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The paradox of TVC production costs

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Guest author, Justin Ricketts, is the CEO at Ensemble Australia with 20 years experience in non-traditional marketing with specialist skills across sponsorship, content and event marketing, talent negotiations, and sports marketing.

Today’s post is Justin’s response to an earlier post by TrinityP3: Why are there no cost reductions in TVC production since going digital?

A few weeks ago you published an article asking ‘why there had been no cost reductions in TVC production with Digital’…

I’d like to in part challenge your contention but also pose what I believe is a paradox when it comes to the cost of production at the moment.

YouTube claim that over 300 hours of content are uploaded every minute. That’s 18,000 hours every 60 minutes and 432,000 hours every day. What that says to me is that the world is full of a lot of content and white noise and ultimately brands have to compete in this space.

The craft of creating the hook

With the odd exception, it takes a great deal of talent to ensure that content is seen, shared and talked about.  Whether we’re considering feature movies, television dramas, reality TV shows, TVC’s, branded content, native advertising (I hate that term) or any other form of content – there is a craft skill behind each medium that is often under-valued and it’s often only when you look at content that has failed to engage an audience that this craft can truly be appreciated.

The piece that is usually missing is the craft of creating the hook to engage the audience in the relevant channel and too often in today’s environment I’m finding that clients are looking for short-cuts and often bypassing this critical phase of content development.

Consumers (audiences) are clearly harder to reach than ever before and as such it has become even more important for content creators to use their craft skill to engage these audiences.

In my view there is no better time to be in the business of ‘content creation’ – as content has the ability to reach and engage people. However, as brands increasingly look to diversify beyond traditional forms of communication (e.g. a TVC) and as they are being challenged to ‘do more for less’ – I’m concerned that too many brands are relying on their traditional agency partners (e.g. advertising agencies) to create and execute these new forms of content.

The result is often either:

  1. Content that doesn’t engage the audience or work in its chosen channel, or
  2. Content that is totally over or under capitalised in terms of how it is produced.

1. Content that doesn’t engage the audience or work in its chosen channel

The solution to the first point is relatively simple in my point of view – namely partner with people (whether an individual, an agency or a production company) that have the relevant craft expertise.

If you want a great TVC – you are likely to benefit from using people that specialise in crafting TVC’s that connect and engage audiences in the traditional TV ad break (e.g. an advertising agency).

However, if you want to engage people in the digital world and are not wanting to pay to interrupt your audience, then you need to engage people that understand how to create (or co-create) content that will engage audiences in this channel and often without paid media support.

Each form of content involves very different craft expertise and I believe this is where a lot of clients are going wrong. Put simply they are engaging the wrong people to create and produce the content they are seeking to create.

To use an analogy – you are unlikely to commission a boat builder to design your new house and usually when you engage an architect to design your house – it’s usually worth the additional investment.  It’s no different with content.  Commission the right expertise – and like most things in life – you get what you pay for!

2. Content that is totally over or under capitalised in terms of how it is produced

The solution to the second point is a little more complex.

TV ads are sometimes very expensive and rightly so. They are placed in the gaps between content that is often highly produced with high profile talent and production values.  TVC’s without a strong insight and narrative or are poorly produced, stand out for the wrong reasons and seldom cut through and engage with the right result.

However, there are still way too many examples of TVC’s that have been over capitalised that could have been produced for a fraction of the cost.  If we consider that the average cost of prime-time programming is between $250-500k for 30 minutes – how is it that a 30 second spot is often costing the same (and in some cases more)!?

The core issue lies with advertising agencies

In my experience it is usually not the production company that is at fault – as the overall costs for production has gone down dramatically over the last ten years while the quality has not reduced at all. In fact, the capabilities in post-production in particular have made it possible for the most budget conscious clients to have remarkable end products for a fraction of what they were having to pay in the past.

Instead I reckon the core issue lies with advertising agencies (or at times their clients) who have not evolved with the times and who continue to over-scope requirements and outsource unnecessary layers and costs. I’m not advocating that this is always the case – but there are definitely times when clients or their advertising agencies should be engaging the new breed of content agencies to produce TVC’s more cost effectively.

Unrealistic expectations

However, when it comes to ‘non-traditional’ content – I’d argue that we’re facing the exact opposite issue. There is often a totally unrealistic expectation that ‘digital content’ can be produced on a shoe string and without due consideration and planning.

But with over 432,000 hours of content being produced and shared every day, how is poorly crafted and produced content going to cut through in this competitive environment?

It’s no surprise that most of the examples that our industry reference and celebrate (e.g. JCVD and Volvo, or Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches) are insightful, beautifully constructed and well produced pieces of content – and interesting most of these examples have also had significant seeding budgets to help deliver the staggering number of views these videos have generated.

I guess the difference in this environment is that production values are just one consideration and there are equally plenty of insightful pieces of content (Levi’s Butt Cam to name one of my favourites) that have been produced without large production budgets.

Once again, you pay for what you get and I think a lot of brands are becoming underwhelmed with their digital content because they are not investing in the right people or with the necessary production budgets to deliver the expected results.

The production paradox

So, the production paradox as I see it is we seem to be over-capitalising on TVC production whilst under-investing in digital content production.

And when it comes to a solution – I’d suggest clients engage the relevant craft expertise with the right budget and I reckon they will be pleasantly surprised with the output.

 

To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with this, click here.

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I am currently privileged to be CEO of an amazing company, with a bunch of incredibly talented and passionate people all striving to deliver ideas that get talked about - not in the trade press, but in the real world. Ideas that make a difference to people's lives. I have 20 years of experience in non-traditional marketing with specialist skills across sponsorship, content and event marketing, talent negotiations, and sports marketing.

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