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To Everything, There Is A Season

by Anthony Bontrager on July 7, 2009

“To everything (turn, turn, turn),

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)”

— The Byrds

Allow me to go old school for a minute with The Byrds reference. Back in the 60’s, “mobile” was a VW van that actually worked, and “video” meant lazy afternoons watching Gilligan’s Island, The Avengers and the original Star Trek on a state-of-the art 13” Zenith (with no remote control, of course).

Flash-forward 40+  years to the summer of 2009 and in many ways things haven’t changed. We’re still in love—maybe more in love— with the images, storylines and personalities that we watch everyday.  What’s radically different today isn’t what we watch, but how we watch. The way consumers are getting their video is changing, and that change will impact not only viewers, but content programmers and advertisers as well.

If Roger McGuinn from 1965 stepped into a time machine to 2009, he’d still see kids on summer vacation watching their favorite shows.  Except in 2009, they are watching video through different kinds of screens—in their living rooms, on their desks, and in their hands.  We still connect with on-screen personalities much like the 60’s when Walter Cronkite, Chet Hutley or David Brinkley shaped our view of the world.  Except now we have greater control over when we want to bring Bill O’Reilly, Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper, and a myriad of niche influencers onto our screens.

Technology has empowered consumers to become programmers who dictate what they watch, where they watch, and when they watch.  Our ability to obtain compelling information, on multiple topics and across multiple platforms continues to grow at a dizzying rate.  Just look at the iPhone’s penetration into the American mainstream.  A few weeks ago Apple announced it sold 1 million iPhone 3GS’s… in just 3 days.  Earlier in April the iPhone App Store surpassed 1 billion downloads in just 9 months, thanks to the tens of millions of iPhones in the hands of consumers around the world.

It’s not a stretch to assume the iPhone played a big part in the 52.2% growth in the U.S. mobile video audience that Nielsen reported earlier this year.  Nielsen also discovered that in the first quarter of 2009, mobile video users watched videos on their handheld devices on average longer than on their computer screens. That’s evolution at work.

So what does this mean to content owners and advertisers?

For content owners it could mean a unique opportunity to experiment with different offerings – new programming themes, short-form vs. long-tail, etc.  Content producers should create, distribute, test and refine the programming to suit consumers.  Audiences today demand quality and relevancy to their interests.

Advertisers should continue to experiment with new approaches to deliver targeted messages to more specific audiences.  Understand where your target audience is going to find video content.  If approached correctly, the right messaging at the right time could increase both your brand affinity and the ROI of your ad buy.

Hmm.  With all of this opportunity in front of us, who has time to relax this summer?

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