This was the topic for our ninth Firestarters, a series created for the agency strategy and planning communities to come together to discuss pressing industry questions.
We know from research and experience that viewers no longer think of TV and online video as two separate entities. To them, it's all just video. What viewers care about is being able to watch the content they love, where and when they want.
So the question today is not whether this blurring of video consumption has happened, but what we do about it. How do we help our brands and agencies adapt to and plan for the world we live in, not the world we grew up in?
We had three industry experts on hand to explain new research, spark ideas and map a path forward. Here's what they shared and what we learned.
Sherrill Mane, Head of MAdTech Strategy for Ipsos Connect, started us off with some thought-provoking research about exactly how people watch video. She challenged the idea that people mainly watch mobile video on the go, saying, "Our research proves that mobile video use is happening in the home -- regularly." In a recent survey, more than 90% of viewers shared that they watch YouTube on mobile devices at home.1 The most common time they watch both YouTube on the TV and on a mobile device is primetime.2
People aren't only using their phones as a place to watch something quickly and move on, so "maybe we need to stop thinking of smartphones as phones, and more like personalized TVs," Sherrill said.
As people spend more time on mobile at home, Sherrill thinks it's time "to think about reimagining video to reach people where they are and, perhaps more importantly, to capture and hold their attention."
Stacey Stewart, Head of Integrated Investment for Universal McCann, gave us a window into how this kind of change looks and feels on the front lines. "Video-neutral planning and buying means we buy the way people watch," she said.
At Universal McCann, video-neutral planning means combining the strengths of TV and video and blurring traditional organizational structures. Now, "TV and digital teams are integrated," Stacey explained. "Teams own brands from an overall perspective and digital has a seat at the table from the beginning."
Investments are grouped not by screen or platform but by media behaviors like "premium," "continuity" and "live." Each category includes both TV and digital properties and allows McCann more freedom to shift media within these buckets. This approach helps McCann reach more people more quickly, on all screens. The guardrails also help McCann's clients feel comfortable and better understand this new world.
Adam Abramson, Director of Digital Content for CBS' The Late Late Show with James Corden, started his presentation by asking how many people had seen a particular Carpool Karaoke clip live on TV or on YouTube. In our crowd, almost everyone had seen it on YouTube sometime after its premiere on CBS.
The truth is that Adam and his team don't really care when or where people watch. "Whether people see a clip on TV at 12:38 a.m. or on YouTube 10 days later, we've learned that people are wedded to great content, not the devices they watch it on," he said. What they focus on is creating great content that will get people watching, no matter the platform or device.
Having a new show allowed Adam and his team to toss away silos and invent a new way of doing things. "In the old world, we would make a TV show and then pick which parts we wanted to put online," he recalled. "In the new world and on our show, online has a seat at every table."
Adam attributes the overwhelming success of the show's YouTube channel with everyone's dedication to digital and the talent of its star, James Corden. "Our content is genuine to James and embodies the same kinds of traits that make a lot of YouTubers successful: interactivity, authenticity, repeatability and shareability," he said.
A Fresh Look at 2017 Planning
Take a look at where people are watching video today. Is your organization structured to plan TV and online video alongside one another? The new year is a great time to find areas to break down silos and build greater flexibility into the planning process.
1 Google/Ipsos Connect, "YouTube Cross-Screen Survey," U.S., July 2016, n=6,298 consumers 18–54.
2 Google/Ipsos Connect, "YouTube Cross-Screen Survey," U.S., July 2016, n=662 consumers 18–54 who watch YouTube on television at home, n=221 consumers 18–54 who watch YouTube on mobile devices at home.
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