Here’s another stunning confirmation of what would seem to be a no-brainer: It doesn’t matter much where content comes from if people like the content. Online video is no less enticing than the stuff you can see on everyplace else, from ABC to Viacom’s cable channels.
Starcom’s latest headline-maker, reported here yesterday by Gavin O’Malley, says that while consumers believe TV fare is better, it “found no statistical relationship between quality or likability scores and whether consumers believed content was from the Web or TV.”
Katie Koval, vice president of Integrated Insights at Starcom, told MediaPost that it might be that online video benefits from our presumed low expectations by associating online video with user-generated-content of the ubiquitous kitty-kat videos.
Long ago and far away, when I was the editor of a publication that covered the then-quite separate broadcasting and cable businesses, we irritated the cable crowd by deciding we would no longer use the phrase “original content” to describe new programming (rather than broadcasting’s reruns) that cable networks scheduled. ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox did several hours of original content every day without trumpeting the fact it was their “original” initiative. By that measure, that sporadic new fare on a cable network was just another new show, just like the mostly gunky stuff coming from Broadcast Row. But, as I recall, cable’s 90s-era original programming seemed really, really less impressive. All hat, no cattle, to use the old phrase.
Maybe that’s the flip of what’s happening now with online video. Cable wanted to run with the big boys and seemed a little less-than-awesome; online has never boasted much as all and whenever it looks good, there’s a genuine wow factor. And because there is a large amount of simpleton-level video online, even now, it created for consumers its own acceptable, and then, preferred video style. Stripped down, bare-bones video can seem more intimate than over-produced stuff. It’s “Wayne’s World” versus Johnny Carson, unplugged versus Fender amps.
Jon Lafayette, writing in Broadcasting & Cable, quotes Mark Pavia, executive VP and digital managing director at Starcom, who says that online content companies need to promote their new digital series, to seemingly fill in the inferiority perception, and make original content easier to buy and measure.
"We need to change the narrative, leverage measurement and elevate digital video beyond an extension of TV,” he says “If publishers better promote their shows, provide marketers and buyers a reason to believe and allow the value of the investment to be measured, digital video can break outside of traditional silos.”
Believe it and you can achieve it! Maybe. The Starcom report comes just after a Tremor Video report I mentioned here last week. In its study it found engagement was slightly higher for made-for-Web content over old TV fare seen online, and that while more people watch an entire ad when placed in a repurposed TV video online (91%) rather that new content (83%), the difference is not staggering. “A lot of people, because of the cachet TV has, would suppose TV would do better” than original Web content, Doron Wesly, Tremor’s head of marketing strategy and research told me back then. But apparently, that’s not quite true. Now, the industry has to believe in itself a little.