The Future of TV Looks A Lot Like Digital—But Also A Lot Like Itself

12 August 2014 | Blog

mirrorWe’ve said before that TV isn’t going anywhere any time soon. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to change. TV as a medium is evolving faster than ever before. But what will it look like in the future?

It’s a good bet that a lot of the advantages offered by digital marketing are going to be showing up in TV in the near future. In fact, many of them already have.

  1. More Data. Demographics are increasingly going beyond the traditional age and gender brackets. TV is starting to be measured based on viewing behavior, purchase behavior, conversion, and more. The faster the data can be turned around, the more useful it is.
  2. More targeting. Data is useless unless it’s actionable. But with the rise of audience-based buying and selling, that data is increasingly useful for aiming messages at the exact right audience. But it’s not enough to just reach the right audience—the message has to be targeted, too. Automated versioning tweaks ads to match the desired consumers’ needs, so it’s relevant to them.
  3. Aggregation. Aggregating audiences across a media footprint allows that targeting to be effective. No one wants to make dozens of buys to reach a few viewers here, a few viewers there. But aggregating targeted consumers can gather a big enough audience to make a difference.
  4. Optimization. Computers are a wonderful thing. Today’s complex algorithms make this entire impression-based ecosystem possible, balancing schedules to maximize impressions so that buyers have reduced effective CPMs and sellers can increase their yields.
  5. Automation. Workflow automation reduces costs and enables the complicated orders generated by impression-based sales to be executed simply. It also allows the kind of rapid response to viewing and conversion data that is necessary for true real-time marketing.

But TV and digital are not the same. How will TV remain distinctive?

  1. Greater reach. TV’s big advantage has always been its superior reach. While some of the techniques of TV advertising may be changing, Americans’ love of TV has not. We watch more TV than ever before. To reach a lot of viewers very quickly, TV will continue to be the medium of choice.
  2. Impact. Humans are visual creatures, and we love storytelling. The combination of vision, sound, and story is precisely why TV is so powerful—video is the most engaging medium we’ve devised. The context of TV is engrossing, and the ads themselves are more powerful than any static image could be.
  3. No Race To the Bottom. TV executives watched digital publishers struggle as unfavorable auctions leached their inventory of value. As TV moves into the programmatic world, these lessons will help inventory holders avoid a similar situation.
  4. No viewability or fraud scandals. Digital has been rocked lately by scandals indicating that much of the inventory advertisers paid for was worthless. TV, especially with the increased levels of data available, has much more stringent controls. Advertisers will continue to be more confident that they got what they paid for.

Since its inception, TV has been the most powerful tool a marketer can use. Now, it’s poised to become even more powerful.