Click/Counter-Click: The King Is Dead--Or Is He?

CLICK by Paul DeBraccio

The death of TV as an ad vehicle may be a bit exaggerated. With the advent of delayed videos online, and now Sprint announcing Jay Leno will be on its phones, a lot of advertising execs are crying about the lost revenue from the imminent death of TV. However, it seems that even though the Internet and mobile apps are ubiquitous, the trail ultimately leads back to TV as the parent.

Agencies have been attempting to find ways to evaluate and buy integrated programs for at least five to six years, and the answer from most ad execs is: "we are working on it and have a great new platform in which we can integrate online, print, TV, et al."

The truth is that a banner or pop-up on TV sending you to text-message your opinion is just not quantifiable at the cash register for it to pay off for a diverse group of advertisers--yet.

Companies like Slingmedia and its box that allows you to view and control your TV from anywhere online should be the top story on everyone's lips, and more popular than iPods, but I think consumers and the online ad industry are still a bit confused about how it all fits together.



It is doubtful that TV networks will relegate the billions they have spent on building their empires to the scrap heap anytime soon.

Creating a virtual media plan in which different media serve different commercial functions may be the most likely path. This can keep audiences focused on core offerings and build ancillary programming for other venues.

MTV recognized that its core audience is mobile and Internet-centric, and it is using those mediums to shore up and expand its core business.

Comedy Central and its five new broadband channels are creating similar opportunities to capture its audiences in many ways as well.

However, until this industry finds a way to quantify video on the Internet and TV on mobile phones, this circle of confusion will remain unbroken until the next bubble bursts.

I think we need to work fast to solve this riddle so that major advertisers will continue to invest in interactive advertising in a direct and measurable manner.

Addressing that point, Jason and I plan to do a study of this issue in the near future. We will publish the results for you right here.

Counter-CLICK--by Jason Heller

TV is still the dominant medium by leaps and bounds. Therefore, the ad dollars have and will continue to follow the eyeballs.

But as consumers seek new and more convenient ways to obtain information and entertainment, the media landscape evolves before us, and we are all changing our approaches accordingly.

Hence the rise of communication channel planning, the practice of planning around consumers' media behavior, has been adopted throughout most media agencies. In theory, we now have an infrastructure built upon true media agnosticism.

There are many hurdles that delay the reality of media channels working more seamlessly together, and the economics of TV versus digital media is a big part of the foundation that keeps this hurdle in place. But as all media becomes digital, the accountability, targetability, and on-demand consumption attached to the shift is naturally forcing all media options to the same consideration table.

Marketers are in fact shifting dollars from traditional forms of media into various digital channels, and TV networks are starting to jump into the game. We do not live in a single-device world yet, and possibly never will, so we market to the multi-device world around us. If that means driving tune-in from the Web to TV--then to a mobile device back to the Internet--we have nonetheless further engaged the consumer. Some networks do this quite well already.

The consumer engagement offered by digital media has proven to increase awareness, purchase intent and consumer value. Digital media planners today merge science and art--commencing planning with blank canvases and a palette of various digital media options, each supported by statistics on audience size and audience quality, which of course is a subjective variable--the very variable the networks are struggling with. The model of broadcasting television online and the value to advertisers has yet to establish itself.

Marketers will always prefer to have video displayed over the highest definition and largest devices possible. Therefore, you won't find advertisers flocking to shift TV budgets to two-inch mobile screens anytime soon. However, the specific media channels that the budgets shift to, will vary from category to category. The budgets will continue to shift to follow fragmenting media consumption patterns. The bigger question is always where the budgets shift from.

The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality plagues the progression of many media plans, where budgets are always limited no matter how large they are. TV might not be what it used to be, but it is still an effective mass medium (the upfront continues to grow, even with industry skepticism). Besides, let's face it--nobody has ever been fired for placing the budget in TV, and most agencies would prefer to shoot a commercial rather than design an online rich media campaign.

TV networks and publishers of all sizes, however, are heeding the call from consumers, preparing for the continued onslaught of the on-demand lifestyle revolution, with widespread adoption of blogs, video broadcasts, podcasts, RSS feeds, and consumer-generated content.

Of course, it's the early adopters along with tomorrow's mainstream consumers, the teenagers and 20-somethings of today, who are already consuming media in new and multiple channels, often simultaneously. In the short term, the majority of dollars that will shift to new digital channels, outside of online media, will come from marketers reaching this media-savvy audience.

We live in exciting times. Networks are experimenting with broadcasting shows online. Microsoft has its upcoming release of Internet Explorer 7, which should catapult the use of RSS feeds. There will be many new opportunities for TV networks and publishers to create relevant relationships with consumers. Of course, advertisers will soon thereafter seek to leverage these relationships--many of which will be dominated by the big media and entertainment companies.

Can these online broadcasts and feeds help reach consumers who would have ordinarily not tuned in to TV? Are these online consumers more or less valuable than those who tuned in to TV? Are the online ads more or less effective? These are all questions that will help shape the future of TV and online advertising as we know it. 2006 should be the year that we touch the tip of the iceberg.

So, the king is certainly far from dead. He has just come out of a midlife crisis and is in the prime of his life.

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