All screens are not necessarily equal, according to a debate of top industry executives capping off the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association’s annual “Video Everywhere” conference in New York Tuesday. The debate, which was moderated point/counterpoint style by Simulmedia CEO and Founder Dave Morgan, positioned advocates on two sides of an opposing question: Should video advertising be treated “agnostically and equally” regardless of the TV, PC, handheld or digital-out-of-home screen it appears on?
Taking the pro side of that position were Posterscope CEO Helma Larkin and Initiative President Kris Magel. Taking the con side were Giant Spoon Co-Founder Alan Cohen and CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack.
But what began as a debate ultimately concluded as a consensus that the context of a consumer, a screen and the content they are being exposed to does matter -- especially when Initiative’s Magel caved on his opposing view, acknowledging several times that he agreed with Cohen’s and Poltrack’s point of view on that.
Except for one point: Magel said it is imperative for the ad industry to develop a “common metric” for measuring the value of an exposure of a brand’s message across all video screens, including the price that advertisers pay for them.
Poltrack countered that, citing years of research, including some recent studies, concluding that there are far too many variables to create a common advertising denominator that would account for all screen advertising experiences. He cited the fact that a high percentage of TV viewing is done with other people, and almost always with the audio playing a strong component of the “viewing” experience, whereas that might not be the case on a mobile, PC or even an out-of-home screen.
“In terms of pricing, it is a simple fact,” Poltrack said. “We believe that the values of our television space are different from the values of our mobile advertising space.” He added that in the case of CBS’ cross-platform distribution across screens, “we believe they have complementary benefits,” and that’s why the company charges a “premium” for “both of them.”
But that didn’t stop Initiative’s Magel from making his own observation about potential contradictions in Poltrack’s case.
“It’s interesting that the guy from CBS -- the guy I’m buying audience across TV screens, and tablets and mobile devices at the same price -- is giving me some interesting rationale on why I should lower the price [on the mobile/tablet side], because there’s not enough people watching.”
Magel continued that from a brand marketer’s or an agency’s perspective, advertising on any video screen fundamentally is about two things: “the return you’re going to get” and the “demand on that particular asset.” And he reiterated the need to have a common metric for basing those decisions on.One thing all the debaters agree on is that video screens are not equal when it comes to the context consumers have while viewing content on it, or what that content should necessarily be. Later, after the panel discussion, Giant Spoon’s Cohen mentioned to MediaPost that one of his biggest clients always tests its TV spots with the “sound off,” because the marketing team wants to get a sense for how it would play on a mobile device.