The news that Facebook and Apple are set to invest in original TV content may look surprising at first, given that neither has traditionally originated content.
But their entry into the TV world was perhaps inevitable, given Google’s market leadership in online video via YouTube, Amazon’s increasing investment into Prime and the rise of Netflix. Suddenly TV is the in-vogue battleground.
Just this week, Apple announced it has recruited Jay Hunt, the outgoing chief creative officer of Channel 4, to be creative director for Worldwide Video in Europe.
It is further evidence of the enduring power of TV as an entertainment and information medium that acts as a magnet for viewers, subscriptions and advertising revenue. Addressability and interactivity complete the picture as TV becomes internet-delivered.
It seems the death of TV has been greatly exaggerated.
And it remains the preferred medium for advertisers. WARC have recently published their overview of the Cannes Lions award winners and discovered, to no-one’s surprise, that emotionally powerful content is the most effective way to generate people’s interest and influence their attitudes and behaviour. And, shock horror, TV does this best, however delivered.
This year’s Lions judging processed examined the business effectiveness of creativity and even the lower budget winners used TV (including online video) as a lead channel.
The Cannes Lions prove once again that there is a linear connection between 'good' (i.e. award-winning) creative and sales uplifts, and any doubts can be dispelled by watching the case study from India for Ariel and the 'penitentiary' treatment from Persil to agree.
It is fitting that P&G and Unilever continue to show the world how to build brands through strong emotional connections, given that they have to work hard to excite interest in detergents. The fact that they succeed so admirably is a testament to the power of imagination.
It is also striking that even the low-budget winners in Cannes used 'video' and even linear TV to drive success.
Meanwhile, there has been much trade press comment recently about how the move to digital is leading to a loss of focus on long-term brand building, and there is undoubtedly some truth in this. But it doesn’t have to be either/or. Great advertising can have a significant effect in the short-term too.
For example, John Lewis understand the power of a great campaign in the run-up to a season that delivers 40% of their business. Their much-anticipated Christmas TV campaigns act as the centre-piece for a multi-media campaign where the online distribution of the TV content is a critical component.
The art of advertising is to engage people’s interest and change attitudes and behaviour. This doesn’t have to be a slow burn.
The fact that great creative work can produce both short- and long-term results shouldn’t surprise anyone, but sometimes lessons have to be re-learned as knowledge that has been built up over decades is ignored in favour of the latest fad or theory.
For example, anyone going to Cannes this year could be forgiven for thinking that Artificial Intelligence is going to replace everything (even people). Back in the real world, the reality is rather different, especially for advertisers who have to concern themselves with the mundane business of selling product on a daily basis, i.e. most advertisers.
While great media planning and execution is increasingly needed to improve effectiveness, the messaging is still the most important part of the mix.
It's not hard these days to make a bit of video, but the craft of producing a carefully constructed and effective narrative takes experience, skill, time and money. Not every brand can or should afford it, but the multiplier effect can justify the pay-back many times over, and with multiple outlets for good video content available, it's more affordable than ever before.
Another new school of thought is that a strong connection can be made in six seconds, about the time it takes to read this sentence. It's hard to believe that even the most attention-lacking 'millennial' can be moved and influenced enough in such a short time-span to change ingrained behaviour. The creative world should not kowtow to the industry’s perceptions of how long people tolerate an ad; they should aim to engage people through creativity to stay with longer forms.
Television advertising is still the best way to advertise and we have plenty of evidence to prove it. With the added benefits of addressability and interactivity, with lots of data to improve targeting via programmatic delivery, we are now entering the next phase of the evolution of media, with TV at its centre.
Nick Manning is chief strategy officer at Ebiquity