Is TV advertising really dead?
It seems to be flavour of the month again to proclaim the death of TV advertising but I’m not convinced the detractors are really seeing the big picture. Sure, broadcasters have seen their revenues fall as the number of broadcast channels increase and Internet focussed digital marketing strategies encroach on their monopoly but that’s just the free market economy in action; the extortionate rates broadcasters have got away with until now are no longer justifiable. TV is no longer the only market reach and engagement…
“We’re looking at the death of the ‘TV-comes-first’ model, definitely,”
Lee Daley, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi UK, 2005
And yet TV is still the dominant entertainment medium is western society. Almost all households in Europe and US have access to terrestrial (and soon to be digital) TV. It’s cheap and it’s available everywhere while broadband Is still only available to around 12% of Europe and only in built-up areas of the US.
According to figures from BBC, TV consumption is actually up on previous years and, in other polls, TV is stated as the resource “most likely to be missed”, way above internet access. So it can’t be a lack of interest in video entertainment that’s causing the demise.
A decent digital TV set is considerably less than the price of the cheapest laptop and consumers are still buying and watching TV with around 40% of UK households owning more than one TV set. So it can’t be any barriers to entry or a lack of demand that’s seeing the decline in TV advertising.
Affordable PVRs like SkyPlus and FreeView+ still have low market penetration but they give viewers the ability to skip the ads; the worst possible scenario for ad agencies. Coupled with consumers’ increasing awareness of how to “play” marketing and the high benchmarks set by Experiential Marketing where businesses provide, you know, a good service and experience to their customers.
We Love TV
But the single biggest impact on TV (and newspaper) advertising has been the internet and the various forms of digital marketing. Traditional ad agencies (Ogilvy / WPP are not alone here) just don’t get digital. In a recent conversation with another top ten agency, the creative director confidently revealed to me that “you can do some great stuff with banner ads” and thought that an integrated approach to digital meant a microsite to go with the banners. Their recent stab at social media marketing constituted a MySpace page which nobody ever updated so the message board rapidly declined into a directory of porn site. Nice one fellas, good bit of brand management on that one.
Digital, when handled correctly, enables a more accountable, more measurable and, in many ways, more focused campaign strategy. While it’s reach, in terms of numbers, falls far below that of TV (and will remain so for many years to come) the quality of the viewers and their willingness to engage, rather than passively observe, is still to be adequately evaluated. The quality of engagement through digital channels, the communities and the ability to action consumer feedback in minutes just aren’t available in the un-hearing, one-way model of broadcast advertising.
But let’s not write-off TV advertising yet. It’s a lack of understanding, imagination and vision that are killing it, not the format itself. Concurrent viewing, where the viewing audience is surfing the web while watching, switching attention between TV and Internet is on the rise. It’s also growing rapidly with more web-enabled Mobile devices and affordable data packages, concurrent viewing will increase more rapidly in the next 2 years… Assuming agencies bother to make sites that work on mobile.
And in Two years, do you what will happen then? We do. And we’ve been working with a consortium of broadcasters including the BBC to prototype and develop the next generation TV, and it’s web-enabled. Project “Canvas”
Do you see where I’m going here? Is it obvious yet? TV may not lead the field any more but it is still a powerful influencer in an integrated campaign strategy. And pretty soon, with the right people in charge, it could be more powerful than ever.
A campaign that uses the best of broadcast & online, that integrates the two and that allows two-way feedback on both platforms, will provide a much more powerful, measurable and effective result.