Content is being consumed regardless of platform and length
Content is being consumed regardless of platform and length
A view from Alex Blaikley

Today's consumers seek out great content wherever they can find it

Content convergence is happening at a faster rate than ever, argues Alex Blaikley, industry head at Google.

25-34 year olds are watching 10% less linear TV year-on-year

At the Edinburgh TV Festival this year, The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci celebrated the fact that we’re enjoying a golden age of TV content production, but even he - a veteran of the TV industry - recognises the shifting tides. He said that that when it comes to great shows "people will hunt them out, by any means possible, and on whichever device is available."

As Iannucci mentioned, viewers are consuming content wherever they can find it, a shift that the media industry are acutely aware of. This year, the more traditional media owners have begun to embrace all-things digital. For example, Sky are joining the ranks of the digital players at this year’s IAB Digital Upfronts; ITV made a savvy investment in Channel Mum, a YouTube community; and NBCUniversal took a stake in Buzzfeed, revealing the channel’s desire to understand the content that its audience is most receptive to.

More content in more places

The recent Media Consumer Survey 2015 by Deloitte highlights the fact that digital is becoming more of a crucial investment for media owners than ever. It found that the average person watches 193 minutes of traditional linear TV every day, however, 25-34 year olds are watching 10% less linear TV year-on-year, and this trend isn’t something we only see amongst young people, since 35-44 year olds are watching 9% less too. Simply put, audiences are shifting to consuming more long and short-form content, on-demand and online.

Content creators that got their big break on digital platforms are now increasingly courted by traditional media owners.

As a result, content creators that got their big break on digital platforms are now increasingly courted by traditional media owners, thanks to the quality of the content they produce and their loyal, engaged audiences. A great example of someone who has been successful both on traditional and digital media is one of my favourite creators, Casey Neistat, who consistently offers an incredible viewing experience. The Draw my life story on his YouTube channel has had 800,000 views and explains why, having earned $2m from selling a series to HBO, he now concentrates on social platforms.

YouTube: where new ideas are born?

Due to the size of the YouTube audience and the variety of content and ideas found there, the platform has fast become the place where new ideas are born. You might ask yourself - what broadcaster would have commissioned an unknown Korean pop-star for the music video hit of the year? Who would have guessed that beauty and fashion vloggers unveiling their latest hauls would end up shaping fashion trends? Who would have known that an unboxing video could cause ‘Bendgate’ - completely monopolising conversations around the launch of the iPhone 6?

There is a significant opportunity in the digital space for brands to engage with people on their own terms

These conversations are undoubtedly something that brands and agencies are keen to tap into, and the media owners are uniquely placed to help them navigate this ecosystem. There is a significant opportunity in the digital space for brands to engage with people on their own terms and, increasingly, the media agencies I work with are delivering content that fits into the digital world seamlessly. For example, Robbie Maddison delivered 17 million views in just nine days for DC Shoes and Under Armour’s "I Will What I Want" campaign with Gisele Bündchen won the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. The video ad pulls real-time social-media insults about Gisele into the frame, where she kicks and punches them away - emphasising her strength of body and mind.

Devices and content length are irrelevant

The quality of these digitally-driven ads point to the fact that advertisers and agencies are now genuinely seeing the value in creating campaigns that sit alongside engaging digital content, on platforms like YouTube. In a prophetic statement Kevin Spacey gave the annual Mactaggart lecture in 2013, he emphasised that excellent content can live anywhere - a fact that should not be overlooked by the television industry. Spacey’s point was that devices and content length are irrelevant, and that increasingly the onus is entirely on the relevance and ability of the content to captivate its audience.

As a long-standing fan of the Alan Partridge shows, it is amazing to see how televisual and digital content are converging. Who knew that eighteen years after Alan was desperately pitching programme ideas to a bemused TV executive, his classic Youth Hosteling with Chris Eubank idea would make its digital debut?