Commentary

Media And Technology Companies Grapple With How Younger Consumers Watch Video

Every generation watches video content. Some may watch on linear television and others may watch on demand, either through a streaming service or a video-on-demand platform. Still others are streamers, turning to OTT platforms or mobile devices to get their live or scripted content fix.

The question that marketers, media companies, and technology companies face is how today’s younger consumers will watch their video. It was a question that bubbled up during many panel discussions, keynote presentations and hallway chats during Advertising Week last week.

For starters, despite the popularity of ad-free offerings like Netflix, younger consumers appear to be on board with advertising. Even better, they seem to grasp the tradeoffs associated with it.

“What we find with Gen Z is that they understand the value tradeoff — and are actually more receptive to advertising,” Hulu CMO Kelly Campbell said during one panel. “We did research recently that showed Gen Z-ers are 39% more likely than the base population to watch an ad, and 29% more likely to actually pay attention to it.”

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However, with many choices on so many platforms, existing players need to remain vigilant when it comes to getting users on their platforms -- and keeping them there.

“I think we, in the regular TV business, have got to make it so easy,” said Kristen Finney, executive vice president for the EMEA region, television distribution at 21st Century Fox, during a panel at the New York Media Festival Friday -- in other words, frictionless experiences, quick-and-easy access to content, and advertising that is relevant and not disruptive.

“Brands need to figure out how to tell stories about their products. Especially in a world where the premium version of Hulu and the premium version of Netflix are only going to grow. Ad avoidance is only going to become more of an issue,” Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc said. “The traditional 30- second, or 15- second or 60- second spot is going to evolve.”

"Brands need new ways to get their message and their product and their worthiness across,” Dubuc added. “Content and storytelling are going to be the way that happens, whether it is integrated into other stories or stands on its own.” 

One option that is growing in popularity are six-second ads, which are now featured on major sporting events, scripted TV programming, and many OTT and mobile video platforms.

“Most of what you need to convey can actually happen in five or six seconds, even if the ad is 30 seconds," said Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola.

“Generally stories have protagonists and heroes and narrative arcs,” added Stacy Minero, head of content creation for Twitter. “[In six second ads] You can land a key message, you can showcase a key feature or product benefit if you are laser-focused.”

There is also the question of authenticity. Younger consumers are exposed to a plethora of advertising through social media and video platforms like YouTube, and that advertising exposure means that brands may need to rethink their strategy to break through.

In the Esports arena, for example, there is a general consensus that advertisers at some level need to have an “authentic” relationship to teams or players.

“There are different ways of being authentic, you can take a long-term strategy and try to build something, or you can partner with someone who has an authentic voice in the space, and take a shortcut,” Said Victor Sunden, CRO of the global esports tournament company DreamHack.

Today’s millennials and Gen Z will in short order form the heart of the economy. For marketers, media companies and technology firms, it is incumbent to determine their appetite for advertising and content. 

In content and in marketing, constant refreshes are required to retain relevance. That was on full display at Advertising Week New York last week.

2 comments about "Media And Technology Companies Grapple With How Younger Consumers Watch Video".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 9, 2018 at 10:07 a.m.

    Young people are much more likely than the norm to watch ads? Is that really true? TVision's eyetracking studies don't  seem to bear this claim out where "linear TV" viewing is concerned. Six-second commercials are the obvious solution for advertisers to combat lower attention spans for young folk? If that's so advertisers certainly don't seem to have gotten---or believed---that message---- based on the almost total lack of six-second commercials on TV. Today's Gen Zs and millennials will, in short order---like 20-25 years?---- form the heart of the economy? Does anyone think that advertisers are planning their ad campaigns that far ahead?

  2. Colin Williams from Comcast Spotlight replied, October 17, 2018 at 4:31 p.m.

    This probably has to do more with the 'type' of viewing experience. Gen-Z'ers are going to be watching mostly "on demand" content with the likes of streaming and online video sources such as Youtube, Hulu, VOD via MVPD and the like. In that circumstance, they are conditioned to fewer commercial pods and dialed in to the content. Versus the "base" audience that may have been conditioned to significantly higher loads and more frgequent breaks which overloaded our attention thus turning us away as a reponse. Just a thought. 

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