Agnostics, Go Home: We Want Platform Committers
Content creators love to brag about how their work is “platform-agnostic.” It means that their video content is free to roam onto any platform, be it TV, mobile, PC, tablet, etc. This is generally seen as a positive because even just a few years ago, getting video content onto more than just its original platform was in itself an achievement.
But recently, a conversation at the Beet.TV Executive Retreat between Vivian Schiller, Chief Digital Officer of NBC News, and Jason Pontin, Editor-in-Chief of Technology Review, changed my view of platform-agnostic -- forever. The crux of their argument was this: Brands and content creators shouldn’t focus on being platform-agnostic; they need to focus on becoming platform-committed.
Think about that for a moment. Right now, content is being consumed at an increasingly large scale on multiple platforms -- on first, second, and sometimes third screens. What this really means is that there’s now a need for your video content to exist in several different formats, depending on the device and technology. It also means that content creators need to figure out monetization for each platform -- and that’s easier said than done. For instance, just recently YouTube made a significant change that allows partners to block their content from appearing on devices that don’t provide opportunities for monetization. No more free rides.
There’s another big thing to consider. Depending on what device a consumer is using to view your video content, we know there are differences in how the content is being consumed and for how long. For example, we would all consider TV to be a lean-back experience, versus a smartphone, which is lean-forward. But tablets can be either one, depending on whether they’re being used as a first screen (in which case, it’s a lean-back experience), or as a second one (in which case, it’s lean-forward).
So in order to maximize the potential consumption of your video content, you need to be platform-committed. You need to deliver content that is specific to each platform by considering the format, video length, supplemental content, and more. Instead of taking the same video and simply making it available on each platform (being platform-agnostic), you should be committing to the platform by modifying your content. Think about longer episodes for TV and tablet, versus shorter ones for mobile. Consider auto-playing on TV (and potentially for tablet), versus more click-to-play clips and interactivity on PC and mobile. Marketers must have a second-screen strategy for different platforms, even for native digital content. And as watching online video on TV becomes easier and more popular, get ready to adapt to the Apple TV.
By committing instead of taking the agnostic and laissez-faire approach, you are increasing the likelihood that consumers will consume and engage with your content. Vivian and Jason are spot-on in identifying the next wave for video content producers. It requires a commitment, but your audience will appreciate and reward you for it.