Engaging TV viewers online

A recent article on iMediaConnection.com asks the provocative question, “do users really watch TV online?” The majority of reported research studies indicate that most viewing of video content on the computer, rather than the TV, can be considered video “snacking” – the watching of short clips, typified by the 3-5 minute spots found on YouTube.

But a new study from Integrated Media Management, a company that monitors media consumption, indicates that this behavior is changing. In fact, nearly half of the users who watch television shows online are doing so to replace their traditional offline TV consumption. This is a significant finding which has implications for all advertisers and content producers in both the offline and online worlds. (Among our own group, one of the CloudBurst Consulting team has replaced┬ácable TV with a computer hooked up to Netflix and Apple’s iTunes).

Amanda Welsh, co-founder and SVP of research for IMMI, is quoted in the imediaconnection article as saying:

“Everyone’s been talking about the internet becoming a substitute for TV; however, this is the first single-source passive data to show that the migration from one platform to another is actually occurring – and it’s happening fast.”

It is perhaps timely that the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Video Committee published a video format and best practices document earlier this year. The DVC details three main kinds of video ads: in-stream (ad formats related to a video player); in-banner (video ads you access through a banner); and in-text (you scroll over a word, and it plays a video ad that is contextually relevant to the content).

While most advertising agencies have an understanding of traditional TV, few appreciate the technical complexities of the digital video space. While in the online arena, most planners understand banners, short-form rich media and paid search – but not necessarily the emotional connection that longer-form video content can provide, and the opportunities for creative integration.

What’s needed now is a concerted effort by both traditional and digital agencies alike to ensure that the potential of online video is realized, which ultimately will be mutually beneficial for clients and ourselves. The whole industry has a responsibility to get up to speed with the technology as TV dollars continue to migrate to digital video: that means grassroots education with traditional and digital agencies coming together in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation.

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