Internet TV, in-game advertising, mobile marketing, outdoor digital posters... if emerging media is about to revolutionise the advertising business, which businesses are set up and have enough technological muscle to bridge the gap between adland and these digital platforms?
Undoubtedly, digital advertising has the potential to bring a new wave of growth for the production and post industry, and for a company such as The Mill - and sister firm BEAM.TV - the technology and international networks are already in place. We've got a good US presence now and feel ready to capitalise on the opportunities an increasing digitalisation of the advertising industry will bring to the production and post industries.
With the fragmentation of media and our increasingly multi-channel world, audiences are more difficult to reach, but that does not mean they are reducing in numbers.
In fact the opposite is true, as more and more consumers are being exposed to media platforms that have the ability to display moving-image advertising.
For example, online gamers (and those playing console games) are starting to be exposed to advertising messages in the form of short pieces of animation, or dynamic billboard ads that are embedded in the games.
Elsewhere in adland, Viacom Outdoor has already penned a deal with London Underground to digitally advertise content with the potential for consumer interaction.
One early, and high-profile, example of digital outdoor is the highly successful Sony Bravia "balls" campaign (post-produced by us!) which was digitally recreated for moving-image escalator posters at Tottenham Court Road Tube station. So, digital advertising is already bringing more content opportunities for those involved in creating advertising.
More content has to be made for more platforms, and this requires highly specialised video skills. One of the most exciting and revolutionary projects brought to The Mill, through BEAM.TV, has been the involvement in a major project with Nokia.
BEAM.TV collaborated with Nokia as a technology partner for the flagship store launches in Moscow, Chicago and, very recently, New York. Teaming up with cutting-edge content producers, the challenge for the BEAM.TV team was to power up to 800 screens in these retail spaces and provide a unique in-store experience.
Cliff Crosbie, the director of global retail and trade marketing for Nokia, was very complimentary of the partnership, saying: "We think that the service, selection and surroundings that we are delivering will exceed the expectations of even these most experienced shoppers."
The Mill is involved in helping to create this highly specific and visually engaging content that is displayed across up to 40 big plasma screens within the Nokia flagship stores. This content is scheduled and delivered via BEAM.TV to all the stores across the world. BEAM.TV provides Nokia with a solution that allows it to manage all its content and allows for interactivity with the customer in the store, given the digital nature of the displayed content.
Another issue that flows from all the technological advances is that production and distribution of global advertising campaigns can be very fragmented and inefficient. With hard-to-control costs, agencies are left struggling to deliver a transparent process to advertisers.
BEAM.TV leverages digital technology to help streamline and reduce the cost of producing and distributing global advertising - where typically the adaptation and distribution of global TV campaigns to local markets has consumed more advertising dollars than the cost of producing the original campaign. A more centralised and digital way of delivering TV campaigns is becoming possible across all countries and all media.
The Mill, through BEAM.TV, is involved in trials where the adaptations of original TV campaigns are handled digitally through the BEAM.TV network that connects broadcasters in 60 countries and more than 120 post-production affiliates. The BEAM.TV network localises the TV commercial before it is played out digitally by BEAM.TV in every market.
We are currently working with ad agencies in London (such as AMV BBDO and McCann Erickson) to fully digitalise the execution of global campaigns to different markets and media platforms. To give an example, BEAM.TV was hired recently to work with one major international brand. The aim was to increase the efficiency of the execution and distribution of the client's global TV campaigns.
Creating a more efficient centralised process would reduce the time to market, digital distribution to all local markets would be quicker, the quality of campaign elements would be maintained in all the different regions and media, and ultimately there would be a huge reduction in costs. Once the creative brief was supplied and signed off by the agency and client, our network of partners were utilised to support all the production processes.
The agency, production company and client were able to share materials for approval on BEAM.TV. The master elements were distributed to local markets for adaptation, and finally the TV commercials were delivered digitally to broadcasters and any other platforms connected to BEAM.TV - such as for digital signage, internet TV, mobile and in-game advertising.
Traditionally, the journey of a TV commercial on a tape would take 12 to 14 hours on a plane; it would have to survive Customs, and the potential perils of damage and loss. But that's changing, and with a big upside for everyone.
It goes to show, these are interesting times for companies with the appetite and the resources to leverage their core production and post capabilities to actively pursue the opportunities that the digitalisation of advertising is bringing to the industry as a whole.