Commentary

Digital Video Has Entered the Ring

For decades now, TV has been the Floyd Mayweather of advertising – the strongest, most impactful, and most lucrative fighter in the ring. Ten years ago, it wasn’t fathomable that something else might come along to knock it down.

But digital video has been training in the background and is now poised to give TV a shakedown in the coming years.

The benefits of TV advertising are obvious: its sight, sound and motion features hit you in ways that online advertising hasn’t been able to match. Sure, digital ads can be more personalized and provide better metrics, but there’s something to be said for the way TV ads tap into a broad range of emotions from viewers.

With the rise of online video consumption, online video spend is growing rapidly and is expected to reach nearly $15B by 2019, according to eMarketer. Coupled with the explosive growth of video formats now available on programmatic exchanges, marketers have plenty of reasons to move more of their dollars away from TV and into digital video.

Let’s start with a confession: Although I watch plenty of shows, I don’t own a TV. And I am becoming more and more mainstream as households move online. It’s time to face the facts: traditional TV consumption is on the decline. According to Nielsen, the overall time spent watching TV per household is down by about four hours per month from last year.

Young people are dropping off even more rapidly, with a year-over-year decline of two hours and 35 minutes per week. DVR views still only represent a fraction of their total viewing time, so we can’t blame time-shifted TV for the majority of the decline.

As time spent watching TV drops, time spent watching online video rises. ZenithOptimedia found that the average amount of time spent consuming online video per day will increase by 23.3% in 2015.

There’s also growth on platforms like YouTube, Netflix and even Facebook. Facebook reported that their video views surged to 8B per day in Q3, from just 1B earlier in the year. A lot of the growth comes from the ability to watch video on mobile devices, which makes video accessible anywhere, at anytime.

Even if people continued to watch traditional TV and the online migration came to a halt, they still wouldn’t be as engaged as they are with online video. A recent study from digital agency Millward Brown found that when people watch television, they are observing it in “lean-back mode,” meaning that they are passively absorbing content.

On the flip side, digital video prompts “lean-in” viewing, where people are purposefully consuming video content. They actively made the decision to sit down and watch a show, versus having a TV set play in the background, or while they are multi-tasking. This higher level of attention provides marketers with the opportunity to invest in quality storytelling, and form a deeper connection with customers.

In a world of ad blockers, consumers are in the driver’s seat and they are demanding better quality ads. With data, you can easily make any online video viewing experience better, not worse. Knowing what people are interested in buying or understanding their affinities can help you determine what video content to serve.

Programmatic video buyers are beginning to diversify their data-driven video buys with different formats - including pre-roll, in-article, native and long-form content. The more relevant and immersive the experience is, the better your engagement or response will be. The addressability and interactivity of online video makes it a strong reach and response vehicle, giving brands and people the best of both worlds.

As it stands today, TV is still the largest ad medium, but it is not capable of delivering the same personal and relevant experience as digital channels. As long as people continue to watch online video, we’ll see more brands find ways to tightly tether their data with high impact experiences, and we’ll patiently watch from the sidelines as online video steps up to challenge the long-standing, reigning media champion.

1 comment about "Digital Video Has Entered the Ring".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 28, 2015 at 1:53 p.m.

    James, while digital video usage is, no doubt, on the increase, it still represents a tiny share of the average person's TV/video consumption---even for "millennials". More to the point, a TV-oriented branding advertiser is going to ask some pretty hard questions before jumping "all in" on the digital bandwagon.

    First, concerns the kind of content the ad will appear in. How does it compare to TV in terms of quality and engagement. Second, there is the matter of ad visibility. What percent of digital video ads appear on the users' screens in their entirety? Next comes the relative effectiveness of digital video ads. Given that an ad appears for its entirety, what percent of the "audience" can recall the ad a day later and demonstrate that by playing back its message? If the typical TV norm for such metrics is about 35-40% on "proven" recall and 20-25% on message playback, how do digital video ads perform---under real world viewing conditions, not invited or "forced" exposure scenarios?

    Of course, this leads us into CPMs. If a typical TV "30" comes in at a $11- 13 CPM, counting all forms of TV not just the highest primetime levels, what is the comparable stat for "quality" digital, with some measure of decent content and a lid on overly ad cluttered positioning? If the answer is $24 for digital, is this for 100% ad visibility or something much less?

    Finally, If an advertiser, whose TV campaign attains a 65% monthly reach, were to take 10% of his GRPs and translate them into digital, how much additional reach would be added---3%, 5%, 7%? And is this an efficient way to go---or could the same result be garnered---or almost garnered----by altering the current TV daypart, network type and program type mix?

    These are some of the questions that advertisers will ask about digital video, as they have a direct bearing on decision making. Perhaps it's time that digital video advocates start providing answers---with some degree of documentation----rather than using generalized media usage data and scare tactics---like TV is "tanking" ( note: I'm not accusing you of this )---to make their case. In the process, they will, no doubt, find some of the answers to be less positive than is imagined, in which case, a lot of rethinking is in order and, maybe, a realization that it takes more than hype, repeated ad nauseum ( again, I'm not accusing you of this ), to sell a medium.

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