What the ‘80s teach us about modern video marketing

Watching a video. The amount of video channels and devices available to viewers and marketers are in the hundreds. They just want to watch their favourite content wherever and whenever it’s right for them. Watching a video. Marketers should now think of content in terms of what is niche content for their audiences. Marketers should strive to seek audiences and not channels. At Google we’ve been experimenting with alternative ad lengths and we’ve found that online video requires more options than traditional TV ads. With so many devices to choose from, and a variety of viewing circumstances, today’s viewers require different ad lengths to capture their attention. Watching a video. Log in with or sign up with Disqus or pick a name Disqus is a discussion network Disqus never moderates or censors.

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Watching a video. Marketers should strive to seek audiences and not channels — the task at hand is to find out what your audiences are consuming and how they consume it. PHOTO | AFP
Watching a video. Marketers should strive to seek audiences and not channels — the task at hand is to find out what your audiences are consuming and how they consume it. PHOTO | AFP

Kenya of the 1980s had only one TV station — the Voice of Kenya (currently known as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation).

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Growing up then we had to wait till 5 pm for the broadcast to begin. This started with the national anthem, followed by my then favourite cartoon shows; He-Man, Master of the Universe and She-Ra, the Princess of Power.

Back in those days there was a singular video option for marketers looking to achieve significant reach through video. Millions of Kenyans would tune in to just a few shows each night, captivated by the antics of a Mama Kayai and the late Mzee Ojwang of Vitimbi.

Today, we’re seeing the opposite. The amount of video channels and devices available to viewers and marketers are in the hundreds. Options to reach people through video have become plentiful. The number of free-to-air TV channels on the digital terrestrial platform is 63.

In addition to free-to-air TV, we have pay-TV services like DSTv, GoTV, Zuku, and Startimes; video on demand services like Netflix and ShowMax and Video sharing websites like YouTube.

In other words, options are many and immensely fragmented. The problem is the captive TV audiences of the 1980s and 90s are now rare. Research shows that nearly half of Kenyans online say they pick up another device and go online while watching TV. Today’s scarce commodity is no longer reach, it is attention.

While the shows and screens have all changed since the ‘80s, many of our viewing habits have stayed the same. There’s a lot marketers can learn from the ‘80s if they’re looking to capture audience attention.

Same time, same place, different screens

So what does the ‘80s viewer have in common with today’s viewer? For one, prime time is still, well, prime.

Across both TV screens and mobile devices, the evening is the most popular time to watch YouTube. In fact, nearly two-thirds of YouTube viewers in Kenya say they access it in the evening.

We may have more devices to turn on, but there’s still no better time to tune in. What today’s viewers have in common with ‘80s viewers is that they share what they watch too. More than 86 per cent tell us they watch YouTube on a mobile device at home, usually in the bedroom or living room.

And almost half watch with other people. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Marketer takeaway

We, as marketers, care about when people watch and what screen they watch on. But our consumers don’t. They just want to watch their favourite content wherever and whenever it’s right for them.

They don’t view online video and TV in silos and if we want their attention, neither should we. Instead of sequencing our buying and planning separately — first by TV, then by online video — we should look at the video opportunity bottom up and treat the entire video ecosystem as one.

Watching a video. Marketers should strive to seek audiences and not channels — the task at hand is to find out what your audiences are consuming and how they consume it. PHOTO | AFP
Watching a video. Marketers should strive to seek audiences and not channels —…

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