In March, eMarketer released a report declaring that , contrary to the pro-digital pundits, TV ad spending will not be shifting dramatically to digital display. They are partially right. TV spending will not be shifting to the nebulous "digital display" realm (comprised primarily of search, banner ads and rich media). Instead, what is already in the active planning stages and will become evident soon after a record TV upfront in the U.S. TV spend is steadily shifting to the new distinct medium: "video," which includes online, mobile and connected TVs.
Is video really a medium?
It is neither TV shrunk down nor display with moving pictures and sound. It is a strange amalgamation that , at its best, combines the narrative-driven engagement value of TV, the relevant targeting capabilities of display, and the interactivity of social media and gaming. As an inherently social medium with very few limitations, video allows marketers and their audience to tell an extended story with nearly limitless creativity and distribution possibilities aided by listening to and responding to, if desired, the specific audience of the marketer's choosing. Marketers and their partners can reward awareness, behavior and loyalty. Virtually no other medium allows literally anyone to create, produce, distribute, view, share or comment in real-time and as transparently as desired.
Video encompasses all connected devices from the computer screen to the mobile screen, from the TV screen to the tablet screen. With these connected devices, the very nature of TV, as we know it, is merging with video to form the most powerful, accountable marketing medium. The introduction of dynamically inserted, highly addressable, brand safe, relevantly targeted, interactive advertisements at scale will reshape our ideas about TV advertising forever. More importantly, this will all happen in just the next few years.
Is video big enough?
At Kantar Video, we believe annual U.S. online and mobile video advertising investment alone will reach $5 billion by 2015, beating out the directory industry and challenging the aggregate size of annual outdoor ad spend. In other words, in 10 years time, the medium of video will have gone from near zero to one of the top six ad mediums. In five more years, video advertising will likely enter the top five, if not top four.
So, if video will be so large, why does it tend to get lumped into "display" or "digital" so often? One reason may be that video currently lacks high-profile, sustained, medium-defining brand and agency role models acting as standard bearers and magnets for talent. Imagine what outsized share of voice might be possible in any category were a brand (family) to commit to even $50mm per year of video ad spend. Similarly, what if there became available to support such an effort an end-to-end video agency? Moreover, video is the largest growing advertising medium without a separate advocacy organization. Mobile has one. Social has one. The IAB is leading the charge, but keeping up with the pace, the demands, and the disparate stakeholders of this medium is no easy feat.
All of this is why we in the video-advertising community really need to step up and put a stake in the ground. We should no longer let display and TV claim rights over video. If the "medium is the message," then video has one heck of a good future. It's time we start respecting it and make sure all marketing and communications strategies account for it ... explicitly.