Video on-demand (VOD) is booming. Studies show that it is increasingly the medium of choice, and not just for younger viewers. The so-called ‘silent generation’ (aged 65+) are also in on the act, with iPads and other mobile devices becoming more user-friendly, and offering an unparalleled range of viewing options, including many classic TV programmes that will appeal to any age group. VOD is clearly an amazing advertising opportunity, promising massive exposure. Not only that, but digital TV advertising can be targeted according to location, age – pretty much any variable you can think of. Taking this into account, we should be seeing new life being breathed into TV advertising, with engaging and targeted video advertising being the name of the game. But is this actually the case?

Advertisers are still operating traditionally

Traditionally, advertising space could be bought up for a single-feed TV channel, and executives at the channel would choose how to spread the advertising across the available time. Now, with executives selling space on a multi-feed digital platform, this model has changed. And yet many advertisers are still operating in the traditional way. In order to deliver the agreed viewing figures, those selling advertising space are saturating particular streams of on-demand viewing with the same advert. This lack of variation, in which viewers will be exposed to the same advert during every advertising break over hours of on-demand viewing, may not seem to pose a problem to advertisers keen on brand exposure, but it represents over-saturation on a new scale, and has sent many on-demand viewers into fits of annoyance.

So called ‘binge-viewing’ – i.e. consuming big chunks of new TV programmes in one sitting – means that we could be exposed to the same advert 20 or 30 times in one sitting. This inevitably leads to people becoming sick of the sight of the brand, and could become seriously damaging. It’s too early to cite figures, but it would be no surprise if this over-saturation and lack of variety fails to deliver much growth.

How can we be ahead of the curve?

Often, award-winning advertising establishes a familiar narrative across an ongoing series of ads. The message stays the same but the concept remains fresh. One notable example is the long-running ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ campaign. This comedic series, following the everyday mishaps of short-sighted people, is a great example of a familiar concept that continues to offer something new. Rather than simply buying up space and over-saturating particular streams, Specsavers are taking their target market on an ever-evolving journey. Their investment in video advertising has successfully resulted in an incredible £1.1bn incremental profit over 30 years.

The VOD revolution represents a huge opportunity to advertisers.The key to being ahead of the curve is making original, surprising video. This way the huge (and growing) number of VOD viewers will continue to be entertained by the stories advertisers tell. From a branding point of view, that is priceless.

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