Alongside digital video recorders, on-demand and catch up services and a range of subscription and streaming services, TV viewers have the option to never watch another ad again.
The ‘skip generation’ of viewers are inadvertently fighting back against traditional advertising through the use of technology. Advertising funds the vast majority of TV content, and if that source of revenue is lost in unwatched ad breaks it could significantly impact the quality of the programming we all watch.
There’s been a seismic shift in viewing habits, and it’s crucial that advertisers ‘catch up’ with their audience. Research released earlier this year by the BBC revealed that a quarter of its viewers are now watching programmes using catch-up services rather than when they originally air. Indeed, the internationally popular Sherlock saw a staggering 3.5 million additional viewers watch the show via the iPlayer or through a recording.
Advertisers have also had to contend with the massive growth in popularity of streaming services like Netflix, Blinkbox and Lovefilm. Netflix has achieved significant critical and commercial success with its original programming, as shown by the triumphant return of flagship series House of Cards.
It’s absolutely crucial that advertisers listen to what the audience is increasingly making abundantly clear and find a way to reach their target audience on their own terms. Rather than regarding the growth of new technology and the change in the audiences’ viewing habits as the barrier, advertisers need to embrace the opportunity that new technology provides.
Advertising doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, intrusive. Brands need to be able to reach their target audience in a contextually relevant, native way that doesn’t break the deal with the audience by intruding upon their viewing experience. While technology enabled viewers to skip ads in the first place, it can now also put brands back in the one place where people are still engaged – in the spotlight of content.
Using native in-video techniques, brands can target specific audiences with contextually, geographically and emotionally relevant products and services by digitally integrating them into appropriate content. However, ensuring that each placement meets all three of these criteria requires a balance of technology scale and human contextualisation – a balance that is now establishing a new cutting edge of native, in-video advertising.
One of the ways in which this sort of native in-video advertising is sometimes labelled is as a “post-production” form of product placement, because that’s the sort of description most people can easily understand and it’s been around for more than 100 years. But this sort of terminology and the methods used to execute it are now at least ten years out of date. The advances that have been made in integrating brands into videos in an entirely natural manner mean that any allusions to product placement are now rather archaic.
As consumers, we know that we must be advertised to, but historically product placement implementations can often lead to a poor compromise for the audience, the content and for the brand. Going forward the benefit for advertisers is that global television content is now available to native in-video advertising. Audience demographics, desired durations and target context can all be controlled in exactly the same way as any other measurable ad unit and at meaningful scale.
Boosting advertising revenue can and should work hand-in-hand with an enhanced and uninterrupted viewing experience and technology now affords the ability to do both. The current culture, with its abundance of time-saving technology, promotes a more efficient, faster consumption of content, which has given birth to a generation of consumers that are, for want of a better word, impatient. The MTV generation had vast attention spans compared to today’s connected audiences – people now go out of their way to consume things as quickly as they possibly can. It’s important that ads add value to the content, rather than just get in the way.