Lessons From TV Networks and Convergence

My last column, “How TV Networks Are Tuning in Online,” got me thinking about online video in general. It seems like everyone is creating video content, but few know all the uses for it. Using TV networks as my inspiration, I want to offer a look into the additional ways advertisers can get traction from their online video.

What Can We Learn From the Networks?

  • Content: Networks have a key advantage over other online video creators; they have an inordinate stockpile of content that others can only dream about from which to develop clips. What marketers can pick up from networks is how they use content in different scenarios to create relevant messages to best reach their audience. We all know that a :30 spot isn’t the ideal online video format, but it’s still extremely common. To get the most out of online video, advertisers must make the message fit the medium whenever possible.
  • Location: A phrase that gets used a great deal in this industry is “build it and they will come.” While there’s some merit to this wise adage, users can’t be expected to come to your online destination if they can’t find it. TV networks can do a much better job of optimizing their video content for search engines, giving the rest of online marketers a high bar to meet. For the most part, finding content hinges on including a program’s name in the search query. With the advances universal search brings to the table, networks and marketers alike should aim for getting their video content among top search queries. This way video content can gain as much traction online as other elements.
  • Aggregators: Marketers can also disseminate their video content to targeted users by turning to online aggregators to present content to consumers outside of their Web sites. TV broadcasters and marketers should all use aggregators (Hulu, YouTube) and make their programs (Web-exclusive and made-for-TV) available for download on iTunes. Most networks are already doing this, but the few that aren’t are missing out on a significant portion of online video viewers.
  • Exclusive: Increasingly, networks are incorporating Web-exclusive content on their sites. Whether they are deleted/extended scenes or miniseries created for online, networks are showing that to get viewers to their sites, they need to offer more than their TV programs. Framed for marketers, we must start looking at online campaigns as separate entities from offline efforts. Using the Internet to augment an offline marketing campaign is still extremely effective. But if the end goal is to get consumers online, they must have a reason to go there.

How Can We Deal With Change and Convergence?

Broadcasters will have to deal with convergence in two ways. First, an increasing number of their TV viewers will start turning to the Internet to watch their programming. Second, the TV set’s capabilities have started to expand. For advertisers, this is potentially good news. As media progress, advertisements can evolve with them, and this can mean better targeting capabilities, an extended marketing reach, and improved feedback channels.

Media convergence is moving us from a situation where marketers broadcast their message to end users in the attempt to grab their attention to a place where advertisers can have a two-way dialogue with their consumers. Using this to their advantages, marketers and broadcasters can reach people in a central location and deploy dynamic, direct-response tactics to elicit valuable feedback. While they aren’t employing the most radical technique, TV networks are opening up their programming for use outside of television sets and establish their Web sites as online destinations. It would be nice to see TV broadcasters take a more proactive approach to implementing emerging online trends since they more than anyone have resources to put them into action on a large scale. But for now, the potential for change will have to tide me over.

Meet Andreas at ClickZ Specifics: Online Video Advertising on July 22, at Millennium Broadway in New York City.

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