At Least 50% Of TV Ad Jobs Will Be Gone In 5 Years

  • by , Featured Contributor, November 29, 2018

For people who work in TV advertising, the next five years are bound to be bumpy —but not because everyone is “cutting the cord,” leaving no one to watch TV anymore. 

In fact, TV viewing -- even old-fashioned linear viewing -- is likely to remain quite resilient.

No, the next five years will bring us significant shifts across the entire advertising ecosystem — changes that will impact the TV advertising world more significantly than relative shifts in media consumption might suggest. 

Here’s what I mean:

TV world becoming very digital. Over-the-top TV viewing will continue to grow, and that growth will force TV media owners to combine their linear and digital products, platforms, process and people. TV and digital people will be fighting for many of the same jobs, and there won’t be room for both anymore.

TV world becoming very automated. People-based processes in TV are becoming increasingly automated. Merging with digital and OTT will only make this happen faster. More software equals fewer people.

TV world becoming very marketer-centric. Most of TV’s sales, account management and service assets are arrayed against agency sales channels. Those will be automated, and the growth in channel development will be direct to marketer, not direct to agency. Incumbent TV folks will lose in that shift.

TV world becoming very data-driven. Data, not sales research, will drive the value of TV advertising as it becomes more digital and more marketer-driven. True data-driven products and sales don’t mesh well with historical TV research and measurement approaches.

Results will trump relationships. In a digital, data-driven world, what sellers did for buyers 10 years ago on a different account will matter a lot less than the results marketers are going to get — and be guaranteed — on a campaign scheduled for next quarter, or the next two weeks. Automation will disintermediate relationships, and results will rule the day.

Ironically, I believe that the role of TV within the media ecosystem will be at least as important as it is today, and certainly won’t be less important. However, TV advertising won’t rule the roost as the most powerful of the media silos as it has for decades. Instead, it will be the most powerful channel within a much more holistic ecosystem. This will make it tough for folks who built their careers supporting and reacting to that market model.

I believe that lean-forward people will win in the lean-back medium of TV. Taking orders and going with the flow (which is typically slow) of the TV world worked well for the past 30 years. No more. Those who survive in TV ad biz will be proactive and bring change on themselves before it’s foisted on them.

All jobs will be hit. More diverse creative will be done by fewer people faster. More orders will be booked with fewer calls and fewer assistants and less human negotiation. Many fewer people will spend their time just managing people and managing up.

What about you? Hope to retire before it happens? Too late. Already happening. What do you think?



26 comments about "At Least 50% Of TV Ad Jobs Will Be Gone In 5 Years".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Long Ellis from Tetra TV, November 29, 2018 at 4:37 p.m.

    Dave- as you well know, there have been hundreds of fine individuals who have been let go due to the fragmentation of TV audiences due to OTT and the resulting margin crunch that the TV nets have experienced. It is very sad and a lot of families have been significantly affected by this. 

    I don’t completely disagree with many of the things you say here. I just don’t think your messaging should include ...Hey, you are about to be shot or maybe you are already dead, but what do you think about that?

    What is happening to TV jobs has been devastating for a lot of great people. 

    If you want to get better traction in TV, perhaps you should show a little more empathy towards the industry you are in. I think you are a great person who may have just gotten caught up in their own narrative. Peace. 

  2. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, November 29, 2018 at 4:53 p.m.

    Dave, the shift from ad sales relationships to data and results in this business is inevitable. But I'm having trouble grasping a future in which a container tag taps the buyer to offer a few drinks at Cipriani before we hop on the train at Grand Central. The various food and entertainment venues, along with similar purveyors, will feel some impact, too.I think it was Mel Karmazin, on seeing Brin and Page's presentation about their goal years back, who objected, "You're taking away the magic!" Too bad.

  3. Rich Vernadeau from DVD Movies & Books, November 29, 2018 at 4:55 p.m.

    This mirrors very closely what happened in terrestrial radio the past two decades. Friend of mine worked in the news division of WBAP rado Dallas-Ft. Worth in 1991 when they had 52 employees. Now it's down to 6 people. 

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 29, 2018 at 6:35 p.m.

    Dave, while you and I are on the same page on many subjects I think that you have greatly overstated the case on this one. For what you are predicting to come true advertisers will have to abandon or greatly restrict their involvment in the upfront, corporate ----as opposed to brand by brand---- time buying auctions with their emphasis on low CPMs, not targeting. So far there has been virtually no movement in this direction. Also, it is a leap to far to assume that TV will be dominated by OTTin five years or that most buying and selling will be done via computers. Again, there is some movement in this direction, but it's progressing at a modest pace---hardly the big wave that some pundits keep describing. As for results trumping relationships, "results" are very hard to define from one type of advertiser to the next. Moreover, the results of total ad campaigns have always been evaluated ---as opposed to the particular effects of advertising in a particular show or channel. Because there is so much audience duplication between shows and channels as any TV campaign develops it is virtually impossible to establish the unique contribution of any given set of ad placements----even if one has "attribution" information. Finally, if what you say actually comes true---and part of it probably will-----I would expect that more not fewer people will be required to deal with it, perhaps not in the "selling" function but certainly on the research and the buying side and at the advertisers where media has long been a neglected subject or a taken for granted chore.

  5. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, November 29, 2018 at 9:19 p.m.

    Is it possible that it's the nature of the job that changes?  Artificially intelligent programs, whether in programmatic or other applications, aren't omnipotent, nor are they flawless.  Somebody who knows the business has to keep watch and to do that they have to expand their knowledge base into data science and AI. Plus, if the client has a $5mil. TV ad spend in progress...the human touch improves the client/agency experience.

  6. Ken Kurtz from creative license replied, November 30, 2018 at 7:42 a.m.

    Awwwww. Mel's "magic!" Brings back fond memories. When he was starting out as a young salesman for WNEW NY, the story went that he approached my dad (an account supervisor at DDB on Volkswagon) and sold his first "New York Giants" broadcast package to VW. That "magic" deal cemented a friendship between Karmazin and Kurtz, and our household was rarely without "Mel stories" from thereon in. I so remember his "magic."

  7. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 30, 2018 at 8:09 a.m.

    Long, thanks for your comments. I care deeply about the folks in the industy and the difficulties that many will face. That is why I wrote the column. I cam out of the newspaper industry, so I know what happens when there is too much sugar-coating, avoidance and denial. If I caused even one person in the business to take a class to build digital or data skills, or think about changing industries before the industry changes on them, I will feel good about it. Many, many tens of thousands of newspaper employees got stuck because they didn't. I don't want to see the same for their TV ad brethren.

  8. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 30, 2018 at 8:10 a.m.

    I agree Henry. The magic in TV media, and the power of human relationships are very special in our business. My hope is that folks spend time learning key skills for the future and realize that the magic and relationships alone won't give them job security.

  9. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 30, 2018 at 8:13 a.m.

    Ed, for sure, there will be many, many new jobs in the TV ad industry, and data management and analytical skills will be vvery much in demand. However, that won't obviate the fact that many of the jobs and tasks done today will go away, just as they have in other industries and within other media channels particularly. I hope that I've overstated the scale and immediacy of the impact, but I don't think so.

  10. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 30, 2018 at 8:18 a.m.

    James, I believe that the human touch will continue to be critical in the business, but it won't be enough on it's own. Digital and data skills will be required too.

  11. Rich Vernadeau from DVD Movies & Books, November 30, 2018 at 8:48 a.m.

    We're still in the early stages of a shifting paradigm, anyone employed in the "old school" way of conducting business needs to diversify their skills and approaches. Remember telephone operators and PBX operators. 

  12. Lori Isola from Katz Networks, November 30, 2018 at 1:01 p.m.

    Yes, many great people continue to be affected by the factors you outlined. Speaking as one of them, let’s not lose sight of the valuable experience, business acumen and skills that are transferrable to this evolving ecosystem. It’s actually an exciting time, filled with new opportunities, challenges and learnings. The “lean forward people” looking to pivot and refocus their careers, who have updated their digital skills and market outlook, should be welcomed to partake and included with the next generation to help shape our video world.

  13. Long Ellis from Tetra TV, November 30, 2018 at 1:41 p.m.

    I totally agree Lori- I have already seen plenty of research people leveraging advanced TV data, traffic folks using inventory yield optimizers, pricing and inventory managers beginning to use AI capabilities, sales people learning how to sell cross screen, cross platform proposals. The larger TV network families have actually increased their data and analytic departments and many people are involved in the constant experimentation of various programmatic solutions. 

    Numerous TV employees have already been let let go and TV nets are hiring in areas that will leverage the new technologies. 

    I bet the upfront will stay in play as a transacational strategy that works really well for both buyers and sellers. Scatter will end up being the area that goes more to automation. The upfront will be hard to automate and will continue to require the necessary people power to execute. 

    I firmly believe that the best TV employees will simply learn to use the better technology and data and adjust to slightly different processes and approaches. I’m hoping much of the pain is almost over. 

  14. John Grono from GAP Research, December 1, 2018 at 2:18 a.m.

    Totally agree.

    We do have better analytic software and that will only improve.  But you still need good analysts to administer the system.   The thing is, analysis can't predict swings between programmes, counter-programming moves etc.   We had that issue here in Australia with Australian Ninja Warrior.   It was a hit in its debut year.   Year 2 it lost around 40% of its audience.   We're still struggling to work out why.   Our prior The Bachelor and The Bachelorette seasons went suprisingly well, but the latest tanked.   Fortunately we knew who the Bachelor and Bachelorette would be and that they wouldn't sustain the ratings.   Yes, a human made the estimate and lowered the ratings forecast and saved the bacon.

    But the great mystery to me is how online video CPMs are around double that of TV CPMs.   The reach is lower, the ad avidance is higher, counting stream starts as a viewer all combine to widen that gap.

    My guess is that the people who know how video ratings are done (i.e. average minute audience) and what reach and CPM really mean in the linear vs the digital world have already been moved on.   The new generation will also be moved on when the inevitable happens and no-one knows why cost and effectiveness move in opposite directions.

  15. Ken Kurtz from creative license, December 3, 2018 at 7:02 a.m.

    Never forget the root word in "analytic" and "analysts" is anal

    I am a digital-resistant dinosaur, in many ways. Two decades (80's and 90's) with Hearst, Washington Post, and Time Inc. Any attempt on my part to tackle such "great mystery" would be biased.

    But I will go back to "Mel's magic."

    I recall my dad telling the story of Mel being asked whether his wife worked outside their home, and if she did, what was her work. Mel looked at the person with a cocktail in one hand, raised his other hand to extend his index finger straight up over his mouth, and the tip of his nose, and breathed a loud and lengthy "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

  16. Ken Kurtz from creative license, December 3, 2018 at 7:05 a.m.

    Mrs. Karmazin was a librarian, but Mel wasn't "anal" about answering the question being posed to him. That "magic" will forever be missed...

  17. Ken Kurtz from creative license, December 3, 2018 at 7:10 a.m.

    And I left media in the late 90's for land development (there's lots of crappy programming being created, but God's not making any more land) and most recently software (there's "magic" in 1's, and 0's).

  18. Ken Kurtz from creative license, December 3, 2018 at 7:13 a.m.

    So there is hope, and plenty of opportunity for smart people being shaken out of the advertising business. Especially here in the GREAT ol' USA. 

  19. John Grono from GAP Research replied, December 3, 2018 at 3:12 p.m.

    Umm.   Sorry to be pedantic Kenny, but etymologically speaking the origin of the word 'analytic' is from the Latin analytica which is from the Greek analytika, and came into English vernacular in the 1590s.

  20. Ken Kurtz from creative license, December 3, 2018 at 4:08 p.m.

    No apology required, John.

    Especially since my tongue was FIRMLY in my cheek on that one (as opposed to in my ass). Ironically, it all circles back to another Mel Karmazin story. He was always in "magic-preservation" mode, and wont to share that very phrase about "anal being the 'root' of analyst and analysis."

  21. Koenraad Deridder from Dekoder, December 4, 2018 at 1:15 p.m.

    Unfortunately 50% seems conservative to me.
    In the TV saleshouse I ran (a JV with FOX in Belgium), we got the planning and traffic department down to 25% of a traditional sales house. Just by automating somewhat more. With lot's of other possibilities in the works now that media agencies want to fasten the evolution and co create these new trading platforms. 
    Same is true at the stations where with thanks to automation, they got the microscheduling down from 4 hours a programming day to... 4 minutes. 
    I think part of these jobs lost will be made good by more sales and data specialists, but not all. 

  22. John Grono from GAP Research replied, December 4, 2018 at 2:15 p.m.

    Koenraad, so I assume in the Belgian  TV market that all TV stations provide schedules and availabilities for 100% of saleable inventory with long (say, 13-weel) lead times.

    Here in Australia 'availabilities' are 'masked' - that is, an ad-break pod is denoted as 'available' or 'N/A' but no information as to how many spots are available - so that the broadcaster can control supply to the demand.   Further, when you book there is no guarantee as to which break-in-programme and which position-in-break your spot will run in.   Given that ads in breaks are lower (think inverted normal distribution) and that breaks rate lower than programmes (in the main), that is a sub-optimal buying (and we're talking double-digit percentages).

    When we start a buy we run hundreds (and up to thousands) of simulations hen we start the buying process weeks out, but we have to assume every break in every programme is available as the broadcasters do no provide that electronically.   Within that we also ensure that 'mandatories' (e.g. sponsorhips) are included and that 'no-go' (e.g. regulatory or competitive brand) are excluded.   Of course all that is within budgetary constraints and to achieve GRP reach and budgetary (CPM) goals   That process generally takes less than one minute.

    Where the time is lost is in ensuring that this 'ideal' buy that hits all the client's goals can be executed - i.e. all the 'ideal' spots are available.

    If you hand the placement to the broadcaster you can be sure that (i) your buy will take less time (in the agency) (ii) the buy will be what is best for the broadcaster rather than the advertiser (iii) a sub-optimal campaign for the client.

  23. Koenraad Deridder from Dekoder, December 4, 2018 at 3:43 p.m.

    Hello John, I can feel your pain :).
    Indeed, in Belgium all TV stations open and communicate a planning for the whole year, updated regularly and confirmed 3 weeks before air date.
    First in, first served but with nearly 100% of inventory buyable and contexts / shows nearly always ending up as foreseen.
    Most campaigns work with guaranteed GRP's, measured (and forecast) on the spot level and with pricing agreed in a yearly contract. That contract also includes the % of spots to be placed in what position in the break. 
    This all results in the the bigger agencies more and more buying through their optimizer that can run on real time available inventory.
    While the smaller agencies and direct clients (mostly international accounts) shift placement to the sales houses... but with good results as there are a lot of qualitative criteria that can be selected, even shows to be included or excluded. 

  24. John Grono from GAP Research replied, December 4, 2018 at 4:28 p.m.

    You lucky duck Koenraad.   We have upfront ratecards, a type of guaranteed GRP, PIB deals etc.   We post-analyse to the spot rating, guarantee is programme rating - we're chipping away at that.   At best I would think 80% of inventory would be released early but key prime-time and tent-pole are held back and are subject to deals and negotiation.

    As you point out the big agencies are buying more than is available.   While ever demand exceeds supply that model and pricing will barely change.

  25. Koenraad Deridder from Dekoder, December 4, 2018 at 5:15 p.m.

    Well, John, I think the buyers should indeed be happy. For sellers some more scarcity and some less transparancy would probably be more profitable. So far our model is closest to the French one. But you see our market moving to the Dutch model. While the Dutch themselves are moving towards the British model. So, I expect that in a couple of years the Benelux will very much resemble the UK, with a more important effect of supply and demand (and also part bought addressable but that is an other debate).  

  26. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 4, 2018 at 5:36 p.m.

    As I mentioned in my reply, earlier, nothing is going to happen until advertisers either abandon or greatly modify their current and long established practice of making "corporate" buys which strive to minimize overall CPMs as opposed to allowing the brands to purchase their own TV time. But this is not as easy as it sounds. For example, the agencies are able to charge very low buying/servicing rates to handle TV placements because of the efficiencies of scale caused by corporate not brand by brand buying. If all brand dollars---upfront or scatter---were negotiated individually with the brand's specific targeting and other needs dominant, the agencies would need to greatly expand their buyer staffs---and fees--- and the same thing would apply at the selling level. It's fine to assume that computerized applications will trim personpower costs, however the likely outcome would be more not fewer people needed to get the jobs---now vastly magnified in number---done. As Dave has noted, what will change will be the kinds of people who do the work at both the buying and selling ends---but all of this is problematic unless the corporate buying system is dispensed with or much greater freedom is given to the brands to make their own decisions.

Next story loading loading..