The Digital Video Dilemma

Most large brand advertisers think of TV as a very valuable aspect of their awareness efforts. The more gross rating points (GRPs) that are purchased against a particular demographic, the more scale, visibility, and reach an advertisement can achieve. To be honest, we would be remiss to deny the power. According to Nielsen, the average consumer still watches about 153 hours of TV a month, but 172 million Internet users (81 percent of online population) also watch on average 15 hours of digital video content per month (comScore, April 2011).

If we bundle the idea of video as one entity vs. separating TV and digital, we would realize it’s everywhere. Video can be found in the gym, the grocery store, your car, and is widely accessible across all personal devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. The idea of programming and entertainment by appointment is becoming obsolete and “content now” is a consumer demand. The new consumer expects to access content when, where, and how they want.

Contrary to popular belief, this new consumer spans all demographics, with the latest stats putting the 50+ demo at the largest for video consumption (32 percent of all demographic splits, followed closely by ages 18 to 34 and 35 to 49, both at 27 percent, according to Nielsen, November 2011).

Technology advancements are the key driver to these catastrophic changes in consumption habits:

  • Computer. Most traditional TV networks provide full episode access online, in some instances providing different or new content – and you can hook up a computer to most standard TVs these days.
  • DVR. Users can and do pay to be able to record and watch specific content when they want it, also providing them the ability to consume at their leisure.
  • Smartphones/tablets. Greater opportunities to leverage the 200 million+ video views per day across most mobile devices.
  • Connected TV/advanced TV. The ultimate experience, users can watch standard TV, access full episode players online, surf the web, and search for content.
  • Gaming consoles. Similar to a connected TV, there are many ways to access content through these devices; they’re not just for gaming any more.

And these are just a few of the major changes in the past five years.

Why You Should Like Digital Video

  • While lower than its TV comparison, digital video has proven that it alone can drive in market sales.
  • You can use digital to complement TV buys to reach audiences that are cost prohibitive through TV ( primetime) – consumers “catch up” on episodes online.
  • There’s a lot of content available.
  • No upfront buy is needed (vs. standard TV).
  • Cancellation policies tend to be more flexible.
  • Opportunities for social viewing and engagement efforts already exist.
  • Metrics, metrics, metrics.

What the Future Holds

As digital media professionals, we know the landscape is changing. We should be taking advantage of the many ways to leverage new media as part of an integrated mix. However, we still struggle to quantify its value in the appropriate fashion. Some of us will adapt the digital video impressions into GRPs and others will speak to engagement metrics. But which is correct?

In my opinion, the major changes in the future will need to be standardization. More and more pricing models have extended to allow for buying on GRPs or full video views to make digital more accountable. As the digital technology becomes more interchangeable with traditional media, the metrics will need to change to encompass a holistic view of overall results, whether traditional TV or any form of digital video.

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