Does digital video consumption lead to square eyes?

Does digital video consumption lead to square eyes?

By Nick Moon, Group Digital Account Director

As a child my parents would warn me about getting square eyes as a result of sitting too close or watching too much TV. We now consume more video content than ever before on more devices, but are parents still regaling this phrase with a modern twist?

Digital advertising is set to overtake TV advertising. This is the headline I have been presented with. It is one that has popped up a lot of late in relation to the US media landscape. In contrast and according to the IAB, the UK experienced this transition back in 2009 and we are now on the verge of mobile display overtaking TV in its own right. This change in the media landscape strongly correlates with average daily media consumption. eMarketer reports digital media will account for 55% of all daily media consumption in 2017, with TV accounting for 32%.

Although not completely comparing apples with apples, if we isolate digital video consumption and compare it with TV video consumption then it tells a very different story. eMarketer expects UK adults to spend 53-minutes per day with video in 2017, up more than double year-on-year. TV is expected to account for 3-hours and 1-minute.

These headlines are all attention grabbing and create a sense that individual media channels are competing much like sports teams compete for a championship. The reality is very different. We are not seeing the death of TV, but more so a signal to the death of traditional broadcast TV as we know it. Digital is driving innovation in TV to deliver video content with greater convenience, greater accessibility across connected devices and greater personalised quality content.

BARB data shows traditional viewing habits are marginally down year-on-year in the UK overall, but any decline is more than offset by an increase in time-shifted video consumption. It is no surprise that this shift in consumer behaviour is most significant among younger generations who have grown up in a digital native society. Ofcom recently found youngsters aged 5-15 were spending more time online watching video content than via TV sets, and 8-15 years olds even preferred YouTube over TV. The irony in this statistic is that I was recently at a YouTube event where they stated the biggest growing device for consuming YouTube content was connected TVs. This highlights my point of blurred lines between the two channels.

Whilst YouTube has established itself as the leader for video content online, I believe it is Facebook that will present the biggest threat to traditional TV viewing. The platform already traverses the biggest growing digital channels in video, mobile and social, not to mention this is combined with an evolving infinite bank of data. With recent moves to develop apps and infiltrate the connected TV space, it is only a matter of time before Facebook begins to utilise this data to influence how people discover and watch video content. At the moment, the Facebook newsfeed uses algorithms to serve users personalised multimedia content. Imagine this on TV. Live breaking news in your local area triggered by a high-velocity increase in conversation among users within the vicinity of that location. Live sport or highlights based on the sports teams you follow or talk most about amongst your socialsphere. Or a specific documentary or film based on the time of day and the fact many of your friends are or have also viewed it. With news that Facebook are commissioning original content in much the same way that YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime have done, they have the potential to combine quality content with superior targeting capabilities to establish itself as a real threat to traditional TV.

For advertisers, how to traverse this multifaceted ecosystem is an additional challenge. They have to prepare for a generation who spend more time with digital video, subscribe more to ad-free video platforms and who may not even own a TV set. A generation where digital video consumption is so natural that they are born with square eyes in accordance with Darwin’s theory of evolution.


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