If you're using an app to watch a show which first aired on TV and run into an ad break, would you classify it as a TVC or a digital ad? A panel of experts tried answering questions like these at our recently held event vdonxt asia.
Do brand marketers think of all video ads, across television commercials and digital channels, holistically - that is, as one pool of commercial messages that happen to be in video form? Or do they create and plan for them separately? Moreover, should they approach video holistically?
What makes a video message a TV ad versus a digital ad - the duration, the device it's viewed on, the media buying cost, measurability of the ROI, its nature (a pure ad inserted into content versus a brand message integrated into the content) or the mindset of the consumer being exposed to it?
I discussed all of this with a panel of experts at the 3rd edition of vdonxt asia, our annual convention on the business of online video. Here are the highlights. Watch the video (embedded in this article) for more details.
Sam Balsara, chairman, Madison World, said, "Do they (marketers) look at video holistically? No, I'm afraid, they don't. They may want to but often can't. The industry has not equipped them to. Nor are their agencies equipped to. Often the mandates for the agency are different for traditional and online." Of say 75 brands on Madison's clientele, around 15-20 of them have given the digital mandate to another agency. Conversely, Madison has about 30 clients for whom Sam's team handles just the digital mandate and nothing else.
According to Sam, from a media point of view, one can argue that marketers should think of video holistically - after all, both television and OTT are about video content that's seen on a screen - and media is about how many people you reach and how many times you reach them. But to directly compare online video with television, you need to have "single source data on viewership..."
"... I must get my CPRPs, my reach and frequency curves for both television and OTT from a common source. If I had that, I'd be the happiest person, as my choices would increase exponentially..." explained Sam, before bringing up BARC's attempt to do this with EKAM.
Sam also underscored the perils of simply reproducing TV ads on digital platforms without so much as repurposing the messaging, and spoke about the importance of separately re-crafting brand messages keeping the digital, OTT and mobile environment in mind. In fact, he advocates the creation of ads first for the mobile screen and then if necessary taking the message to 'other' platforms like TV and cinema. "That's what will happen in the future, that's what creative agencies will have to get used to," Sam predicted.
Speaking specifically about the FMCG category that tends to lean towards the twin goals of awareness and engagement (as opposed to say, an e-comm-and-purchase approach), Anupam Bokey, vice president - marketing (CMO), RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, said, "... It is important to view video holistically, but different aspects of our marketing objectives are met on TV versus on digital, and the content is created accordingly."
For FMCG brands, TV, even with a minimum number of creatives, yields ample reach and awareness, whereas digital gives engagement. Anupam is responsible for marketing a baked snacks brand called Too Yumm!, endorsed by cricketer Virat Kohli, which is being advertised on television and has also made an appearance (content integration) on Amazon Prime's cricket-based OTT show Inside Edge.
Does Dinesh Menon, CMO, State Bank of India, view video holistically? "It's happening at a superficial level; how much content is really being re-scripted or re-shot? We should be doing it but I don't think it's being done," he admits, reminding us that usually long form versions of TV ads are run online because digital affords the luxury of duration that TV doesn't.
Recently, Dinesh did away with SBI's multi-agency roster system and appointed Rediffusion as its sole creative agency. His team is currently in the process of getting a digital agency and a media buying agency on board. I asked him if it's safe to assume his TVC briefs will go to his creative agency while his 'DVC' or digital ad briefs will go to the digital agency.
"It's not so water-tight," he said, going on to answer Sam's follow up question about why he felt the need to get a separate agency for digital in the first place, "I certainly think conventional agencies are not up the curve on digital. They still think '30 second TVC - and how to I adapt that for digital?'..."
Ram Seshadri, head - technology & solutions, Adobe India, is of the view that it's it's only a matter of time before marketers' video ad planning "converges into one single plan that drives both online and offline".
Maybe what the marketing, advertising and media fraternity really needs is new nomenclature. When the acronym 'TVC' was coined there existed only one platform to place a video ad on - that is, television. That's how the 'TVC' became synonymous with 'ad film'. But today, perhaps, we ought to use the term 'video ad' or some such? Anupam suggests calling video ad films "content" or "communication".