Deep Focus’s Ian Schafer: Synchronous Viewing Has ‘Lost Its Luster’ for Advertisers

Agency head says his team creates video for digital distribution first

At a time when linear-television ratings have plateaued and cable-subscriber numbers are in decline, digital video is on a strong climb. Last week, YouTube reached an eye-popping milestone, announcing that the Google-owned company sees a billion video views per day on its platform.


Deep Focus founder Ian Schafer

Now that sounds like a  tipping point for digital video, but the advertising dollars associated with television have been sluggish in following eyeballs over to digital platforms. Ian Schafer, founder/chairman of Deep Focus, believes that has started to change in a big way.

“From an advertiser’s perspective, digital video has become the primary use case for anything that moves,” he said during an interview on stage at Social Media Week NYC. “I can tell you, as an agency, when we are making video, we’re making it for the internet, knowing that it will probably wind up on television.”

Linear television, especially live event programming and sports, in many estimations remains the top place for brands and advertisers to get their messaging out. In Schafer’s view, however, those companies are starting to make that mental shift in droves and developing strategies to make their impact on more of an on-demand scale.

“Television is a place where, yeah, many brands are comfortable launching a product around a primetime or live event, like the Oscars, but that notion of synchronous viewing, where millions of people are all watching the same thing at the same time, is kind of losing its luster,” Schafer says. “Digital video, which is completely asynchronous and on-demand for most people, has become more favorable mostly because it’s more attributable.

“We can even buy online video based upon the percentage of view-ability that it has. Which is crazy,” he continued. “You’d think that would mean that every advertiser would want to buy 100%-viewable ad inventory, but they don’t. Mostly because it’s too expensive.”

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