Send in the planners

There are now two clear battles in the world of video, and more than ever we need brilliant planners to master them and make them work for advertisers.

One battle is in professionally produced TV content, between broadcasters and the subscription VOD players. The other is in social video, between TikTok and YouTube. TikTok’s rapid growth appears to be at YouTube’s expense, just as SVOD has been at the broadcasters’.

And these two battles are occurring in different arenas. The first is on the TV set, the other on devices – especially mobile phones.

The TV set is the home for – don’t be shocked – TV, with 93% of viewing on the TV set being either broadcaster TV (80.2%) or SVOD (12.6%).

Devices are the competitive arena for social video. Together, TikTok and YouTube command more than two-thirds of all device-based video viewing.

So, planners have first to grapple with this. Then they have to get to grips with what it means for video advertising.

All screens combined, broadcaster TV represents the majority of video advertising time. In 2021, it was home to 87% of the video advertising the average person saw, and 68% specifically for 16- to 34-year-olds. This was down from 2020, when it was 91% and 77% respectively.

YouTube (9.4% of video advertising) and TikTok (2.3%) are the other significant players. Together with TV, these three platforms account for more than 97% of video ad exposure time.

But that’s just quantity, and quantity is a useful but blunt measurement. The challenge for AV planning is that you need to factor in a lot more.

To chart a course through today’s video world and plan TV and social video together needs remarkable skill and insight because the video ad formats, environments and effects are so different.

This is what makes it a golden age for planners. There are so many quality, creative and contextual considerations.

For example, within platforms where ad avoidance is as simple as the click of a button or the swipe of a finger, contextual relevance becomes everything. Ads for cosmetic brands will likely work wonders on Instagram among fashion or beauty stories, while ads for film releases or computer games will very likely remain unskipped on YouTube.

But what about lower-interest areas where contextual relevance is scarce or simply unscalable – insurance, household FMCG, government, charities?

YouTube stands out from other social video players here, in that it offers a fair charging model where you don’t pay for skipped ads and there’s the option to buy unskippable inventory. So here lies perhaps the best “TV-like” means of extending reach.

And there continue to be content suitability concerns (some platforms more than others) that, depending on your safe-listing approach, can severely limit the reach potential, and can even make AV planning a moral challenge.

Then there are the shifting tectonic plates in viewing. Because of SVOD, we’re entering a time of constrained advertising opportunity within high-quality, professionally-produced TV content – especially for 16- to 34-year-olds. Currently, growth in video is coming from TikTok, which is a very different kind of advertising opportunity.

But those plates are set to keep shifting, with the promise of connected TV and free ad-supported TV channels – especially as SVOD reaches saturation and the cost of living makes us reconsider our spending.

If that’s not enough, all this also poses a challenge for measurement. You can slice up a rating and an impression and do your best to stitch them together into one super metric. But how do you incorporate the environmental or qualitative aspects that come into play for such dissimilar channels? Mind states, audibility, screen size, screen orientation, surrounding content, clearance, basis of charging (start versus complete), shared or solus viewing, et cetera?

I’m out of breath thinking about it.

There have been whispers in recent years of machine-based planning approaches replacing expensive head count as tech, and data becoming increasingly sophisticated. But I think the reverse is true. More than ever, we need great planners who understand the video world and take into account all the variables.

The more fragmented our viewing becomes as a result of machines and tech, the more we need humans to make sense of it all. 

Matt Hill is the director of research and planning at Thinkbox.

Photo: Getty Images

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