Analytic Partners (a leading Market Mix Modelling agency) conducted a meta-analysis of over 22,000 market mix models globally to understand patterns to maximise ROI. One of the many insights that came out of the work, as presented to the IAB, is that the ROI for online video is significantly higher than that of traditional TV when targeting millennials. Here, we unpack new ethnography research conducted by The Lab to understand why.
There are now significant differences in where and how younger audiences in Australia consume video content when compared with over-40, heavier linear TV viewers (i.e. free-to-air ABC; SBS; 7,9,10; and Foxtel). “I want to watch my schedule on my time; Mum gets so confused by that,” said Lauren, 24. “It’s got to be a 30-minute show and you watch it start to end (when it’s on).”
For those over 40 who took part in the research, the behaviours and attitudes that come from years of watching TV are far more ingrained. Sofia, 53, illustrated her journey with video over the last 10 years (below), revealing that linear TV and now Catch Up remain a big part of her video viewing.
The younger audience, however, continues to adapt. As technology has evolved, you can see Raymond, 27, (below) make the shift from scheduled linear TV to choosing his own content. He starts with short-form, user-generated entertainment on his mobile, then there’s a fundamental change when he marries and moves out, at which point video-on-demand (VOD — in their case YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime) takes over entirely.
While the research uncovered a number of insights, below are three of the most notable for marketers to understand just how different the video consumption behaviours of 18-39-year-old lighter TV viewers are.
1) Breaking the schedule
The first insight revolves around the traditional linear TV schedule and the role that it plays in the lives of heavier compared to lighter free-to-air commercial TV viewers.
For participants who were heavier TV viewers over 40 years old, TV programme scheduling played a pivotal role in providing structure to their day. The times of their favourite shows enabled them to find moments to pause, relax, or shift gears. When “The Chase” was on in the background, they knew they needed to prepare dinner. When “Sunrise” reached a certain point, they needed to get out of the house. When “The Block” or “Married at First Sight” entered the screen, it was their permission to relax. In the video below, Leva, 41, a high school teacher, talks about how much it would upset his day if that schedule was changed.
In contrast, for Aussies under 40, their expectations are to be able to watch what they want (access), when they want it (immediacy), and how they want it (adaptability) — effortlessly. VOD (including YouTube, Netflix, Stan, and Catch Up) enables them to fit video moments into their schedules. During the study, Lauren, 24 had to temporarily move back in with her parents. She talks about how the structure of her parents’ viewing habits in contrast to the freedom of her own was a constant source of tension.
For most under-40 participants in the study, VOD is replacing traditional, primetime linear TV viewing moments, whether that’s movie night with friends, date night with their partners, or watching a show on their own with a glass of wine — it enables them to choose the content they want for that specific occasion. VOD is also enabling new, unstructured, spontaneous viewing occasions. As the below video shows, VOD enables on-the-go viewing. One of our respondents set up a “mini entertainment” unit on his lunch break by propping his screen up using notepads and boxes.
2) Content for me
The second insight is centred on the differing content needs between these two audiences and how it drives their video platform of choice.
For heavier TV viewers over 40 in the study, TV offered a sense of comfort and nostalgia. Many of their favourite programs like “Home and Away” are still on the air, and the new shows feel familiar. “We don’t have Netflix; I don’t think we need it,” said Steve, 62. “There is so much amazing, great content on free-to-air I don’t think we would get around to watching it.”
In contrast, our under-40 lighter TV viewers felt that much of the content on linear TV was not something they could relate to. In the words of Abbey, 22, from Newcastle, “It’s what my parents watch.” Instead, Aussies under 40 sought diverse content that reflected them and who they wanted to be. High-value content for these consumers was personalised, value-aligned, and authentic. “[User-generated content] is authentic,” said Blake, 36. “It has a person behind it, not a studio. ... There’s an intelligence behind the memes. My parents just don’t get the humour behind those videos, but it’s a real reflection of who we are.”
3) New rules of engagement
The final insight focuses on what drives the moments of highest engagement for these two audiences.
We saw differences between the moments that each audience finds most engaging. For those over 40 who took part in the research, those moments of high engagement are what we have come to expect: long-form, high-production content on the big screen.
For lighter TV viewers under 40, the length of the content they were watching and the size of the screen they were watching it on did not drive where and when they paid attention. They were happy to view content on a smaller screen, and their phones were most likely to be present in moments with fewer distractions or only one screen available, such as on their commute.
What’s especially interesting is how younger Aussies manipulate content length based on the viewing moment that they’re in:
- Chunking content up: Watching 20 short YouTube clips back to back, turning short-form content into a long-form viewing moment
- Pausing: Watching a long video over multiple sessions to fit their schedule
- Skipping and speeding: Watching in 2X speed or skipping through “the boring periods”
Long story short, long and short form is blurring for younger Aussies. Grabbing and maintaining their attention comes down to the quality of the content and storytelling, not the length or the screen. The video below shows Abbey, 20 and her mum Debbie, 51 disagreeing over screen size and Debbie’s incomprehension that Abbey watched a two-hour documentary in 30 minutes.
Tailor your video strategy to the right audience
Under-40 heavier VOD viewers and over-40 heavier TV viewers are consuming video content in different ways and places, which means you cannot reach and engage with them with a single video approach. The solution? Plan free-to-air commercial TV and YouTube alongside each other. Together, they enable you to effectively reach Aussies of all ages.
With YouTube reaching 90% of 18- to 39-year-old Australian light and non-commercial free-to-air TV viewers,1 by using a combined online and offline approach, Analytic Partners’ analysis has shown brands can achieve more than 50% higher ROI than just running offline alone.