Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
How consumers watch television, movies and other video content has changed dramatically in just a few short years. And with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the inexorable migration towards digital streaming has only accelerated. This creates complex challenges as well as huge opportunities for brand marketers who want to engage and connect with consumers leveraging the power of sight, sound and motion.
eMarketer co-founder Geoff Ramsey and team recently took on the task of collecting data surrounding household media consumption and viewership in order to quantify this massive shift and to predict where our viewing habits are headed as a nation. What they found paints a vivid picture of how the worlds of traditional TV watching and video streaming are colliding––now, and in the future. Here’s a closer look at their research and what it says about where consumer attention is headed, what’s happening behind the scenes in the intense streaming wars and how content marketers can make the most of the cataclysmic changes being driven by consumers and new technologies.
Americans have increased their media consumption by one full hour during forced isolation. There’s a slight increase in linear tv viewing (because there’s more news) but the major shift is in the amount of streaming. Traditional TV is still getting the lion’s share of views in the US, but digital video is growing at the expense of linear T.V. and will continue to over time, which raises the question - what does this mean for ads?
As Netflix has the highest number of subscribers to SVOD and no ads in sight, the plight of ads in streaming may seem bleak, but that can and will likely change as streamers continue to take over the landscape with subscription-based plans. Linear TV spending is taking a big hit this year, and the ad revenue follows. The biggest streamers in the market simply have no ads. Although TV ad spend will start to go up again through 2024, ultimately it will never return to spending levels that existed pre-COVID. That is a sobering statistic. Conversely, digital video spending is on track to weather the COVID storm, as 44% of marketing and agency professionals said they have added budget to digital video due to the pandemic.
With digital video on track to survive, and linear TV on the long-term decline, it’s time for marketers to seriously reimagine what they do with that spend. According to Ramsey and team, in order to connect, you need to get the right place, time, and value in your message. Unless your content you create as a marketer is entertaining, providing a utility, being helpful, or fostering emotion, you’ll be lost in the fray. This is what Ramsey calls “Magnetic Content”, and the data shows that generating it will be the very thing that separates the forward-thinking marketer and the marketer that can’t seem to shed the workings of the old model. “Magnetic content naturally draws needles out of the proverbial haystack”, says Ramsey; “attract, don’t distract.”
This can be done on streaming sites like Netflix with product placement (think Stranger Things and New Coke, Baskin Robbins). Another way in is AI - use AI to identify what people’s interests are and borrow that interest for your own ads and content. Finally, marketers can partner with a creative entity to generate their own content and work to get it distributed on one of these services.
eMarketer’s research demonstrates that consumer attention is headed toward OTT, where people can watch what they want, when they want, relatively ad free. Streamers are popping up left and right fighting for a piece of the pie. The bad news? Before the decade’s through, linear TV as we know it will be treated like a relic by today’s young people. The Good news? This pandemic catalyzed a process that may have taken much longer to predict and respond to accordingly. In this moment, with a relatively level playing field, content marketers can make the most of the changes being driven by consumers and new technologies by putting their attention toward getting at the heart of their own values and messaging in order to make compelling and authentic magnetic content that attracts the right audience.
About Jordan Kelley
Jordan Kelley is a versatile creative intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. He is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of visual media.