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04 July 2016

Think digital. Upfront.


We’re gearing up towards a milestone in the history of digital advertising. It’s something that has been predicted for a while now, but next year total digital ad spend will surpass TV for the first time. eMarketer predicts that, in 2017, it will hit $77.37bn in the US, taking 38.4% of the total ad spend, exceeding TV’s predicted $72.01bn (35.8%). A major driver is mobile video, which grew by 94% in 2015, according to the IAB.

But rather than seeing digital as a threat to TV advertising, the key is to think about it as a complement by enabling a user experience fit for the digital sphere. The explosion in online video usage and the proliferation of technology and devices have unlocked a wealth of opportunities for brands to tell their story through audio and visual means, yet research from Millward Brown found that 90% of online video is just repurposed TV material. The fact is that this just won’t cut it anymore.

There has never been a greater need for video content to be produced and tailored for the digital environment from the outset – it should no longer be just an afterthought. There’s no underestimating the power of TV to create that wonderful theatrical, cinematic experience, but it takes a different approach to deliver that same impact digitally.

Not enough focus is being put on digital in the early planning stages of campaigns. When developing a TV ad brief, there needs to be more of an emphasis on how video ad content is going to work in the digital world where there’s a wide range of screen sizes and formats to consider, not just for TV or cinema.

When you’re thinking about shooting an epic 30-second TV ad, have you considered how the short and snackable video ad content piece for mobile and digital is might look? Because that’s what’s going to resonate with that audience.

The user experience in TV is passive with a linear storyline. This is not the case with digital where there are opportunities to layer in engagement and interaction allowing the user to have a deeper, more meaningful brand experience.

How can you take that brand story and message, and make it more engaging? How could you make the user play with the video content? Maybe it pauses allowing the consumer to engage and make decisions, or unlock additional content. Perhaps consumers could be given two or more options to choose from, each of which takes them on a different brand journey suited to their specific preferences, almost like tying together a tree of video clips that offers people their own version of the ad. This is the sort of experience that resonates in a deeper way and is possible in digital.

The same goes for mobile, but you have additional factors to consider, such as the attention span of mobile consumers. This is the Snapchat generation where 30 second pre-rolls just aren’t going to work, but snackable ad content that doesn’t disrupt the viewer experience will.

Then there’s the issue of whether to shoot in portrait, because most people don’t turn their device to landscape when consuming short form video, and whether it works without audio, so you can get the key messages across to the ‘silent video generation’.

The key is to plan for more engaging creative from the off that connects with consumers in the digital space, on the device they are on.

Advertisers are embracing digital more than ever before, but if the content doesn’t fit the format or the demands of the users, then you risk being left behind.

By Alex Burn, Creative Director, Collective


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  • Right Brain, Left Brain sums up the dichotomy of a media business that’s constantly battling with the challenge of delivering a profit and discovering new ways to communicate to consumers. The Cream editorial team combined with a dream team of industry pioneers from around the world share their expert opinions.

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