The mobile phone recently celebrated its 40th birthday; a milestone which brought to mind decades of technological evolution, as we recounted its life from its early brick-like design to the all purpose smartphone it is today. The mobile phone is one of myriad devices that have witnessed significant change since its inception.  My back still remembers the TV that took up an entire corner of my living room.  “We are never moving house again.  Ever.”  But move we did, and now I can carry my TV under one arm (useful!) and it is sleek and it is connected to a pipe that delivers all manner of engaging content.

Arguably the humble personal computer has transformed into a multitude of derivative devices, including the not-so-humble phablet – all of them now with their own place in the consumer’s life. In short, we are surging towards the internet of things, where the digital touchpoints to a consumer outnumber the digits they have to touch them.

As has become the standard in this ever evolving landscape, consumers and manufacturers are ahead, and in many cases almost a decade ahead, of the media advertising industry. The scary thing for us media folk is that the landscape will never be less complex than it is now.

The Growth Of Online Video

Let’s look at video specifically.  With super fast broadband (>20Mbps) now available to 65% of the UK and 4G coverage about to grow rapidly, the scene is set for more exponential growth of video consumption to an ever fragmenting melange of platforms and devices. Evidence is already out there that this new landscape is changing viewing habits across many audiences markedly. For example, TV viewing for 16-24 year olds has dipped to around 2.5 hours per day.  This is versus the national average of over 4 hours.  We will no-doubt see this trend continue; quicken even, when considering the constant influx of VoD natives to the market.

Let’s be under no illusion, linear TV is still and will remain the dominant video medium.  By clumsy comparison: commercial impressions in April for online video, according to ComScore, were 1.6 billion versus commercial TV impacts of 80 billion.  The cluttered device ecosystem is complicated further by the fact that users consume across a combination of gadgets at the same time.  Google’s stat claims 77% of TV viewers now use an additional device whilst watching.   As an industry, we must embrace new areas of consumption; investigate these new micro-trends, however small.


Video is being consumed across all these new devices, and so reaching and influencing consumers has never been more complex. It cannot and must not be about just smashing the same video copy out chaotically across all screens without a thought for where the consumer is in their day.  And it isn’t as simple as distributing ad budgets on a channel-by-channel basis, with separate campaigns across TV, online, mobile, tablet and games consoles.  It will be important for digital media companies to spend time and resources understanding the user journey: how audiences behave differently depending on which screen they are watching, in what combination, at what time of day, and in what location.

Early headlines from research Specific Media recently carried out with Decipher suggest that video advertising generates 15% higher brand favourability on tablets than on laptops.  Other research from the Specific Media data vault also makes a compelling case for controlling brand campaign exposure across multiple devices.  Users exposed to adverts on three or more different device types were 10 times more likely to search for that brand online.

There are challenges ahead. Adtech, measurement, validation are all huge areas for improvement, but the key for me is understanding the behaviours that consumers are now exhibiting across the screen ecosystem and using those understandings to deploy media in a more compelling and connected way.

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