Image credit: Hulu

On Demand Is Always Prime Time: How To Put Your Money Where Your Audiences Are

I may work in advertising, but at the end of the day, I’m a TV consumer: FOMO is my middle name and binge watching is definitely my game.

And like most TV-watchers, I don’t have the luxury of a schedule that accommodates appointment viewing. So as I sit and watch the final episode of Feud: Betty and Joan — which I binge watched through a combination of video-on-demand and the Roku box hooked up to my TV — I can’t help but think to myself that technically, my viewing habits make me less valuable to advertisers than another adult aged 25–54 who happens to be watching it live on television.

Actually, if you follow the media buying habits of most agencies these days, you’d get the impression that an on-demand and OTT-heavy viewer like me is not only less valuable, but irrelevant and unnecessary. I have a problem with that! Why is someone like me not worth those coveted TV dollars even though I’m watching a show on a big screen with ads I can’t skip? Maybe it’s because I don’t fit cleanly in to GRP formula? Maybe it’s because I require a different creative format? There are a ton of “reasons” that could be put forth, but none that make sense to me.

I used to be on the client side, at several big technology brands. Now I represent an audience that is driving the fastest growing trend in television consumption: On-demand viewing. At Fox Networks Group, the percentage of television audiences consuming their content outside of a C3 window is at 31% and rising. People want choice. They want ease of use and discovery and the diversity of platforms available today. Whether you prefer Roku, Apple TV, XBOX or your set top box VOD, most of the content you want is at your fingertips when you want it. My favorite internal quote lately is “on demand is always prime time” and this couldn’t be more true. Think about it: On-demand viewing is completely consumer initiated, showing a definitive consumer desire to watch that episode of that show in that moment. That kind of rapt attention can be similarly paid to brand messaging within that episode.

But again, traditional buying habits and budget processes and spreadsheets are not conducive to this. As a result, the VOD and OTT space is often a hot potato between TV or video teams, and digital teams.

When I was an advertiser, this is what I cared about:

  • Quality content to place my ads in and around
  • Custom programs/sponsorships
  • Effective creative + media that moves the needle on Brand and Purchase Intent metrics for whatever product I was advertising, at competitive rates
  • I also wanted innovation and new thinking/first looks. I was lucky enough to work with agencies that could bring all that to the table with the consumer at the center, sprinkled with data and research to make sure our efforts were, in fact, driving business results.

Now, on the other side of the equation, I hear from advertisers that they share many of the same priorities. But I don’t see it breaking through the buying cycle. So, to the many clients out there today, I ask:

  • Do you want the attention of consumers and audiences that watch quality television regardless of which device they’re watching it on?
  • Do you want innovation that allows you to be more effective with fewer ads?
  • Do you want to measure and optimize your campaigns in flight?

Advertisers, if you do — and I hope you do — you’re going to have to abandon all the restrictions of the GRP methodology, digital vs TV team siloing, and an antiquated budget process (and even the CPM model) that doesn’t value the diversity of impressions available. As advertisers, you need to follow your consumers. Speak to them through leading-edge technologies and creative units that value their time. Build ads and leverage platforms that are more effective with less frequency and waste. And leverage the incredible data/metrics this industry is building to prove that your efforts are working. There’s a lot of new, cool stuff happening that amounts to lasting changes in consumer behavior, not flash-in-the-pan trends. At publishers and networks, like here at Fox, we’re seeing it firsthand and we’re excited for everyone to jump in.

(And now, back to Betty and Joan.)

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