I watch all of my TV programming via the Internet. Yes, all of it.
I haven’t had cable television service in nearly 5 years. Sure, I might be missing out on a few live sporting events here and there, and I usually don’t see my favorite primetime television dramas until the day after they air, but I’m watching my TV programming on my own terms now rather than conforming my schedule to that of the various networks – the way it should be.
Maybe I’m missing a few options along the way; news channels come to mind, both local and national, but the web had long since replaced the television as the primary news source in my home anyway – why should I wait until 6pm or 11pm when I can just scan my phone or tablet for the latest headlines?
The other thing I’m missing? Advertising.
According to a study commissioned by Tremor Video I’m not alone; some 21 million viewers are watching 12 hours of television per week via web-connected televisions or similar devices. That’s more hours of video than we’re watching on our computer or our tablets or even our smartphones.
And advertising on web-connected televisions is practically nonexistent.
The most popular streaming programming out there is so-called “long form” content – television programs and movies. Nearly 70% of us watch long form content regularly vs. just 38% who watch short form videos via services like YouTube. While advertisers have been increasingly using YouTube as a means of advertising, very few of the popular streaming video apps (think Netflix) feature much in the way of advertising at all. Those that do, like Hulu Plus, feature very repetitive advertisements that were originally produced with broadcast television in mind. In my experience these ads serve more to annoy than inform and have often had the opposite effect – I tend to resent the advertiser after being forced to watch the same commercial 4 times during a single TV show.
It seems to me the last thing any advertiser would want is for me to remember resenting them when I go to exercise my buying power.
So what’s the solution?
As the broadcast television model is slowly replaced by a newer, web-driven streaming model, advertisers need to rely less on what worked before and begin thinking about how to serve their ads without drawing the ire of viewers.
One experiment that seems to be working for me is what Microsoft has been doing via Xbox Live – arguably one of the better web-connected video services out there. Rather than forcing me to watch ads, they place full motion video thumbnails among their various menus that remain silent until I select them. Once selected, the video expands to full screen and one or more commercials begin to play.
It works. I’ve watched almost every ad Microsoft has featured on Xbox Live.
By making the ads interesting looking, even in thumbnail form, my natural curiosity is piqued. Viewing the ad then becomes “my idea” and as a result I’m more apt to pay greater attention to it and even perform whatever calls to action the ad requests of me, be it visiting a website, signing up for more information, etc.
We live in an interactive age. I believe we’re also going to see broadcast television give way to web video at a much faster rate than anyone could have anticipated. It’s time for advertisers to recognize that we’re rapidly adopting web video and as such they need to begin innovating now, not later.