We no longer live in a 'linear' world. Today, people move fluidly and unpredictably between devices and media environments - mobile device to computer to social platforms to TV, all in one day. With new technologies such as Video on-Demand (VOD), Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and internet video, traditional linear advertising (inserting of promotional messages into programs that are being transmitted in continuous form, like broadcasting or streaming) as in TV, is losing some of its effectiveness.
Online media and advertising were supposed to be the new formats that would allow for the new, non-linear advertising that the new media paradigm demanded. Targeting became more important than the messaging itself and the domain more of a quant play than the realm of the old guard marketers. Engagement is driven by the audience at multiple points and on many devices, and audience fragmentation makes targeting even more critical.
However, non-linear ads have not been the godsend they were believed to be. Random banners do not work even if they are interesting. Mobile newspapers and magazines are confirming this painful discovery with dismal ad revenues. According to a recent study, 50 percent of clicks on mobile ads are attributable purely to the "oops" factor.
Today, online video and mobile are changing the pattern of storytelling once again; they are becoming more guided experiences. A much more limited real estate on the mobile device and the current patterns of online video consumption that closely resembles traditional TV are making some of the old honchos pound the tables and scream "I told you so." So — are we going back to linear? Of course it is not really the same, even though it may seem to be. The complexity of multichannel publishing and marketing makes it a far cry from linear.
A key characteristic of a linear video ad, according to IAB, is that it takes over the full video experience for a period of time. Storytelling and targeting are critical. This fact must be remembered by non-linear ad makers as well. Even when making the switch to non-linear story-telling, content is still the king, and is extremely important. High-value or targeted content and context is what will sell.
Similarly marketers will finally have to face-up to real multi-channel storytelling, in high volumes. While not linear, per say, they will need to be holistic consumer experiences that can stand on their own or as part of an integrated storyline. This will need to be done in size and diversity that may require the industry to rethink old paradigms. In a way this change may be more dramatic than Search, as it will touch the core creative and media processes. Instead of thinking of this as merely another challenge, it is worth keeping in mind that this new non-linear climate provides for a deeper and longer level of consumer engagement than the typical linear television ads of the past.