ANALYSIS: Why video deserves a larger share - Pre-recorded videos give advertisers the chance to target a demographically predictable audience. So, asks Nic Lewisohn, why aren’t more taking advantage of the medium?

Advertising on videos is very much on the increase. The number of campaigns using the medium has more than doubled over the past four years, and the users read like a roll-call of blue-chip TV advertisers, including Nestle Rowntree, Sony, Scottish Courage, Volkswagen and SmithKline Beecham.

Advertising on videos is very much on the increase. The number of

campaigns using the medium has more than doubled over the past four

years, and the users read like a roll-call of blue-chip TV advertisers,

including Nestle Rowntree, Sony, Scottish Courage, Volkswagen and

SmithKline Beecham.

In spite of this, the sector’s ad revenue for 1999 was probably less

than pounds 10m, which is roughly what TV takes in a day. When one looks

at pre-recorded videos’ viewing share, this figure is surprising (see

box below).

The average household watches pre-recorded videos for about 90 minutes a

week - two-thirds as much as their Channel 5 viewing and nearly three

times Sky One’s figure. Yet its advertising take is disproportionately


Perhaps one reason is that many advertisers do not regard video as a TV

channel, but as an offshoot of cinema.

Viewing patterns

Indeed, there are strong analogies between video and cinema in their

pattern of viewing, in the type of audience they attract and in the way

that audience is segmented.

In both media, and unlike TV, the audience to a particular film/tape is

spread over a significant time period, although the great bulk of

viewing takes place within a few weeks after its release.

Leading videos can achieve audiences in excess of four million, which is

not only greater than any cinema film, but also beats nearly all TV

programmes outside BBC1 and ITV.

On average, video viewers are markedly younger and more male-oriented

than TV viewers, but, like cinema films, videos produce segmented

audiences. The demographics of viewers for The Matrix, for example, are

predictably different from those for Notting Hill.

In multi-channel homes, terrestrial channels’ audience share fell


But pre-recorded videos’ share was the same in both multi-channel and

terrestrial households. As new channels proliferate and multi-channel

access grows, video’s strength in this area will become increasingly


But advertisers and agencies have a further doubt about video

advertising: by definition, videos are watched on tape, so ads can be

zipped through to reach the film. So there is a reasonable question as

to the extent that video ads are seen.

But analysis of Broadcast Audience Research Board (BARB) data by Media

Vision Research (MVR) suggests that this problem is not as serious as

might be imagined. On average, over 60% of advertising on a video is

watched, and the figure is even higher when the ads are tailored to fit

the audience profile the video will attract.

Perhaps advertisers should look more closely at the advantages of


One is sheer audience size. At a rough estimate, people spend ten times

as long watching pre-recorded videos as they do films in cinemas. Since

long-term advertising forecasts now tip cinema as one of the fastest

growing ad media of the next decade, it seems odd that pre-recorded

videos, which appear to share some of the perceived advantages of

cinema, should not also benefit.

A second plus for video is the ease with which its reach and efficiency

can be evaluated. This is quite exceptional for a tiny ad medium, and

only occurs because of the happy accident that BARB measures video

viewing in total, so its meters can recognise which individual video is

being watched through a unique encoding process operated by MVR.

In this way, an agency using MVR analyses of the BARB data can determine

exactly how much the addition of a video to a general TV campaign

increases cover in key demographic areas.

Given the penchant of light TV viewers to watch videos, case studies

show that the results from even quite small, carefully chosen video

additions can prove to be spectacular.

Pre-recorded video will probably never become a major ad medium, with

its revenue probably not even approaching that of cinema. In view of the

significant and growing opportunities it offers to advertisers, perhaps

it is rather more minor than it ought to be. But the recent increase in

the number of video campaigns suggests that more people are beginning to

recognise the possibilities. L


                                  All Homes      Cable/           Cable/

                       All Homes   Share of   Satellite  Satellite Homes

                       Avg Hours    Viewing   Homes Avg Share of Viewing

                         (hh:mm)        (%)  Hrs(hh:mm)              (%)

Pre-recorded video          1:23        3.3        1:35              3.3

Sky One                     0:33        1.3        1:39              3.6

Sky Movies                  0:10        0.4        0:31              1.1

Sky Moviemax                0:16        0.6        0:39              1.7

Sky News                    0:10        0.4        0:29              1.0

Other Satellite/Cable       5:11       11.0       13:43             27.3

Total satellite/cable       5:33       13.2       17:33             34.7

BBC 1                      11:26       26.4        9:30             19.6

BBC 2                       4:27       10.4        3:24              6.6

ITV                        12:31       28.9       11:28             22:8

Channel 4                   4:32       10.0        3:26              6.9

Channel 5                   2:28        5.0        1:35              3.5

Total terrestrial TV       34:35       80.7       29:29             59.4

Source: MVR VideoTrak MediaWatch January to December 1999


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