Media Industry and Consumers  

Towards a Video Consumer Leaning Spectrum: A Medium-Centric Approach

Traditional television and on-demand viewing, such as streaming platforms like YouTube, are often seen as either lean back or lean forward media with different advertising implications. Recent research suggests that rather than treating these two video platforms as either passive (lean-back) or active (lean-forward), marketers should focus on why and how consumers use TV versus online videos in a converging video landscape through the lens of immersion and engagement.

Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Telecommunication Professor and Director of Media Consumer Research, and colleagues Lisa-Charlotte Wolter and Elisa Dorothee Adam, studied how the traditional and digital video consumption activities differ, what the drivers for the differences are, and how ad effectiveness might be affected because of these video contexts. They discovered that the two video consumption behaviors differ in five aspects: attention, interaction, timing, cognition, and emotion.  And the differences might be driven by physicality, ritualism, intent, content, and engagement.

As far as the implications for advertisers, they describe a “cross-platform fluidity,” meaning advertisers should find ways to create content that is relevant to both traditional television and on-demand viewing and differentiate them by contexts, with these drivers in mind, rather than thinking in terms of the simple lean-back (passive) or lean-forward (active) dichotomy.

According to Chan-Olmsted, the challenge remains that both mediums have very different appeals to viewers. And it’s this diverse interest that influences how they interact with the medium and the advertising on those platforms. Also, video viewability is now multiscreen, so simply grabbing the attention of the viewer is even more difficult. It’s no longer a matter of exposure to ads to raise brand awareness, but instead, to build ad engagement based on relevance to the viewer’s interests through algorithms and data metrics.

The authors explain that not only do marketers need to consider the content in which their ad appears, but also new viewer expectations delineated by the device. Advertisers must cast a wide net because programming is so fragmented, and viewers expect different kinds of content depending on how they’re consuming the programming.

For example, a viewer might watch a late-night comedy show on their traditional television, a YouTube clip on their computer, and a Tik Tok video on their phone. And, in some cases, they may do this all at the same time. While the same individual is viewing all three, the advertising content they have come to expect differs depending on the device. Advertisers will have to be conscious of this and attempt to adjust accordingly.

In addition, context-specific ad experiences will need to be crafted, which can be difficult since both platforms vary in their program offerings and appeal. Marketers will be forced to take into consideration key video consumption drivers such as mood and emotion while creating the most cost-effective ad that can cross both platforms.

The original article, “Towards a Video Consumer Leaning Spectrum: A Medium-Centric Approach,” originally appeared in the Journal of Media Management in Spring 2020 Vol. 1, Issue 2.

Authors: Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, Lisa-Charlotte Wolter, Elisa Dorothee Adam

This summary was written by Dana Hackley, Ph.D.

Posted: October 30, 2020
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