Commentary

Big Digital Bang: Can Order Emerge From Chaos?

For obvious reasons the technology and advertising communities have essentially accepted the Internet as the ultimate originator and final resting place for content. It is not difficult to come to this conclusion. Each day digital Web properties -- flush with high valuation multiples -- charge forward, scooping up properties that they imagine will facilitate the end of today's content companies and delivery platforms. Yahoo and Right Media. WPP and 24/7 Real Media. The list is getting longer every week. Is the final resting place for all media to be found buried in a server farm? Or is there a new technology on the verge of its very birth ready to create a Big Digital Bang?

The speed by which information travels today is somewhat daunting. This very speed, at the intersection of Metcalfe's and Moore's Laws, has created fragmentation where a simple order previously reigned. Many of us have tried to find a sense of order in information's velocity, only to be rebuffed back by the accelerating rate with which fragmentation continues to unfold. Hence fragmentation has become accepted as part of the norm and a phenomenon, many believe, only the foolhardy will ever or could ever try to tame.

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It is easy to fall into this groupthink spiral. Just looking around our environment reinforces this collective folly. The systems and business processes installed at nearly all levels of the communications pipe, from ad agencies to content companies, were designed and built for a different era that has long since passed. Reinforcing this groupthink are the very reports that most likely clutter your desk and congest your company's network drive. The ensconced position of Nielsen Media is not really about an embedded culture driven to rank viewership numbers. Rather, it is about the outdated systems and processes for buying, selling and serving that currency, and the real-world challenges we are faced with in attempting to transition these artifacts into the digital age.

Broadcast and cable automation providers have done a fine job of updating their scheduling equipment in preparation for digital television. The future of our industry, however, calls for a layer of intelligent targeting software that potentially resides between the automation and yield management systems. In this new fully digital environment the data captured off the television platform (derived from consumer remote control clicks) can be collected and then retargeted onto TV from inside the Internet platform through a universally accepted -- and yet to be created -- data scheme and bridge.

This system of pushing interactions out of the television infrastructure through the data bridge will help refine consumer choice and deliver consumer interactions free from phishing, click fraud and spam into the Internet, and safely back to the consumer. Here we will find the promised land of engagement and relevancy.

The television content companies will build upon their proud heritage, while the search engine portals will become nothing more than a back-end footnote in our drive to an addressable future. Starting in 2009 a new operating system for the television platform will turn the tide on fragmentation and lay the foundation for real addressability and accountability. From today's chaos we will soon discover our Shangri-La. From this Big Digital Bang will be born a fresh beginning for our beloved television.

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