This is from my MediaPost column published today…
I WANT TO MAKE A bold prediction: TV on the Internet.
The siloing of online and TV audiences will never work the way networks expect for three simple reasons.
1) The innate difference in consumer viewing habits of short term versus long form content as it relates to the access environment surrounding your PC and your TV respectively. Where the former environment is less comfortable and not meant for “couch potatoes.” while the latter is normally an environment appropriate for passive viewing (although that can all change quite easily).
All metrics show that the longer the video content, the smaller percentage of completed plays. (Read: Less engagement.) As it relates to advertising in particular, according to Doubleclick’s video ad benchmarks 2007, consumers only view about 10.5 seconds of a 15 second ad and 18.5 seconds of a 30-second ad.
2) An online media buy against a TV program requires different evaluation criteria and decision making processes than when buying TV. It’s not even close to a replacement, and calling it a compliment is even a stretch. A TV buy is targeted against a passively viewing broad demographic, while an online buy is purchased against a much more defined target, after comparing all the other possible media investment allocations within the medium.
The audience that watches a particular program on TV is not the same as the audience that watches it online — and even if they were, there may be better places to reach a more refined subset of the target online after evaluating the audience dynamics and relevancy of the placement.
During the MediaPost OMMA Hollywood conference, a CBS Exec called for combined TV plus internet ratings. I wonder if this is a premonition of where the market is heading, or just a way to make their waning ratings of certain programs look better (although TV networks never do that right?)
3) Location shifting devices will at some point become standard issued optional hardware from your MSO, similar to the way they rolled out generic DVR’s after the proven success of Tivo. Location shifting will enjoy a similar adoption curve as time shifting has. Try to live without your DVR or location shifting device once you’ve started using it. You just can’t put that genie back in the bottle!
Enter Slingbox. This wonderful little location shifting device has been on the market for a handful of years already and last year was acquired by Echostar. You can pick one up for less than $200 and there are no monthly fees. The brand stands to be the “Tivo of location shifting”. I ponder the impact on TV networks and their digital migration/experimentation plans once the MSO’s all offer similar products. Vcast? MobiTV? Who needs them?
Thinking About “Traditional Thinking”
As an industry, we have applied far too much “traditional thinking” to new media, which holds its own set of unique dynamics that you cannot ignore. For the record, I may be a digital native, but I’m not part of the “Digirati” who claim that we are taking over all traditional forms of media and everything that is not new or different is therefore bad.
Of course “traditional thinking” is not bad, per se. But it does not seem to ever translate well within the world of digital media because it is one way thinking and works against many of the unique attributes of the media. The benefits of these attributes — relevancy, immediacy, interactivity, connectedness, interoperability, addressability, accountability — are also reflected in consumer behavior. Applying approaches to content distribution or marketing that is disguised as consumer-centric but in actuality is not, will go nowhere.
Case in point – pre-roll video. This non engaging, intrusive, expensive, less than contextually relevant placement wreaks of traditional thinking — how could this become the “standard”? Keep in mind that we have historically referred to audiences as captive, usually a term reserved for caged animals and prisoners. I task us with never using that term again in the context of media.
The New Guard Cannot Reign Until Some of The Blood Of The Old Guard Is Spilled
Successful Web2.0 brands (think Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, Digg and a plethora of others) have enjoyed organic and often exponential growth and are displacing, or at the very least competing head-on with established brands who have decades of brand equity. What is driving this growth? (Hint: It’s not magic!)
As technology has enabled media to evolve into something new, we have tapped into the unique attributes and the potential of this new media, which has given consumers what they want, even if they didn’t realize or demand it initially. There exists a social fabric of the web itself, which has a mathematical growth pattern, creates a collective experience, and transcends the ability to project its trajectory based on human logic and intuition alone.
Not mandating your company to learn how to understand this dynamic, apply new thinking to new media, and evangelize this approach throughout all levels of the organization, can only result in one outcome – your eventual downfall. Of course it starts at the top, if your C-level execs don’t buy in, you can’t expect to turn a big ship around when the captain’s not part of the effort.
Change and adaptation is not about technology, it’s about a mindset and a commitment to being successful. It’s about education, and it’s about collaboration, both internally and externally. However, the formula to future success will include the application of data and technology at all levels of the organization. Failing to do so will prevent efficiencies at scale and will create a void of critical insight required to maintain a competitive advantage. This rings true for agencies, publishers and all businesses.
Evolve or Die?
Well, in the humble words of Jacques Cousteau, “If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.”