Jan 08 '17 Video camera viewfinder - recording concert - focus on camera

TV Advertising goes live, but is it right for your brand?

Remember Oreo’s now infamous Super Bowl 2013 tweet during the power outage at the Superdome? Not only did it leave us craving Oreos, but it beckoned a shift where brands were expected to tune in and join the conversation. No longer was a well-crafted and well-timed product message enough. Consumers craved the intimacy of 1-1 messaging and—thanks to Oreo’s success—brands were willing to provide.

Four years later and new ways to reach consumers in an authentic and speedy fashion continue to emerge.

First Meerkat (RIP) entered the scene, then Periscope, Facebook Live and most recently, Instagram’s own live streaming product. These vehicles offer an opportunity to not just respond, but to create. Brands are no longer just tuning into the conversation, they’re shaping it.

Though the live space is still somewhat of an experimental playground, more and more brands are considering taking it a step further – to Live TV.

So, what exactly is a live TV ad? It’s just like it sounds. Ad content—or some portion at least—is filmed and edited as consumers view the spot.

This past September, Virgin Holiday launched their first live stream global ad. Filmed in 18 locations and produced by a 90-person crew, the 60-second “Seize the Holiday” spot strings together live footage from Brooklyn to Bangkok and Disney World to Dubai.

Live television ads showcase a message in an innovative and instant way. It also brings more complexity, more planning, and at times, more production dollars.

So, how do you know if live TV advertising is right for your brand? Some things to consider:

An experiential moment.

Instead of seizing the moment, brands are creating the moment. And they’re taking consumers along for the ride. In a society that increasingly favors experience over consumables, this is appealing to consumers.


In today’s high-flying age of the DVR and Netflix, fast forwarding through commercials is the standard. Live TV ads create a buzz unlike their highly edited, more polished counterparts. Enjoy it!

Consumers get to know the real you.

You’re letting your guard down. In the way social media dissolves barriers and forges a more intimate connection between brands and consumers, live streaming does the same on an exponential scale.

Perfectly imperfect.

With live anything, there are no guarantees. Be ready to embrace all the–well, surprises—that make the spot authentic. It’s the beauty of the medium, but it can be scary to relinquish control particularly for industries subject to strict regulation and compliance (I’m talking to you, finance, healthcare, and insurance).

It’s real… and it shows.

When a spot is filmed and edited and viewed at lightning speed, feeds are of varied quality and much of the post-production shine goes to the wayside. It looks organic and real. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for you to decide. However, consumers are drawn to the transparency of it all.

Coordination is key.

Regardless of where your spot falls on the scale of 1 to Virgin Holidays, logistics and pre-planning are critical to your finished product. Add to that, nimbleness in the production and on-the-fly editing process and you have the makings of a compelling live TV ad.

Start small.

If you’re looking to test the waters but are not ready to commit to the spend and risk, social media is an optimal test-and-learn environment.

It’s ambitious.

You get extra points for bravery, but (and it’s a big but…) you still have to pull it off.

Bottom line: Live TV advertising is a powerful way to connect with consumers. And while it may not find it way onto your marketing plan this year, you’ll be sure to see more of it in 2017.

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