Innovation in technology and data science are helping advertisers and publishers navigate through the Rube Goldberg contraption that is the digital video ecosystem, but the question still remains: How do you reach target consumers and cultivate loyalty when your audience is fragmented and scattered?
This is a cross demographic challenge, but it’s especially acute within the Millennial generation. Millennials are leading the race in online and mobile consumption, views per session, short-form consumption and preference of digital over TV. While certainly not a cohort that fits neatly into a category, there are trends that indicate they are resetting the terms of loyalty and engagement. Millennials brand loyalty is elastic and extends as far as their perception of value, often validated collaboratively and socially. They know what content they want, and will seek it out on their terms. It is no surprise that Millennials top ranked technology brands are companies that specialize in content delivery and not the four broadcasting networks that appear on their parents’ top brands.
Broadcast and Pay-TV are still figuring out how to build brand loyalty around content and experience using TV Everywhere. With quality apps like HBO GO and WatchESPN permitting liberal account sharing, the current strategy involves building Millennial loyalty around the brand now in hopes that they are willing to pay for it later.
Ad Supported short-form, however, is presenting an opportunity for brands to differentiate and build Millennial loyalty around a premium content experience. Regardless of how it is distributed or consumed, the economics of TV require hits for sustainability. Short-form hits, on the other hand, are largely one-offs driven socially or virally. You got their attention, but what do you do to get them to stay and come back? Cultivating stickiness and loyalty in this format is less about the hits and more about providing a consistent brand experience that caters toward the Millennial generations desire for economy of content discovery and personalization across platforms and devices.
Some brands and publishers are experimenting with developing premium content experiences. Yahoo Screen is packaging a mix of content of strategic long-form acquisitions (Community) and curated exclusive clips (SNL, LiveNation) around an interactive mobile app. The recently launched NFL Now provides both ad supported and subscription service that plays readily available clips and original content packaged around an interactive app. The value differentiator is that the video is personalized and streamed continuously like TV, providing an experience that matches premium quality of content.
The recent and exclusive New York Times video interview with President Obama is another example of a brand not traditionally associated with TV building a brand experience around video. It is especially important for print publishers to differentiate on their brand experience, as the big hits come about every four years or from unpredictable events such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The scoop usually comes from a citizen tweeting with a smartphone.
Technology has driven competition to the point that the production of top quality video content is a market entry requirement. Viewers, especially Millennials, have changed the rules of the game. Brands and publishers that differentiate on a premium content experience will inspire loyalty and may very well shape the future of TV.