The media business has always been heavily time-based. Attempting to break news first or run live sports, planning the best time to schedule or buy programming or advertising to reach the right audiences at the right time has defined the mass media business since inception.
The first indications that change might be afoot were probably provided by the VCR. Remember how that now-quaint memory of technological disruption was seen by many as the “TV killer” of its day, enabling ordinary viewers to record and view favorite programs whenever they wished?
Of course the VCR did TV no harm at all – even if it can now be seen in retrospect as the medieval cousin of our modern-day DVRs.
But it did give some early suggestion of what might be ahead for media that had been entirely governed by a broadcast or publishing schedules, controlled by the media owners and their best financial interests.
As the Web provided better video experiences, as VOD gained momentum, as DVRs appeared in more households and as OTT streaming services and mobile video offerings have come to the market, the ways consumed our programs of choice have multiplied exponentially.
As has our ability to choose when we do so.
The challenge of new distribution methods has been in defining and achieving suitable levels of monetization in a manner which leverages consumer enthusiasm and behavioral change without jeopardizing existing (and very large) revenue streams.
At the present time conventional TV viewing and the revenues associated with it far outstrips any video consumed by any other means. And there is nothing to suggest that this situation will be reversed in the near future.
But things are evolving; more time-shifted and mobile viewing is likely to take place. The challenge then is how to best ensure that money in the form of eyeballs is not left on the table.
Much of this challenge relates to the very nature of time-shifted viewing and the value of ads originally scheduled to be aired at one time, only to be viewed days, weeks or even months later.
Now there is a new way forward, one brings together how ad buyers want to schedule their messages with how growing numbers of people are viewing their favorite programs.
Recently, Comcast and Nielsen were gaining
significant attention for their tech trials for what they call ODCR – or On Demand Commercial Ratings. The trials were small and more work will be needed, but essentially they demonstrated how
viewers may opt to watch a program originally aired weeks previously via the On Demand channel and yet still be exposed to a brands most recent advertising.
In effect, it de-couples brands and their ads from the constraints of specific schedule-related moments in time. It and aligns them with the original audience target and program whenever it is viewed, with the most currently relevant message.
Think of it as a kind of simple temporal addressability. Either way, it represents obvious opportunities to the carriers, the media owners and also to brands wishing to reach an audience across the long tail of viewing from the scheduled on-air premier to multiple on-demand based viewings whenever they occur.
If ODCR is the start of something that is ultimately accepted, then while the live broadcast schedule dominates the landscape, we may finally see TV advertising start to be uncoupled from the limits of time and place. And the On Demand platform begin to yield its true revenue potential.
That would be a minor revolution.