Martin Greenbank, Head of Advertising Research and Development at the UK network Channel 4, spoke at IBC's Audiences and Advertising stream. He outlined the progress that Channel 4 is making in developing new ways to measure audience consumption, saying that "the primary way is still through the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB), but increasingly we are getting data from other sources now." In particular, Channel 4 has made significant efforts to promote public engagement via registered viewers. "So, when people are logged in, watching across different platforms, this allows us to get sight of real-time data. This provides us with added granularity, things like when they are watching, how long they watch for, and what type of device they watch on," Greenbank added. The data gathered can be used across the broadcaster's operation, in areas such as scheduling, commissioning, and advertising. Greenbank confirmed that: "If a program is particularly skewed to one audience that is valuable to advertisers, then we use that data to discretely target their commercial impacts against that advertiser."
Ovum recognizes that the future direction that audience measurement will take is a key issue, with ramifications across the TV business. It is interesting that, despite some important new initiatives, Channel 4 is still heavily reliant on the BARB for its metrics. Panel-based systems such as the BARB have their shortcomings; however, the fact they are operated and audited by third-party bodies gives their data the air of having some degree of impartial accuracy.
Despite some steps forward, there are still some misgivings about the robustness of metrics in the digital segment. Google and Facebook have, for example, committed to allowing third parties such as ComScore and Moat to verify the viewability of their video ads. This followed pressure from major advertisers to take this step. The difficulty, within this context, is that exposure to advertising content can be fleeting. Facebook, for example, counts a view once a video has played for at least three seconds, but advertisers can choose to be charged if the video plays for at least 10 seconds. In the UK, Sky's innovative targeted advertising platform, AdSmart, is keen to promote greater advertiser confidence, and therefore charges advertisers only if 75% or more of their advert is viewed.
Although criticisms of digital metrics have some validity, there are similar criticisms that can be leveled at traditional TV advertising. Viewers have always found ways to avoid ads on traditional TV, by changing the channel, by turning down the sound, by picking up something to read, or even by leaving the room to get a drink or do something else.
Therefore, it could be the case that the highly personal nature of smartphones and tablets means that consumers are actually paying more attention to video ads, albeit in smaller doses, than traditional TV ads. It is important for the advertising business that eyes are kept on the prize. Both TV and digital platforms should focus on making advertising better and they can each do this by learning from each other and innovating accordingly.
"Dazzling data and double standards: The future of TV advertising," ME0003-000620 (December 2015)
"Bottling Lightning: The Challenge of Measuring Netflix," ME0003-000641 (January 2016)
Speaking on an IBC panel entitled Harnessing the Power of Influencers, YouTube executive Ben Speas said that average viewing times on the online video platform are rapidly increasing: the average viewing time now exceeds 40 minutes, which is more than twice as long as the average in 2015. The driver for this growth is mobile consumption, with smartphone and tablets combined making up two-thirds of YouTube viewing, and 80% of YouTube views are now coming from outside the US.
Ovum research has found that ad-supported and free video on demand (AVOD) is by far the most successful over-the-top (OTT) monetization model globally, accounting for nearly half (47%) of total streaming market revenues in 2016. With stronger growth in AVOD than in combined paid OTT services, AVOD will soon generate the lion's share of the combined global OTT market.
Growth in AVOD is driven by increased advertising spending on online video platforms such as YouTube, but it is also boosted by a huge increase in advertising via integrated videos on social network services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The distinction between free and paid-for OTT video has been quite clear. Premium OTT video is predominantly scripted long-form content, while YouTube, the poster child of AVOD, could easily have been characterized as short-form content that's typically user-generated.
According to Speas, the latest viewing figures underline that YouTube is no longer a short-form video service. "We're now starting to see the shift from bite-sized content. So YouTube is not the platform for 30-second or two-minute videos. People are coming on there and replacing their TV session with YouTube," Speas said.
OTT Video Forecast, 2015–20, ME0003-000637 (January 2016)
On the final day of the IBC 2016 conference, Roku confirmed that PLDT, the leading telecommunications and digital services provider in the Philippines, has become the first telco in Asia and the fifth telco in the world to join the Roku Powered program. The program offers telcos and pay-TV operators a complete end-to-end solution for OTT TV services, including platform hosting, application development support, software updates, and a choice between Roku's low-cost streaming player or its hybrid set-top box. PLDT, which currently offers fixed broadband and telephony services, plans to use the Roku platform to launch an OTT TV service that includes a combination of Cignal and iflix content alongside content from global providers.
PLDT is not the first telco to offer an OTT TV service to its broadband subscribers. In Ukraine, both Intertelecom and Kyivstar have partnered with streaming services Megogo and Divan.tv to offer their subscribers access to VOD content. Furthermore, Kyivstar provides access to live content through its Home TV service, an OTT platform created in collaboration with Vidmind and direct-to-home operator Viasat Ukraine. Similarly, in the UK, Sky's Now TV Smart Box, itself a Roku Powered hybrid device, enables consumers to access both Sky and Freeview channels as well as movies and apps such as YouTube.
With traditional linear television competing with an increasing number of streaming services and global OTT revenues forecast to surpass $30bn in 2020, Ovum expects more telcos to turn to OTT platforms, particularly those that have not launched a TV service yet.
Telco TV Benchmark: 2H15, ME0003-000698 (August 2016)
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