“TV” is being replaced by something your company needs to be involved in.


John Osborn, a twenty five year veteran of the US television advertising industry wrote an an interesting article in Advertising Age magazine which explained the troubles advertisers are having today in trying to reach their audience through traditional media channels. He also considered what the next business model for ad-supported TV might look like. Here’s the problem: Traditional television is quickly being replaced by something significantly different – and it’s not “TV 2.0.” TV used to be structured programming that you viewed on the ‘TV set” in your family room. The concept of ‘television’ both as a viewing device and as stuctured content delivery is changing quickly and dramatically.

Everyone is now a content producer
TV as we knew it was programmed news and entertainment. The two key descriptors – “programmed” and ‘news and entertainment” are changing so much that I don’t believe it is necessary or useful to associate future video consumption with ‘TV’. (Nor is there any value in having a url with a ‘.tv’ suffix for that matter.) The value of ‘TV programming’ (aside from live events) is disappearing quickly – just ask your kids. People want to watch what they want, when they want, wherever they want it. That means no one company controls access to content any more (although many companies are trying very hard to keep that control.) Video-based content (not just ‘TV programs’) is changing dramatically as well. User generated content, infotainment, short form web content, mash-ups, and anything the kid down the street with a camera and an imagination (YouTube’s Fred videos– as an example) can come up with are all examples of this new wave of content generation – both for entertainment purposes and also as informational content. In fact the only thing that is keeping programmed television in place today is the fact that IP technology cannot yet scale to the same degree as todays cable delivered content. (Imagine the network meltdown that would occur if everyone tried to watch the Oscars via the web at the same time.) That too will change over the next few years.

Companies have to start thinking of entirely new ways to engage both this groundswell of media creation and a quickly fragmenting audience. Placing 15 or 30 seconds ads in videos (pre, mid or post roll) is still the principle method of promotion for both on and offline advertisers. The future success and viability of this old advertising model is limited.

Forward thinking companies will start to engage viewers on their own terms, not on terms dictated by outdated advertising models (TV). Viral marketing on the Internet is in it’s infancy but some companies have been wildly successful with creating content that is both engaging and helps to further their brand (and sales). Companies utilize social media platforms like Instagram to get the word out about their products. Some companies choose to hand over control of their social media outlets to account managers to help grow instagram followers, likes, engagement and drive sales. Smart companies like Cisco use product placement (instead of ads) on highly rated programs (i.e. on the series ’24’) to further brand awareness. Infomercials of every size and type are being created to appeal to niche markets that care deeply about very specific topics.

If the content is valuable enough or if it can entertain and your brand is directly associated with that entertainment, you might consider creating it yourself.

Why doesn’t the Home Depot come up with a really good ‘How-to’ series that could run on the Home and Garden Network but could also be available directly on their website. Imagine if there was a really good video demo of how to build/fix… anything on the Home Depot website with reference to products (in their store, of course) and all related processes. That series would create tremendous value for the company and their customers. Home Depot should develop it’s own programming.

Classmates (the company that chose the wrong business model and let Facebook slip by them to claim a multi-billion dollar segment they should have owned) could sponsor a Classmates Reality TV show where you get to watch classmates reuniting after 10/20/30 years – and all the drama that ensues. It could be a huge hit and would help promote their dying online service. While creating branded entertainment could be percieved as a risky investment (I.e what happens if the show doesn’t succeed) there is inherent risk in any marketing initiative.

Your local Law Firm should create a really good series of ‘What you need to know’ videos dealing with a variety of legal issues (not legal advise – which they cannot offer for free – but all of the context around legal issues). Anyone facing possible legal issues would be keen to know their rights, the processes involved and the steps required.

Just ask your Chief Content Officer.
The branding and marketing opportunities for companies are endless and have little to do with ‘traditional TV advertsing’. I would hazard to guess that this type of new targeted and specialized content is exactly what more people will be viewing – wherever, however in the near future – not sitcoms and probably not quite as many CSI mutations. Sure, ads will still sit in front of, over and behind entertainment content but more companies will be looking to create content that helps support their own brand rather than sponsoring content that has nothing to do with their brand. I also think that a the role CCO (Chief Content Officer) will evolve in organizations over time as many companies will look to develop content that not only differentiates their products but also supports, informs and entertains the groups and social networks that evolve around their product’s ecosystems.

4 Responses

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