It’s easier than ever to make TV (or TV-like content) for digital platforms – although making good TV is another challenge entirely – but finding an audience and making money is the true challenge.

Anne de Kerckhove, managing director for France and Southern Europe at Collider, ran a masterclass session at MIPCube this morning titled ‘Maximising the Value of Digital and TV Content, Across Platforms, in an Audience-based World’.

“Video cross-platform is in huge demand. Brands are looking to advertise on TV, but also on digital platforms,” she said.

If you are in the content business, please produce a lot of video, and please produce it on all devices, because we need more premium video content. There’s more demand from brands than we actually find supply.”

Brands also want to know who their audience is, though. “It’s not enough to just put your content on a platform. The brands are getting more and more demanding in terms of who the audience is. They want to interest with ‘their user’.”

De Kerckhove said that fundamentally, this all comes to connections: content finding its audience, and brands finding theirs too, as well as the content through which to reach them.

She also talked about how people’s media usage is evolving. The primary screen is still the TV screen, but “we are now constantly on tablets, on our mobiles, and constantly multi-tasking… we are in a multi-screen world where fundamentally every screen is important.”

De Kerckhove noted that 43% of users start content on one screen, then finish that piece of content on another – this was from some Google research. “We need to follow that user,” she said, noting also that context is important: a user at 8am may have very different needs to that same user at 8pm.

It’s really important not to draw conclusions out of one single behaviour of a consumer, but to really mix multiple data points to get a picture of who you are,” she said.

By 2017, digital video ad spending is expected to hit $60bn, said Kerckhove, who warned the industry not to ignore mobile video amid the excitement about second-screen activity.

“We don’t talk enough about mobile probably yet at MIPTV, because it’s not a medium we’re particularly comfortable with yet, but it’s extremely powerful… Smartphone penetration is immense, and we use our phones to watch content all the time.”

De Kerckhove noted that these shifting viewing habits are making the world a more complex place for broadcasters, publishers and content distributors alike, and warned that “we’re spending too much time doing the mechanics of deals, rather than the value of deals, which is getting the content to audiences.”

Brands and advertisers love this new environment, on the other hand, including the ability to advertise on multiple devices. Kerckhove pinpointed “massive shifts” in budgets from TV to on-demand video and mobile.

But their challenge is figuring out how to measure success. They’ve gotten used to the idea that they can “measure everything” in the digital world. That’s why they can be tough to work with today.

“For them to sign off on any marketing plan, they’ve got to get a return on investment, and their CFO literally expects it in a spreadsheet with a number,” she said.

There’s a lot more science, maths and data than there used to be for these advertisers, and Kerckhove said the TV industry can’t afford to ignore this. “But it must not overtake content by the way. Content is still king, the audience is still queen. Maths is just the underlying tool behind it.”

She said tracking users across devices may be difficult, but it’s essential. And she advised publishers to invest in their own tools for doing this rather than waiting for brands to tell them how campaigns should be measured. “Don’t be passive, be super super pro-active in this field,” said Kerckhove.

Companies like Nielsen are working on tools to track campaigns across devices, drawing on data from Facebook, which Kerckhove hailed as an important development.

She also warned publishers not to take for granted who their audience is – she cited publishers convinced that 85% of their audience is female, who discover when they dig into the data that actually, it’s more like 60%. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, because ads can be sold against the 40% that are male.

Don’t take for granted that you know who your audience is. Find out who it really is, and you’ll find some amazing new sources of monetisation,” said De Kerckhove.

She also advised publishers that they shouldn’t be trying to get single campaigns from brands, but rather year-round commitments. “You shouldn’t cut the deals of ‘I’ve managed to do this deal with one advertiser for one campaign!’… Try to get the advertisers who invest on a long-term basis.”

De Kerckhove also criticised advertisers trying to slap 30-second TV ads onto mobile, rather than making something more relevant for the medium – a 10-second spot with a call to action, perhaps. Publishers must be prepared to challenge brands on this kind of thing too.

“It’s really important to have a really open dialogue between the publishers and the advertisers to bring a bit of reality and truth to what is good and what isn’t,” she said.

Finally, creative formats. Kerckhove said publishers must invest in tools to make interactive content. “People aren’t interested any more in plain video… Users are now expecting some interaction,” she said.

“If your medium doesn’t allow interactive video, then invest in a couple of technologies that will, because advertisers are spending so much of their money there now… Brands really want that interactivity, and so do your users, so it’s a win-win.”

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Stuart Dredge is a freelance journalist, and a regular contributor to Music Ally, The Week Junior, and more... including MIPBlog :)

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