If you follow the trade publications in our industry today, you know that TV is dead in the U.S.
Everyone is cutting the cord. No one watches scheduled linear TV anymore. Millennials have never seen a TV remote control, let alone operated one of those elusive little contraptions.
Google’s YouTube now has the kind of scale that we haven’t seen since the days of "M*A*S*H."
And the only places where advertisers can actually reach big audiences are Google and Facebook, with most hoping that Amazon will step up as a major ad player soon and turn the digital duopoly into at least a three-way fight.
TV advertising has a marketing problem.
For decades, TV networks had to market to their advertisers. TV media has always been a supply-constrained market, and agencies were relied on to make sure the money kept showing up. No need to insure that advertisers, their bosses and their shareholders were aware of TV advertising’s unmatched benefits: massive scale delivered fast; deep emotional connections with consumers; sales-driving impact; incomparable pricing.
Then, the internet dawned — and for the past 20+ years, online folks have been shouting from the rooftops about the power of digital, sticking slick data-loaded reports and dashboards in everyone’s faces and calling out all naysayers as luddites, certain to be fired if they kept investing in a media channel as outdated as television, where the main audience demo is “65 to dead.”
Industry people find it incomprehensible when I tell them that “Judge Judy” delivers more audience advertising minutes every day than all of the videos on all of YouTube across all of America all day. Why are they so surprised? More than 10 million people on average watch “Judge Judy” during every minute in the show, including the eight or so minutes of ads shown each half hour.
How many people do you know who watch eight minutes of YouTube ads every day? It takes a lot of non-skipped, six-second pre-rolls to match all of those minutes.
Plus, “Judge Judy” isn’t alone. “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy” and “Family Feud” deliver similar numbers day in and day out. And if you start analyzing prime-time shows, and games from sports leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB, “Judge Judy” pales in comparison.
Is America really cutting the cord, when Pew numbers show that 90 million of us don’t have broadband at home? The broadband-less population is not evenly distributed. It’s about 50% of those 65 and older. It’s almost 50% of folks in Missouri.
Ah, but it’s all about reaching millennials these days, right? According to Nielsen data, 18- to 24-year-olds watch significantly more linear TV than they do digital video, and a much higher percentage of TV ad time versus digital video. Incredibly, they watch more linear TV today than my cohort (those born in the early 1960s) did when we were their age. Seem hard to believe? Actually, most homes then only had one TV, and few TVs were in dorm rooms.
Maybe TV’s not as dead as it seems.
What does the TV industry need to do? It needs to up its marketing game. Agencies aren’t carrying the water with clients the way they used to. After all, they have clients who have drunk the duopoly Kool-Aid.
TV companies need to win with the numbers: Total reach. Daily Reach. Cost per reach point. Sales impact, short-term and long-term. Emotional impact. Cost efficiency.
TV advertising has great stories here. They need to be told.
Fortunately, we’ve seen strong thought leadership these past years from ThinkBox in the U.K., and lately by the Video Ad Bureau in the U.S. But we need more.
This is the time when TV advertising needs to work for its supper. Just “answering the phones” won’t yield the price normalization (increases) that TV deserves, relative to comparable digital media products. Run-of-network premium digital video prices are 3-10X higher than run-of-network national cable. How many sales claimed by search and social companies’ attribution solutions were actually influenced by TV?
Is the TV industry ready? What do you think?