TV is dead…at least as we know it

Digital has changed everything.

Complex algorithms have, whether consumers are aware of it or not, changed the way we consume and engage with content. In an online tango between publishers and consumers, the personalisation of content streams has become so finely honed that the same platform offers hugely divergent content from one user to the next.

Consumers have become so used to this new normal that consumption demands are extending beyond the online world into other media. On-demand television is a clear illustration of users losing patience with the old “broadcast to” paradigm, and should provide an early warning system to traditional publishing platforms that a sea change is underway. For any publisher to remain relevant, it is necessary to have knowledge of their audience, and feed them content according to their demands.

The advent of programmatic buying across digital and social platforms has seen an advertising “gimmick” evolve into standard practice. Its success is attributable to two factors: Consumers connect with brands – the view that advertising is an annoyance to be endured is antiquated. However, the modern consumer will no longer tolerate being dictated to, and brands that are misdirecting their advertising to the wrong audience do so at great risk.

Consumers of today are ruthless, and will boycott brands that overstep the mark. On the flip side, advertisers getting the content-targeting mix correct, are pulling away from the competition. So, the second contributing factor has been the success seen by the brands themselves, which has let to greater investment in the right content, to the right audience, at the right time – thus completing the loop of entrenching this concept (that content should be relevant) with both consumers and advertisers themselves.

This evolution has been a natural and obvious one. What we are seeing now is that advertising has become something that consumers actually want to engage with. Consumers feel enriched, and advertisers are building communities that are brand-loyal consumers.

The next wave

The results of targeted, precise, content driven advertising sees rapid ROI for brands. Due to this, the shift to online has been dramatic. According to some reports, digital media ad spend will surpass television spend by 2018, with TV growth slowing, or even stopping in many developed markets.

As television moves towards digitisation, users are unlikely to accept being force-fed, as is the case with the industry at present.

We are witnessing total disruption in advertising. Programmatic advertising on television, while in its infancy, is predicted to impact the television world in much the same way that it did the online world. And, it will challenge traditional agencies to their core – if they are not willing to surf this wave, they will likely drown.

Where content relevance was hardly a consideration in traditional television and broadcast advertising, programmatic means marketers will have the opportunity to know their audiences, create content for those audiences, and ensure that it is streamed to that audience. Advertisements for baby formula will be shown to young parents, but miss students and pensioners.

Far from relying on gross rating points, marketers are spouting buzz words such as “specificity” as TV advertising is set to follow in the footsteps of online adspend within the next few years.

Currently, ad buying is reliant on the data farmed from information of perhaps a few thousand homes. By applying programmatic to television, marketers will move away from this vague demographic generalisation, to the same level of precise, targeted information currently enjoyed within the digital realm. If, as a marketer, you would like your spend to reach working women in their mid-twenties looking to buy a car within a certain budget, and who own an iOS device, programmatic TV advertising will allow you to do that.

Innovate, evolve, or sink

And what does this mean for both traditional publishers, and traditional advertising agencies?

They are in trouble. Selling advertising space on a page or a time slot on television or radio is losing traction. And change is happening fast. Programmatic advertising changed the online space in a matter of months. While it is, perhaps, a way off from its full potential for broadcast media, it’s coming, and when it does, it will be similarly transformative.

Print will likely be the hardest hit, and TV and radio need to evolve. Publishers on the media, without extreme innovation and evolution, will become less and less relevant to an increasingly demanding consumer.

We know that the consumption patterns of millennials differ hugely from even their closest predecessors – there’s a deep lack of trust of “conventional” sources – these include news agencies. Modern consumers invest more time in peer networks. For brands, this means engaging on the consumer’s preferred medium, and being drawn into the trusted inner circle. This will not happen when following the “broadcast to” rather than the “engage with” model. And the faster marketers and publishers move towards true engagement, the more relevant they will become, and the more likely they are to remain.



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