The IAB last month released the Original Digital Video Consumer Study based around US audience’s TV viewing, compared with original digital video viewing habits. The results aren’t particularly surprising but they do paint an interesting picture of where media consumption is headed and it’s something publishers need to take heed of in regard to how their content is presented. For advertisers, it’s just as poignant in defining where their spend should be directed and for traditional TV media owners it’s about being aware of the facts and adapting.
Before we dive in and look at the changing behaviour in US media viewing habits, let’s first clarify ODV.
What is Original Digital Video - ODV?
Essentially it is originally produced online video which can further be defined as professionally produced video only for ad-supported online distribution and viewing (not TV).
Who creates ODV?
Typically, ODV is created by a range of professional media companies such as Wall Street Journal Live News, Glamor DO’s and Don’ts, purely online media such as YouTube Original Channels and PewDiePie.
What other digital content owners are competing for audience attention?
- TV Online is made up of Network TV shows like Pretty LIttle Liars and The Walking Dead or sites on the ABC.com and HBO.com
- Amatuer Online Video is just that, video created by regular people, home made videos generally and short form more often than not.
The IAB outlined some of its key takeaways which included:
1) Growth of the original digital video market continues
The year over year growth continues for ODV unlike TV online and amateur video - which are flat in terms of growth.
2) Original digital video beats regular TV among viewers
Unique content that can be watched anywhere within anyone’s schedule, is a leading factor in the viewing choices of US adults .
3) Original digital video is becoming more ingrained
ODV’s improved quality and accessibility makes it more and more of a habitual exercise, meaning not only are more people switching to ODV, but they are watching more of it than they were before.
4) Social media wildfire
ODV is shareable, it’s engaging and often leads to another view or engagement with more content from the same site.
If growth is the name of the game - ODV has all the winning moves
The story of ODV is one of growth with approximately 63 million US adults viewing ODV on a monthly basis.
Whist TV online and Amateur video have healthy, respectable viewing numbers, the growth rate isn’t there which suggests a move to original video, and that’s a trend worth noting, especially where budgeting is concerned. The potential for advertisers to reach audiences with ODV is huge, and as ad tech companies develop new ad formats and creative agencies realize the value of enhanced user experience - we’ll likely see a premium on this inventory.
TV isn’t dead, the way we use it that has changed
Remember when the remote control first came about - holy batman did that change our lives for the lazy. Not only did it help nurture the inner couch potato but we could enjoy more variety too - because we were more likely to browse channels. Simple but revolutionary.
As we do with everything, we continue to innovate, improve and make things easier and more varietal for ourselves. The TV is still sitting in the room, it’s just connected to the internet now, and audiences have adopted habits that reflect what they expect of the internet. We have so much choice, and just like ravenous consumers we are, the more choice we have, the more we want.
Whilst laptop/desktop and mobile devices remain the most popular devices for viewing ODV content, connected TV is only marginally behind, and it’s this area which has the biggest impact on a reduction in ‘regular’ TV watching. It’s the business model, not the TV set that needs to adapt now.
It’s not surprising to read in this report that ODV viewers are discovering their content via word of mouth and social media. There is an interesting gender divide in the way content is discovered with females discovering the majority of their content via friends and family, and social media while their male counterparts tend to follow links, recommendations and search results.
All interesting from a marketer's perspective but it also paints a picture of how much video content is being discovered socially, rather than on a publisher's own site, and this specific statistical shift should not be swept aside. With many publishers taking advantage of Facebook Instant Articles to publish content, there is a possible threat to bottom line revenues because they too are sharing, but it’s their revenues and their brand identity that are being given away.
When it comes to the cord cutters/cord nevers title - can we just file that in the 'not another useless piece of jargon bin'? Viewing habits are changing - of course they are, we’re not sat round a huge wooden box with a comparatively small screen choosing from 4 programmes and being told by our mum’s and dad’s to get up and turn it down when the ads come on. No - that doesn't mean we don’t enjoy viewing together and what the TV has that other devices may not, is the magic of nostalgia.
Modern media offers disparate audiences so much variety, it’s astounding. Content is becoming personal, it's ubiquitous, but it’s also incredibly niche so even as audiences grow, segments become more identifiable. ODV makes it possible for media companies to present quality, highly engaging and targeted content, and advertisers have the technology at their fingertips to engage through connected devices in a way they never have before - concurrently collecting data about us, learning who we are from our habits.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that viewers like the flexibility of ODV. The fact is, we all have different devices we use daily, often at the same time - and media companies have evolved to give viewers much more choice, control and a completely different way of engaging with content we love. This IAB study shows that significant shift, but did we really need a study? To make it official perhaps yes, but you can also strike up a conversation with any millennial and ask them to explain how they consumed media when they were growing up compared to now.
Millennials drive the habitual change, the next generation takes it even further
Personally, I don’t have TV subscription - I didn’t include it in my ‘broadband bundle option’ because I knew I had other options that suited my household, my budget and my viewing preferences.
It’s little wonder the report found 18-34 year olds are the biggest driver of this significant evolution in the way we view media. What is interesting for brands though is the advertising is reported to be more memorable in this format, contrary to some popular belief. That is just the tip of what’s happening right now under the surface of tech companies who are building the blocks to facilitate much better creative and to change the face of advertisements and our consumer relationship with them. The ads of the very near future will be dynamic, highly personable and definitely more interactive. Millennial audiences have sparked the adoption and growth of connected TV, ODV and amateur video as well but as we too get older and make way for the next generation, the digital model becomes even more user focused. Personal, shareable, highly accessible content packed with options and driven by advertised which itself is informed by real time data is very real, traditional models of media including TV shouldn't begrudge this change, nor deny it - it should be seen as a real opportunity.
There’s no need to hollow out the old set and put mr goldfish inside - but you may just find the communal ritual of watching tele, becomes more personal, more enjoyable and dare we imagine, more profitable?