Conundrum for brands seeking to close video 'coverage gap'
Ebiquity's Christian Polman at Future of Brands
Linear TV is set to see around a 21% fall in overall adult commercial impacts for advertisers by 2025, according to media and marketing consultancy Ebiquity.
The findings appear in a new video-focused cross-media measurement study - produced by fusing data from AudienceProject and BARB - and is a follow-up to last year's 'TV at the Tipping Point report', which showed that the world's most successful brand building medium was beginning to shed economically important audiences.
The latest analysis - which excludes broadcaster VOD - examines whether digital video channels such as YouTube can help to close the "coverage gap" caused by the decline of linear TV, particularly in younger age groups.
The report shows that total linear TV commercial impacts were down by 4.4% in 2019 while the increasing shrinkage of linear TV audiences will compound to around a 21% fall in overall adult commercial impacts by 2025.
For 18-24s, even with a predicted slowdown in the rate of decline, more than half (56%) of today’s audience "will have disappeared" by 2025.
For the younger 16-24s, 25-34s, and 35-44s, advertising served on YouTube and Facebook was found "broadly to be able to match the reach delivered by TV".
However, once quality of engagement is factored in, online video may not be enough to close the coverage gap, and when analysis shifts from a pure impression level to 50% or 100% completed reach, both YouTube and Facebook deliver less incremental reach, with Facebook "adding little".
The report concludes that while brands can build incremental reach using online video, there is "significant room" to drive quality.
“Although TV remains the primary driver of ROI, the change in media consumption habits is no secret and is a phenomenon that brands cannot safely ignore," said Christian Polman, chief strategy officer at Ebiquity, launching the report at the Future of Brands on Wednesday (5 Feb)
"What our new study does is to confirm that the rate of change in viewing behaviour is affecting brands. The ability to reach mass audiences at scale is critical for efficient and effective brand building. Advertisers need to take several actions today in order to close their own coverage gap and ensure success in the age of media fragmentation.”
Polman said there were a range of practical steps brands should consider in response to the forecast changes. These range from taking a more granular approach to measurement; making the right creative for the right channel or platform; and using "structured testing" to evaluate and optimise the channels being used to fill the coverage gap.
Meanwhile, Martin Radford, media business director at Ebiquity, said at the most basic impression level, TV, YouTube and Facebook all have the potential to deliver similar levels of reach for under 45s.
"However, the brands in the study show that for over 45s TV remains unrivalled. You can achieve incremental reach using online video, particularly for younger audiences, but once you focus in on quality and engagement, online video might not be able to close the coverage gap."
Ebiquity's Martin Radford
Radford, citing an advertiser's comments made during the report's development, added that TV was like Usain Bolt: "It's not quite as good as it used to be, but it gets a hell of a lot of attention and there's an awful lot of people trying to take its place, but none can match its legacy."
Responding to the report, Matt Hill, research & planning director at TV marketing body Thinkbox, said the redistribution of viewing from linear to both broadcaster VOD and (ad free) subscription VOD is set to continue, so advertisers should adapt their TV planning across linear and BVOD in order to maximise cost effective reach.
"And whilst reach may be matched for younger audiences on video platforms beyond TV, advertisers should be mindful that not all reach is created equal, particularly on issues of such as viewability, view-through rates and brand safety to name a few," he said.
"TV is changing, but as Ebiquity state, TV remains the fundamental driver of profit for brands."