For the last decade we've all been discussing how today's media landscape is MORE fragmented and complicated than ever. In some significant ways, this diffuse landscape is beginning to come back together, bundle and consolidate again.
While there are more media channels, the planning principles, distribution and measurement methodologies of video are beginning to align from a technical perspective. TV is beginning to look and act more like Web video in its capacity to take advantage of the return path the cable box and head-end afford, whileWeb video is scaling and acting more like television viewership.
The data byproducts are helping marketers to interrupt their audiences less and listen more so that they can understand cross-channel video viewership behaviors and the purchasing trends created. Much of the video industry has been attempting to respond to this task for years, to no avail. Web video has moved less than inches in garnering more share of the overall media mix. Web video is not television. The two are symbiotic and will be for some time.
Our industry should consider the value of video more strategically across the entire mix. Rather than back into and retrofit familiar, television-specific media models for video, perhaps we should consider defining value within new cross-channel mix models.
Data capture and measurement tools are proliferating, and most online video providers are attempting to make real-time use of this data for their clients. This data is still mostly available and used for Web-specific campaigns' planning, buying and optimizing. Data-driven tactics like these have historically been put off by the larger brands, as their value for making media decisions has not been worth the incremental cost to analyze and implement. There have been great leaps in the efficiencies of pulling this data together for analysis - enough that all media channels working within the video space can realize them and turn them into new revenue streams, savings hubs or provide them as incremental value. All video channels can. Or, as a wise client of mine used to deadpan "They can't or won't?"
While there are some creative differences and technical delivery implications for each video platform, there should be extrapolations about the brand's audience that can inform channel planning strategies and/or media mix modeling. The viewing public does not consume various media in a vacuum and they're cognizant that they can shift video consumption between screens. The phrases "more measurable" and "as effective as" or "better than tv" is not a viable case to shift TV dollars to Web video. Web video, more often than not, should be an "and" not an "or" within the overall mix. Attempting to achieve an "apples to apples" comparison in each channel's effectiveness appears to be a fruitless exercise in an attempt to garner this shift. There is a better way.
While we're capable of generating demo-specific GRPs for Web video, we need to start working with clients on new diversified models and, if necessary, commensurate currencies that express real value and pricing. Video-based vendors should be working to understand their specific role in the brand's media eco-system and how that role can generate the intended business goal and/or biggest sales lift for the brand.
Astute marketers are learning that the best video networks offer data solutions that can be customized to individual brands. Brands should not be satisfied only with business vertical benchmarks for guidance. Go deeper. Brands can benefit now more than ever in using brand-specific data models to provide direction across their media mix.
While the Web can offer scale against these types of data models, companies like Cisco, Navic Networks, Apple, Comcast and Microsoft, along with consortiums like Canoe, are working towards completing the holistic picture around video data. Once achieved, it will yield the new currency models to measure and harness value. The potential upside for marketers can be quantified and extended across their business value chains into their products, supply chains, distribution channels and their retailers.
Many of these audience data tools offered by video networks and conglomerates are similar and are already being commoditized. These vendor partners and their brand clients can achieve the edge of differentiation through a few key aspects on all ends of the ecosystem - emphasizing the human touch relative to experience, people and service.
The human touch in data analysis has already grown to be critically important. Given the volume of data byproducts of each video channel, there is a growing need for what is becoming a limited human resource. Not only should a marketer's data be brand-specific rather than just category-specific, it MUST have the right analytics teams synthesizing the data to unlock the value and efficiencies from their cross-channel video spend.
Given the efficiencies in the systems aggregating, consolidating and synthesizing all of this data, this human touch can be afforded without diminished returns on current vendor or agency business models. To take this a step further, brand teams with similar goals and complementary audiences that align on their value propositions can share their data that is managed by a vendor(s) with the confidence that the yield here can be greater than the sum of the parts because it allows for deep (and actionable) brand and cross-portfolio insights. Working together, the human touch will be able to identify value in new ways that will lend to the creation of these new media models and/or currencies that express value in a form other than or complementary to a television GRP.
In closing, the most effective larger properties, conglomerates, video networks and research/measurement firms should be working closely together with their agency counterparts and standard bearers (IAB/Nielsen) to shed light on cross-channel audience behaviors and trends that will lend to the expeditious development of a new media mix model and commensurate currencies that can adequately address value across the entire video landscape.