Out Of Home or In Home – The Consumer is the Same According to the DPAA

It is easy to see how different sectors of the media industry are converging when one attends a series of conferences over the span of a fortnight. From Television Week’s selection of panels to the Livefronts for streaming video to, most recently, the DPAA, it is evident that while the modes of content delivery may vary, the opportunities and challenges to the various business models are sounding eerily similar.

The DPAA is especially interesting because while it has always operated in out of home media consumption, the digitization of content has moved it squarely into the vortex of cross platform content competition. Barry Frey, President and CEO of the DPAA, noted the change in the business by stating, “Content is becoming even more important. What use to be paper and plastic is now digital.”

Attention (On Any Platform) is the Holy Grail
Rich Greenfield, Media & Tech Analyst at BTIG, noted that he is “seeing a meaningful change in behavior. We are spending life looking down - staring at our phones. Engagement has shifted from the TV to the phone and that is wreaking havoc with the legacy TV ecosystem. There is a fundamental shift in behavior.” So engagement has become at once vitally important and increasingly ephemeral. According to Greenfield, because of the vast choice of content on demand, “We are better at maximizing the utility of our time than ever before.” And while there is a shift in power, with TV possibly becoming a secondary platform to mobile, massive change will not happen overnight. “It will take a while,” admitted Greenfield.

Challenges Are Universal – From Metrics to Ad Length
There is nothing quite as vexing as trying to formulate a more relevant measurement metric for cross platform while legacy measurement for legacy media (ratings) are declining. “We can talk about the fact that ratings are down a lot but engagement is down a lot more,” stated Greenfield. “So what do you do? Mobile hasn't figured out how to create a robust viewing engagement. How do you monetize Facebook live?” he asked.
The effectiveness of commercial formats will differ by platform. Thirty second spots may be too long for viewers using handhelds and the timing of ads within content can be a sensitive decision for advertisers. Greenfield wondered, “Do you cut away to commercial? Do you overlay?” How can we create opportunities for new forms of advertising in a world where consumers are not getting the same level of engagement? And it’s not just the format and placement. It is also the creative which poses its own set of challenges. “Society at large is very distracted. And they can't really multitask because attention drops,” according to Bonin Bough, Host for the Cleveland Hustles.

Corporations are Re-focusing their Goals
Challenges are leading to a corporate reassessment. Whether an agency or an advertiser, the proliferation of consumer choices heats up competition for attention and fuels the need for companies to refocus. Doug Ray, CEO, Carat explained that, “We are a media agency and have to start to think of ourselves as an audience and people based agency. The way people are engaging with content is not linear anymore. Viewing video is at an all-time high. So we now follow the consumer to help us bridge this disparate ecosystem and help our clients sell more product.” But agency clients are often enmeshed in legacy thinking. “TV is still the greatest driver of sales contribution but there has been an erosion of its contribution over the past several years. And we will continue to see the erosion of results for our clients,” he noted. “The answer,” he continued, “is to start thinking more about people. Audience first; How to find them, how they engage with screen and how to measure the success of that engagement.”

The industry moves slowly and, arguably, too cautiously. In this era of accelerated change we must not only be nimble but also strategic. As Lou Paskalis, SVP, Enterprise Media Panning, Investment and Measurement for Bank of America, concluded, “We need to measure what matters, understanding what is relevant. Diagnostics like reach and frequency won't get us there anymore. The return is in relationship not the transaction.”

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