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Online and TV Get Hitched

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The technology is there for online and TV advertising to converge, but are ad agencies prepared?

Convergence of communication devices has been a concept discussed for nearly the last 20 years as something that will happen. But today it is a reality and guess what - it isn't a keyboard connected to your connected TV playing online video or your TV playing on a mobile device.

There is no longer TV, online, or mobile specific video - it is all just digital video. Video has converged on a digital platform through the advancements and adoptions in both consumer and marketing technologies. Think of it as engagement everywhere - a marriage of online and TV.

As consumers, we are actually watching more television now than ever before in history and 60% of us are on a second screen device while we are "watching" TV. So why does this matter so much to marketers?

TV content and advertising is not shifting to online, in fact they are both growing together and more importantly the lines are starting to blur. Most people are now familiar with the "in-stream" ads that play online before a requested video, which can often offer a near identical experience to the same spots on TV. Traditional agencies and agency departments are responsible for trafficking and measuring in-stream video, yet they are faced with an endless amount of requirements and varying standards with each publisher's video player. This inefficiency is time consuming and costing significant money to agencies, and in turn to their clients.

I spent the last month traveling and educating TV account planners and broadcast traffickers on the in's and out's of online marketing - the past and the present, and discussing the future of the marketing industry. One of the themes that came out of these discussions is everything is becoming digital - :30 TV spots to billboards to mobile devices. If a connected screen exists, it is a digital channel.

The folks I've spent time with agree, but something is missing. The missing piece is the cross channel infrastructure -- a way for agencies and advertisers to strategize and buy their media, execute and distribute the media efficiently, and measure in a consolidated view that shows results across digital channels.

It's time for a revolution - a video revolution led by agencies and advertisers, who themselves are converging teams and resources. I've spotted a trend, I'm sure many of you have seen it as well -- more titles and group names at agencies with the word "integrated". Unfortunately, even if a portion of folks are changing their mindset, by and large the agency's perspective of these screens is that they are separate parts of a campaign versus a more holistic view of seeing everything as a channel in one overall initiative.

The result is that you have different groups within one agency that are siloed which is a challenge, but you also have completely different agencies working together or at least working for the same client that causes more than a lack of cohesiveness but ineffectiveness when using multiple channels for a video-rich campaign.

So what's the solution?

What we'll see are more technology providers developing more solutions that are flexible enough for any agency or a multitude of agencies to accomplish their responsibilities for a complete digital story.

Through new ad management and ad serving solutions, agencies are able to achieve the same success they have had through 3rd party ad servers for display and search campaigns online, but now in the cross channel video space. Single video sources optimized and distributed with advanced tracking is a reality and the agencies and brands that have adopted this approach are seeing increased efficiencies in their workflow and costs.

There are countless number of success stories improving the workflow of agencies by taking a TV spot and distributing it across any screen. A single platform that is flexible enough for agencies/advertisers to execute their campaigns across channels tells a complete story to hyper-connected, digitally omnivorous consumers.

What would happen if buying and management platforms could begin to include all sorts of digital channels? What about cross-channel video reporting?

I stunned a long-time broadcast planner last week, when answering her question on how quickly technology solution providers are able to provide insights and analysis for online video campaigns - updated every hour. She looked at my colleague on our TV sales team, who she's worked with for nearly two decades and said "One hour, could you imagine?!" We can and we do. This is a revolution born out of the marriage of TV and online.

As consumers, we don't consciously think about where, when, how, and on what screen we watch video - we want it on whatever, whenever, wherever -- this is the new WWW Marketers need to move past thinking in silos about a fragmented consumer on different screens, and connect content and ads to customers across all digital video channels.

This article was co-written with Ryan K Manchee, MediaMind's resident technology visionary and creative strategist for North and Latin America, providing agencies, marketers and our technology partners with a prescient and strategic perspective on the shifting media landscape. Follow him at @rmanchee