Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The age of screen strategies.

Video content, regardless of the type of screen on which it appears, was the star topic at this week's UBS global media and communications conference.

TV advertising is not dead, as many people mistakenly proclaim. Worldwide spending on television advertising is growing. Viewership remains strong, albeit increasingly splintered.

But this fact hides the bigger opportunity for marketers — it's no longer about television, it's about "screens."

I watch football live on my TV, but I stream CNN live on my iPad. I DVR "Modern Family" but use Hulu+ for my daily dose of Stewart, Colbert and Portlandia. Other times I stream "Once Upon a Time" (my guilty pleasure) on abc.com.

Even my "print" is on a screen, mostly The New York Times and Wired on my mobile appendages.

All of these screens provide ample opportunities marketers to employ sight, sound and motion — the building blocks of memorable storytelling.

TV advertising became king in its day because of the persuasiveness of sight, sound and motion. Unlike the original Mad Men, we now have myriad opportunities to use this branding tactic. (That's why I believe this is truly the most exciting time in our business.)

The key to an effective screen strategy is not simply to create video content, but to determine in advance ways to seamlessly integrate and link these storytelling assets. For example, the SMS call to action in the print should lead to product demonstration videos that subsequently link me to customer testimonial videos on the website. Using screens is smart; connecting screens is smarter.

The successful screen strategies are those that create custom content for each screen's unique context and experience. For example, shows on Hulu+ or abc.com are usually sponsored by a single advertiser. The common mistake is to run one TV commercial four times (and be annoyingly repetitive) and miss the opportunity tell an ever-deeper story in four chapters. (Remember, unlike TV, online viewers cannot skip the ads.)

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