Today’s column is written by Harvey Kent, Chief Media Strategist, MediaOcean, an advertising technology company.
The way things stand today, the video business isn’t one business, but two separate businesses evolving in parallel. Players from across the video landscape don’t want things to be that way—and it could be different.
The first business I’m referring to is the business of “traditional” network and spot TV. I put the word “traditional” in quotes because, from social apps on TV to addressable ads, traditional TV is highly sophisticated and evolving at a very impressive clip; “traditional” is a bit of a misnomer. Not to mention that the systems for delivering analog content and managing buys are often far more sophisticated than their digital counterparts. In any case, traditional TV is its own world.
The second business, of course, is the purely digital video that consumers can view on the Internet and mobile devices. That’s world number two.
Had you listened to the breathless prognosticators ten years ago, you would have assumed that the landscape would have been different by now. Traditional TV was supposed to die out, online and mobile video was slated to take the reins. But that hasn’t happened. But traditional TV viewership has stayed healthy over the past years—even with cord-cutting and online viewing options, with online viewing often supporting, not cannibalizing, traditional TV. And TV ad dollars have held steady following the audience. That stability of the traditional TV world has driven the technology investment I mentioned above.
And to be sure, businesses across the video ecosystem want to bridge the divide. Digital video networks want to compete for traditional TV dollars. Traditional television networks and content producers are keen to complement assets cross-channel—NBC’s live-streamed Super Bowl was a case-in-point. Many agency media teams would like to be plan video advertising holistically, easily coordinating digital video efforts with TV buys. The video world may be split, but much of the video business is looking to work across them.
But because the video business is split down the middle, there’s little infrastructure to easily manage across the parts. Metrics for digital video are largely separate from metrics for traditional video. Dynamic creative platforms for advanced TV operate separately from dynamic creative optimization companies online. Workflow systems deal with digital video buying differently than they do for network and spot TV. And business standards and processes are different in the traditional world than they are in the digital one.
Of course, the existence of two separate ecosystems means that it’s very hard to coordinate technologies across both sides of the industry. Separate metrics creates challenges of apples-to-apples analytics. Separate delivery technologies means there are limits to syncing creative across TV and online video. Workflow silos create challenges for buyers, planners, and sellers looking to easily manage across the different video channels.
This is an interoperability problem that every part of the media business faces today. To turn their solutions into realities, media buyers and sellers alike need to coordinate solutions across complex tech stacks. They need to quickly swap out and replace solutions to accommodate different clients and changes in media. But with the video world split in two, the interoperability challenges it faces are particularly sharp.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that we’d be better off with just one video channel—quite the opposite. Different media exist because consumers want to engage with content in different ways. A rich ecosystem supporting many forms of video engagement means that advertisers, networks, and viewers all get the most out of the types of video they’re participating with at any moment. That’s unquestionably a positive. But the challenges the bifurcation creates are also real, and they need to be addressed.