CMOs think about video differently when it’s headed for digital rather than for traditional TV.
Digital video is seen as less expensive and more creative, with more inventory and far more possibilities online. Traditional TV commercials, on the other hand, are lumped into the paid media category, produced as static pre-roll ads at 15 or 30 seconds a pop, and treated by some advertisers with the same reverence that vinyl records and Polaroid pictures enjoy.
Worse, viewers see TV ads as cumbersome and disturbing—a sentiment that will only grow in intensity as new shorter and more engaging forms of video advertising emerge.
But TV—and the advertising that supports it—is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s evolving. As we move into 2016, the transformation of TV will demand an evolving mind-set. Here are a few trends to look out for:
1. TV ads will follow in digital video ads’ footsteps: When video advertising first hit the desktop, it looked a lot like traditional TV commercials—and that just didn’t work. Digital video needed to cater to the channel at hand, which was not—and is not—just another TV screen. It was a clickable and interactive portal to user engagement. As video spread to mobile channels, it adopted even more functionality, such as content downloads and opportunities to market to individuals across devices.
In the past couple of years, advertisers have taken video ads a step further by bringing the digital video ad experience back to TV viewers—specifically, those who watch their TV content on connected devices, such as smart TVs and OTT devices.
2. The five-second spot will get its 15 minutes of fame: 2016 will be the year of the supershort video spot with the long tail of interaction. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest are already moving toward a new style of “microadvertising” that allows advertisers to account for users’ quick vertical scrolling and catch their attention along the way. The more interactive (and short) the ad format, the more likely the user is to notice and experience it in full while scrolling from point A to B.
Consider, for instance, the Saint Patrick’s Day ad that Jameson produced for Instagram and Facebook. The simple spot ran in less time than a Vine, and it gave viewers the option to share a shot with friends or locate a nearby bar where they could share shots in real life.
This short-form approach applied to video advertising will require advertisers to layer video content with interactive bait—and save the narratives (even if they’re only 30 seconds long) for the viewers who have signaled engagement.
3. Advertisers will use microcontent to lure viewers to their own longer-form content: Thanks to the rising popularity of the subscription TV model and increasing adoption of ad-blocking technology, users are able to dramatically decrease or even totally eliminate ads while watching TV content. This means that brands and advertisers have to get more creative, create more tailored experiences, and find other distinct ways to cut through the noise and avoid being blocked or skipped.
Some brands have become so creative that they’re using the publishers they advertise with as a channel to drive audiences to their own longer-form branded content. Take Puma, for example. When it recently launched its campaign with Rihanna, it created short TV teasers to drive audiences to its own social media and YouTube channels, where they could watch the full campaign on their own terms.
We’re going to see a lot more of these “reverse” campaigns, where long-form branded ad content not only becomes a draw in and of itself, but competes with the creative content it relies on to attract its viewers.
4. The app economy will come to TV: The same way that apps transformed mobile by giving users instant access to the content they want—in real time and all in one place—new digital video capabilities promise to change TV—specifically for those who watch their TV content through connected TV or OTT devices.
This trend is just now emerging and will begin with show promotions. The biggest category of TV ads (25%) promote other TV content (channels, shows, movies, episodes, etc.). Since the connected TV model is based on following shows, OTT devices will begin stepping up with technology that allows advertisers to make these types of ads actionable, rather than just informational. By integrating familiar technology, such as an “install” action into the ad itself, viewers will eventually be able to follow/download a new program without ever having to leave what they are currently viewing.
This is very similar to how Facebook’s mobile ad install works—and this app install functionality accounts for approximately 80% of Facebook’s revenue. This same approach will soon come to TV, introducing an entirely new revenue model for devices and publishers, and yet another form of convenience for viewers.
Going forward, when advertisers think about digital video, they will think about ad content that blurs the once-distinct lines between shows and commercials. They’ll think about different video ad formats, such as interactive elements that pop up on the screen during a show rather than content that forces a fabricated intermission in TV content. Advertisers will think about ways to complement viewers’ experiences rather than interrupt them. And rather than asking viewers to sit through 30 seconds of mind-numbing content, advertisers will think about mastering far shorter snippets of content that either entices viewers or not—leaving further engagement at the mercy of their ability to connect with viewers.