1 in 4 phones will have Instagram in 2018

Facebook-owned Instagram will be used by nearly one in four smartphone users worldwide this year, according to eMarketer’s global forecast of the photo- and video-sharing social platform.

In Malaysia, Instagram is ranked number 17 globally by the share of social network users, representing 41.9% of social network users. eMarketer predicts that by the end of 2017, Instagram’s global audience will total 593.7 million users.

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In the coming years, eMarketer expects Instagram’s growth to cool down from the explosive rates seen between 2015 and 2017.

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The primarily mobile-based platform does have some boundaries, especially when compared with Facebook—which attracts considerably more desktop-oriented users and older individuals.

By 2021, Instagram will reach 927.9 million users worldwide, representing 30% of social network users, eMarketer projects. Instagram’s audience in 2017 will be a little more than 38% the size of Facebook’s and more than double that of Twitter, which it overtook in early 2015.

“Instagram’s exponential growth in popularity over the past two years is a direct result of new product updates and features, including Instagram Stories, live video, geostickers and face filters, which have kept its user base active and engaged,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu. “We see no signs it will slow down in the near future, and Instagram’s push toward international markets will continue to fuel growth.”

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 15 Dec 2017

Like 6-second ads, this will only take a few seconds…

Shorter ads won’t fix the problem with low-quality ads.

Just like the current trend in creating six-second TV spots, this will be brief.

Everyone’s heard about six-second ads. OK. They make sense—to a degree. I get it. The TV networks can sell more ads in a 30 second pod. It’s a way to maximize time, and there’s a justifiable argument for it—consumers online don’t watch content longer that 10 seconds. Those annoying lead-in ads on YouTube only get five seconds of play. Our world has a shortened attention span, probably brought on by millennials.

But I believe there’s another reason why no one watches more than five seconds of TV or video ads. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the ads stink. There, I said it. In my opinion, the vast majority of video ads are terrible. Not interesting. Not engaging. Not clever. Not informative. Not entertaining. (I actually wanted to say that 99 percent of all advertising is crap, but my PR guy wouldn’t let me.)

The cynics out there will no doubt push back and indict me for being an old geezer dribbling on and on and offering nothing more than a clichéd argument that everyone’s heard before. Maybe so.

But let me ask you this: Why is it that we won’t watch more than a few seconds of an ad but will gladly spend six hours a night binge-watching “Broadchurch”—and still want more? (By the way, season two is much better than season one).

It’s not impossible to make ads that are just as rewarding as our favourite long-form entertainment programs. The Super Bowl is a good example. As a society, we watch those ads and talk about them as much as we talk about the game itself. Maybe more. Why? Because they’re good. They reward us for watching them. They’re fun. They’re entertaining. They’re interesting. They’re well made.

And that is precisely my point. It’s not about length—it’s about quality. It’s about professionalism. It’s about caring enough to do the very best work we can possibly do. We have to make sure we reward the viewer. It doesn’t matter if it’s six seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, 60 minutes or two hours. There must be a carrot at the end of the stick.

Are you still reading? Just checking. Someone once told me nobody reads articles longer than 250 words. This one clocks in at 401. Hope I didn’t overstay my welcome.

Matt Smith is Founder-CEO of US ad agency SmithGifford, which has offices in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Source: campaignasia.com; 8 Dec 2017

Holding large events in China: Lessons from the Victoria’s Secret Shanghai Fashion Show

The biggest mistake brands can make is to assume that event planning in China is the same as everywhere else in the world.

While the issues faced during the execution of Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai this year may seem outlandish to outsiders, these obstacles are everyday occurrences for PR companies and event planners in China, where red tape, mistrustful bureaucrats and inexplicable holdups are just part of doing business.

There is no doubt that the China market is an incredible opportunity and brands should not be scared off by its complexity. However, brands looking to hold large-scale events in China need to be prepared with the right mindset needed to navigate the complicated bureaucratic landscape of modern-day China. The biggest mistake they can make is to assume that they know best and that event planning in China is the same as everywhere else in the world. China is a unique place where even the best-laid plans will go awry.

Here are several things brands need to know before planning events in China:

1. Large-scale events will always be subject to government scrutiny

No matter whether you are China’s beloved Alibaba or an industry-leading international brand, the government will always be heavily involved in the event planning process.

For highly publicized—and risqué—events such as Victoria’s Secret fashion show, the government’s involvement will be more intense than usual. It was reported that the government was involved in every part of the event’s planning process from censoring clothing designs to requiring press releases to obtain government approval.

2. Follow the rules

In China, companies should be aware that there’s a lack of flexibility; the key to success is being able to follow the rules, as stringent or unreasonable as they may be. Keep in mind that the government does not need to explain or justify anything and rules and regulations can be changed unexpectedly without any warning. Furthermore, different cities and different districts within those cities will often have their own set of rules.

If rules have been set in place around timing, don’t expect local officials to be lenient, even if the event starts late. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show after party was abruptly shut down early at midnight even though staff had tried to persuade police officers to let it continue longer.

In China, there is often an inconsistency with whether or not the rules will be enforced which can lead to confusion, for example, some companies will find that while local officials turned a blind eye in previous years, the next year the same event is not allowed.

3. Be on the lookout for red flags

Obtaining visas for foreign talent can be a difficult hurdle for many brands. Originally scheduled to headline the show, singer Katy Perry was denied a visa for having once shown support for the Taiwanese freedom movement. Top model Gigi Hadid was also refused a visa after a video appeared online of culturally insensitive behaviour. Victoria’s Secret veteran Adriana Lima almost missed the show after her visa was held up by an unknown “diplomatic issue.” Four other models, Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva, and Irina Sharipova of Russia; and Dasha Khlystun of Ukraine were denied visas to travel to China.

Brands can do their best to avoid visa complications by reviewing celebrities’ past actions and searching for red flags that might draw government attention such as incidences with drugs, their political stances, involvement with fraudulent businesses, etc.

4. Media issues

Brands hoping to invite foreign press to cover an event in China need to be aware that journalist visas are closely monitored and may be difficult to obtain. Not only did Victoria’s Secret have models denied visas but many members of the press and industry influencers that they had invited to the event were denied visas as well.

Even if foreign journalists are able to obtain a visa, they are subject to strict content rules. Last year, the government released a seven chapter-long “Online Publishing Services Rules” document restricting foreign companies from publishing a wide range of content. At the fashion show, these rules were enforced and TV crews approved to film the event for broadcast were barred from shooting anywhere outside of the Mercedes-Benz Arena where the event was held.

Working with local media can cause headaches, too. In China, it is common practice to pay media for attending events. The minimum amount is typically between 300-500 RMB ($45-75 USD) per person and some companies will offer media even more.

Admission to the event needs to be tightly regulated especially if celebrities will be in attendance. In China, fans will often pose as a member of the press, even offering fake business cards and claiming that their colleague who was supposed to attend couldn’t come and they were taking their place.

Because seats at the fashion show were in such high demand, the invited press were asked to not post their credentials online to avoid someone forging fake ones. Press were told that if they were caught posting them, the Chinese government had threatened to shut the entire show down.

5. Choose the date carefully

Be aware of other events, especially government-related meetings and summits, occurring during the weeks surrounding your event. During this time local officials will be on edge and events will be more tightly controlled. There is even the chance that no events will be allowed during that time.

Keep an eye on local news for any sudden changes. A couple years ago when a massive explosion occurred in Tianjin, all events in the entertainment industry were postponed a couple of weeks. This was done not only to avoid appearing insensitive during a time of national mourning, but because media from state-run news agencies were forbidden from covering any entertainment related news in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

6. Relationships are important

Brands should take time to develop relationships with local officials prior to planning an event and ideally should avoid holding large-scale, high-profile events right off the bat. Start off small and slowly build trust.

For example, music festivals in China will often avoid bringing in international acts during the first few years, inviting only Chinese talent until the event is established enough to consider larger acts.

In many cases, if your brand has developed strong enough relationships, any bureaucratic issues that may arise during the planning process can be easily resolved.

7. Work with a local team

Victoria’s Secret is known for working with the same international team to run all of their events. While the members of their team are certainly experts at running fashion shows, holding an event in China is not the same as in the rest of the world.

As mentioned above, China is full of shifting regulations and idiosyncrasies. No matter how experienced their international team is, brands need the right local people involved from the beginning so as to avoid complications occurring in the first place.

Pulling off a successful event in China is not easy, but brands can avoid huge headaches if they know what to expect.

Source: Jing Daily/campaignasia.com; 4 Dec 2017

89% Indian car purchases digitally influenced: Google & Kantar TNS Study

India is going digital but the speed at which the transformation is underway in the automobile market is taking industry and marketers by surprise. A new study, whose findings were revealed today, indicates that more and more people are taking a digital approach to decide on their new set of wheels. Nevertheless, the claimed percentage of digitally influenced buyers seems to be on the very high side.

A research report by Google India along with Kantar TNS claims that in 2017, 89 percent of car purchases in India were digitally influenced compared to 75 percent in 2016.

The survey was carried out across 27 markets covering over 500 respondents in each market, with a total of 13,828 respondents. The survey was carried out both offline and online, with an estimated average survey length of 15 minutes.

The report titled ‘The Drive to Decide’ states that potential buyers exhibited three key digital behaviour patterns – 96 percent of them searched online, 80 percent watched online videos and 88 percent of them preferred to research on their smartphones.

Vikas Agnihotri, Industry Director, Google India said, “Online video has emerged as the biggest disrupter for the four-wheeler industry in India. YouTube has over 225 million Indian smartphone users watching online video every month, auto content itself has witnessed an astounding 225 percent year-on-year viewership growth. From an advertiser perspective, what makes this trend even more relevant is that car manufacturers can now measure the exact impact that online is having on offline sales, and we believe that is a real game-changer.”

In the last two years, the report states that around 2.5x growth was seen in consumers who took only two months to buy a four-wheeler. Concurrently, dealer visits by the consumers saw a decline of almost 50 percent in the last three years. Finally, two-thirds of digitally influenced buyers searched and discovered dealers online. The research report sees all this translating into shorter and more efficient buying cycles.

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As per the report, online video (depicted above) is fast becoming a preferred information source that allows buyers to explore a new car from different perspectives. The percentage of online video usage in the process of buying a car in 2017 has nearly doubled from 43 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2017.

Safety first
Breaking up the types of videos consumers are watching – 41 percent were on vehicle safety tests; 41 percent on technology and features of the car; 38 percent on performance and 33 percent of them are customer reviews. Furthermore, the report highlights that 79 percent of consumers who view online videos are expected to act upon, underscoring the important role of online video in the decision-making process.

Speaking about the challenges for the marketing team faces today and some future trends, Gabri Herrmann, Kantar TNS said, “The modern auto shopper walks into the dealership armed with a staggering array of information. Delivering on research needs and inspiring the consumer is critical. Brands that succeed in this will win the sale.”

Source: autocarpro.in; 13 Dec 2017

Cutting cookies: How Apple is sparking an internet advertising revolution

2017 has been a tough year for advertisers – from increased ad costs to growing ad blocker usage and the resulting need for more personalisation, it’s been a difficult year for the industry.

Apple’s recent news hasn’t helped either.

The company’s new “intelligent tracking prevention” is set to completely change the advertising scene.

So, what exactly does it mean? To put it simply, iOS 11, Apple’s forthcoming software update, will make it harder for advertisers to put cookies in consumer devices. This has the potential to hurt user experience and campaign targeting massively. Advertisers have already raised a call to arms to try and stop this.

Whilst it’s a fair point, we have to remember that it’s not the first-time advertisers have had to regroup and come up with new ideas. In 2015, the new iOS allowed mobile ad blocking, and the industry rallied on. It will do so again now.

So, what does the future hold with the new iOS? In my opinion, Apple has just sparked the real Internet advertising revolution. Here’s how.

The end of cookies
Cookies are soon to become history. This is a hunt that started a while back, when advertisers realised that cookies could only provide a mere snapshot of what users are actually up to day-to-day. What about when they’re not using your app or site? How can you track people’s time spent outside it accurately enough?

This time last year mobile web browsing overtook desktop for the first time accounting for 51.3% versus the desktop’s 48.7%. New studies reveal that in 2020 50% of all viewings will be done on a mobile screen. It’s about time we start tracking people’s engagement outside of a specific app, or a website we have cookies on.

The fact that most cookies will soon start being purged on Apple devices is just an extra incentive to activate this sooner rather than later.

Alternative methods will have to be accurate, scalable, and have valuable data points, such as behavioural intention and past browsing history. In other words, we need a method where you can intelligently target consumers taking real time behavioural data signals.

This is where companies like Ogury come in – considering that people currently use their mobile devices over four hours a day on average, using data that represents all activity across all apps and websites will provide marketers with a much more complete picture of user behaviour.

The rise of Android advertising
While it’s understandable that advertisers have panicked when faced with the new “intelligent tracking prevention” on Apple products, they need to take a look at the figures.

Recent Gartner data shows that Android devices take as much as 81.7% of smartphone market share. Advertisers shouldn’t be worrying about Apple, which only owns 17.9% of the market share – they should instead be focusing on Android.

As Apple cuts cookies, networks and advertising technology providers will need to concentrate on the Android market more, and search for opportunities to put more budget into that part of their business.

But the Android market share is big enough for advertisers not to see this as a threat, at least not for now. Plus, having obstacles in their way will encourage them to become more creative and develop new ideas. Change will be for the better, no doubt.

Happy customers = happy advertisers
Advertising has long been something that’s forced onto customers – not something that they genuinely want to see.

There’s a general feeling that ads, particularly cookie based ones, don’t really show consumers what they want (think of an ad for gloves, just because you looked at a scarf 3 weeks ago). The rise of iOS 11 has forced us to realise this more than ever before.

More granular targeting – whatever the means used to achieve it – will significantly reduce the amount of useless ads that consumers see, such as being followed round by the same ad for weeks (as cookie based retargeting does), rather consumers will have a much better chance of getting a more relevant ad.

Change can be scary, but in the case of Apple iOS 11, this isn’t likely to mean that things will change for the worse. Rather, moving away from the comfort zone means it can be the beginning of a new and exciting era in the industry.

Cookies will slowly be phased out, advertisers will focus more specifically on Android and other methods of targeting the right user accurately, and customers will probably receive better ads!

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 11 Dec 2017

Cinema Delivers a Brand-Safe Environment to Advertisers

Cinema is “Amazon-proof” and here to stay, posited Paul Sweeney, U.S. Director of Research and Senior Media Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, commenting at the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Brands U.S. 2018 launch event in mid-November. In other words, while other brick and mortar businesses, and even media properties, are being cannibalized by e-commerce, movie theatres are home to an immersive, shared viewing experience that cannot be duplicated. The ongoing vitality of the medium is supported in a recent analysis by MediaVillage and other market forecasts including PwC’s latest Entertainment & Media Outlook which projects advertising spend growth for cinema through 2021.

With that said, digital ad spend remains king. Advertisers continue to allocate even more dollars to digital and mobile ad sales each year. The MAGNA September 2017 Fall Update is forecasting that digital sales will be up +16% year-over-year and that mobile (led by premium video and social) will account for 58% of all digital ad sales by year-end in the United States.

Despite issues of viewability, fraud, bots and lack of transparency, the advertising community’s commitment to digital premium video platforms seems unstoppable. But is it? The Wall Street Journal reported recently that ads on YouTube once again appeared near offensive content. As a result, Mars, Diageo and Adidas have temporarily halted commercials on YouTube.

In contrast, there is a platform for premium video content that runs in a brand-safe environment 100% of the time: movie theatres. The cinema experience offers marketers an opt-in, bot-free, fully immersive option with protection built in via the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) rating system. MPAA ratings provide advertisers and movie-goers alike an indisputable benefit, as the goal of the MPAA is to rate a film’s suitability for specific audiences based on content within context. The guideline provides clarity about the content being shown, therefore providing confidence to advertisers that their ads will be viewed in an environment self-selected by the audience.

The same criteria are applied to all content that runs in the pre-show. No other media can claim this level of protection for advertisers. Coupled with cinema’s high levels of audience engagement it’s easy to see the unique value, especially in a marketplace already complicated by overwhelming fragmentation, fraud and choice.

“Our sales team educates advertisers and their agencies to ensure that there are no surprises,” explains John McCauley, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Screenvision Media. “The key is knowledge and trust.” He adds that the company “works in partnership with our theatres and the movie studios to ensure that the right spot is placed in the right content at the right time. We customize the programming for each pre-show and advertisers will vary depending on what film it is attached to; for example Coco, Thor: Ragnarok, Ferdinand, Star Wars and Pitch Perfect will all have entirely different spots.”

“With the proliferation of mobile, social and premium video, safety and trust are a challenge for marketers,” notes Katy Loria, Chief Revenue Officer, Screenvision Media. “While fragmentation has provided more choice than ever, what buyers are looking for is an efficient, trusted environment that provides maximum reach to targeted, high-value demos. That space is scare, but at Screenvision we deliver this new variable for every advertiser, every day.”

The total box office revenue for the five-day Thanksgiving window was up 3% over last year, powered by films including Coco, Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok and Wonder. This bodes well for Screenvision, as more brands unwrap the gift of a safe environment this holiday season with the benefit of engaged audiences and memorable impressions.

Source: mediavillage.com; 6 Dec 2017

Why Tech Is Going Traditional in Transit

The most captive audience in the U.S. isn’t sitting on a sofa watching Stranger Things — it’s in transit. According to the OAAA’s 2015 data, Americans spend more than 70 percent of their waking hours outside their homes. As the MediaKix/comScore, 2016 Study on Media Consumption; U.S. Census shows, they also spend nearly an hour each day commuting to work, home, or leisure activities. In the U.S. alone, commuters travel more than 59.6 billion miles a year on public transit — buses, subways and trains — spending 318 million hours in commutes.

Because of this, transit is becoming an increasingly attractive space for advertisers. Many of the advertisers driving this trend come from a surprising place: technology companies and startups. Brands such as Samsung, Lyft and Casper stand at the forefront of the latest innovations in technology and occupy a largely digital space, but they are increasingly drawn towards ads in public transportation. Why might this be the case? In one word: exposure.

For instance, according to Intersection’s proprietary data, 98.5 percent of Chicagoans, 95 percent of Philadelphians and 96 percent of Seattleites are reached by transit media. Only a handful of traditional digital media channels have this level of visibility, despite their modernity. In addition, other digital media is more easily ignored, fast-forwarded, or skipped over.

Tech brands are taking note of this opportunity to grab people on the go. For example, Grubhub, the online food ordering service, increased brand awareness with Chicago Transit Authority commuters by transforming the Chicago and State Headhouse into a giant rotating salmon avocado roll complete with chopsticks. Samsung executed a station domination in Philadelphia’s 30th Street SEPTA station with an advertisement on the floor (pictured below) stating, “We’ll keep your work stuff safe no matter where you drop your phone.” Sonos, the smart home sound system, promoted the launch of their new speaker integration with Amazon Alexa in San Francisco’s Powell BART station and Seattle’s Sound Transit University Street station, making a splash in Amazon’s hometown and reaching retail-minded customers right before holiday season. Some of the top media markets that we work with have shown more than 90 percent year-over-year ad revenue increases in transit OOH from tech companies.

Much of this growth has been driven by a marked improvement in measurement and targeting techniques for OOH. Transit OOH provides brands with the ability to connect with potential customers at specific moments and places. Using anonymized mobile-based data, advertisers can now discover in-depth insights about audience demographics in physical places, including transit locations, and tailor their messaging accordingly.

Given the dynamic geotemporal nature of people in transit, advertisers can reach different audiences in the same place, as well as retarget the same audience as they make their way through their daily journeys. With this ability, advertisers can then map the customer journeys to the media assets that will most effectively engage them, and with the help of companies like GroundTruth, NinthDecimal and Placed, quantify the impact of the campaigns on their business and optimize future campaigns. This increasing level of insight has given brands the ability to reach the right consumer with the right message at the right time.

Thanks to the growing interest in transit advertising, transit authorities are reimagining the role advertising can play in improving customer experience, creating a mutually beneficial, virtuous circle. The digitization of assets in transit authorities has created communication platforms that display emergency service announcements, provide real-time train updates and offer contextual messaging, all in addition to advertising. This is retraining consumers to look at screens more actively, increasing the value of adjacent advertising. Already, we are seeing brands natively weave themselves into the context of this messaging, providing utility as well as engagement. For example, in the NYC subway, the New York Lottery provided entertainment and distraction in the form of an interactive tic-tac-toe game while people waited for their trains.

Although mass transit infrastructure is often more than a century old, it’s now home to one of the most modern forms of digital advertising. In many ways, transit presents superior opportunities to traditional digital media. Rather than being actively blocked, skipped and avoided, digital transit advertising is sought out by riders, as it provides useful and vital information capable of saving commuters valuable time. It’s no wonder that tech companies feel at home in this bustling, tech-enabled space.

Source: mediavillage.com; 27 Nov 2017

Don’t put all your money in digital to reach affluent Asians: Ipsos

Affluent Asian consumers have yet to fully embrace digital media, according to an Ipsos study.

Affluent Asian consumers are not disengaged from advertising, and digital aficionados who shun TV and print are not necessarily the biggest spenders among the well-heeled group. These are some of the consumer insights into affluent Asian consumers highlighted in the latest Ipsos’ Affluent Asia survey.

Zeroing on media-consumption findings from Q2 2017, the study reveals that 42.2% access only traditional media, compared to 37.5% for a combination of traditional and digital, while only 2% access only digital media. Likewise, data on respondents from the markets studied (which excludes China) between Q3 2016 to Q2 2017 shows that total TV and print reach are enhanced by digital. The overall study this year was based on 24,250 samples from 11 markets in APAC.

News consumption habits of affluent Asian consumers (excluding China).

Along the same lines, the study reveals that consumers who consume a combination of traditional and digital media are likely to be bigger spenders. They own three or more financial and upscale household products and have taken business or first-class flights, for example. The study notes that the affluent cohort accounts for the top 20% by income of the APAC population and further points out that not all ad spend should be invested on digital.

In comparison, Chinese affluent consumers are more inclined toward consuming media via digital devices, even though a higher percentage are still watching entertainment content on TV compared to news and documentaries. Therefore, a cross-platform strategy is especially important for reaching Chinese consumers.

Cross-platform consumption of Chinese consumers.

Source: campaignasia.com; 24 Nov 2017

Reader/publisher relationship has ‘catalytic’ effect on ad effectiveness

Conventional wisdom says that if the editorial content around an online ad is good quality, then the effectiveness of the ad is increased. While there is certainly some truth to this, a new study purports to show that the issue is far more complicated the many in the industry think.

Inskin Media compared the conscious and subconscious reactions of 4,370 people who were served online ads on websites either with or without publisher branding.

The results indicate that the publisher branding on some of the sites increased ad effectiveness (measured as “increased consideration”) by 60% as compared to those without. So, in other words, the reader’s perception of the publisher may have just as significant an effect on how well an ad does as the content that surrounds it.

If the ‘relationship’ between the reader and the publisher is a close one, i.e. the reader has a high opinion of the site, the effects are even more pronounced. If the reader liked the publisher, consideration for the ads was 152% higher than those sites without publishing branding.

“The relationship a publisher has with a user can have a catalytic effect in terms of boosting the effectiveness of the ads it displays, which reveals an important lesson,” said Steve Doyle, CCO at Inskin Media.

“It shows that if online publishers pay more consideration to the reader experience, the ads will be more effective, so they can optimise yield while carrying more selective types of advertising.”

Brand safety

The study didn’t seem to reveal any systematic pattern that would suggest that editorial content and the impact of the ad. This applied to whether the article was negative or positive, or whether it shared a similar theme with the ad.

For example, an ad for a supermarket displaying food discount next to an article about obesity did not have major effects on brand metrics.

“Brand safety is considerably more complex than the industry might like to admit,” says Doyle.

“For example, we know brand safety is a “PR” issue but what effect does it actually have on readers’ brand perception? More research in this area is required to help marketers devise meaningful and effective brand safety policies, as the area is still a relative unknown.”

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 22 Nov 2017

TV Viewers Are Demanding More Options, and Streaming Services Are Happy to Oblige

Same channels, different remote control

The good news: TV lovers still love watching TV. The not as good news: Viewers aren’t watching it in the same way as they used to (and until relatively recently).

Set-top cable boxes have dwindled in popularity over the past four years. As consumers turn to connected TVs and devices, they have less need for a monthly box-rental fee and thousands of channels they don’t watch.

According to a study from Hub Entertainment Research, viewers reported that for the first time since tracking began in 2014, watching TV online was more popular than watching on a set-top box.

About 52 percent of viewers now say they watch their favorite shows online via services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, on a network’s own site or app, or via other online services like iTunes. Forty-eight percent of viewers prefer to watch TV live, on DVR or through an on-demand platform.

The emergence of streaming TV

TV started with limited broadcast networks and appointment viewing. If you missed an episode, that was it. Today, consumers can choose what channels they pay for, on what devices they watch those channels, which episodes to watch and when to tune in. Viewers are in control of the remote, and TV networks and providers are trying to be as flexible as their consumers need them to be.

Today, viewers hold all the power. They’re demanding high-quality content on their preferred devices at the time of their choice, and the companies that helped create the disruption and challenge to the status quo have been happy to oblige.

Sling TV is one such example. The skinny-cable bundle launched in 2015 when there was no live TV streaming service letting users control which channels they watch and pay for.

“We saw an opportunity to reach both cord cutters and cord-nevers,” said Jimshade Chaudhari, vp of marketing and management at Sling TV. “Lots of those people were frustrated with traditional TV back then and still are today.”

Sling TV currently provides two subscription plans with many add-on packages, giving users a customizable experience based on the TV channels they actually want to watch.

“The concept from a consumer standpoint caught on right away,” Chaudhari said. “[Viewers had] been waiting a long time for something like this. And as they got familiar with what it was, they got more control and flexibility than they ever got from the traditional cable experience.”

Subscribers to contract-free services like Sling, Playstation Vue, YouTube TV and other similar platforms can cancel any time at no fee, something not all cable companies allow in their contracts. Additionally, many of these platforms are available on multiple smart TV-connected devices like Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV where viewers can install other apps for entertainment like games or podcasts.

Even though the mechanics of viewership have started to shift, one thing has remained the same—people still love TV.

“It’s an escape for them,” Chaudhari said. “They want entertainment and really easy access to it that they don’t have to think about. Netflix helped drive the watch-on-your-own-time sensibility early on, and now consumers want more flexibility.”

Libraries and live options

Hulu, another pioneer in the entertainment streaming world, has seen the shift on a larger scale. As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, the platform has added more movies, shows, original programs, premium network add-ons and now live TV.

“Our lives as viewers have been changed irreversibly,” said Ben Smith, Hulu’s svp and head of experience. “Hulu was radical when it launched, but we’ve been all about putting the user in control of the time and place they watch content they love since the beginning.”

When Hulu considers what to develop or provide, it always considers the viewer first and tries to find a way to make that experience friendly to both users and advertisers, according to Smith.

Personalization and questioning what TV will be is at the top of Hulu’s agenda as it looks forward to the next decade.

“We don’t sell ads into shows, but we sell audiences to advertisers,” Smith said. “If Ford wants to reach a male audience aged 25 to 35 in the Midwest, we can do that. And if you don’t fall into that category, then you won’t see that ad.”

In addition to contextually appropriate ads tailored to the audience, Hulu is also mindful of ad repetition (“Zero people want to see the same ad five times in one hour,” Smith said) and providing viewers with the option not to see ads. Hulu offers commercial-free streaming options subscribers can add onto the company’s live-TV plan or its streaming library plan.

“Consumers are expecting experiences that are tailored to their needs,” Smith said. “Hulu, Spotify, Amazon—all these companies are working to empower the consumer.”

Source: adweek.com; 20 Nov 2017