Frank is CEO of Beachfront Media.
In the emerging multi-platform era, reaching an audience is no longer merely as simple as waiting for them to turn on their television sets. As a viewer-based society, the multitude of formats currently available makes it possible to quite literally “cut the cord,” and take our content with us.
However, with this proverbial cord-cutting comes consequences that are going to require creators and advertisers alike to rethink their content delivery strategies. In this new era, the rules of broadcast cable do not apply. Content creators require a whole new playbook since different rules exist for different formats, and in some cases, the rules don’t exist at all.
The three areas where this is most evident are how to measure views, how to target viewers, and how to create custom content for each platform and device.
With all the varying ways to watch video–including YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.–we can agree almost unilaterally that the best way to gauge engagement is by looking at views. But what counts as a view varies widely across platforms.
The need for an industry standard definition for a “view” is required, but as of yet, does not exist. Its absence lies in the fact that the godfather of online video — YouTube — never clearly defined what constitutes a view, leaving those emerging in its wake the freedom to create their own definitions. This delineation would be a strong first step in helping creators and advertisers begin to standardize their engagement with the multi-format audience.
Where advertisers once had a captive audience in front of a TV, they now have to contend with multiple devices and mediums that have different methods of reaching viewers.
It’s important for advertisers to view these different targeting tools not as a system of competition from one platform to another, but rather a larger environment for engagement. In the era of the digital native, the viewer is engaging with multiple formats on a daily basis, and it is part of their lives. To assume any one format or device will somehow prevail over others is to miss how this generation engages with their content.
Creators can no longer repurpose the same piece of content across the various platforms. This goes against the notion of the audience’s differing expectations. Instead, the creator needs to customize that content, tweaking and shaping it for each platform to fulfill those expectations and reach wider audiences in new ways. What’s more, creators in the current digital climate do not view this as a “rat race” that requires them to keep up with formats, but rather a stronger means to extend their brand and get content in front of fans in all the places they live. It creates more work, but also more opportunity.
Those who create and adhere to these rules will be the winners in the multiplatform age. Complicating matters though is the broader spectrum of creators now entering the digital video game. The grassroots creators on YouTube who arose from the first generation or so of online video now have to compete with advertisers and corporations who are seeing the multiformat potential and engaging themselves.
When YouTube first launched, content creators had leeway, because major corporations weren’t paying attention to what was going on in the space. But today, companies like Disney are now leveraging their content to an online audience, and view platforms like YouTube as a legitimate medium to engage viewers. So naturally, we’re seeing these “YouTube Personalities” migrate to other platforms like Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, and other emerging formats to find the space needed for a new grassroots movement.
Because of this, each of new platforms is getting a surge in creation and viewership thanks to the cutting of the cord and the great creative migration it spawns. Savvy advertisers and creators alike need to look at this multiformat migration as a means to engage audiences in new, exciting ways. While a little work is required, the means of reaching an audience are larger than ever before. Customization is key in this new era of engagement, and the creator who can manage that approach will not only survive the cutting of the cord, they will achieve the uniting of platforms.
Frank Sinton is the CEO of Beachfront Media, a video app creation toolkit and ad mediation platform for creators and publishers to distribute and monetize video.