Did you attend the New Fronts in NYC this week? Perhaps you have been reading the stream of news stories coming out of each New Front event. One thing is certain, great digital video content creators have really doubled down and learned some valuable lessons in the past 18 months. One lesson digital properties have learned well: They have to produce TV network quality content to have a fighting chance to compete for the big TV ad bucks.
Today the best digital video content is ad-free. If the big players, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime Pandora and Spotify have their way, that will change. Recently, Rishad Tobaccowala, chairman of Publicis Group’s DigitasLBI and Razorfish, noted that in 1994 35% of content was viewed without ads, while in 2013 that number is 65%.
The brand marketers leading digital for their organizations need to continue to push their ad-tech partners to evolve their digital ad solutions. That is one of the reasons I always challenge my fellow and former marketing colleagues to think beyond buying media and think about the consumer experience and truly understand the technology landscape. A few years ago, I was pushing my brand marketing colleagues to develop API strategies as a means for content delivery at scale. Marketers need to think ahead of their tech partners and truly partner with them as a way be part of the solution to reach audiences.
Yahoo and AOL, the last of the big “portals” (if I can still call them that) are getting much more serious about video content. Yahoo’s hiring of Katie Couric was a clear signal to the market about how serious Marissa Mayer and her team are about the need to create stronger long-form content and not being shy about tapping into big TV talent to do so.
Both AOL and Yahoo announced series, with AOL announcing “Connected” a 20-episode, 30-minute series and Yahoo “Outer Space”, their first effort in long-form series. YouTube, with their recent shake up at the top, is also getting much more serious about their content. The trick for all three of these players will be attracting the audience awareness at a massive scale – with the right audience targets. The GRP comparisons continue!
In addition to all the attention to great new digital content creation, every Newfront event has touted cross-screen and driving engagement. The days of “nobody ever got fired for a 30-second spot” are long past us. Repurposing a 30-second spot for cross-screen doesn’t cut it. Marketers and their creative and media agencies should be excited about forging ahead and exploring new ways to engage with their audiences, beyond the simple pre-roll.
Marketers should investigate ways to integrate meaningful content that can surround and the content audiences. Be relevant to the device and platform and transform your strategy – again this is where marketers need to be partnering with their ad-tech partners not just buying.
The future is bright for great digital content. And the future is even brighter for marketers that understand way beyond buying media and how technology is transforming their craft.