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Preparing PSAs for Video Distribution
Advertising agencies produce most Public Service Announcement (PSA) viewed on broadcast television and second screens. Agency Creative Directors produce beautiful images that effectively convey their client’s message. But wait a minute. To get that wonderfully prepared PSA played on the air or online, the video must be retrofitted to certain standards and that content must be nicely packaged to be seen by a wide audience.
How does that get accomplished? Well, that’s where a video facility experienced in PSA distribution comes into play.
There are at least three ways that PSAs are distributed to a broadcast entity.
- Physical (broadcast tape, CD, DVD, Blu-ray)
- Digital (file is created meeting certain technical requirements)
- Hybrid (digital file encoded on a disc)
Once method of distribution is determined, the video facility asks lots of questions to provide support. Video retrofitting takes the following items into account.
- Physical Distribution: Will the broadcast entity accept a hard copy PSA? If so, what platform? The advertising agency usually has these answers. What are the requirements for slate, bars and tone, amount of black before and after program, and ISCI code?
- Digital Distribution: Who is responsible for distribution, a postproduction facility or a third party digital distributer? Are preview files needed? What are the file specs (h.264 broadcast ready, Pro Res HQ, etc.)?
At this point, the process is not even close to being complete. There are several ancillary but crucial items to still focus on.
- SpoTTrac Encoding: If you’re in the PSA world, SpoTTrac is a known entity. Not sure what this is? Well, in order for a PSA to be tracked (knowing when the video is aired), a SpoTTrac signal needs to be applied to a file, disc or tape. There are only a handful of video firms in the United States that have SpoTTrac encoding capability.
- Reporting: How will you know how much airtime your video received? SpoTTracing a PSA also allows for data capturing that shows when the spot was aired. That pertinent information is used to determine the effectiveness both financial and target reach.)
- Captioning: Depending on the type of PSA distribution, certain file creation is needed. Captions for tape require a different process than captions for digital files.
- Packaging: Be it physical or digital, the “look” surrounding video content ready for distribution is important. When a PSA director considers providing airtime for free, they consider the cause and “look” of all information received. If an HDCam tape is being distributed, pertinent and good looking print collateral about the cause should be provided. For digital distribution, it’s helpful to provide access to collateral material online. Be it a direct distribution to a broadcaster’s server or providing a digital file via a web link the presentation of that information increases airtime opportunities.
All of the above has a cost associated. What’s important to note, is that physical distribution is still a cost effective (in many cases cheaper) option for PSA distribution. But, with 100 million people watching online video each day around the globe, digital distribution is on the rise. In either case, to complete an effective PSA campaign, which means getting free airtime to a wide audience, the video distribution must be of high quality.
For a campaign to be successful, you should partner with an experienced video facility that has many successful PSA distributions under its belt.
Michael is the Chief Executive Officer at Video Labs. He is a 30 year media veteran, past president of American Information and Media Management Association (AIMMA), columnist for Tape Disc Business and One to One, and a 2009 Smart CEO top100 CEO.