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Moving at the Speed of the Screen

Video has become the new daypart

Marketers have long recognized the incredible power of video to sell a product, brand or service. Yet at an ever-increasing pace, consumers are shifting away from the No. 1 vehicle that connected video advertising to the public: television.

Illustration: Gonçalo Viana

Today's plethora of screens, devices and platforms has created huge choice, audience fragments, binge viewing, déjà viewing, over-the-top television, DVR, on-demand and a whole host of activities and patterns, all of which are greatly challenging to commercial advertisers. One might say that today's remote control is the audience in that remote people are increasingly in control.

This has led both advertisers and agencies to the epiphany that video has become the new daypart. In fact, Colgate has adopted this as a new mantra, and a host of others are enacting video-agnostic planning, video holistic buying and so on. They're seeking to accumulate video impressions across all screens, just as today's consumers are consuming all of these screen displays. In fact, a recent ANA/Nielsen analysis on this subject revealed that by 2016, half of all ad campaigns will be multiscreen.

There is a building body of research that's tracking this inexorable shift. Recently released data from eMarketer reports that Americans spend five hours and 16 minutes a day viewing screens that aren't television. Not surprisingly, the ANA/Nielsen study predicts that media spending on multiscreen ad campaigns will rise to 50 percent of budgets within two years, up from 20 percent today. And PQ Media Global reports that today's consumers experience longer commutes, increased leisure activities, more shopping hours and other factors, resulting in a 75 percent increase in exposure to digital media outside the home.

As these studies demonstrate, major shifts in consumer behavior are under way. With cord cutters and cord cheaters untethering their video viewing from the home TV set, consumers now on the go more than ever, and an array of screen devices and platforms being used with increasing frequency, advertisers require new ways to ensure their video ads are being seen.

The chance of reaching the right people in front of the TV is still possible, but as we know, less probable. The White House demonstrated this recently when it worked with the Public Foundation to launch the "It's On Us" campaign to stop sexual assault on U.S. college campuses. There was a time when TV would have been the sole video medium used to get out the word (think Smokey Bear back in the day). But for "It's On Us," digital-place-based media was used as a cornerstone of the campaign.

Similarly, the White House used online video in 2013 to boost enrollment in the federal healthcare exchanges. Zach Galifianakis interviewed President Obama on Between Two Ferns, a Web-based show that attracted more than 24 million views. It jump-started dialogue and prompted more young people to enroll in the exchanges.

Given the dynamic changes in consumer consumption of video, there are five questions to ask when weighing the efficacy of video ad planning: How do I effectively reach consumers with video ads given the array of new platforms and devices? Am I effectively reaching today's new consumer, who is more active, mobile and out of home than ever before? How do I adjust digital advertising goals and strategies given fraudulent online impression counts and viewability issues? With 18 percent of online video consumers accounting for 94 percent of online video consumption and only 9 percent of smartphone video consumers delivering 85 percent of the consumption (according to Nielsen's Cross-Media Report), where else do I need to shift my budget to deliver for my client? And finally, as video is now everywhere, how should I allocate budgets across screens?

These questions will lead to a more zero-based mind-set when it comes to developing media plans for video campaigns.

Television remains an effective ad vehicle, to be sure, but it must be just part of a broader video strategy to attain maximum reach and effectiveness.

Audiences aren't couch potatoes anymore.

Barry Frey (@barryfrey) is president and CEO of the Digital Place Based Advertising Association.

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