BVOD should be first on the plan

BVOD should be first on the plan


Thinkbox’s Matt Hill questions ViewersLogic’s interpretation of BVOD’s impact – pointing out that basing planning decisions on viewing time alone is a flawed approach. Quality is crucial.

ViewersLogic claims that broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) does not add “material viewing time” to campaigns that already have linear and YouTube on the plan.

They’ve done this using numbers from their new measurement tool.

I’m not up to speed on their new tool or its data, but let’s look at Barb’s data for TV set viewing (the best quality video environment, cinema notwithstanding).

In October, Barb shows that 81% of commercial TV set viewing time was to linear TV, 9.8% was BVOD, and 8% was YouTube. So BVOD has more “material viewing time” than YouTube, and it’s growing (up 44% Jan to Sep year on year)

What’s going on then?

Well, I suspect ViewersLogic is looking at every screen, not just the one offering the highest quality experience — and YouTube is obviously going to gain ground there filling gaps in people’s lives. BVOD is overwhelmingly big screen. It’s a strength.

Barb has been reporting multi-platform, multi-screen household viewing data for nearly two years now, and their data shows YouTube is significant in terms of viewing time and skews young. So, you can kind of understand how ViewersLogic have arrived at their conclusion. But…

Time is not the whole story, it’s the first chapter

From a campaign planning perspective, viewing time is not the whole story; it’s a piece of the jigsaw rather than the full picture, face value rather than full value. Judgements based on quantity alone may seem sensible, but they are flawed — it’s like saying a kilo of coal is equivalent to the same amount of diamonds.

The most common key objective for a spot-based campaign is high cost-effective reach.  Sounds straightforward, but what do we really mean by this?

It doesn’t mean buying maximum numerical reach at the lowest cost; it means getting your carefully crafted creative in front of your target audience in the environment or circumstance that gives it the best chance of achieving its desired effect (which is normally to be remembered) at the lowest cost.

To plan against this objective, data points such as average time spent with a platform are a useful starting point, but that’s all they are.

Effectiveness isn’t distributed equally

The logical conclusion of ViewersLogic’s claim is that ad spend should echo time spent. And that’s fine — if you assume that quality and effectiveness are distributed equally across media.

But they aren’t.

A relentless focus on time spent misses the nuance of how video is viewed and the implications for advertising effectiveness.

This is because it doesn’t cover the size of the screen; the likelihood of ad avoidance; the implicit signals communicated by what content our message rubs shoulders with (not what you say but where you say it); the degree to which viewers are likely to pay visual attention, the audibility of your ad, whether it’s being watched in a shared family living room or on a crowded train on the way to work, whether the ad is playing full screen or part window or, worse, beneath the fold…

In short, it ignores an awful lot of influential factors — factors that are fundamental to what makes BVOD advertising so valuable: big screen, quality content, high attention, sound on, high view-through, brand safe, trusted.

We need to combine this thinking with detail on how viewing behaviour varies across the population, where they can be reached, and, crucially, the odds of reaching them cost-effectively.

Again, this is something that Barb data can already help with.

If we care about the qualities the big living room screen brings (and we should) then this is where we want to build our campaign exposure, and the Barb data reveals the increasing importance of BVOD (and YouTube) in reaching the lighter viewers.

Plan by layering up

The media world is fragmented, it’s complex, and this means great planners and great planning are business-critical for advertisers. Pitches are often won on planning credentials over pricing power (and if they’re not, they should be).

The best planners factor for all the above in their thinking. They will plan by layering up the highest quality environment in terms of ad exposure first, maxing on the potential reach in terms of cost-effectiveness, and then layering in the next best option and repeating until their target reach is achieved.

BVOD is growing, and although today it accounts for a modest amount of video time in relation to linear TV, it should be first on the plan.

Matt Hill is director of research and planning at Thinkbox, the commercial TV marketing body.


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