In the first of this series, we studied TV changes we see arriving in the near-term and technology that is here, but has yet to see its full potential reached. In the second, we addressed the key findings from our television study and made our guess about what we think television will look like in 2019. In this third and final segment, we’ll take a deeper dive into these television predictions and what we think this evolution will mean for advertisers who rely on this medium in their marketing mix.
Does the future of TV mean the death of the 30-second advertising spot? Not necessarily.
This could be an opportunity for growth and creativity in advertising and marketing that didn’t exist before. It is our responsibility as marketers and agencies to rise to that occasion and to build experiences and content reflecting these new ideals.
So, if not a :30 spot, what will advertising look like in this new era?
Here are some predictions for advertising in 2019:
§ Deep-dive targeting: To whom are we, as marketers, speaking? TV is no longer a shotgun broadcast approach. Persona-based television will move advertisers closer to true one to one marketing, and incredibly deep-dive targeting. Expect to see much more personalized content, profile-persona building, and connections planning. You like to watch animal documentaries on Tuesdays? The paid content you are offered will likely be very different from your neighbor whose Tuesday night viewing is a popular telenovela.
§ Creation of Immersive Experiences: People will continue to skip ads—that’s not going to change no matter how targeted they become. Advertisers will need to provide value, and not just interruption, creating content and experiences that people will seek out. For example, a viewer may watch “The Fast and the Furious 10” and be inspired (and have the opportunity) to build his or her own virtual car, price out insurance, or prequalify for a loan. Telescoping content will serve to deliver a palette of touch points. A viewer might select a car on a TV show they are watching for quick info, like the name and model, and then be able to click through to a 30 second on-demand video if they are interested in more. Or, a car enthusiast might opt to drill down further to a two-minute engine tour or a 20-minute “making of” video by the car engineers. (At which point his annoyed spouse may hit him over the head with a pillow, reclaim the remote and resume watching the movie.)
§ Patrons of Content. People will become channels, and those who have the most interesting things to share or show will become a commodity. As people become channels,advertisers will look to sponsor the most influential people. Content from up and comers will be sought after and advertisers will become direct patrons of content. Think of marketers as the Medici’s of the modern age—patrons of those artists who create popular content. Look for a Guy Vaynerchuk, or a Lance Armstrong, or a David Pogue channel. Transparency will also become key. Perhaps there is a running list of items Lance just bought through his TV. The authenticity of his choices will drive the sales: think iTunes celebrity playlists.
§ Content is portable. As television becomes portable, so the work will need to be portable, as well.We’re not just talking the big idea—the story—but we’re talking the how. How do we execute these things? Content and media become that much more creatively and closely tied. Maybe your content starts on TV—but it’s going to need to be going a lot of different places. How will that change the look, the feel, and the reach of your product? Perhaps a spot you view on your phone contains a code to allow you to purchase that product at a discount at the grocery store if you go in the next half hour. What if you’re in Spain? Will your TV direct you to the closest supermercado?
§ T-Commerce-enabled. TV will be truly transactional. Product placement will gain importance, and searchable and clickable programming provides transactional opportunities for retailers within the realm of T-commerce. As we mentioned in the last article, the Oscars broadcast might team up with InStyle magazine to link to dresses similar to the red carpet styles and searchable by price range. Threadless.com could outfit the contestants on the Amazing Race complete with T-commerce-enabled products and ads.
§ Brands will react: As content becomes more and more viral, and television maps trends, entire channels will be devoted to real-time, brands will need to react. We’ll start thinking of brands like political candidates. There will be things we, as marketers, plan such as concepts and campaigns. Then, there will be things we react to in real-time. If you can’t answer the Twitter status question “What are you doing right now?” for your brand, you may have too many cruise ships and not enough speedboats.
§ Creative defined by content, not time: As content is deconstructed, lots of little doors are going to open. The :30 spot might still be around, but now there will also be a :02 spot, :05 spot; This is going to be a time of reinvention, and we believe a period of incredible creativity. Your content no longer must be defined by a network-allotted time in space. Instead, the space that we, as marketers, inhabit will be defined by our content.
§ Brands must learn to play. As television becomes truly interactive, brands will not just talk, but will engage and play. Brands will do. The old :30/:60 spots were the great storytelling vehicles, but that assumes your brand is forever a narrative and this platform should be used to extol on its many adjective-y virtues. Brands become verb-y. Brands are not just going to talk to people, but will play with them, building applications and games. Augmented reality might give a consumer the ability to practice their serve during the French Open courtesy of Wilson, or watch a movie trailer, and upload their own videos with their friends to act in it.
These changes will also bring challenges. With paid media aimed at smaller audiences along the long tail of television, ads will be targeted to specific personas. How much will it cost to produce such personalized content, and how much will be charged for media? For obvious reasons, channels, and the networks of these future channels will be keen to charge a premium for targeted commercials. But advertisers don’t yet know how much more a smaller, interested audience is worth than a large, general one.
We know we can expect audiences to fragment even more as we usher in a long tail of TV ad opportunities and new buying mechanisms based on supply and demand, likely similar to online ad networks. But, how quickly will the TV ecosystem respond? Many technology pieces are already in place, but who and what will bring them all together?
As technologist and visionary Alan Kay famously said: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
If there was ever a time for innovation, it is now.
Dave Friedman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of the Americas for Razorfish and a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer.