Honey I Shrunk the TV… and Made It Better

Two weeks ago I was in the U.S. for business and woke up at 3 a.m. cursing the jet lag. After clearing my emails, I decided to catch up on the 100th episode of The Big Bang Theory on my laptop. In doing so, I joined the growing ranks of people watching network programs online.

According to Nielsen, approximately 70 percent of global online consumers watch online video, with Asia-Pacific leading the way (How People Watch: A Global Nielsen Consumer Report, 2010). The interesting fact is, globally, 57 percent of respondents report having watched online video on their computer at work. This is especially relevant among younger users who are used to accessing content round the clock (big alarm bell from employers!).

The trends above present a wonderful opportunity to de-couple the content from the platform and explore ways to tailor messages to the audience’s media consumption habits. Let me share a few examples to make this concept come to life:

  1. Don’t just adapt… explore. Adapting your TV ads and posting them on your brand’s YouTube channel might be the fastest way to get to your content online but it’s definitely not the most efficient one. You may want to start with a study of the media consumption habits of your audience and a research on the content they find valuable. This will help to explore the fit between your brand, the content, and the media channel. The tie-up between AT&T and American Idol is one of my favorite examples of a brand understanding its target audience (young music lovers), their needs (to enjoy good music), and creating a connection through the brand to allow them to participate in the show. No wonder the show has been immensely popular for the last 10 seasons in the U.S. and abroad.
  2. Create the link. For people looking to learn about new things and places, a credible source of information is important. This is a great opportunity for a brand to associate the content provider and let the viewers infer the connection. A great example of this is the Japan Hour, a TV show about Japanese culture and tourism that has aired in Singapore for the last two decades. Although the show is purely educational, it is sponsored by iconic Japanese brands like ANA and Daikin. The association with the show helps them to increase salience about their association with Japanese culture of innovation and quality. Although the show is not available online, it has a great opportunity to engage a lot more users by establishing an online presence.
  3. Power to the user. As DVR penetration increases and Internet speeds become faster, media consumption will become fragmented. Users will decide when and how to consume content and interact with advertising. For example, the CBS networks now put the latest episodes of their shows online, allowing consumers to watch content at their convenience. During the show, consumers are given an option to choose between two commercials. Love the collaboration between a content provider and advertisers to shift the power to consumers.

As online video approaches ubiquity and mobile video continues to grow, especially in Asia, the challenge for marketers is to think “platform neutral” and “customer-centric.” This change in mindset will be important as consumers gain more power.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.