As consumers journey further into a screen-neutral lifestyle, with mobile, video, and tablet usage pervading daily life, another platform is quietly emerging – connected TV. This is evidence that we are approaching screen equality more rapidly every year.
Look no further than your local Best Buy to see the prevalence of smart TVs. In June, eMarketer forecasted that 71 eprcent of Internet users would be on connected TV by 2018. Those of us in the mobile video space have a certain regard and see the tremendous potential of connected TV. Not only is it another medium to reach consumers, but more importantly, marketers should take advantage of the unique features that connected TV ads to the mix.
It’s interesting to note that the first wave of connected TV essentially failed because pioneers in this space assumed people would simply pivot and use their televisions as computers, by browsing the Internet and reading email. The navigation functionality was downright awkward and the content was spotty. Today’s rendition is far more tuned to what we’ve learned about multi-screen, cross-channel behavior. New connected TVs enhance the everyday media exposure by offering a better video viewing experience as well as an alternative way to interact with videos, music, and photos.
Compared to other mediums at our fingertips, connected TV is a full-screen consumer selected video content hub with the benefit of the larger screen and, of course, 100 percent viewability. These TVs combine the benefits of typical in-home viewing with the measurability of digital, which has largely been a struggle for TV advertising. That’s a huge plus for advertisers looking to capitalize on this new mode. This media environment doesn’t have ad clutter – but it also doesn’t have rich interactive creative units – yet. Once the latter hits scale, we will have the synthesis of the best of both worlds.
Another feature that should not be overlooked about connected TV is its ability for increased and constant socialization of media. This is due to rise of TV apps and social media sharing functionality – as we’ve come to understand the social environment around media consumption. The constant desire to share and socialize our own media consumption raises the stakes on the question of how to make connected TV ads more interactive. When an advertiser can turn an engaged viewer into a brand advocate, there is a huge win for the marketer. Let’s not forget the major benefits to advertisers of having their ads virally shared beyond their paid media spend. How can the advertising ecosystem benefit from the growing socialization of TV, along with other media? There are some benefits to consider beyond just the social opportunity.
First, because quality content on connected devices is currently limited, there are not as many ads. Because of this modest ad load, viewers aren’t as bombarded, so engagement and high ad recall are much higher. This clean environment alone provides marketers with another medium to reach engaged audiences through powerful execution of sight, sound, and motion.
Tapping into consumer choice or channel discretion is also a powerful opportunity. With the rise of smart TVs, consumers can choose how and when they want to enjoy digital video content, making them more engaged and aware than traditional TV viewers. They drive and traverse channels, consuming, sharing, and engaging. This active mode is an opportunity, as well. As with mobile devices, the app-based platform allows views to seamlessly move from highly produced content to branded content, often in the same session.
In the end, consumers’ reaction to smart TV ads will likely mimic their attitude toward digital media. They will expect to find and access everything, where and when they want it, and are willing to watch good creative in exchange for quality content. As an industry, it behooves us to achieve scale while not overloading the viewer with traditional ads. Industry standardization for ads and content within the smart TV environment will be a gating factor. For this channel to gain scale and get us closer to screen equality, we’ll need a common understanding and currency. From there, there is no limit to where it can go. The fusion of the best branding medium and the tricks and treats of digital will lead to marketer bliss.
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