Move Over TV Ad Giants, Digital Video Is Taking Over The Kingdom

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(This post is co-authored with Pau Suris, advertising filmmaker under the moniker “Pensacola” and video innovator specialized in Millennials and the Z Generation.)

It’s about time we accept it: our media landscape is changing faster than a marketing campaign can. Millennials and Gen Z are shifting en masse from traditional media, such as TV, towards social media and content networks, where they feel free to view what they want.

In a new report by digital benchmarking firm L2 titled Intelligence Report: Video 2016, it is noted that TV is on its “last gasp” with viewership decreasing since 2012 and that the sweeping changes in viewing behavior are significantly impacting not just the programs, but where and how videos are viewed, and throwing the traditional TV ad model into a tailspin. L2 predicts that nearly 80% of total global Internet traffic will be driven by digital video in 2020.

Evan Neufeld, VP of L2’s Intelligence Group, says that “with its evolving set of platforms, consumer usage cases, advertising models, and content generation best practices, digital will make successful brands work harder than ever before to maximize the impact of video.”

The biggest video problem plaguing marketing specialists nowadays is a content crunch – the difference between how much video content is available and what type is needed. To attract the consumer, brands need more diverse content than they can produce via traditional methods. They also need another kind of content: smarter, snappier, and unexpected thumb-stopping moments that motivates the click, all in a fraction of a second.

Everyone is aware of the reason for this urgency: we consume shorter content faster (think of how quickly you scroll through your Instagram feed) and we are more selective about what we watch. XXI century eyes are trained to automatically skip commercials and because of this “built-in” ad blocking, storytelling becomes the most important aspect of a marketing campaign. However, it is reduced to its most minimal expression once people have been lured in through a slogan, a gif or a splashy picture.

On the brand marketer side, video advertising is produced in a traditional, labor consuming way that is expensive and very slow. There are too many steps, too many hierarchies, and results cannot be measured with precision – a major disadvantage over other forms of online advertisements.

The most common mistake made by advertisers, agencies and production companies is believing that what works on TV will work within new digital environments as long as they adapt the timing or make a few superficial format changes. They believe that by chopping longer pieces (60 seconds) into shorter versions (15 seconds) or even fragments and loops (5 seconds), they are creating a new language, but that is not the case. In fact, each digital platform demands its own unique approach to ensure success. For example, shorter gif-like videos around the 5-10 sec mark can have a greater impact on Facebook, whereas user-generated content may resonate more on Instagram. Other key factors such as mobile optimization, frequency, hyper-targeting, and the use of influencers need to be taken into consideration when planning digital video marketing efforts.

While there is no such thing as a definitive solution for digital video advertising, there are new formats emerging that show early signs of positive results. For example, Facebook’s new Canvas or Carousel ad formats offer new ways to tell stories. But new formats are only one slice of the pie that needs to change. Agency creatives and brand marketers both need to start thinking beyond old paradigms.

A different language must arise from video advertising that addresses the needs and instincts of consumers today. Given the rapid pace of consumption online video is experiencing, a new king of advertising is on the rise and one thing is clear: only content creation that is scalable, authentic and attractive in itself – and not simply a carrier of a message – will supply a sustainable solution that can be respected by marketers and consumers alike.

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