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.

Tags: video
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3 comments about "Agnostics, Go Home: We Want Platform Committers ".
  1. Becky Sangha from The Online Video Marketer , March 22, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.
    This article focuses most on the video length and format, but I do notice your mention of considering supplemental content as well. I'd like to know more about the types of content viewed on different platforms and how much you need to differ it for each one?
  2. Calvin Loh from BLK A Pictures , March 22, 2012 at 4:44 a.m.
    Could you elaborate more on what's lean-back adn lean-forward? Does it mean opt-in content? What metrics could we derive from both formats as proposed?
  3. Walter Sabo from SABO media , March 28, 2012 at 2:50 a.m.
    This isn't that complicated and you're absolutely correct. Since the DAWN of showbusiness, each medium has created its own stars. -Stars rarely translate stage to stage.- (ie David Caruso, not so good in movies.) Online, there are video web stars who draw millions of views every time they post. TV or film stars making a video may get a one-off success online but it's not predictive. Web stars get predictive results. HITVIEWS discovered web stars in 2007 and have been placing products within web star videos successful for major brands.