Jan 14, 2020

Why is Audience Attention Changing?

Approximately 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and users watch almost 5 billion videos every day - consumer behaviour towards long-form content is changing and brands must adapt accordingly.

  • According to Ofcom, almost half of UK households have subscribed to video-on-demand subscription services.
  • In the past, short-form was thought to be the best medium to engage millennials based on the assumption that they are incapable of concentrating for more than a 15-30 second advertisement.
  • When considering today’s fragmented TV experience and growing video subscription service landscape, does it come as a surprise that 81% of consumers between the ages of 14-35 are willing to tolerate more advertising to achieve their desired viewing experience?

“70% of consumers would rather pay for premium content than experience a free, ad-supported service.” CLICKON Social Labs.

Studies have shown that millennials are capable of concentrating for longer than the typical short-form advertisement, and as a result, marketers must alter their content to provide this key demographic with what they will engage with the most.

The McCarthy group found that 84% of millennials do not like the traditional, shorter form of marketing, with their main reason being a lack of trust towards these advertisements.

Furthermore, in a survey conducted by Adweek, 57% of millennials were willing to view content from a brand on the basis that it showcased authentic personalities, is entertaining and provides value.

The assumption that advertising needs to be in line with the apparent shorter concentration span from millennials is lacking sufficient evidence due to the recent surge in video-on-demand subscription services, for example, Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, demonstrating that, given the right content, millennials are perfectly capable of concentrating for a longer period of time.

This change in behaviour is most obvious amongst those aged between 16-24 years old, whose viewing of traditional TV has almost halved in recent years. Overall, the study states there was a total of 19.1 million video-on-demand subscriptions in the UK alone in 2019, which had risen from 15.4 million in 2018. In light of this, it is evident that consumers want long-form, they want the option of ad-free content, and they want high-quality content.

Why have VOD subscriptions taken off?

The expectation for the future is that consumers will have access to high-quality video content wherever they go, and thanks to mobile phones, this expectation is already fast becoming a reality. For example, when taking into account the rush hour commute, you can usually notice at least one person on the underground watching a video on their phone. It has now become the 'norm’ to access media wherever people are. Longer videos are no longer an issue to view on a mobile phone thanks to public WiFi, improved video delivery, unlimited data plans, and HD download.

There are many reasons why consumers are so inclined to subscribe for VOD. The main reason users pay for Netflix is for convenience, so they can continue watching Netflix original, ‘Stranger Things’ on their commute to work, or ‘The Witcher’ while waiting for a doctor's appointment. 

Convenience as the main motivation to purchase VOD has risen from 39% to 43% in the last year.

What does this mean for marketers?

Now that viewers are moving away from scheduled, linear TV and towards on-demand subscription sites that are ad-free, there is an increased risk that brands will find it harder to reach certain audiences.

However, Ofcom’s most recent report states that ad-free streaming services only represent a relatively small, 19% of 16-34 year-olds’ daily TV viewing habits. While the rise in popularity of subscription services is inevitable, traditional broadcasters are still regularly delivering significant volumes of advertising to viewers during peak programmes, so there are still plenty of opportunities for marketers to reach and engage at this time. It is more important than ever that marketers are smarter and more selective about the way they reach their target audiences.

According to a study conducted by Amdocs, 71% of consumers aged 22-35 stated they are willing to provide personal data in return for a more personalised and condensed subscription bundle. Furthermore, two-thirds of consumers between 14-21 year-olds agreed, but only 42% of 51-65 year-olds would contribute to this exchange.

While there is a worry for both marketers and subscription sites that ad-free services could contribute to engagement challenges, it appears that when offered the correct exchange, viewers seem to be more open to personalised ads than first assumed, if it provides a means to supplement future increased costs.

While there is nothing in line to replace TV advertising, the acceptance of ads especially on video subscription services will only be accepted by consumers if it comes as part of an exchange. The streaming platforms will need to provide a near-perfect viewing package at a reasonable price in exchange for personal data, allowing them to target their audiences.

Premium content subscription platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, have triggered a change in behaviour amongst consumers, leading the way for new releases, Apple TV+ and Disney+ towards the end of 2019. Consumers now desire high-quality content on demand and the rapid increase in VOD subscriptions makes evident that long-form video is the future.