10 Trends After TV

This week’s cover of Advertising Age declared the end of TV. OK, we all get it. Digital streaming video will steal all of the eyes and advertising dollars from broadcast TV over time. But, what’s changed? Won’t we still watch all our favorite shows on our TVs – just without the costly TV subscription service?

In fact, EVERYTHING will change. Just consider the advertising agencies, who fund all TV content. The majority of our revenue still comes from TV commercials. Has anybody noticed there are no commercials on Netflix, Apple TV or Amazon Prime? A new model is about to emerge. This isn’t like the transition from broadcast to cable or satellite TV. This brings the Internet to the big screen in your family room.

According to a recent report sponsored by Nielsen titled “The data-driven future of TV advertising,” new trends are emerging. As a 24-year veteran of the communications industry, this is my interpretation of the shift the experts are predicting:

1. The digital marketing firm will take over all functions of the traditional marketing firm. Digital agencies will navigate the space more effectively, and will drive the decision making for their clients. Data will inform all advertising decisions, and “Web guys” will design the solutions.

2. The agency will be compensated on performance. Instead of measuring CPMs and impressions, advertisers will measure consumer behavior and actual product sales directly related to the ad spend.

3. Advertising will shift from interruptive to optional. As the consumer begins to dictate what advertising will look like, rather than the broadcaster, we will see that advertising looks more and more like entertainment. The :30 spot will fade into the history books.

4. Pre-roll spots will never achieve the glory or the budgets of TV commercials. Instead, the interactivity of the space will drive new experiences that will integrate with the programming and gamify the entertainment itself.

5. Rather than advertise on Netflix, brands will create their own competing channels. Brand websites and apps will transition to customer engagement centers, filled with entertaining content and utility-based value for customers (see my blogs on Amazon Prime and Nike+). Brands will begin to use these connections as their “owned networks” to reach out to the communities that love their brand for the content they provide.

6. Today, Yahoo announced two half-hour productions on their network. They don’t even produce commercials for Yahoo anymore. When more and more creative thinkers realize they are no longer confined to the 30-second box, brands will become entertainment companies. Like Netflix and like Red Bull, we will see more and more long-form marketing. Even the interruptive space will be used to drive consumers to long-form content and branded entertainment.

7. Media planning departments will become redefined as they move from relational buying, based on trust, toward an automated buying process based on data and immediate, traceable sales results for their brands.

8. Mass media will fade as a concept. The goal will become about reaching the right people instead of the most people. Efficient media will become a commodity. Effective media will become the new premium channels, and the strategist will be replaced by the data analytics team, at least for a while. We will initially become obsessed with our ability to track results in this new era.

9. The commoditization of traditional advertising will be complete. Those of us who are old enough to remember the “Golden Age of Advertising” have watched it fade in our lifetimes. We will soon watch the death of TV advertising as we know it. That is the last bastion for the dinosaur breed.

10. New life will come back to the creative industry from a whole new model that will allow us to talk to consumers. This transition represents the beginning of a new age of Mad Men. We can embrace it and possibly live the glory again, or we can ignore it as a passing trend of “movie downloading millennials.”

I still remember the photographers who told me digital cameras will never replace the rich quality of film. They made fun of me for believing digital cameras would get better quality images than the professional film processing industry. It all seemed like a threat to their skills, and it seemed to diminish the value of their expertise. In fact, almost anybody can shoot like a pro today on a digital camera. Life after TV will go on too, but a new kind of expertise will need to emerge.