Commentary

Television Is Everywhere -- Or Is It?

Television is no longer a piece of furniture that sits in a living room. Television is almost everywhere people want it to be - mobile, phone, Internet, WiFi, WiMax, or DSL broadband. Needless to say, viewership is changing. Today, YouTube and MySpace get more viewers than some television shows.

Based on the research so far, industry experts believe that exposure on the Web equals or is slightly better than that of TV. But one fact remains: television viewing is not declining.

Traditional in-home viewing continued to be competitive last year, and even gained among some audiences, according to Nielson Media Research. Nielsen reports that during 2005-06, the total average time a household watched television was 8 hours, 14 minutes per day; a 3-minute increase over the previous year. Average individual viewing also increased by 3 minutes a day to 4 hours, 35 minutes. Both of these are new records.

However, innovations such as DVRs and TiVo have accelerated the need to change the traditional television model. But how can television change when its model of advertising is based on commercials of :30, :60, and even longer in a new environment of endless possibilities and combinations?

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In reality, television doesn't have to air programs when it does and how it does. The medium is also not bound to airing advertising the way it does either. The industry can start from scratch to recreate television, but it will take the big networks joining forces and leading the way to make this happen.

In the future, media buyers likely will not have to worry about TV ratings; audiences will be cumed and measured across all segments as part of a holistic approach to marketing and advertising. Advertising will be contextual and less disruptive than it is today, and will create experiences for the consumer much as we see today with Internet sponsorships.

Tomorrow's programs might be purchased across all platforms in 360-degree types of inventory - television, Webisode, mobilisode, blogisode, podisode - as shows continue to migrate from the TV screen to the Internet and elsewhere. Programming may surround the consumer as much as technology will afford and the consumer will allow.

My company has already seen a shift in results that is causing us to rethink our communication plans and migrate to additional channels - combining brand with direct initiatives.

The question for advertisers and marketing professionals becomes: How do you develop a communication plan to target those consumers who will buy? The answer will emerge through even greater collaboration among media partners. Media outlets will need to break through the silos of their respective disciplines to give consumers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. The power is in the hands of the consumer, and all media must change to meet these new demands.

It is without a doubt an exciting time! The future of television is yet to be seen, but the medium will surely reinvent itself, creating a brave new world replete with possibilities.

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