Media: Double Standards - Discovering the true value of video-on-demand

As more and more TV content and consumers migrate online, broadcasters and advertisers are starting to realise the commercial potential of VoD.

GARY KNIGHT - sponsorship, content partnerships and online sales director, ITV

- What are the strengths of your own video-on-demand platform?

Great content delivered in a professional environment. Every month, 8.5 million unique users are regularly watching shows such as The X Factor, I'm A Celebrity ... and Coronation Street at ITV.com. We refreshed ITV Player in late 2009, following a switch to Adobe Flash, which has enhanced the online viewing experience of ITV's top shows. Simplified navigation and a fully integrated player design has also allowed for new commercial opportunities, such as sponsorship of the ITV Player as a whole.

- In advertisers' eyes, does professional, commissioned video content command a premium over user-generated content?

Definitely. ITV.com provides a safe environment for advertisers in which they know their brand will appear alongside professional content and not pop up alongside a piece of content that could be brand-damaging.

User-generated content absolutely has its place in the online mix but, for advertisers, the quality viewing experience of ITV.com is attractive.

- How fair is the accusation that traditional broadcasters have been slow to monetise their content online?

The UK VoD market is really only a year old and, in terms of ad revenue, broadcasters took a large percentage of that market last year. 2010 will be the year that planning tools, improved measurement and more advanced targeting options with dynamic ad formats are provided for VoD advertisers, which can only offer a better environment to take advantage of VoD opportunities for all parties.

- Has the case for pre-roll advertising now been proven?

The key for proving the worth of any new form of advertising is a consistent industry-wide measurement of ROI. UKOM will assist in providing advertisers with more planning assistance when putting pre-roll on the digital plan. Broadcasters are all investing in research projects to help advertisers understand more about ad formats across the board. There is growing evidence that a combination of TV advertising plus online VoD ads dramatically drives clients' response rates - as much as doubling them in some instances.

- What are you doing to make online display advertising more lucrative?

We have some of the most popular digital content across drama, soaps, lifestyle and sport programming. In 2010, we will be working closely with the editorial teams to generate unique opportunities for advertisers. That includes display advertising via new formats and innovative platforms which could be microsites or sponsorship. Our Digital Solutions Team will help to package up our inventory in even more compelling ways.

- What is your strategy in terms of sharing your content with the likes of YouTube?

YouTube is a valuable marketing channel for us but at this stage we are focused on ITV.com.

- What has been your most-viewed piece of content and what should we take a look at on your site?

Everyone thinks our most-viewed piece of content to date is Susan Boyle but, in fact, it is another 2009 Britain's Got Talent contestant, Shaheen Jafargholi, who tops the list. I'd recommend you take a look at what we'll be offering for World Cup 2010 on ITV.com - it's going to be very exciting (especially when England make it to the final).

ERROL BARAN - head of online sales, Channel 4

- What are the strengths of your own video-on-demand platform?

We were the first broadcaster to launch a comprehensive VoD platform in December 2006 and Channel 4 is the only UK broadcaster to offer a comprehensive archive service. Since launching 4oD, we have taken a measured approach to the ad-to-content ratio, never over-commercialising the content - maintaining a four x 30-second ad pattern to a 30-minute piece of content even as commercial demand continues to outstrip supply. We have also innovated: launching specific Video Content Lounges, populating bespoke sub-sections of 4oD with programming specific to a client's desired audience and campaign objectives.

- In advertisers' eyes, does professional, commissioned video content command a premium over user-generated content?

Yes - clients are still incredibly reluctant to buy against content that is not premium and professional in its output. The risk of damage to a brand advertising around content that is generated by users and therefore not regulated by the platform is too great. However, controlled and managed UGC can offer some interesting possibilities.

- How fair is the accusation that traditional broadcasters have been slow to monetise their content online?

I don't believe it's an accusation that can be levied at Channel 4. When we launched 4oD in 2006, it was a pay-per-view service and since that time we have deliberately experimented with a range of business models.

- Has the case for pre-roll advertising now been proven?

Pre-roll advertising is still evolving but the 4oD platform is very robust and the continued increases in user figures suggest more and more people are watching programmes on-demand. We have led the way in pre-roll advertising and there are certainly areas where pre-rolls offer huge strengths such as the measured ad to content delivery ratio, the strong arguments around brand recall and the impact VoD viewing has on purchasing intent.

- What are you doing to make online display advertising more lucrative?

Display advertising is still an integral part of Channel 4's digital offering and we have continued to invest and improve our existing online portfolio to ensure it remains at the forefront of online advertising. We have a number of exciting new initiatives planned for 2010 that will further enhance the product. Our "integrated solutions" area of business continues to win awards and drive investment, the majority of which is based around display advertising.

- What is your strategy in terms of sharing your content with the likes of YouTube?

We have now launched the first phase of our content partnership programme with both YouTube and SeeSaw. Syndicating our programmes on a non-exclusive basis allows 4oD to maximise its reach, build market share and consolidate Channel 4's position as the VoD market leader among UK commercial broadcasters.

- What has been your most-viewed piece of content and what should we take a look at on your site?

In January, we broke all previous 4oD records with a very strong roster of programmes, from Glee to The Inbetweeners via Celebrity Big Brother and Skins.

Topics