The Source Agnostic Viewer is Here.

With the close of the 2013 Digital Content NewFronts and the Broadcast Upfronts, the dialogue surrounding the efficacy of various video platforms to reach today’s consumer is at an all-time high, yet many still challenge the vitality of digital content in the marketplace. Starcom USA released the results of its own study to uncover how consumers respond to streaming original content versus television content.

The study split 4,800 respondents into three groups who were shown one of 12 content clips. Each of the three groups was told something different about why the content was produced: for television, streaming online, or neither. Starcom then looked at how each group responded to the content, what they said about online original and television content in general and if their responses matched their actions.

The result: today’s viewers are truly source-agnostic.

“Original content produced for online streaming is the new frontier of online video, with higher quality content than syndicated online video and lower cost than television content online,” said Mark Pavia, executive vice president/digital managing director at Starcom. “We conducted this study to dig deeper into whether the quality of streaming original content is as good as TV, despite the lower price tag, and whether ads placed in it perform just as well. It was important to fully understand this from the consumer’s perspective, not just the seller’s perspective.”

As a result of the study, Starcom found that:

· While consumers may perceive that content on TV is of higher quality than streaming original content, their viewership behaviors tell a different story. There is no statistical relationship between quality or likability scores and whether consumers believe content is streaming original or TV.
· Although consumers feel differently about ads and are slightly less neutral about ads in original streaming content, performance of ads is not strongly impacted from original streaming content to TV. Consumers are actually less likely to recall advertisers when they believe content is from TV. This may be because, like with their more neutral sentiment, consumers expect and thus tune out advertising in TV content.

“Overall, while consumers may perceive streaming original and TV content differently, good content is good content no matter which source it originates,” Katie Koval, vice president of Integrated Insights at Starcom, said.

“Industry sellers need to promote their host of new digital series and make them easier to buy and measure,” added Pavia. “We need to change the narrative, leverage measurement and elevate digital video beyond an extension of TV. If publishers better promote their shows, provide marketers and buyers a reason to believe and allow the value of the investment to be measured, digital video can break outside of traditional silos.”

Starcom’s online video study proves just this: original streaming content not only presents a reach opportunity at a lower cost than TV content online, but the increased relevancy via targeting and consumer choice can also create a more positive association for online video ads. The study concludes that there is a bias that benefits original content: consumers do not expect streaming original content to be good so they really like it when they deem it is. Original content publishers therefore have an opportunity, the study finds, to capitalize on low expectations to surprise and delight viewers with quality content. The marketplace needs to give viewers what they want: entertaining, compelling and well-acted content.

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