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15 September 2016

How online TV will change our lives as marketers

Online TV is booming. The period in which people were only watching linear (or live) TV in their sofas lies behind us. Power is shifting increasingly towards the consumer: they decide where, when and how they watch TV. Will this affect the way we, as marketers, will look at TV advertising? I’m strongly convinced it will have a strong impact. 

Streaming Television Marketing

The way people are watching TV is changing drastically 

Penetration of smart TVs has grown up to 30% in Flanders. Our daily TV consumption is no longer exclusively linked to our TV - what we call our first screen- but also to second screens like our laptop (13%), smartphone (8%) or tablet (6%) (1).

Together with this hardware evolution, the number of video streamers is growing steadily: 27% of Flemish households are regularly streaming video, with YouTube, Netflix, Medialaan ( & Stievie) and Telenet (Yelo) as most significant contributors. When looking at Generation Z – the so-called ‘future of the industry’ – we see a different story though: 6 out of 10 people of this generation use streaming services such as Netflix, while 1 in 2 indicates (almost) never watching real-time television anymore (2). Also YouTube consumption on first screen is growing: 19% of all smart TV-owners use this channel to watch YouTube videos at least once per week (3).


Does this mean traditional TV is dead? Not at all.

But it’s clear that the TV landscape is changing drastically. When analyzing this change, 3 determinants can be identified (4):

  • The technological evolution, which enables the consumption of TV content via mobile devices. This evolution will be further endorsed in the coming years, since network quality is improving over time. Next to that, penetration of smart TVs, Apple TV and Chromecast is growing.
  • A second determinant is the demographic evolution. For younger generations, it’s completely natural to consume TV content via alternative devices. This young generation will facilitate a democratization of streaming television.
  • A final determinant is the growing number of online TV providers: an increasing number of actors is entering the market of streaming television.


No need to say that these evolutions will also affect our lives as marketers. But what will change concretely in our media strategies?

The idea that you can launch successful campaigns with the right communication supported by massive GRPs has become obsolete. Consumers are moving targets, switching continuously between devices and channels. It’s only a matter of time that targeted & programmatic advertising will become the norm for video ads, enabling brands to show their (potential) consumers the right message on relevant moments.

This makes that the term ‘TV commercial’ is losing its relevance when talking about media strategies. Talking about ‘video ads’ is more appropriate, since ads are no longer broadcasted exclusively on TV but also on other platforms. With a TV commercial, you can still reach a lot of people, but with an online video, you can engage with them. And that at a significantly lower price point than TV could potentially offer.  

It’s clear that the way we’re buying media space has evolved. However, there are also many similarities between buying online video ad space or classic television ads. The key question remains: how to reach your target audience and your brand objectives? That will never change. Also the buying criteria remain unchanged: when buying online video ad space, aspects like spot length, duration of the campaign, buying directly from a video site or via an ad network... will determine the decision (5).

A more significant evolution in video advertising can be observed when looking at the way we’re measuring and analyzing campaign results. When advertising on TV, we base ourselves on limited data, such as the viewer numbers. And these are still extrapolations. Online video platforms enable us to capture much more rich – and exact - data: who has watched what, when, where, via which device,... All these data are available.

Together with the targeting possibilities, this is the biggest change in the video advertising industry. And a very enriching one. While online videos are still quite new, it’s clear that more and more brands are shifting to a differentiated video advertising strategy to reach a moving target on different devices. Let’s make sure not to miss this evolution!


Digimeter, 2015, GfKiMinds (1)iMinds (2)Falling Up Media