The problem that Yaccarino and NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt sketched: On one side, there’s more and more entertainment content that does not rely on advertising revenue. And where there is advertising, it is so terrible that it turns off consumers to the degree that they are driven even faster to these new, non-ad-revenue-supported entertainment platforms. And that is bad news for advertisers, agencies and TV networks.
“Consumers are running away from advertising in droves,” Greenblatt said. “That’s the issue of the moment. We need to get to a point where people watch ads for a reason, and there is much less interruption.”
It is of course way too simplistic to state that bad advertising is to blame, and that a simple improvement of the actual advertising will reverse the current trends.
Mind you, I am not saying that ad quality does not matter. It does, a great deal, and today most advertising is very skip-worthy.
But bad advertising is not to blame. Bad television is. The non-advertising-revenue-dependent platforms are attractive to consumers because the content these platforms offer is so far superior to what the networks and most cable channels offer, it’s almost no contest. That there are no ad interruptions is almost a bonus.
Just look at the Emmys: The number of non-network nominees, and winners, has been staggering. The amount of money being spent on content by non-network platforms runs into the billions (pick your poison among Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.).
And what do the networks offer? More “NCIS” and a “Roseanne” reboot.
The fact that it’s all about content is also being proven by the decline in marketers’ interest in cheap digital reach. Digital content providers as well as ad tech and digital media agencies are all facing serious declines in ad revenues, especially in margins. Advertisers are trading click bait and alleged mass digital reach for quality reach and a desire for more transparent, brand-safe environments.
Many claim the lack of one measurement currency across all platforms is another significant problem. However, in the olden days, we were ruled by the GRP in traditional media. But in very different touch points, we used very different measures. Direct marketing, for instance, was never measured in GRPs. Neither was in-store marketing. And I don’t recall there being pressure on the Direct Marketing Association to move to a GRP standard.
Traditional TV is losing audience and relevance, which is bad news for marketers who depend on advertising to reach consumers and sell products. But the lack of a singular measure, as well as “crappy advertising,” are not the reasons for what’s happening. TV needs to evolve to become more like the platforms that people like, both in content strategy as well as presentation and distribution strategy.
Step one is admitting you have a problem. Now start innovating!