The media and advertising industries are searching for answers on how to tame the destructive forces of fragmentation. But I don't think fragmentation is our enemy. What I really think we are looking for is a way to connect consumers across our two primary platforms (Internet and television).
Building new technologies is not an overnight proposition; it takes years from concept to deployment. What we find today are technologies that were designed years ago for either the Internet or TV, with few addressing both mediums. Today, however, we need cross-platform solutions.
One approach for cross-platform measurement starts with the remote control. When consumers interact with an interactive TV commercial -- in addition to the "click" data being placed in their cable customer records -- the "click" should also be forwarded to a portal for consumer self-service. Once consumers have set up a personal account and password, they could have access to their "clicked" content from these Web portals.
In the future, as consumers "click" on TV content, they could instantly be sent the appropriate email based on their portal preferences. The email (and its bookmark located in the portal) could be linked to music download sites, coupons, advertiser web sites, or perhaps a local broadcast news video. In essence then, television -- by using the Internet -- can become a two-way communications device that delivers to marketers both audience ratings and Internet metrics.
Marketers could further customize email and portal offers from the opt-in data. Consumers would always be able to cut the cord between their television content and their Web portal, thus deleting their confidential information, or perhaps just to switch portals. Hundreds of companies could potentially enter this new market, each hoping to be the next service provider or niche portal. Competition will flourish and the television ecosystem will thrive.
The big challenge for the industry will be in finding and backing the right technology companies that understand the TV "click" stream. Often the television business model is blamed for holding back innovation. But this time around, we should nurture promising ideas to the extent that scale can be achieved.
Linking the television platform and the Internet is the marriage of the century. The rich data source from television could also pave the way for mobile integration. The new connection between television and the Internet provides balance in this age of fragmentation -- and, like a circuit-breaker, it can be calibrated with every new digital innovation.