Whatever the topic, no one seemed to think that technology is necessarily sowing the seeds of advertising's destruction. Advertising might change, and maybe even shrink as a share of revenues at big media companies, but it's not going to go away. And television, which looms so large in the media spend yet seems so threatened by technology, won't disappear as we know it--it will just change.
Radio didn't kill newspapers, the argument goes. Television, by the same token, didn't kill radio. And the Internet hasn't yet taken a large share of the pie away from TV.
"We have yet to see a technology completely trump the previous one," said Patrick Vien, president of network enterprises at the Universal Television Group.
People are still going to watch commercials that are done well and innovatively, said Jeff DeJoseph, chief strategic officer at Omnicom's Doremus. Not that it won't change some of the form. "TiVo will eliminate most of the bad commercials," DeJoseph said.
And as that fact becomes more apparent, DeJoseph said, more brands are getting involved in other aspects of television production, even into series development so that products can be integrated in a strong and seamless way "so it doesn't seem like a long-form ad."
Vien warned that only so much can be done with product placement before you run into trouble.
"At some point, there's just no tolerance for it," Vien said.
Television networks have done this in their own way by finding new ways to get revenues out of their programming investment, which totals billions of dollars every year. At HBO, it's creating DVDs of popular shows like "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," and by making syndication deals for shows like "Sex in the City."
The larger media companies that have a wide range of properties-from broadcast to cable TV, Internet and print, not to mention DVDs-are in a great position to benefit from fragmentation. It gives advertisers the ability to place their advertising where the consumer is.