Deconstruction: Robbie Meets Tiffany

Deconstruction:Robbie Meets Tiffany-Kelly AndrewsI came across this quote the other day: "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." As marketers, our job is to make projections about the future and the role of advertising. So this quote hit home for me while working on a study, code name "Project Tiffany," designed to explore the future of online video by comparing traditional TV viewing to that of broadband video online.

We used a fairly radical methodology: TV deprivation, whereby 11 households agreed to go without watching traditional TV for two weeks and instead view television and video via an online broadband connection.

I'm stepping in here for my colleague Kendra Hatcher King (currently out on maternity leave) to write this column, and I'm thinking about her newborn son, Robbie. When he's, let's say, 15 years old, in 2023, how will he experience video? Will he even watch TV, or will his experiences with video be completely broadband-enabled? How will brands capture his attention, and what types of video content will be a part of Robbie's world?

What Project Tiffany has taught us is that much in the same way that each of us has a unique perspective from which we view the world, not all video experiences are created equal. Repurposing a 15-second or 30-second TV spot for a broadband video might be enough to extend the reach of a campaign - but not for long. When Robbie is a teenager, the brands - advertisers, technology companies and content distributors alike - that truly captivate him will be the ones that help him easily navigate the online video viewing experience.

Here's what those branded online video experiences will be like:

They will be well-targeted and relevant. Video experiences will be created uniquely for Robbie. And they definitely will be more than repurposed 30-second ads. Advertisers will have to create more assets and figure out a model to amortize costs. And to serve those assets in the right way, they'll use all available data to build a profile of who Robbie is, what his interests and passions are, and then use that information to serve up only the most relevant messages to him. Robbie won't feel like he is part of a "mass" viewing audience - he will participate in a dialogue with a brand's advertising that is unique to who he is and what the brand means to him.

They will be creative and delightful. Robbie won't gain awareness of a brand because of the 30-second spot in between clips of one of his favorite TV shows. Instead, he will love the brands that help him have unique experiences, some of which will happen online with the brand's video content. To be clear, online video is not a replacement for TV. As an industry, we need to think about online video in terms of its own unique capabilities, and ensure advertising in that space leverages the unique aspects of the platform; for example, two-way communication with consumers for sequencing of messages.

They will be easy and rewarding for the consumer and the media. Robbie will enjoy watching video online and will navigate as easily as his dad, Robert, does today with the TV remote control. What he probably won't ever think about is how different the industry was before he was born - the challenges (opportunities!) that marketers and industry partners faced in regards to asset creation, targeting, measurement and metrics, and the economic models of online experiences vs. TV exposures.

The key to success for advertisers in online video will be in choosing what to emphasize: the current state of online video viewing experiences, or the possibility of delighting viewers. As a result of the changes we will create over the next decade or so, Robbie will experience video in ways we can only imagine. Those of us in this space may have different perspectives, but what we do know is that in order to build positive consumer experiences and strengthen our brands' communications for the future of media, we will need to work together to create our own shared reality.

And those brands that get it right - they'll become part of Robbie's world.

Kelly Andrews is senior vice president, director, connections research & accountability at Starcom MediaVest Group.

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