Online video roundtable — in association with Videology

The TV landscape is evolving rapidly as brands explore the potential of online video. Marketing Week brought marketers, media agencies and technology specialists together at Cannes Lions to discuss the future of the medium.

View the full panel.

Marketing Week (MW): What are the big challenges for those working in and with television content?

Richard Herd (RH): It’s the re-education of the advertising industry to see what we are doing online as valuable content. The audience online is completely different and producers and advertisers need a completely different understanding of why they are there and want they want to see.

We weren’t very successful in the first couple of weeks [on the Foodtube channel] because we were treating online viewers as a TV audience but they are not a TV audience any more and they will punish you if you don’t understand that.

They are not prepared to sit through a 30 second spot ad that is part of a beautiful £2m campaign. Jamie Oliver was willing to take a risk and willing to shoot a two- to-four minute video as a soft advertorial type piece that engages an audience much better.

Scott Ferber (SF): A big challenge is that the TV community and industry is one of the last traditional media to intersect with digital or the internet. How will that intersection evolve? A lot of people from a media perspective feel that TV intersecting with digital will transpire in a similar way to the way radio, newspapers and others have.

I would argue that there are significant differences between TV and these other three media and how they have worked in our global society. One of biggest challenges is understanding that this convergence will be very different.

MW: What is the new definition of TV that is emerging?

RH:  For us TV is Jamie’s 30 minute TV shows that we sell around the world. The language in them is completely different from online content. There is a different dialogue that happens between Jamie and that audience when he is online. He has to talk directly to them and engage with them and they are at their computers and can comment back. 

Zaid Al-Qassab (ZAQ): I jump to the conclusion that TV now means anywhere where people are seeing moving visuals and sound.

Johan Boserup (JB): We are boxing ourselves into the definition that online video is the new and different thing that can only be used for something new and something different – and that is not true at all. 

There is definitely space for interesting new types of formats and content where we can engage with audiences in a completely different way. I think there will be room for that on what we call ‘traditional’ TV and online.

MW: Is the era of linear TV coming to a close?

RH: This is not the end of the long form stuff. They are a different audience online but still Jamie’s core audience is there as well. 

We are seeing conversations changing with broadcasters from: ‘that’s your online stuff and that’s your TV stuff,’ to ‘can we have some of this over here?’ It’s really encouraging for us to see that sort of brain switch.

JB: I actually see some of the business models sitting alongside TV going full circle, like iTunes was disruptive to linear media consumption but is now introducing radio and Spotify has more and more tunes played on its curated radio platform.

ZAQ: It’s the paradox of choice. You need curation to make sense of the world. You just migrate to whatever you are used to if there is no curation.

Matt Spiegel (MS): I’m not anti-curation regarding TV but just want more personalised curation – content still matters. Are we going to say everything is TV or is TV actually a screen on your wall and everything else is video?

SF: There are differences in each channel. But we want to take an audience engagement approach. The screen should be secondary to the customer that the client wants to reach. Each device you could use in different situations in different contexts. You could be in a ‘lean back’  mode as much as on your computer as on your TV.

Dr Mark Grether (MG): TV is very powerful and it really works so we are not trying to fix TV but we can make it a lot better. It is the ultimate mass medium but it means light users are very difficult and expensive to reach. If we use online video on top of traditional broadcast TV it’s by far the most effective way to reach audiences.

If we can use second and third screens to supplement it – and we can crack that – I think we have some really good momentum but it all has to be relevant.

Roundtable Cannes 2

MW: What about the value of TV versus online video to advertisers?

MG: What are the KPIs of the video business? We have to act as if online video is a regular TV channel. We have to have frequency and reach metrics. The easiest way for us to extend TV online is to deliver the same key performance indicators (KPIs).

Then we can go to the next phase and say what additional KPIs could be specific to online – but we still have to do the basics right. From an ad perspective the client still wants to reach a certain number of gross rating points (GRPs).  The question is more how much will come from TV versus from online media?

MT: Most marketers don’t believe GRPs on a TV screen are equal to the GRPs on other media. I feel enough marketers do understand what the impact of that ad on that screen in your living room does and they will have hard time transferring that value to online.

SF: Five years ago when we asked agencies and brands what their perspective was they said online was worth about 10 per cent of TV [in driving sales]. But fast-forward and offline return on investment (ROI) studies have shown a tremendous amount of evidence that online video has great ROI.

But it has taken years. But when someone has that information they never share it. They are not going to say online video is great and better than TV. People are learning a lot and keeping that intelligence within their own companies.

JB:  If you look at a personalised spot, most advertisers recognise that the individual impression online is more valuable but it is difficult and very expensive to scale. It’s so easy to scale TV. And it’s bloody cheap.

ZAQ: What is true is that not all impressions are born equal. Searching for whether online is going to be more effective than linear TV is ignoring the fact that what really matters is the consumer’s journey and which moments on that journey are they more receptive and which channels are they choosing.

Then it’s about tailoring your message to the channel and receptivity moment. If you do it well then you get good results. Do it badly, you’ll get bad results.

Andy von Hirschberg (AvH):  The difficulty is from a marketing point of view to structure your team and agencies to create so much different personalised content – and there’ll be some stuff you don’t want to plan for and you will want a certain amount of budget to play with.

One of the reasons marketers are not take the learnings is because they are scared of them and having to create five different spots.

ZAQ: When you run a business you cannot afford to be idealistic. It would be lovely to make an individual ad for every single person tailored to their life. But what am I going to do? Today I have one brand manager, tomorrow I am going to have 100?

GM: TV is working – it’s great and it’s working for advertisers. We’re not trying to fix a problem due to it not working – we’re just trying to take the next step. Younger audiences are getting more difficult on [on traditional TV] but they have not actually gone.

MW: Programmatic trading is the hot topic now – do you think it’s a game changer for the medium?

Anne de Kerckhove (AdK): There is an issue with definition of programmatic trading. The consistent misconception is that it means real time buying in a blind way. But it just means doing things with smart tools, with science and data. It does not mean buying blind in the hope of an impression.

MG: It’s about the plumbing and the creation of an ecosystem that allows the automation of flow and on top of that enables smarter decisions because you can bring data to those decisions.

There is no such thing as programmatic marketing or a programmatic media strategy. You have to have a strategy for how you use programmatic pipes. It’s just all about better audience segmentation.

ZAQ: It’s common sense. If I can buy linear TV and you give me the opportunity to exclude some of the audience I am getting that I didn’t want, why wouldn’t I want to do that? It’s more efficient.

JB: If you are buying pure audiences programmatic is the right way to go. But if you are saying that this is the only future then content becomes irrelevant.  However, there will always be two types of buying. If as a brand you lean towards the content then you’ll buy the content and hope the audience is there – maybe even using content to try to move your brand into a new audience.

If you just go for the audience via programmatic then you are locking yourself into curation and no-one outside your [specific] audience will see your brand. Few brands can live with that.

Roundatble Cannes 3

MW: What is the monetisation model for online TV?

MG: Content facilitates data. If someone is engaging with your website it tells you a lot about them. How can you smartly monetise content online? I suggest the 90 per cent rule. 

Create 10 per cent of high quality content – not to make money just to collect data about audiences – then apply the data outside of premium content to less premium content that you can produce at much lower cost.

However, all the companies seem focused on just 10 per cent and want to make sure they make money out of the 10 per cent.

RH: Jamie Oliver will never come off TV so long as there is an audience there that want to sit down at 9pm and watch a show. We get one million viewers there and we put a show out on YouTube and got 100,000 in the first airing – that’s 10 per cent [of the TV audience] and all that data there.

We’re not shutting out this huge audience over in TV-land but it’s interesting to see what discussions we can have with the new audience over here and the conversations and the learnings. 

Lisa Tookey (LT): With something like the “Bacon don’t Buffer” content [featuring Jamie Oliver and Kevin Bacon making a bacon sandwich], which started as a 30 second TV ad, the audience know it’s advertising and accept it’s advertising. Some of the comments said ‘we know its advertising but we don’t care’.

RH: Compare brands getting that sort of endorsement from comments and likes to a 30-second TV ad from a certain supermarket – there were lots of negative comments below the ad on YouTube. Jamie came to YouTube to give talent he has fallen in love with that can’t get on to TV an opportunity. We can show broadcasters there are 100,000 fans that like this person and there is a market for that stuff.

MW: How do you think ‘second screening’ builds into the ecosystem?

AdK: The trick is to know what the second screen is for, because viewers are multi- tasking. If you just trying to advertise on the second screen in the way you advertise on TV it’s a pointless diversion of attention.

JB: It is interesting how people will measure it. How do you track someone from their TV viewing to their tablet viewing?

We also have to move from the early days of digital when we just rehashed the TV ad and put it online – now we have to have more consistent messaging because we know people are consuming in different ways and on different paths and we need to try to be more holistic.

MG: But all our TVs are all now going to be connected. We have to stop thinking of TV as a dumb device.  However, I think there is a difference between what that second screen experience is and what the broadcaster thinks it should be compared to what advertiser thinks should be.

And there’s a question as to whether or not the broadcaster is interested in the second screen because it is going to take away from the main message they want you to see on linear TV. I don’t know whether brands are there enough yet to take that marketing spend away from where they know your eyes are going to be – and most of the time people are on FaceBook and Twitter talking about what they are watching, not on a tablet screen.

AvH: ‘Return path TV’ in whatever some shape or form is still some years away from major scale. It will take longer than you think.  The entire planet is now working off digital signals and every single TV sold now can be connected but there’s no product.

MG: It’s a process problem. There is a technical problem at some level but I am still amazed that it could be as much as week’s lead time to get an ad scheduled to make it into the broadcast. That’s crazy. That will go away. Back office systems will become more automated.

The technology does exist but it’s not been wired together yet. We have got to get the TV business to see economic value in making these changes. But the way we have talked about data-driven programmatic trading has got that community running for the hills instead of embracing the fact that there is a new opportunity here that embraces data.

MW: How can marketers benefit from the data opportunities offered by digital television?

MG: We need to get more data. We need to understand who is actually watching. There are technical difficulties on TV. Why does it take so long to get the data? We do not know who is in the room or if they are looking at the TV.

I think the key will be the mobile devices – they will be listening to what the individual sees and that will be your identity.  By definition you are logged in because of your SIM card and they will know what you are watching.

That’s our opportunity to circumvent the broadcasters but they are not interested in doing this yet. It’s too big a business for them to start slicing it up. They need to see some problems before that happens but I think we as advertisers or agencies can circumvent that using different technologies.

MS: The agencies build lots of capabilities that are very important and relevant but I think marketers have got to get more comfortable making decisions from these new sets of data.

At the end of the day they still have to set the strategy. If they live in a GRP world and that’s the extent of the data they are capable of thinking about, then the nuance and science that is part of the art of marketing just won’t be appreciated and don’t think they will embrace it.

ZAQ: I am not very interested in big data, I am interested in big insight.

RH: It will be interesting when brands start to look at online talent that have a massive following and a huge social media presence and can really get behind the brand – when that shifts over and switches on there will be a different option for bands to make content.

Roundtable Cannes 4

Which brands do you think are using online TV in a great way?

Louisa James (LJ): A brand like BuzzFeed because of the way of it looks at content and produces good content on behalf of brands, placing it in appropriate channels.

There’s an ad for Purina cat litter that’s funny and cute and yet what it is doing is selling Purina cat litter [called A Cat’s Guide To Taking Care of Your Human]. Brands should be looking at content agencies and saying ‘we don’t want you to make ads to sell stuff – just create an amazing piece of content that people want to watch’.

AdK: The Dove campaign [for real beauty] in female engagement. It’s a curated engagement piece that had translated into ads, print, digital and ongoing storytelling. Most women are not thinking of it as an ad but as a brand raising a fundamental issue in society. We all know they are trying to sell a product but they are feeling better about buying the product.

Let’s be ambitious. It’s about doing things in a much more exciting way. It’s about trying to deliver better customer experience and we tend to talk about technology too much rather than inspiring.

ZAQ: I think consumers are pretty sophisticated. They know what is an ad and what isn’t an ad and because they are sophisticated they don’t really mind. Marketers that take consumers for fools are misguided.

The Panel

Johan Boserup

Johan Boserup – Global chief executive, GroupM Trading

Dr Mark Grether

Dr Mark Grether – Global chief operating officer, Xaxis

Scott Ferber

Scott Ferber – Founder and chief executive, Videology

Richard Herd

Richard Herd – Network manager, Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

Andy von Hirschberg

Andrew von Hirschberg – Vice president brand marketing, HouseTrip

Louisa James

Louisa James – Senior digital strategist, Jamie Oliver Ltd

Anne de Kerckhove

Anne de Kerkhove – Managing director EMEA, Videology

Ruth Mortimer

Ruth Mortimer – Editor, Marketing Week

Zaid Al-Qassab

Zaid Al-Qassab – Chief marketing officer, HouseTrip

Matt Spiegel

Matt Spiegel – Founder, Concept Corridor

Lisa Tookey

Lisa Tookey – Head of commercial, Jamie Oliver Ltd

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