This Isn’t Your Father’s TV


Twenty years ago, the TV advertising landscape looked very different than today. The average American household had access to 28 TV channels and brands like Fox, Nickelodeon and TNT were start-ups. Today, Americans have over 160 channels and watch networks like the Military Channel, ESPNU and Adult Swim.  Long gone are the days when TV was the only screen to watch your favorite programs. Nowhere is change more intense and complex than in video. We are shifting from a TV landscape to a multiscreen video landscape.

An article I read entitled “20 Fascinating Nielsen Rating Facts That Will Blow Out Your Brain Holes” drives home the scale of these changes. A few highlights from the article include:

  • The series finale of Cheers was watched by 84 million people, which is more than double the all-time highest rated episode of American Idol.
  • Modern Family is the second highest rated sitcom on television with around 10.5 million viewers. 90’s sitcom Sports Night was cancelled after two seasons on ABC because it only averaged 11.5 million viewers.
  • The most seen episode of The Simpsons was 1990’s “Bart Gets An F.” It was seen by 33.3 million viewers. The last first run episode of The Simpsons in 2013 was seen by 4.8 million viewers.

Multiscreen World

Through the development of new digital technologies and platforms, video is no longer limited to only one viewing platform. The average consumer today has many ways to watch video – in-home and out-of-home, passive and active, fixed and viral. While having all these choices is great for consumers, this fragmentation of audiences creates a challenge for brands’ to achieve their desired reach across devices. Historically, advertisers relied on TV because it satisfied  reach and frequency goals better than available alternatives. Today, the consumer’s fragmented viewing habits across TV and digital is making video advertising more complex to plan, execute and measure.

Integration of TV and Digital Video

It’s no longer a question of choosing TV or digital video, but rather how to best integrate the two. Marketers are starting to embrace a multiplatform strategy for video by planning holistically across all screens instead of planning each screen as a silo. For example, layering digital video on top of TV campaigns can continue to build incremental reach after TV reach curves have flattened. This means that marketers and agency planners and buyers must understand their audiences better than ever and understand the strengths and benefits of each screen.

More Engagement and Opportunity

More viewing platforms also means greater opportunity. Now, a growing number of consumers are spending their time watching exactly what they want when they want across PC’s, smartphones, mobile, tablets, connected TVs and VOD systems. This translates to a higher level of consumer engagement and a attractive environment for marketers to target their messages. The increased availability of digital video also means more overall screen time for consumers, offering more marketing touchpoints and opportunities.

The future of TV may be complex, but digital video is clearly going to be a meaningful and growing part of it. In the past, a multiplatform campaign might have consisted of TV, online, print, radio and out-of-home. Today, an effective video strategy should consider all screens and select the proper balance based on the advertisers’ goals.

Alan May
Just Media, Inc. 

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