Video Integration: What TV Networks Don't Realize They're Teaching Us
This summer, eMarketer published an interesting report on the integration of brand advertising across online video and television. They highlighted five factors that are impeding progress toward integration, which unsurprisingly, have come from TV’s biggest players: cable companies, and broadcast and cable networks. Many of these companies have been using tactics such as data caps (to slow the growth of online video consumption) and authentication protocols (to stop cord-cutters from getting TV content online). Many do not sell TV and digital advertising as an integrated package. Because cable companies and TV networks believe that it’s more profitable to maintain the status quo, they’ve been slow and reluctant to change.
These tactics can be frustrating for marketers. But what I find most interesting is this: in spite of all the inertia on the sales side, as a matter of content marketing itself, these very companies are often best-in-class at cross-platform, campaign integration for themselves. Their content is produced for multiple screens, maximizing functionality and entertainment and utility for each device. And the marketing campaigns that they produce for that content are just as strong, and just as nimble, as the content itself.
As marketers, we can learn something from them while simultaneously working with them to champion digital integration at a faster pace.
Too often, brand content is thoughtlessly repurposed from different channels, and campaigns can lack cohesiveness across devices and channels. Often, brands struggle with the unique consumer expectations that are built into different channels and devices. For example, some marketers treat Twitter as just another place to alert their fans to a new video available on their YouTube page. What they could be doing is pushing out a video that’s a real-time response to news from the day.
Marketers should look at what networks like NBCU and its cable networks are doing with their programming how they’re connecting creative stories across multiple screens. For instance, Bravo’s “Top Chef” managed to find a way to enhance the show using complementary online content with its “Last Chance Kitchen” web series.
USA Network is another example, having created social/Web TV campaigns for series such as “Psych” (Hashtag Killer) and “White Collar” (Neal’s Stash). Brands can learn from these kinds of content efforts – these networks are producing strong digital content for their programs, and continue to innovate with video across multiple devices.
Marketing the Content
The internal structure at many brands and agencies often leads to separation between the online and offline teams. You’ll get different teams buying different kinds of media from the same TV network—digital assets that should be lined up with their offline counterparts, but aren’t. As a result, marketing campaigns will often lack a holistic strategy and generate friction amongst departments. For instance, take rights and licensing—often a big stumbling block to multichannel campaigns. The offline team may not have gotten permission to reuse a certain video online, or vice-versa, because neither team consulted with one another at the beginning. Ultimately, neither offline nor online benefits when one becomes a pasted-on version derived from the other.
Instead, advertisers should take a cue from the networks and initiate new ideas across all teams together. The marketing groups at networks and cable companies don’t separate the work of digital and offline teams, and neither should we. Neither one is seen as simply additive, or just a box to check off the list. The end result is that when these networks launch campaigns to promote their content, they’re able to fully integrate all concepts across multiple devices and channels.
For example, Discovery’s Shark Week marketing campaign has become something to watch, participate in, and share across virtually every online and offline medium – and that’s just the ads. HBO, ABC Family and AMC have also been cross platform marketing pioneers in ways that many brand marketers could learn from. Just look at “Game of Thrones” — in addition to the HBO website, the show developed a massive following on its Facebook page by using video trailers, trivia, e-commerce, and gamification.
In conclusion: while there may be a lot of inertia caused by status quo interests at cable companies and networks, it’s not affecting how cleverly their creative and marketing departments are operating -- and brand content marketers should take note.