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What Is Premium Online Video?

Premium Online Video [vid-ee-oo, noun, derivation Web 1.0]:Video consumed on-demand, on a computer or other Internet-connected device. Content must have previously been consumed by a great many more people, simultaneously (see: linear, analog, TV Guide) on a non-connected video viewing device (i.e. your television set).

That's true. Look it up.

It's hard to argue that if there really was a definition of premium online video today, it would read much the same, whether you were setting out to describe the concept from a viewer's or advertiser's perspective.

For viewers, more than production value or even celebrity, premium is a matter of value consistency. If I tune into "30 Rock," there's a high probability that I will be entertained in a specific way. That is still extremely hard to find in content that isn't primarily distributed on TV first. Viewers also derive value from a shared experience on and offline.

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Marketers also assign a premium value to consistency -- it helps them align messages and assure that their brands are appearing in the right place at the right time.

What else separates premium video from everything else?

A food-products client recently told me that their entire online video strategy comprised something called a "TV replacement" initiative. Yes, that means they take some money from linear TV and shift it to the exact same programming online.

Fair enough. Maybe that's exactly what they should be doing. That's probably not what the TV networks really want in the long run, but that's fodder for a different article.

But think ahead a few more years. Ok, say 10 years. All TVs are IP-connected, mass audiences are substantially harder to find, and so on. What will the new measure of premium be when the TV Guide definition fades away?

First, consistency of the product on every level remains important, at least for brand advertisers. If they are aligning with content they consider to be premium, and are paying a premium for, it has to look tomorrow more or less as it looked yesterday.

Second, it will attract a loyal audience. The premium moniker hangs on the audience having a real relationship with the content, because when a marketer taps into that relationship, they get significantly better ROI.

Data, of course, is the third and most important measure of the new premium. Not just a few meta tags of information, but deep knowledge about how and why the content was produced, its historical relationship with a wide range of viewers, and unique information about its component parts. Data about the viewer and the content will combine with the unique passive rating of a video view (if I watched it, I liked it) to deliver a significant improvement in alignment of viewer and advertiser.

Today, consistency, loyalty and rich data don't often come together outside of content that first appeared on television. TV producers and networks are just beginning to understand the challenge of owning the definition of premium in a way that works for their future business.

But outside of TV, anyone producing ad-supported content should be thinking about these same three core markers of premium value to advertisers. Strip away the TV Guide valuation of premium, and think about how to establish consistency, loyalty and data in a way that suits your model for production and distribution.

7 comments about "What Is Premium Online Video?".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, July 7, 2010 at 1:23 p.m.

    Premium online video is anything a potential customer wants to watch.

  2. Jason Krebs from Tenor/Google, July 7, 2010 at 1:47 p.m.

    Good article Mr. Henry but a false question; it's all about the audience.

  3. Patrick Dineen from Nielsen, July 7, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.

    Correct that it is all about the audience... premium video is so because of the premium value of the audience it delivers. Your concepts of consistency and loyalty speak to that.

    But when the TV Guide definition fades away as you project, then the rich data about a video's audience constituents will be the true determinant of premium.

    If enough big dollar advertisers can confidentally reach their target in a measureable and addressable way via a piece of video content, then to spend premium dollars to reach

    their targets

  4. Patrick Dineen from Nielsen, July 7, 2010 at 2:19 p.m.

    Correct that it is all about the audience... premium video is so because of the premium value of the audience it delivers. Your concepts of consistency and loyalty speak to that.

    But when the TV Guide definition fades away as you project, then the rich data about a video's audience constituents will be the true determinant of premium.

    If enough big dollar advertisers can confidentally reach
    their target in a measureable and addressable way via a piece of video content, then their premium spend will put a spotlight on what is premium video content.

    their targets

  5. Mark Burrell from Tongal, July 7, 2010 at 3:13 p.m.

    Incredibly insightful Mike. Couldn't agree more.

  6. Randy Kilgore from Tremor Video, July 7, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.

    Finding a standard, agreed upon definition for premium will be about as easy as finding one for engagement. However, it's a shame when "premium" is used as a proxy for tv content, which is limiting and backward looking. Repurposed TV content is only a small part of available, brand safe video content online. The conversation must be about the marketer's goals, so i agree it's the combination of the production quality, the audience, and the available data. Well done, Mike.

  7. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 7, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.

    How many great shows or books even have disappeared because there was not a large enough audience? Did a small audience degrade the quality of the show? Where did the marketing fall? There are so many reasons why premium online video fails or succeeds.

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