Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Netflix's Gift To Digital Advertising

Netflix, Amazon and HBO have taught me, my family and most of the planet that the best TV programming does not come with commercials.  It's been a massive cultural shift.  Television and commercials have been as dependent on each other as milk and cereal going back to the days of the first broadcast.

A massive business shift is accompanying the cultural shift and completely upending the media and advertising industries.  Roughly 35% of the $500 billion spent globally on advertising goes to television and it seems every digital media company has a plan to grab some of it.  As Derek Thompson in The Atlantic said: "Netflix's extraordinary success is the best thing that could ever have happened to digital advertising."

It's not all going away.  Sports and live entertainment programming is somewhat safe. (Although Fox just announced it will be introducing 6 second commercials in their NFL games as viewers, unable to skip the commercial, are reaching for their mobile devices during breaks in the action.)

Ironically, people are becoming more accustomed and comfortable with seeing an ad in front of a short piece of video content on their phone than they are on an Emmy Award winning show on their TV.  A variety of innovations including speedy load times, better targeting, shorter ads and a quick ad-skip option have made ads in front of digital video content a clean and manageable experience (for the most part).  TV's multi ad TV breaks feel more anachronous and cumbersome by the day.

And short form video content is a booming sector of the media business as not only Facebook, YT and Snap continue their relentless focus and innovation, but hundreds of large and niche publishing companies build out sophisticated video production operations that churn out compelling content and further acclimate us to watching clips and short pre-roll ads on our phone.  

A recent column in ReCode describes a "visual revolution" in journalism that predicts not a full pivot to video, but a new format for story telling that is just another example of the opportunities for re-expressing TV advertising.
That video that is currently soaring across social media — maybe it’s a text-heavy explainer with dynamic motion graphics, or a video-driven news story with sharply concise captions — is less an evolution of video itself and more of an evolution of the hundreds and thousands of pieces of text-based journalism that are produced and consumed digitally. Audiences that spent time consuming only the first couple of paragraphs of a news story are now watching 45 seconds of a video that conveys the same information. And, yes, sometimes with words on the screen. I believe this will become more sophisticated and more prevalent, and before you tell me that it’s intellectually inferior, just believe me — it’s not in its final form. It’s on us to innovate so that it has the power and impact we want it to.
Perhaps it is just like the early days of television.