TV to screens: Five key changes brands need to make

Video viewing is switching from being TV dominated to being split between live TV, on demand, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Although the UK is not as far along this journey as other markets – with this year’s AdReaction video study showing that 62 per cent of people watch a daily average of more than three hours video viewing on TV compared to an even split globally – all marketers need to adjust their thinking.

The range of digital options extends every day. Twitter’s decision to add full screen in app viewing this week is simply another option in an increasingly complex landscape of digital screens and platforms.

From Snapchat’s vertical ads to Facebook Autoplay, it is important that marketers have the opportunity to optimise video advertising across screens – as there are many nuances which can make consumers less likely to skip advertising in certain contexts.

Findings from the AdReaction Video study – conducted in 42 countries – identified five key changes that brands can take to ensure their communications deliver for multiscreen consumers:

Earn your right to be in the consumer’s space

55 per cent of total screen time is spent viewing videos in the UK - over three hours daily - higher than the global average, with the majority remaining on live or on demand. UK audiences are more accustomed to live TV advertising, but outside of this context receptivity is lower and consumers need to feel in control and have the option to skip digital ads. This applies across all devices but particularly for smartphones, where small screens can make ads more invasive.

Giving consumers control via formats such as YouTube’s TrueView, which offers consumers the chance to skip ads after a short time, makes them slightly more receptive to digital video than traditional TV advertising. Online video formats which offer rewards are also strongly preferred.

Aim for early impact in case viewers hit the skip button

Giving consumers more control triggers a new creative challenge. While advertisers may not pay if the ad is skipped, if you don’t show the brand in the first few seconds there is the potential to lose 50 per cent of your audience. Brands need to focus on capturing attention in the first few seconds.

So, considering digital early in the creative development process so that the content can be adapted and optimised for the relevant context, whether the ad is on YouTube or Facebook auto-play is essential.

Humour can be the way to maintain interest

Humour is the main way to prevent skipping ads; it was the top reason shared by consumers in 30 of 42 countries involved in the AdReaction study. Quickly establishing brand or category relevance also helps.

With 32 per cent of UK consumers saying it would make them less likely to skip and more likely to pay attention, compared to a global average of 37per cent, it’s the most powerful reason for consumers to be less likely to skip and more likely to pay attention to an ad. Other popular reasons for making people less likely to skip are rewards such as coupons or points (28 per cent in the UK), interest in the brand (29 per cent) and interest in the category (26 per cent).

Think location

Most video is viewed at home, but varying mind-sets when using different devices impact on receptivity to advertising – digital advertising needs to be adapted to reflect these nuances.

There is lower favourability to on demand advertising where people are in a more focused mind-set and looking for something specific, compared to live TV.

On the other hand, laptop use is more goal-orientated, with smartphones often used to overcome boredom while out and about.

UK consumers are more likely than consumers in the rest of the world to view smartphone video at school or college, while travelling or in a public outdoor space. In all these places UK consumers are as receptive, or even more receptive, to video ads than consumers in the rest of Europe and around the world.

Tone down the chase

Overt targeting is never popular with consumers who feel like their every online move is being tracked big brother-style. Targeting based on social media profile and search history is particularly less favourable in the UK. Consumers here are in broad agreement with those globally that they are most favourable about ads from brands they like or follow, those that are in line with their interests, or relate to online shopping history. Targeting by specific brands and personal interests increases the potential for video ads to be viewed.

It’s harder to please a digital audience – but it can be done. Brands need to work closely across agencies to adapt digital creative to limit skipping. The AdReaction study shows that thinking holistically about how video advertising will play across screens with each individual touchpoint and execution offering target consumers a specific experience relevant to that context is critical for those brands who want to succeed.

Amanda Phillips is head of marketing at Millward Brown UK

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