In this day and age there are many television programmers who are adding over-the-top (OTT) content services to their abilities, challenging and disrupting traditional media and models. This is great news for cord-cutting consumers who have added network options to choose from, however there are still many players out there that are actually hampering industry progress and thwarting innovation by recreating what has already been done in OTT distribution.
How are they doing this? By offering viewers an impersonal user experience where they need to select channels to access the content they want. For the industry to move forward they should take an example from the online advertising industry. This industry is way ahead targeting specific content to individual audiences. Basically, video content must be pushed to viewers instead of them having to search for it themselves.
As we move towards video content and online advertising, it is essential that we don’t rework the patterns of old models. These patterns are traditional TV broadcasting where viewers are required to seek out a single channel for viewing content. This is a passive approach and one that produces a completely impersonalized experience. Instead, the online environment needs to develop new patterns whereby content is proactively targeted and tailored to viewers on the sites and channels they visit regularly.
For example, masses of viewers tune in weekly to HBO to watch “Game of Thrones,” whether it’s through HBO’s cable station or streaming service. They need to hunt for it. A “new pattern” innovative approach would be to offer a service that automatically delivers viewers with “Game of Thrones” regardless of where they’re tuned in. Until they do, OTT content service providers are simply offering yet another traditional, impersonalized TV experience where consumers need to enter a specific site and search for content. After all, in advertising nobody has to search for their favorite ads, they come across them wherever they visit.
Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote in his 1967 book, “The Medium is the Message,” that “when faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past,” that, “we look at the present through a rearview mirror. We march backwards into the future.” This fear of change and need to cling to a comfort zone can hold an entire industry back and that is exactly what we’re seeing in several online media networks who refuse to focus on producing something distinctive for online environments. We’ve seen the same behavior in the past when, for example, TV itself was invented and media applied the exact same techniques used in radio instead of creating a disruption.
The traditional distribution model can only provide an impersonal experience where viewers select channels to access the content they want. Instead, content needs to be pushed to them. The way forward is by personalizing their experience and they expect nothing less. This is also the only way for content owners to ensure maximum content monetization.
Keeping the Consumer Engaged
Effective online viewership is not about how many individuals enter a site to view content – that would be traditional TV. It is about catering content to the viewer.
Online advertisers and content creators will succeed if they make online viewership about tailoring content so that audiences see ads and content that are relevant to their interests and see it wherever they look. This is how to keep viewers engaged and the long-term sustainable solution for reaching target audiences. Additionally, the online environment, unlike traditional media, enables content be tailored toward separate users.
To stop marching backwards and gazing in the rearview-mirror, we need to modernize our content and distribution approaches. If the ad industry could respond to the need through targeting and native advertising, then so too can the content industry by catering to viewers and pushing the content they want to see on the sites they visit most often. Any other approach will leave the industry in the past.
By Hiro Media