The Real Big Shift in TV and Online Video

The debate continues on Video Insiderand throughout the industry: When will there be a significant shift of ad dollars from television to online video?  Most recently, Eric Franchi's "big shift" articles captured the attention of many readers and sparked a number of responses.  That's a sure sign of a good article and a hot topic.

But as some of you expressed in your comments, I think questions about if, when and how "the big shift" will occur lead us into the wrong debate.  Granted, the Internet has emerged as a major disruptive force for the advertising and publishing industries.  If you're a masochist and follow "The Media is Dying" on Twitter you can get minute-by-minute updates on the latest publishing death spiral, mainly with print media outlets.

When it comes to online versus print, online has emerged as the undisputed winner, literally bringing print to its knees.  The current economic crisis delivered the knock out blow and we watch in shock and awe as one venerable newspaper after another falls and disappears, seemingly overnight.



But don't hold your breath for a David and Goliath scenario with online video versus TV. As MediaPost's Wayne Friedman  and Joe Mandese  reported in their coverage of a recent Magna study, even with rapid growth online, video's share of advertising spending will hardly register for years to come when compared to the ad dollars big brands spend on television.

  Arguments that online's superior targeting and measurement capabilities are bound to tarnish the "gold standard" of TV content and result in brand marketers running screaming from television to online video also don't hold water.  The digital revolution in television has already taken place.  Video On Demand (VOD) technologies now provide consumers with more choice and brand marketers with behavioral, demographic and self selection data for improving ad targeting, which in turn improves the viewer experience. 

Just last month Virgin Media announced the results of VOD ad trials gathering consumer responses to ads from leading brands such as Kellogg's, General Motors, Royal Mail, Bodyform and the British Army.  The ads were inserted around selected on-demand programs viewed in 100,000 London homes.  Fifty-four percent of the trial participants reacted positively to the ads, which drove a 62% increase in consumer awareness of the featured brands.  There are currently 55 million views of VOD content across 55 percent of Virgin's 3.5 million subscriber base. VOD is growing fast and emerging as a significant network in terms of audience share.

Cable operators in the U.S. are conducting similar trials and soon targeted advertising within VOD content will become a common part of the television viewing experience. 

Sounds like the Internet, doesn't it?  Only it's happening on the best screen in the house.


At this point you might think I'm falling into the same debate trap like everyone else -- in this case trouncing online video in favor of television.  You could look at it that way, but in my view I'm just being pragmatic and accepting the findings of study after study pointing to fact 'the big shift' isn't coming any time soon.  As TV continues to learn from the Internet and become even more interactive, "the big shift" isn't likely to happen in any significant way at all. 


But that doesn't mean online video advertising will never come into its own.  As evidenced by much of the data and studies cited in Video Insider, there's plenty of research showing that online video advertising is growing and will continue to grow as an important avenue for brand marketers to reach consumers.  So, instead of "Waiting for Godot," let's focus on what's exciting about how the digital revolution continues to advance and improve video content and the viewer experience - whether online or on television.

Now content producers and brand marketers have more opportunities than ever before to reach the right people at the right time with relevant messages - online or when they're getting settled in the living room to watch their favorite television programs, live or on demand in playback mode.   And we haven't even touched on integrated campaigns between online and television video content.

That's the real "big shift" that's happening right now and for the future.

12 comments about "The Real Big Shift in TV and Online Video ".
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  1. Chris Nielsen from Domain Incubation, May 18, 2009 at 4:40 p.m.

    We just tried runing some video ads for a couple weeks are were pretty disappointing. Why? The CPM model got to be pretty expensive. And despite the fact that the provider had conversion tracking in PPC ads, they didn't track conversions from clicks on our ad, so we really don't know what we got from the campaign, if anything.

    Other industries may do better than we did since we were looking for leads, not sales. But I expect this to work a little less effective than regular TV ads work.

  2. Philip Moore from Philip Moore, May 18, 2009 at 5 p.m.

    As a big consumer of video content I say hooray to posts like this. Keep the ads off of my online content and on the broadcast and cable channels that I can manipulate with my DVR. I've trained my subconscious to ignore the display advertising that clutters the margins of my online video websites, but the pre-roll and inserted ads drive me crazy. It's annoying to tab over to my gmail or facebook page for 30-seconds. There's a brilliant application idea for someone...a utility that would automatically move the video tab back to the browser's foreground as soon as the advertising was finished.

    As a brand strategist I'm perplexed about where to put my ad budget given my personal experience as a Nielsen Household and my lack of confindence in the current audience measurement methods. Someone remind me how much those guys who stand on the side of the road with signs charge.

  3. Tom Francoeur from Communispace, May 18, 2009 at 5:30 p.m.

    Mediapost's own Wayne Friedman delves into the metrics challenges facing online video advertising:

  4. Scott Broomfield from Veeple, Inc., May 18, 2009 at 7:18 p.m.

    The debate continues, but it is not the wrong debate just the wrong context. OV is not one thing. OV is 'at least' four things: 1) UGC (YT), 2) VOD (Hulu), 3) Media (CNN), and 4) Business/Marketing (messaging and storytelling). CPM might be the right measure for Media but it is most certainly the wrong measure when looking at UGC, for example. Each one of these 4, and there are probably others is we continue to segment, will have its own context and therefore their own relevant measurement and performance structures.

    Scott - CEO of Veeple (we serve the 4th group on mu list above)

  5. Clinton Gallagher, May 18, 2009 at 8:08 p.m.

    It's IP stoopit.

    The only reason the licensed fascists which control the over-the-air advertising oligopoloy is because they were and are in fact fascists that have been granted licenses used to control who could and who could not enter the market.

    The IP is agnostic and does not belong to the fascist nor any other form of corrupt governance nor by any other of those who by hook or crook impose some barrier to entry into a market.

    Those days are over to the extent the IP itself remains agnostic, free and unencumbered by corrupt governance.

  6. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, May 18, 2009 at 8:47 p.m.

    #1 regarding the print vs. online thing. I really wonder how much this boils down to the movement of classified ads from print to Craigslist. If classified ads were removed from the conversation I think print and online would not be as interesting. I think we are wrong not to look at the devil in the details of the printing vs online scrum. fwiw, I think Craigslist is putting the hurt on Monster and Careerbuilder every bit as badly as it on print.

    #2 100% agree with Veeple man. TV is always passive, always leisure, always in the living room or bedroom. It is mostly one thing. Online video, on the other hand is a snack at work, maybe an evening at home, mostly in an active environ, sometimes in a passive environ, sometimes downloaded sometimes streamed, sometimes UGC and sometimes something else. Unlike TV, online video defies easy description and does not fit in one cubbyhole. I don't see a shift. I see fragmentation and splintering, where it will become increasingly difficult to find a single effective way to spend a media budget.
    my .02
    Jeff Bach

  7. Malcolm Rasala, May 19, 2009 at 1:46 a.m.

    Out here in the other 95% of the world (why are Americans so USA centric? ) this is not the debate. For example check out 3000+ TV channels on the net Professional video content via TV brands on the net is one combined part of the future. You can get music from all over the world. Now ditto tv. Advertisers will go where audiences are. As tv broadcasters expand their markets across the world adverisers will follow suit with their dollars
    euros, yens, chinese renminbi et al. Advertisers appear not to like unprofessional content hence Yahoo's lack of advertising income. But Professional content they seem to like. So delivering professional content via the net
    is one segment of the future hence the biggest platform of professional content in the world.

  8. Paul Armstrong from themediaisdying, May 19, 2009 at 9:40 a.m.

    Thanks for the love!

  9. Pamela Horovitz from Internet Video Archive, May 19, 2009 at 3:01 p.m.

    Our company believes that after years of talk about convergence the time has finally come when people utilize a variety of screens for getting info and entertainment. With that in mind we've been formatting all of our content (movie trailers, TV previews, and music videos) so that they work on any screen from web to TV to mobile. Cheers.

  10. Vincent Vandeputte from You, May 20, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.

    Virgin's idea sounds great, but I don't agree with your definition of TV being 'the best screen in the house'. Might be so for some people but for Generation Y, the best screen is their laptop, that's what has become an extension of themselves, TV is not. We at You View TV believe this generation that is online all the time has permanently shifted towards the computer screen. That's where the content needs to be and that is where the advertising dollar will go to.

  11. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, May 22, 2009 at 12:53 p.m.

    @VV I think that your vision is quite narrow. You write like you are doing an all or nothing kind of shift to online, as if one generation controls all and homogeneously does only one thing. We are not all doing just one thing.

    I have three daughters that fit in this conversation. Watching them and their VARIED media consumption habits, does not bode well for a monotheistic view of where media should go.

    I continue to see splintered and fractured as two good adjectives for media in the future.

  12. Peter Contardo from Endavo Media, May 22, 2009 at 6:44 p.m.

    “Now content producers and brand marketers have more opportunities than ever before to reach the right people at the right time with relevant messages…” This is the essence of online video advertising. It’s not about when the “big shift” will happen. Online video advertising is not just an alternative to TV ads. It is a new communication channel. And often, it is the more cost-effective one. Those brands that couldn’t traditionally afford television buys can now compete with the ‘big boys’ by aligning with niche publishers with quality content and targeted audiences. The question is, when will marketers fully embrace online video as a new medium and realize that online video advertising can be a great addition to any TV advertising strategy or a powerful driver by itself.

    Read more on our blog:

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