Despite all these new media opportunities, sometimes it feels like we are back inside the Internet bubble. Like shuffling cards in a deck. Hearts, we go for audience and brand awareness. Spades, we focus on ROI. Add mobile into the mix, and the ability to build an audience across multiple devices never seemed so easy. Akin to the bubble years, "audience" today seems to validate every new technology even when there is no obvious business model.
However, this is an unsettling time for those on the TV side of the media equation. The Internet folks are getting all the attention and all the valuation, while television media planning has quietly fallen out of fashion. This digital group think has been over a decade in the making. But as interactive television gains critical mass this year, maybe we should begin to look at each TV show as a stand-alone "Web property."
Contrary to what some new-media folks believe, television still aggregates an audience and still has a business model (albeit an aging one). Each TV program represents distinct audiences that come together to sample relevant content.
It's hard to find TV content today that does not contain Web site addresses, Twitter mentions, and text-based messages throughout. It's accepted that even with these "light" reference points, as it stands now TV's long-term prospects pale in comparison to those of the Internet, mostly because TV content still has no direct-response mechanism.
Blending Internet elements into TV content makes for a seamless experience - and, in my opinion, is tomorrow's preferred business model. When I watch TV it feels, and looks, as if we're already headed in this direction. What we are missing, though -- in addition to some critical technology deployments -- is a unified direction for the industry on planning for, and measuring, TV click responses.
Set-top-box measurement is but a tiny piece of the puzzle, one that will become increasingly challenged as time-shifted behavior grows. On the other hand, today TV programming is filled with Internet reference points that can prompt viewers to interact. I think if TV programmers forward these opt-in TV click responses to an Internet Web site -- where consumers can follow up on their "clickable" moments -- that should be the natural direction for both media. Within a few years we might see scores of companies created that could provide a new revenue stream to both cablers and broadcasters, while at the same time also offering unique TV click solutions directly to programmers and advertisers.
In my opinion, Internet video might just remain a great secondary viewing source to broadcast and cable. I can imagine one day soon clicking my remote control and moving a television news story, or advertisement, to my laptop.
It's clear to me that the future of television planning will be response-driven. However, until we can develop cross-platform metrics, additional new business models for television will be nearly impossible to establish. In addition, when we do establish the rules for cross-platform measurement, I think we will see tremendous synergies unlocked for agencies that had the foresight to consolidate their traditional and new-media businesses.