Should You Repurpose TV Ads for the Web?

When you look at a TV set and a desktop monitor, do you see the same appliances? Or do you see wholly different kinds of screens, burning the irises of different demographics and carrying different imports to viewers?

With digital streaming catching up with TV viewing, such questions are shaking up the marketing world. But media buyers and creative agencies alike are united in one question: To repurpose TV advertisements for online screens or not?

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For many, the answer still seems to be the former. In the first quarter of 2013, 90 percent of video ads in America were still repurposed, i.e. existing TV spots simply transferred to the web, as opposed to content designed for the Internet in particular.

Is the opportunity cost higher for those who just repurpose? Or is the status quo sustainable? Let’s find out the merits of both.

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For Repurposing TV Ads
From one perspective, an online video channel is just another screen. Therefore, using an all-inclusive approach, in which the creation is distributed over the Net as on TV, makes obvious, if not cost-effective, sense for many marketers.

This view seems to be corroborated by a 2013 study conducted by Scot McLernon and Travis Hockersmith of Yuma. Their study, “Creative Best Practices in Online Video Advertising,” touched on, among others, the schism between repurposing and making ads for the web.

Their conclusion: Synchronizing your creative online and offline, i.e. repurposing TV spots for online and offline consumption, can maximize reach.

Dynamic Logic also compared repurposed, and original web content. Similarly, they found that it “wasn’t necessarily the case that repurposed was inferior” to made-for-Web. When it came to brand awareness, the repurposed TV ads were not any better-performing than spots built for online viewing.

According to Millward Brown, repurposed spots may even have a “media-multiplier effect” on your campaign.

Not for Repurposing TV Ads
However, McLernon and Hockersmith’s study also found that original web creative are the most effective. In-stream video particularly trumps the performance of not only in-banner video but almost all other media.

Moreover, Dynamic Logic’s findings suggest that made-for-web content surpasses repurposed in conversions, or as they put it, “purchase intent.” They also concluded that made-for-web content makes the most impact on the viewer upon first viewing alone, compared with four viewings for repurposed spots.

Such disparity in the effects of exposure may be attributed to the fact that TV audiences tend to be more passive with spectacle than online viewers. Online viewers are more engaged with ads, and at the extreme, ready to skip on them if they feel they are irrelevant to their immediate activity.

Tailoring content to the medium truly maximizes impact and drives greater engagement. Online viewers are, in a way, self-absorbed: They need messages that seem to speak to them and them alone. With TV, audiences know marketers are throwing the proverbial mud at the wall to see what sticks. When you combine personalisation with the intelligence of your market, you increase the odds of forging an emotional connection with consumers.

Besides, the cost-prohibition typical of real estate in print and TV does not apply to the web. Here you can practically advertise undeterred by spatial reservations. You are not shackled by 1000-word or 30-second limits to get your message across. Now more than ever, you can be equal parts storyteller and marketer.

Know Your Goals
This much is true: You can’t ram ads down people’s throats. According to the McLernon and Hockersmith study, increased frequency doesn’t bespeak increased purchase intent. It’s not about the length of the video either, as they found that 15-second spots are more unforgettable than their 30-second sisters. Then again, they concede that brand perception can change in 30 seconds.

Should you repurpose a TV spot online, remember that you now have the chance to put branding to the forefront. For example, you could put your logo or insignia in the corner of every frame. Don’t forget the interactive elements too, the better to guide your customers at every point of the purchase decision. In general, don’t just load your creations to the virtual world without considering changes.

Whether you’re thinking original or repurposed, boil it all down into the innards of the video. Focus on the creative aspect of the ad. Don’t think about space constraints, as online doesn’t have that. You can be making a full-length music video, for all you know.

Always, always be aware of your goals before creating an online video or repurposing your content for the web. What is your campaign objective? Where is your brand in the target market’s journey? Have people noticed your brand? Or is it already looking to drive sales? What kind of behavior do you want to evoke from audiences? Are you just looking to collect market insights? Ask these questions, and you will know whether to repurpose or not.

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