In today’s constantly changing world of screens and devices, I’m often asked how I would describe the current media landscape. To do so in one word, I would say “fluid.”
This is a word that I keep coming back to because the digital democratisation of media means we operate in a truly fluid environment where consumers set the agenda and, to reach audiences, brand advertisers must keep pulse of the changing ways in which we’re consuming content. Today, we stand on the cusp of genuine behavioural change in how viewers perceive and consume TV. Trends that will come to the forefront over the next few years are already gathering momentum today, providing the advertising ecosystem with a unique opportunity to get ahead of the game and capitalise on convergence.
Trend #1: The new TV viewer
The anatomy of a TV viewer has changed. Audiences are no longer part of a one-to-many media environment, but are part of a many-to-one world in which multiple devices, platforms, content and messaging are all vying for our attention. Thanks to digital video, consumers have been emancipated from the schedule, and are able to consume content on their own terms. In other words, we’ve moved from ‘our TV’ to ‘Me TV’: an evolution from ‘what they’re going to show to me’ to ‘what TV do I want to discover and watch?’
Around the globe, we’re seeing an increase in video consumption across multiple devices. In fact, overall online viewership and hours consumed is increasing across the board.
It’s a compelling proposition, but with multiple devices and operating systems, it’s vital to understand the consumer journey between different content and devices. It necessitates a merge of TV and online planning to develop smart plans that leverage the best qualities of each device.
Trend #2: The end of the ‘programmatic’ craze
Simply put, ‘programmatic’ is the use of technology to automate the buying process. It can refer to the data-driven automation of media buying, pricing, or inventory-selection – but ultimately it means using data, algorithms, technology and machines to optimise for smarter ad decisions and better results.
I expect that the programmatic market will move to maturation in a matter of years. And I think that as we move into a ‘post-programmatic’ era, programmatic trading will be so universal , we simply won’t talk about it – in the same way we no longer talk of an ‘Internet era’. It will just be the way we work.
Consumers are always ahead of us. They choose which device, platform and content they want and we have to figure out how to effectively connect with them. The efficiencies of programmatic planning for reaching the right audiences at scale make it a no-brainer.
Trend #3: Data becomes the connective tissue for convergence
What’s wonderful about the fact we touch digital environments so frequently is that we leave digital footprints every time we do so. It contributes to vast, rich datasets which, together with rigorous analytics, enable the media industry to unlock consumer behaviours and mine the wealth of insight our footprints leave behind. After all, it’s not the size of your ‘big’ data that matters; it’s what you do with it.
With rich proposition analytics, data provides unparalleled insights for addressability and effective messaging of audiences, making campaigns more effective from the outset . As consumer behaviours change, they directly affect TV distribution – and this continuum is perpetual. That’s why we need to be actively engaging with technology in order to evaluate and understand these behaviours. We need to be able to unlock the value of data to understand the new TV viewer and engineer solutions that meet the evolving needs of the consumer – and accordingly, the entire ecosystem.
Trend #4: The onset of Addressable TV
Today, when we talk about multiple platforms, we’re talking about IP-connected set-top boxes and TV sets that are already in homes. You can’t talk multi-screen without making allowances for addressable TV.
Addressable TV is now very much part of the media toolkit – and will become increasingly important in the years ahead. And now that consumers in-home are catching up online, we need to be actively engaging with the technologies that are being embraced by consumers, and using those behaviours to the benefit of advertising clients.
We operate in very interesting times where fragmentation and convergence are the new ‘normal’. There are increasingly opportunities for content providers, platform operators, and publisher and advertiser communities to coalesce around a smaller and better defined set of protocols which mean better business for all.
But the race is on. Now is the time to act in the interests of succeeding tomorrow. We already have very strong clues as to what the future video holds; now is the time to start engineering solutions which are best in breed, fit the needs of ecosystem participants and the entire advertising community.
And while it’s a race, we all have a part to play. The tech community must consult with each player that has an active stake in the future of TV and video and build technologies for its entire client base across the industry. We all need to work together for a better future.