The argument that ITV has missed its opportunity because of the Internet's potential to deliver interactive ads to hundreds of millions is dramatically off the mark. I love this debate, because the idea that ITV is already over is demonstrably wrong.
First of all, television remains the ultimate medium for building brands, and at every turn we can witness the Web's “TV-envy.” It seems the Web wants to be TV when it grows up. And the universe of TV viewers has never been too small for advertisers’ interest. With about 100 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S., there are a lot of eyeballs to impress, hearts and minds to engage, and household purchase behaviors to influence. Already, Canoe's ITV platform reaches 25 million of those households. This is 56% of all digital cable households and 25% of the total U.S. pay TV universe. ITV is just starting to ramp up.
Secondly, national advertisers are embracing ITV.
At the recent annual conference of the ANA, Bob Liodice, president and CEO of ANA, pointed to ITV as a top 10 priority for the industry. Our enabled networks’ client rosters -- both those actively interested in as well as those already participating in ITV -- encompass all of the largest advertiser categories, including CPG, pharmaceutical, financial services and insurance, entertainment, travel and automotive.
The reality is that the Web is making progress in its efforts to be more TV-like, and TV is becoming more interactive and accountable. The most well-respected voices I know say we live in “The Age of And.”
Marketers constantly tell us that their priorities include the development of integrated, cross-platform touchpoints that provide different dimensions of brand experience at each connection. There is no such thing as a one-off approach in marketing today. One must begin with a strong and well-considered philosophy, and a plan that strategically anchors every element of a campaign. At the core of every successful plan is the understanding that each platform must work in harmony with others -- even more so today with the social Web's impact on media consumption.
Integrated and holistic -- these are the characteristics of an effective modern marketing philosophy in the Age of And. The mix is where the marketing alchemy comes in. But singling out any one platform as old or new, better or worse, is shortsighted and counterproductive.
Indeed, ITV is not -- and never was meant to be -- a stand-alone silo. Canoe is in the business of creating better television, dedicated to expanding relevant, measurable engagement with viewers and enabling national networks with a tapestry of advanced capabilities. We’re doing that now with in-ad and soon, in-program interactive experiences that make programming and commercial messages more immersive, more social, more fun -- and yes, more accountable to advertisers.
But we're also expanding our services to networks with dynamic ad insertion for VOD. This will give networks new inventory and endow advertisers with the ability to flexibly schedule advertising within cable's coveted VOD content -- programming that viewers attentively watch on their own schedule.
Although distinct products today, you can imagine the not-so-distant future where interactive ads are placed into time-shifted content. As we move forward building scale for advanced television, it's important to recognize that ITV is only one facet of an ever-growing lineup of solutions for advertisers.
Let's face it; the argument that ITV is being replaced by the Internet echoes the broader “TV is dead” declarations we heard a few years ago. The companies that founded Canoe do offer their services on Web-enabled devices -- but not because television as we know it is on the wane. On the contrary, traditional TV viewing continues to rise, and as of July, topped 146 hours per person per month, according to Nielsen.
Television remains the most powerful channel at our disposal. Everybody still loves to watch. They almost certainly always will. It's just that now they can watch on several screens, everywhere and anywhere. But that's addition, not subtraction.
Marketers recognize that emerging opportunities like advanced TV need to be supported, and that advertising in the 21st century is not a zero-sum game. In the Age of And, there is a role for every opportunity, and a place for every platform.