There is a channel in the UK called ITV2. As its name suggests, it is part of the ITV network, the largest commercial broadcaster in the country, and as one of its secondary channels is afforded the opportunity to re-use content in syndication.
A striking feature about ITV2 is its station idents. These consist of short clips full of improbable things; hammers falling onto clocks, biscuits dropping into cups of tea, dachshunds dressed as hotdogs and all manner of other “random” scenes, which are cut together.
The interesting thing here is not the content, but the fact that they are assembled live. The device which assembles these idents (developed by Pixel Power), selects the clips and their durations at random, to make up the full length of the space to be filled. So, every single station ident is unique, yet built from the same kit of parts.
I mention this because it shows that automated delivery for television and online streaming need not be the completely pre-planned activity it used to be. We used to have to pre-plan, because we had to ensure that all the tapes were loaded onto the trolley and taken to the machine room, then loaded in the correct order.
With content now universally coming from servers, it is possible to make very late decisions on which content to show, and slot in the tiniest of clips, even down to just a few frames in length.
This has some applications for primary events – like timing a station ident to precisely fill a space in the schedule – but the same idea can be extended to secondary events.
With the unrelenting pressure on revenues, content delivery businesses (which include traditional broadcast channels) have to keep finding new ways to excite and attract advertisers. And, given the ease with which secondary events can be dropped into a schedule, bright sales managers and space buyers will surely come up with inventive ways of using them for commercial benefit.
Now the thing about secondary events, I hear you say, is that they are transitory and unsuitable for rich messaging. But they have already been used to deliver commercial content in various territories around the world, and as the current trend is away from rich messaging anyway, the secondary event could even be considered an ideal medium for the modern advertiser.
Current thinking in the advertising world is that it is all about the brand and the way it makes you feel. “Millenials don’t care about the product you’re selling,” according to a recent blog from web specialists Pagely, “they want to know how your brand makes them feel and whether other people are talking about it.”
With careful placement, it is easy to see how a secondary event could be used to reinforce an advertisers brand message and enhance its image. Of course, there are complicated hurdles for broadcasters to jump regarding time limits on advertising and whether this is a commercial, a sponsorship, a product placement or something new entirely. However, for those not broadcasting but streaming, the rules are different, and so this could provide a useful tool in the battle to both gain and increase advertising revenue, even when consumers are keen to minimise the number of commercials they see.
But perhaps the most important and attractive thing about secondary events is that they are overlaid onto the primary content and can also be dynamic – points that we’ll discuss on in our next post.