It is a new video world – the dominance of Facebook; new products from Instagram, Amazon, Snapchat; YouTube safety scandals; the explosive growth of connected devices. And this has been dictating the way in which viewers have changed their habits when it comes to consuming content. Also, there’s no denying the increasing fragmentation of the TV and media landscape, which has unsurprisingly left many marketers concerned over the industry’s future. At a breakfast event held at the Andaz West Hollywood in LA, by The Drum in partnership with RTL AdConnect, industry experts got together to discuss the world of content today, questioning where the value sits for advertisers and the impact of new emerging TV platforms.
Described as a time in which total video is “platform agnostic,” according to Mediacom managing partner Seow Leng Porter, the panel agreed that marketers are battling to respond to this eruption of content and its consumption anytime, anywhere, on any devices. In her view, the industry continues to be in a state of transition as marketers work out how to get to know their audiences and reach them most efficiently.
The concept of ‘Total video’
For RTL AdConnect’s chief executive, Stéphane Coruble, we are living in an era when it is no longer about linear TV or non-linear TV. “At RTL, we’ve analysed the total video ecosystem - linear tv, VOD, social media and the adtech around it.
“We always come back to the customer and build a customer-first strategy. What we’re seeing, because we're in contact with marketers every day, is that they're feeling overwhelmed with solutions and fragmented media. We’re trying to be a guiding light through this super complex system. They need insights and want a trustful relationship where they can digest what’s important. And that’s what we provide.”
We are all witnesses to how media is heading towards the convergence of traditional TV, digital video and influencers, thanks to the global nature of social, video and adtech, according to Porter. “What is really exciting is that as an industry we have the tools now to bring these assets together and scale them."
Coruble suggests that marketers lean on any insights that feed into their customer’s journey. It is critical, he says, knowing when customers are most likely to consume different mediums; with radio, likely to be tuned into in the mornings and TV, watched more in the evenings. But he also urges marketers not to overlook international viewing cultures where midday TV-watching can be important. Having this information means marketers can tailor-make videos according to their audiences’ tastes.
The intensifying chase of Gen Z
TV remains the most heavily invested in video media platforms, but marketers are concerned over its ever-shrinking and ever-aging audience. With YouTube and Instagram continuing to attract a younger, more engaged audience, what is the impact on the digital media marketplace?
“No doubt, linear viewing is declining,” said JR Griffin, VP digital marketing & business development at Fremantle US. “But in terms of meeting your consumers, there’s no other way that comes close to the success of linear TV. You can reach 75-80% of your target audience with linear TV so I don’t think there are so many alternatives in the market. This is why there’s still money flowing into linear.”
Porter explained that just because TV ratings are declining, it doesn't mean Gen Z aren’t watching TV.
“It just means they’re shifting their consumption elsewhere. We need to find the balance between what they’re watching and work out whether it’s an area we can advertise in. Look at Game of Thrones, the weekend it premiered, by 3pm, it was all people talked about. While we can’t advertise on the show, we can advertise around conversation and connect to cultural events.”
“If you’re watching quality programme content on a big screen, it’s more engaging to watch a small clip than a full episode,” added Matthew Schmidt, regional vice president, agency development at SpotX.
“A lot of people don't want to sit through a full episode. They only want to watch one audition from say, American Idol, but people need to be prioritising that type of content along with the full episode.” He thinks that creating different content lengths and pushing them out across platforms makes the videos more accessible to viewers and means that they can source the content they desire whenever they want.
Unearthing a new media and data landscape: with the audience at the centre
There is so much more data to access to take a tailored approach to targeting consumers, however, organizational silos mean marketers are still conflicted with investing in digital vs TV, or sometimes have addressable TV anxieties. Porter believes that this can only be resolved by holding conversations at senior levels to allow for greater departmental synergy. “You need someone at CMO or senior marketing level to really think about the entire consumer journey,” he said. “Instead of just focusing on social media or search, advertisers need a more holistic overview.”
Coruble agrees. “You still have companies that are very silo-minded. They separate TV, digital, programmatic and branded content. At RTL, we’re seeing companies begin to adopt a more global approach,” he said.
Working out what metrics to use and what business outcomes need to be delivered will help marketers to identify best platforms to use. But when there are numerous metrics available across different platforms, and little standardization of data, brands remain unsure of what metrics to focus on. And let’s not forget the walled gardens.
Coruble reminded audiences of the UK’s recent GDPR policy changes and how it’s made it more difficult for tracking consumer behaviour. Given the complexity of cross-screen campaigns, programmatic platforms and the digital data silos, is media measurement, as we know it today, an outdated idea?
Multi-format TV revolution remains in full swing
For Schmidt, “As linear TV gets more digital, it’ll look more like a video ad. Until TV episodes act like video ads, then we can begin to standardise the metrics and use that to inform our approach.”
Porter, however, remains slightly more optimistic when it comes to TV measurement. “We’re still taking baby steps, but we’ve made some strides between online and offline and cross measurement. We will get there, but in the meantime, we need to focus on the audience. Although some areas can't be measured, we need to develop a proxy to it and understand what’s between that audience and the offline audience to get incremental reach.”
Viewing habits are undoubtedly changing as younger generations are consuming video via newer platforms and subscription services. But as Schmidt suggests, perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing, but instead something marketers need to adapt to.
“What’s traditional linear TV but a device that people are familiar with?” he asked. Marketers need to be clever and find innovative ways to connect to their audiences and stay relevant.
“It comes back to the content, and the consumers.” concluded Griffin. “Yes, TV business is a shifting landscape. But we need to remember, that treat content makes great audiences regardless of the platform.”