virus and the decision to continue the games stood firm.

Unforeseen circumstances, like the one mentioned above, make it vital for an organization to have trained media staff and a crisis management plan. Quick responses to damaging events could prevent reputation and value loss. So if your organization hasn’t outlined an emergency media plan or designated and trained potential spokespersons now is the time to do so. Here is Bernstein’s “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications” to get you started.

Know what you are paying for as a sponsor/advertiser

 One thing I learned about the Olympics is that there is a blackout rule for sponsors called Rule 40. This rule states that if you are not an official Olympic sponsor, but a sponsor of an athlete or coach, you can’t mention anything about that person or the Olympic games starting nine days prior to the opening ceremony and ending three days after the closing ceremony. Of course the rules are a little more extensive, but it works as a reminder that if you are looking to sponsor someone or something, make sure you know the limitations.


Another example of this is NBC’s Olympic coverage. Viewership fell 17% below what they predicted, which meant advertisers were not going to hit the viewership numbers NBC promised. In order to make up for that NBC gave additional commercial time, or “make good” ads, to ensure agreements were made whole. There isn’t much more I can say about this other than make sure you have good media buyers and lawyers. 

Stay Social

While the IOC did impose regulations on sponsors, Olympic fans and the media were all a buzz online. My favorite moment had to be the Simone Biles and Zac Efron exchanges. Who doesn’t love when a gold medalist gets to meet her celebrity crush? SocialMedia Today has a great article analyzing the different social platforms that give insight into the breadth of social interactions during the Olympics. The main conclusion here is that if you want to reach the millennial crowd you have to be in the social sphere.

Any takeaways you have for us? Explain in a comment below!

-Caroline Robinson


IMC Travel Guide 2

Entering the job market as a young professional means a lot of changes. No more sleeping in during the weekdays, no more 3-hour workdays, and the absolute worst, no more summer break. The professional life may keep you busy, but it is always important to keep a work life balance, which is why we are bringing back our second IMC Travel Guide.

One way you can incorporate continued learning into your travels is by visiting places relating to your field. I recently visited Atlanta and picked out some popular but relevant attractions to experience.

World of Coca-Cola

coca-cola bottles

Evolution of the Coca-Cola bottle.

One of the most celebrated and consumed worldwide brands began in Atlanta, GA. Coca-Cola has won the hearts of many generations and continues to be an innovative marketer and pop culture icon. Their museum submerses you in the drink’s history, production, and entertainment. For someone in the marketing communication field be sure to stop by the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which includes advertising history and Coca-Cola artifacts, and their Pop Culture Gallery for Coca-Cola pop art.


CNN Studio Tours – Atlanta

Want to go into news broadcasting or become a public relations specialist? This is the tour for you. The CNN Studio Tour at the Atlanta CNN Center takes you behind the scenes explaining the different aspects of broadcasting including newsgathering, videography, and programming.


Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC)

The Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, IL is one amusement we have both added to our travel bucket list. The museum honors radio and television – vintage and present-day – and houses the National Radio Hall of Fame Gallery. Inside the museum you can see TV sets, radio memorabilia, and TV and radio studios. This is a fun stop for all ages and their ever-rotating exhibits keep content fresh. One current exhibition, Watching TV in the 1990s, commemorates the last decade of traditional television viewing. For late night TV junkies, the museum will open a Johnny Carson exhibit in January 2016.


Have you been to the Museum of Broadcast Communications? Share with us your favorite moments and travel pictures in a comment below. Also, don’t forget to recommend your favorite communication minded travel stops.

-Caroline Robinson


Reaching your resolutions

It’s almost three months into the new year and while many of us made New Year’s resolutions, not all of us have stuck with them or even begun working toward them. That is why this week Com Minded is going to help you accomplish those resolutions. Whether geared toward your personal or professional life, these quick tips will keep you on track to reach your objective.

  1. Remind yourself you have a New Year’s resolution

Too many of us make a resolution on New Year’s Eve/Day and then forget we ever made one. One key to conquering your New Year’s goals is reminding yourself you actually made one. Life can be busy and goals can get pushed aside, so put sticky notes on your mirror or set monthly reminders in your phone or planner. A reminder every now and then will keep your goal fresh in your mind so you can then work to accomplish it

  1. Figure out how to succeed at your resolution

The hardest part is getting started! Your goal may seem intangible, but if you sit yourself down and write out how you plan to accomplish the resolution, the impossible will turn possible.


One of my resolutions is to learn new skills – while a pretty general statement, one way I started is by writing down the skills I would like to learn. These include learning SEO and becoming an expert in programs like Illustrator and Excel. My next step was to find resources that would help me learn/improve these skills and now all I have to do is sit down to review the resources to say I have accomplished my resolution.


For myself, I know that it can be daunting to think of a large or long-term goal just looming overhead or in the background. Often times just the anxiety of what has to be accomplished can be debilitating to your progress. To combat this, I make small daily goals. This not only reminds me of the larger one I have in place, but forces me to make strides towards it constantly. Besides, is there anything more satisfying than crossing something off a list?

  1. Reward yourself

Some resolutions may be self-rewarding like goals that involve traveling more or being more adventurous, but others like learning new skills or even living a healthier lifestyle can test you.

Remember to reward yourself for those harder goals, whether it is through small treats like a mani-pedi or bigger rewards like tickets to a concert or a getaway weekend with friends. It might take some self-discipline, but if you only allow yourself to indulge in rewards if your goals are met, then it will give you another reason to accomplish the resolutions you have made.

So cheers to no more excuses! Let us know how you accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. What are some ways you reward yourself for working towards those goals?

– Caroline Robinson