Producing Content in the Modern Age

We are going through a seismic shift in terms of how and where we consume our media.

This is hardly startling as the convergence to mobile and rise of the smartphone are apparent to one and all. However, the scale of what is happening is enormous. The dominant device in our lives is moving from the TV to the phone. The last time a shift of this magnitude happened was in the 1950s as TV usurped a then dominant radio.

Source: marketingcharts.com (analysis of Nielsen data)

A Nielsen survey conducted last year found that, among people between the ages of 21 and 34, 38% of respondents said they plan to cancel their cable or satellite subscription and replace it with online video services.

Why? Because they can. Platforms like Netflix and the general availability of content online means you you are no longer as reliant on your TV subscription in the current media climate and in truth, they will likely seem archaic in years to come.

The obituaries for TV are most certainly premature and the medium isn’t going anywhere, clearly. However, it’s position in our lives is altering and the classic cable subscription model is beginning to look increasingly broken.

Any medium that is still premised around ‘tune in or miss out’ will be put out to pasture in the new on-demand and real time society that is emerging. Broadcasters have been taking notice with an increasing shift in focus to the quad play of  TV, broadband,  and phone.

A further step down the line is Now TV -  Sky’s OTT service which enables customers to consume content on-demand and in real time, with no contract. This feels like the future.

As your phone becomes your TV, the importance of social and digital platforms become more and more entwined in our daily lives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and publishers are the new broadcasters and are beginning to behave like that.

Whilst once, the social platforms were the vehicles to access content online, they are increasingly becoming the destination. Twitter led the way with rights deals for the NFL and PGA Tour, but there are content deals happening across all of the big platforms, with Facebook becoming particularly aggressive on the sports and entertainment front.

Since the emergence of video as a dominant creative format, we have been guided to optimise towards short-form content. Grab people’s attention before they disappear in the abyss of their timelines has been the common mantra.

To that end,  best practice has been to front load your content, use talent early in your video and test with subtitles and audio to arrest users in their quest to be entertained. People move quickly through their timeline so the need for ‘thumb-stopping creative’ has been a clear strategy for marketers, and rightly so.

However, with behemoths like Facebook moving towards a video tab, original content, prioritising completion rates and the introduction of mid-roll ads, you sense longer-form video will become more and more normalised. Tweaks in their algorithm will actually reward longer-form content as they look to engage TV advertisers and increase watch time.  

These initiatives, coupled with the general emergence of streaming content, users are becoming more and more accustomed to watching longer videos online and that trend will surely continue.

This presents a real opportunity for brands who are trying to reach mass audiences and cannot rely solely on TV to do so in the modern age. Brands no longer need to focus so heavily on 30 second videos that will be watched for at least 10 seconds. A greater emphasis can be placed on storytelling and producing high quality content.

Digital video does not need to equal an afterthought, a cut-down of a TV ad or a scramble for views to satisfy a predetermined KPI. It can be something much greater than that. The social platforms, and indeed publishers to some extent, offer engaged audiences and an opportunity for format creativity that doesn't exist on linear TV.

We are still in the infancy of video consumption online and the accelerating innovation in technology means there will be incredible advances around VR, AI, messaging and bots in years to come. 

As for right now, we are in the midst of a significant change and it is one that should be embraced, as it presents great opportunity.