Context is God. Here comes the Ark.

Context is God. Here comes the Ark.

Content is King, But Context is God. So wrote the effervescent Gary Vaynerchuk four years ago.

He was and still is, right of course. The problem four years ago was that it was always challenging to deliver. The brilliant TV advert we loved at the Superbowl or Christmas in the UK had to be as smart as possible because it had to resonate regardless of who the viewer was, their state of mind, location, or psychology. Advertising till now has consisted of making the strongest possible message and then spreading it across every possible zip or postcode.

"Content is King, But Context is God. So wrote the effervescent Gary Vaynerchuk four years ago."

Given the number of viewers for whom the message might not or does not work, this is incredibly wasteful.

But four years is a long time. Now, as the internet conquers traditional TV, we have, for the first time, the potential to make sure that brand messages are always both contextually and culturally relevant. Contextual advertising by itself is not new but what is, is the ability for the first time for it to apply to film and TV.

Today contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising in which the content of an ad is in direct correlation to the content of the web page the user is viewing. But as the TV comes to us via streaming, we can directly apply this to the content we watch too. Contextual ads are less irritating than traditional advertising. That is why it influences the user more effectively. It shows the user area of interest, thus increasing the chance of receiving a response. The same can now apply to brand integration.

The timing could not be better.

According to a report from, traditional TV is eroding, and this existential threat demands new business model evolution.

Cord-cutting is accelerating:

·        5.5M households abandoned traditional pay-TV in 2019 (8% YoY decline)

·        Since 2010, 7M+ consumers have abandoned pay-TV and at an accelerating rate. Between 2015 to 2018 pay subscribers declined by 1% each year, in 2019 that quadrupled to 4%

·        Roku estimates that by 2024 “roughly half of all US TV households” will have cut the cord or never had a traditional TV. (coincidentally I have been in the USA 13 years and never had it, nor have any of my sons or their friends)

As a result, business value for TV networks is in decline. In 2014 Viacom and CBS had combined market caps of $67B. In 2017 that dropped to $43B. Today the total market cap for the merged Viacomn CBS is $17B. Similarly, Discovery and Scripps had a combined market cap of $38B in 2014. Today the merged entity has a market cap of $13.4B. These are significant falls in value.

Subscription streaming services have proven to be very successful. However, SVOD streaming without adverts, funded by subscription, is saturating. The subscription tent isn’t big enough for everyone, says the report. We agree.

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The answer would seem to be AVOD. Streaming, but with adverts. The best example of this is Pluto.TV, which is, by all reports, doing very well, right now. NBC’s new Peacock service will have multiple tiers, and two will be ad-supported. The much anticipated Quibi will be ad-supported as will HBO Max and others. For AVOD, new intelligent ad platforms will attempt to make sure that these adverts are targeted at viewers to make sure that they are contextual and culturally accurate.

But can those adverts be designed to cater to hundreds of different tastes, moods, and differences between people? Back four years ago in his article Gary Vaynerchuk wrote; I know a forty-year-old woman is in a different mindset when she’s on Facebook than when she’s on Pinterest. And that is how I story tell her. I know on Pinterest she has intent to shop and on Facebook, she’s keeping up with her world. So I strategize around that: the psychology and the platform itself.

Given the power of TV to both reflect and affect our moods and intentions, making sure that adverts can adjust between content – and also be contextual and culturally relevant – will be crucial to success.

Then there is the product placement. What about the brands in the shows themselves? These should be determined by context, provided that they support the shows creators and owners Mise-en-scène.

The internet makes it possible for us to do some amazing new things. Like, deliver custom, individual viewing experiences. Today has 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million monthly viewers in 2015, rising to 2.2 million broadcasters and 15 million daily viewers in 2018.

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In Twitch the games that are watched are not prerendered (like TV and film), the game content is all being rendered and delivered in real-time. The data for what happens in the ‘viewing’ is instantly available to the servers providing the experience. What is more, each player is getting a unique viewing experience (even if the twitch viewer is not).

The team at Ryff believes that it is possible to use this approach to deliver contextual and culturally relevant content to the viewer for brand integration and other messaging. Not in games but in TV and film. Such an approach opens up a whole new vista for the world of streaming and advertising.

Advances in internet delivery and cloud-based services mean that it will be possible to deliver context in TV and film in ways never imagined before. Exciting times are ahead.



Industry Insight
Latest Surveys Confirm Importance of Brand Integration for TV & Film
February 5, 2020
Context is God. Here comes the Ark.
March 10, 2020
Branded Entertainment Needs to Become Both Dynamic and Digital
December 17, 2018