Can TV Stop the Onslaught of Online Video?

The rise of online video advertising has been relentless. Growth has been rapid, even during the recession years and, according to emarketer, an 83% rise in digital ad spend last year will be followed by a 71% rise this year. In contrast, the fortunes of TV advertising have waxed and waned with the fortunes of the UK economy and only now is growth returning after years of stagnation.It's not hard to see why marketers are so enamoured with online video and TV is losing some of its lustre. Compared to the rapier-like targeting of online video, TV advertising is a blunt-edged tool. Compare TV's broad audience and geographical targeting possibilities with the myriad of options available to online video advertisers - demographic, geographic, contextual and behavioural. On top of that, there's the plethora of meaningful metrics that online video can deliver without significant extra investment - dwell rates, dwell times, completion rates, post click and post impression behaviour.And, of course, with lower entry levels in terms of spend, online video advertising is available to a broader audience. In fact, some studies have even suggested that online video advertising is actually more effective than TV - in terms of general recall, brand recall and message recall.But TV advertising is beginning to fight back and the rally is being led by a new offering from Sky called AdSmart.AdSmart differs from usual TV advertising in that the targeting possibilities are greater - much closer to those offered by online video advertising. So advertisers can target by location, affluence, children’s ages, life stage, and financial outlook using Sky's own data and additional data overlaid by Experian. This not only ensures an advertiser's campaigns are more relevant but also opens up TV advertising to a broader range of brands for whom normal TV advertising would have been too broad and/or too expensive.AdSmart is possible because of dynamic ad server technology which is built-in to Sky+ set-top boxes which ensures the ads sent are personally relevant to each individual home. That makes this form of TV advertising deliverable to around 20% of UK households.The technology has been in a trial for the past 6 months but is now open to all comers. Brands such as Tesco, RBS and Audi have leant their backing to it and proof of the broad appeal of the new service is that a quarter of committed advertisers are new to TV.AdSmart marks one way that the providers of TV are making their offering more attractive but the increasing adoption of internet-connected TV, or smart TVs, will make TV advertising more attractive too.Smart TVs are just another connected device - just one optimized for viewing TV and film in the home. Hence, eventually they'll be able to deliver advertising with the same targeting criteria available to online advertising delivered via a PC, laptop or mobile, and offer the same measurement criteria and interactivity too.This may be some way off - smart TV adoption is creeping up rather than booming and households are often slow to connect their smart TV to the internet - but its eventual arrival is as predictable as the triumph of digital over analogue TV.Once it's arrived, TV advertising will become indistinguishable from online video advertising - a welcome simplification for marketers in a sphere that gets ever more fragmented. However, the challenge then will be to try to join up all that fragmented TV viewing across different devices to deliver a controlled and holistic video advertising experience.