News & Views

Opinion / From TV to Screens: Making the Changes

by Contagious Contributor
Video doesn’t just run on TV, it gets distributed on mobiles, tablets and laptops too. John Svendsen, global brand director, Media at Millward Brown, explains five key changes that brands can make to ensure creative works on digital as well as TV



The way we watch video is changing. No surprises there, perhaps but the scale of the switch globally is remarkable.

Our recent AdReaction Video study found that TV, both live and on-demand, now accounts for only half of all video viewing, with the rest split between smartphone, tablet and laptops.

In the most extreme of the 42 markets studied, South Korea, 30% of all video viewing by multiscreen viewers is smartphone based, significantly ahead of the global average of 22%.

Adapting to this new world of screens requires marketers to take a more considered approach. They can no longer simply take their TV ads and distribute them everywhere, if they ever could.

Underlining the change is the need to finally grasp the fact that video messages are watched digitally in different circumstances (different locations, social settings and mindsets), and in each context very different video advertising formats are deployed.

They need to get this right because the range of digital options extends every day. The landscape will only get more complex in terms of formats and platforms but those brands that understand how to make video work on laptops, tablets and screens and are aware of what’s acceptable and what’s not on each platform, will be able to cope with whatever the future might throw at them.

A key move will be the need to adapt in five key ways if they want their digital messages to be as effective as their TV advertising:

Put the consumer in control: If you want consumers to watch your ads, and on digital they have a choice, you need to give them control. Globally, perceived control is the main driver of ad receptivity and people are much more receptive to ads if they feel they have greater control over ad exposure.

This applies across all devices but particularly for smartphones, where small screens can make ads seem invasive.

Careful selection of formats that hand the consumer an early exit option, such as YouTube’s TrueView format, makes them slightly more receptive to digital video than traditional TV advertising.

Adding rewards gives digital a much stronger edge but mobile app pop ups are a definite no-no, closely followed by pre-rolls.



Get your message in early: There is a creative consequence to giving control to consumers. It means that the audience drops off rapidly. While advertisers may not pay if the ad is skipped, brands need to focus on capturing attention in the first few seconds.

To do that they need to actively consider digital early in the creative development process to ensure that brands are clearly recognized early in the content and any key messages are conveyed right from the start.

Make them laugh: Every country has its own sense of humour but the best way to ensure that consumers with control don’t click away is to make them laugh. Humour was the top reason for sticking with ads in 30 of 42 countries studied, with a global average of 37% of consumers citing it as the most powerful incentive to watch.

Other popular reasons for sticking with an ad were interest in the category (30%), an interesting brand (29%) and rewards such as coupons or points (29%).

Remember the smallest screen: Agencies that are fixated on TV aren’t going to create digital friendly ads. Even at the most simple level, close ups need to be closer for consumers who watch on a smartphone or tablet.

Make sure targeting is appropriate: Consumers want digital targeting to stick to the fine line between relevant targeting and stalking.

Globally consumers are most favourable about ads from brands they like or follow, those that are in line with their interests, relate to online shopping history or the context of the site they are visiting. Targeting by specific brands and personal interests increases the potential for video ads to be viewed.

Overt targeting based on social media profile and search history is regarded significantly less favourably.

The world of video may be getting more complex but marketers can take simple steps to ensure they maximize the power of digital screens in addition to TV.