OPINION: The revolution will not be televised

20 November 2013

As revolutions go, the impact of digital video on the advertising world has been a long time coming but last week’s raft of big brand Christmas campaign launches has added momentum to its inexorable charge. While none of the Australian big brands were quite as bold as UK goliath Marks & Spencer who launched both its teaser and full length Christmas video advert via social media, ahead of TV, they all include a chunky digital element with video taking centre stage.

The shifting strategies of these brand leviathans will (hopefully) accelerate the need for the industry to re-evaluate and reorganise its practices to maintain relevance and value. We are in the middle of a confusing and exhilarating land grab that - as is the case in all revolutions - will see considerable opportunities for some and peril for others. Like it or not video is fundamentally changing the way that we buy, consume and create media. The industry fallout looks a little like this:-

Media agencies: Despite the buzz around multi-platform convergence, the structure of a typical media agency has remained broadly static. TV, radio, outdoor and magazine planners and buyers continue to look after their patch, while the digital teams worry about the online side of things. But where video sits is entirely more problematic. Is buying pre-roll video the preserve of the digital team who understand the landscape or does it fall in with general ‘screen’ strategy, in which a TVC viewed through any device is still just that, a TVC, and the responsibility of the TV buyers? And is it bought via CPM or CPVC? And how do we measure it? Overlayed TARPS? Clicks? And what about engagement? Is the sole purpose of an online video campaign to provide incremental reach to a TV buy? Or, given that digital video is more likely to begin with finer targeting than a TV campaign, is it vice versa? And IPTV hasn’t even started yet. Yep, a lot to figure out.

Brands: Smart brands have already started to adapt to the decline of appointment TV viewing that is robbing them of their biggest impact movement. True, nothing drives brand uplift like TV, but as the dynamics of the lounge room continues to shift its days are numbered. But the good news is that brand are finding that beyond the constraints of the TV spot there is a considerable opportunity to tell a story in a deeper more engaging manner. Viral video (hit and miss but when it works it hits the sweet spot), behind-the-scenes and extended content are other ways in which brands can draw consumers into their worlds. Even real-word activations now have a format through which to show an event to more than just the people who happened to be present at the time of its occurrence (think the activation for the release of Carrie).

Creative agencies: It has taken most creative agencies a while to catch on. It should come as no surprise; they have long been the custodians of the six and seven figure TVC, making significant investment in time and talent to put together a creative piece that works within the medium of TV. But technology now means that the filming of relatively well made (and sometimes brilliantly made) content can be produced for a fraction of the cost. And in the place between the TVC and ‘quirky’ content strategy, a multitude of specialists have flourished. Many creative agencies have also struggled to come to terms with a medium that is as much about function as it is about form. Brilliant at design and copy and consumer insight, they can occasionally fall down in understanding how such a creative strategy might behave once placed within, say, an interactive in-stream VPAID placement. In digital media overall, sometimes the function is the form.

Publishers: Most publishers glimpsed the coming revolution and, accordingly poured resources into gearing up their sites to accommodate the expected boom. Catch-up TV, highly priced though it is, is mostly sold out well in advance. News items across major mastheads are now often supported with sourced video content, and journalists have suddenly found themselves content hosts.

Then there are the networks and trading desks and their DSP providers, many of whom offer vast amounts of video inventory and excellent pricing models. The latter is providing agencies with a good opportunity to wrest back some control over the field. Ultimately, publishers are desperately seeking content which they can monetise. The demand from brand and media agencies is out there, and the consumers are gobbling it all up.

Consumers: The expansion of video platforms like YouTube run concurrent with technology, roll-out of broadband and the population’s ability to record anywhere at any time and share it with the greatest of ease. All of which conspires to put TV in peril as consumers now have the control. And they are the protagonist in this revolution. The consumer represents the democratisation of the system – control, input, the ability to accept or decline. They are the producers, the distributors, the audience, and the programmers all at once. Ultimately, the rest of the players are going to have to fit around them.

It is hard to think of another single medium that has created such an impact on the media landscape. Across almost every line – from consumption to creative to delivery – control is slipping through the hands of the power structure that has for so long held sway and being grasped by a multitude of players, both new and established.

Those who recognise the potential and opportunity that video consumption presents will find success, both for themselves and for the brands they represent. Those that do not, well, they will have a lot of time to watch cat videos on YouTube.

Tyler Greer
Director of sales
AdoTube AU & NZ

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