Identity Crisis (Digital or TV)
Audience is the primary focus in both the upfronts and newfronts this year. Television networks are talking up their digital properties to compete with the audience shifts to digital and the digital properties selling themselves more and more like TV networks.
- TV as Digital
Television networks are selling their digital extensions as well as their ability to compete with “programmatic buying” with better targeting opportunities – using purchase data for targeting or, in some cases. as audience guarantees.
- Digital as TV
Pressing on both a reach story and quality video, digital now wants you to think of them as TV as well. Both Hulu and Crackle are vying for your living room TV as your OTT provider. They are positioning themselves and selling their audiences like TV with the ability to be more targeted based on viewers’ purchasing behaviors. Hulu is your VOD network/cable provider, and Crackle is producing original programming and off-network programming at no cost to the consumer. The content is studio-quality programming.
Content is Still King (and Quality Finds an Audience)
Digital properties continue to sell the idea that if you shave TV dollars, they can add reach to your schedule, and TV networks are agreeing if you put it on their digital properties. So everyone agrees that consumers are watching across various devices, but, more important, all agree that video content is still king. Whether long-form or short-form, consumers like video content.
- TV or TV-like Programming
Investments are being made in original programming not just from the networks and cable providers, but also from all the larger digital properties – Hulu, Crackle, Yahoo – with established, well-known actors and directors. They are bringing TV quality productions to digital. Quality programming will always find an audience.
- Influencer/User Generated Short-Form Content
YouTube is all about the YouTube star and user generated content. Yes, they are creating new original programming, but the YouTube star is still at the center of their programs. YouTube is less like TV. The more commercial the programming, the less authentic the personality – and consumers will tune out. Where promotional messaging can work on Hulu and Crackle, YouTube is more of a branding experience and social influencer program. The content is not as “premium,” but the influencer is a star to this millennial target.
The content providers – Maker, Mode, Pop Sugar and Refinery 29 – bring the influencers and produce content that runs on YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo channels. They are great resources for finding influencers and creating content that can showcase products and/or store experiences.
The level of control is varied based on the amount of sponsorship, but the best productions allow the talent to do it their way so they can connect with their followers. Influencers are featured across a variety of categories and demographics (Fashion, Sports, Finance, Entertainment, DIY, Hispanic, Millennials, etc.) Mode is creating its own channel to house its content, and Maker is creating original programming with Rachel Zoe and others to meet the demands that marketers want in an online video experience.
The Shifting Audience (Use of Alternative Devices)
Ultimately, scale is the name of the game – especially when it comes to delivering the most sought after Millennials. With the audience viewing content across multiple devices and programming being both long-form and short-form, we need to follow our target audience where they are and adapt for both the target and the platform. Moreover, we need to adapt our budgets to account for the grey crossover area between TV and Digital, identify content that aligns with our target and buy in that content regardless of platform.
Noteworthy Tech Innovations
- • Mode debuted a new video platform that boasts curated, high quality video content that is clearly aimed at taking market share from YouTube’s audience. Mode’s platform was pitched as a solution for brands to reach online and mobile video consumers in a more meaningful way.
- • Buzzfeed launched POUND, a new data visualization tool that shows how content is shared through online and social. It visually shows the downstream influence of social sharing by representing the flow from one sharer to another.
- • Microsoft HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that is a see-through, fully holographic computer. When you are wearing the glasses, high definition holograms come to life in the space that you are in. Rather than taking over your entire field of vision, it layers the holograms into your real world. These holograms can be manipulated and interacted with via gestures – unlocking many new ways to communicate, learn, work and play.