The World Of Change(d)

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The world is changing. The world has changed.

Trolling through the news on Business Insider, I stumbled upon their chart of the day titled, Time Spent Watching Video On Mobile Devices Has Doubled In The Last Year. That some exponential growth, right there. The article goes on to explain: "As mobile devices like smartphones and tablets take over many computing tasks from traditional desktops or laptops, they’re also changing the way we consume entertainment. In the past year alone, video-watching on mobile devices has doubled. And only recently, tablets have passed smartphones as the most popular type of device to watch video on."

How do you consume video content?

Have you watched a YouTube video on your TV (via something like Apple TV or Roku)? Have you watched a YouTube video on your computer? Have you watched a YouTube video on your smartphone? Of course. We all have. Is the experience similar? It’s on YouTube… that’s the same. It’s video content… that’s the same. It’s on a screen… that’s the same. But place yourself, contextually, now. When we’re watching this content on a TV screen, it is usually a very different environment than that of a computer screen and we’re usually not in a fixed or reclined position when we watch these pieces of video content on our mobile devices (we’re, typically, on the go). I’d argue that those three environments are fundamentally different and how we consume, pay attention to and react to the content is very different as well.

Can you feel how much online video is changing how we consume video content?

Let’s say you love a YouTube video that you saw on your TV, how do you share it and talk about it? It’s simple when you’re watching that same video on a computer and a little bit more complex when you’re on a smartphone. As if marketers and media professionals didn’t have enough to worry about, YouTube is now pushing TrueView (a system by which consumers can skip a video after 5 seconds). While TrueView may seem like a technology geared towards a consumer’s desire to skip ads on video content, it’s actually a robust analytics platform for television ads that is in a nascent stage as Google (the owners of YouTube) captures all of this critical usage to then push back on advertisers as a way for them to create better and more compelling ads (and for YouTube to charge a whole lot more in terms of placement and the analytics behind it). This could be the win-win that traditional advertisers need to create a more compelling advertising platform with video. We shall see. Still, video consumption is going through this massive shift as more and more viewers are cutting the chord and watching on the go. This isn’t going to change. In fact, the trend demonstrates that it is going to increase – both in terms of the usage of these devices for video content and the amount of the population using them.

Deal with it.

We’re about to enter a very different media generation. Accountability for TV ads is going to become as precise (if not more detailed) than what the people in search engine marketing have known for over a decade. We’re going to soon have a much better idea as to what creative works, how much of it was truly seen, and if it had any impact (beyond people hitting a "skip this ad" button). Something tells me that traditional advertising is going to be in for some tough truths about the type of work that is being produced, and the value behind the entire process. Directly correlating sales and interest to TV ads isn’t going to be the type of metric regulated to the specialized agencies anymore. It’s going to be tablestakes in what will become a very complex game of finding optimal marketing mixes that are no longer so heavily weighted to TV ads over everything else.

We don’t like change.

This is going to leave many media professionals scoffing. So be it. Just keep watching these mobile numbers and correlate that to people moving from traditional cable to Internet-enabled TV boxes, the growth of streaming platforms like Netflix and the many venture capital and acquisition deals happening in the online video and YouTube channel space. For some, the world is changing. For others, the world has changed. The growth of video content and how we watch it is quickly moving away from the traditional TV screen. We can either start doing the hard work right now of figuring out how to create compelling video-based advertising for these new platforms and this new consumer, or we can continue to simply dump our traditional thirty second spots on to YouTube and then complain that YouTube isn’t as effective for videos ads as TV. We keep making the same, silly, mistakes over and over again. Eventually, we’ll wake up. Eventually, we’ll realize that this new way to watch video content calls for a new way to advertise on it as well.

Until then, stats like this will go unnoticed by the vast majority of those who must still protect the traditional TV advertising complex.


  1. I used to be a complete fatalist when it came to video ads on YouTube. But I’ve been reeled in by some in those all important 5 seconds. But, you’re right, instead of making assumptions that it won’t work, the better question is “What is the work that we’re not doing that could make this work?”
    If more companies asked that, I’m sure they would get better results.

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