Commentary

The Evolution of Television Media

We may be witnessing the evolution of television media before our very eyes and I wanted to take a second to point out some of my most recent observations, as discovered while channel surfing this past weekend…

As today’s audience is becoming more selective in the types of messages they react to, or even notice, the media has been forced to find new ways of breaking through our self-imposed clutter and reaching the target audience. This past week I took note of three rather ingenious ways that television has begun to deal with this problem by taking cues from other forms of media (most specifically from Interactive).

1) Al Michaels’ mention of Monster.com during commentary with John Madden.

  • Surprisingly I have not heard too many discussions on this little “event” that took place during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. During a debate over the job search that Tampa Bay went through before hiring Gruden away from the Raiders, Al Michaels made reference to Monster.com in what may as well have been a scripted ad. It may have been spontaneous, but I find it hard to believe and I think the rest of the advertising world also found it hard to believe, as well. That mention took place during the period when the majority of the audience was paying the most attention, and it was just subtle enough to be effective without being obtrusive. If it was a paid mention, then I think it was great. If it was not, then Monster.com got the value of a Super Bowl spot for nothing, so kudos to them.

    2) Television’s proliferation of a “digital dashboard” on traditional programming.

  • Channel surfing is now even easier than ever before due to the high number of digital nav-bars that have popped up all over the cable networks. MTV, ESPN, CNN, your morning news, Home Shopping Network, and any number of other stations have all incorporated a digital element into their programming for at least a portion of the day. These nav-bars feature everything from stock tickers and news tickers to self-promotion for upcoming shows and special announcements. The only thing they have not done yet is actually run a text ad in that placement, but it’s only a matter of time. Are these effective at driving a reaction from the viewer? I certainly think they are, and it seems that the networks believe it as well since they are continuously adding them into programming. These are simply adding to the argument for interactive television by making traditional television look more interactive everyday.

    3) Flash Overlays on top of current programming (the “Fox” effect).

  • In another coup for the eventual growth of interactive TV, programs (and not just those on Fox) are adding what amounts to a Flash Overlay or a pop-up onto programming. MTV seems to be the highest incidence of this outside of the Fox network, but I have seen it on some other stations as well. They are annoying to some users, but at least they are quick and they drop down into the corner. These are ads over content, in much the same way that pop-ups and flash are used online, so it must stand to reason that TV thinks we’re doing something right. How much longer is it before we see an ad banner on the bottom of the screen for the entire episode of “Friends?”

    We are forced daily to rethink how media will continue to influence the customer in the coming years. We may not always be right, but at least we’re trying. When you are putting together your recommendations, regardless of the media that you work within, think about how your audience will react and think about the clutter that will surround the campaign that you are putting together. Try to come up with something new. Evolution is not a scary thing, it can actually be quite fun.

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