Streaming Media East: TV Ads Are Broken, Brands Need to Innovate

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It’s hard to tell a real story in 30 seconds, said Rich Greenfield, managing director and media and technology analyst for BTIG, during a Streaming Media East panel on online distribution and monetization strategies for the TV industry. Look at the rankings for top video ads on YouTube to see that the advertisements that are succeeding – that people actually choose to watch – are almost never 30 seconds. Instead, they’re longer and more engaging that what gets shown on TV.

TV advertising hasn’t evolved, Greenfield said, and the field is broken. A change is coming, he predicted. Sometime in the near future, for example, people might be given a single engaging four-minute ad to watch prior to viewing a show without interruption.

The television ad market is currently worth $65 billion each year, an amount that’s hard to justify if TV ads aren’t succeeding, Greenfield said. When viewers are streaming video ad-free from their private cloud DVR, those $65 billion in ads won’t reach them. He pointed out that Twitch is bigger than HBO Go, according to Sandvine, and those Twitch viewers aren’t watching as much primetime TV.

“The advertisers aren’t dumb,” Greenfield said. “Advertisers are going to want to reach those consumers.”

Looking at the rise of Netflix, Greenfield suggested that current television is battling all the great TV of the past for eyeballs. “Most people have never seen all of the great television that’s available,” he said, adding that few people had watched the first season of “Mad Men.” People are choosing to watch that content through low-cost subscription services rather than watching new programs on broadcast TV, and they’re seeing them ad-free on Netflix. “Can television create enough content that has to be watched now?”

Rather than waiting until the broken system is hopeless, Greenfield said  advertisers will explore new ways to reach consumers.

Referring to Nielsen reports that show television viewing as static despite increased competition, Greenfield had doubts. “It’s hard to believe the Nielsen numbers are even in the ballpark of accurate,” he said. “There’s only so many hours in a day to watch content.” If people are watching more video from online sources, that time has to come from someplace, he reasoned. That $65 billion in TV advertising is being challenged and audiences are being spread thinner and thinner thanks to new quality content options. 

Beth Clearfield, senior vice president of digital distribution and business development, BBC Worldwide Americas, and Rich Greenfield, managing director and media and technology analtys for BTIG

Watch the full discussion below:

 

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