“I think I just passed by Sarah Jessica Parker, and btw I’m much taller than her,” I immediately texted my lady as I was walking into AOL's annual Newfront presentation.
The Newfront is a digital content event similar to the TV industry's upfront. The Newfront also one big soiree, and lots of fun, usually including many celebrities, TV icons, and senior executives.
AOL Senior Vice President Ran Harnevo opened by discussing AOL’s vision, and at one point during the presentation, displayed on a big screen, a high-resolution picture of his young daughter Dani. He described how Dani consumes content, and why it’s very different than what our generation is used to. To Dani, it doesn’t matter if video is presented on a TV, on an iPad, or a Boxee box – it’s content. In fact, when it’s on TV – Dani at times demands to be able to pause the show with a swipe of her fingers, or share it with friends, and when Harnevo told Dani that’s not possible on TV, she got upset, not understanding why the TV can’t do what she would like it to do.
TV offers reach, while the Internet offers quantification. If given a choice, reach aside, I would probably prefer to advertise online, as I’m likely to get a better dashboard on the performance of my ad: did the user click, did the user share, what was the earned media created, and more.
And indeed, the way things work today, TV and Web are totally different environments. You can advertise on TV based on ratings, or you can advertise on the web based on demographics, but there is no real bridge between the two.
AOL wants to change that.
And as first phase, AOL has presented a strategic partnership with Nielsen that will enable TV-like ratings for AOL viewership. Imagine you could buy TV inventory, and at the same token be exposed to a HuffingtonPost live audience, or Techcrunch TV while interfacing the same metrics you already know and use: ratings.
I don’t know what that journey is going to look like, and how long it is going to take till we have real convergence, but I think we have a good idea about the end game.
I wish AOL, and Nielsen the best of luck, and if we could get to do what Dani is already taking for granted, it means we are on the right tracks: advertisers would not buy TV and the Web separately. They would be integrated to the future experience of online viewership -- because, as at the end of the day, people are people are people, no matter where they're consuming content.
We just want to make sure we reach the right ones.