Aperture: Great Expectations

Digitalization has allowed broadcasters to deliver more channels. It's allowed cable system operators to expand the number of linear channels while adding on-demand programming. And it has given birth to an Internet so vital and pervasive that it's setting the bar high for all other media to meet. No matter who you are or who your customer is, the digitization of media has something for you.

But why does this matter to those of us looking for the consumer's aperture moment? In addition to raising the bar for news, information and entertainment, the digitization of media has raised consumers' expectations for brand communications.

It's true that consumers like to avoid commercials. They DVR, switch channels or use the time-honored method of simply standing up and leaving the room. Commercial avoidance is prevalent in all media; we just have better metrics to measure it in TV.

When consumers want information, however, they search it out - including information on brands. I'm sure that the ads in Vogue are read as often as the magazine's editorial content. I suspect that travel advertising gets additional attention when running on the Travel Channel. And ads for StubHub, the national ticket broker, get additional consideration when running in a Yankee game.

So, what's going on? When consumers want information, they'll engage. Think about it - someone can tell you something important that is totally meaningless to you, like travel directions. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? No, not practice, go north four blocks, hang a left, then walk two more.

Now if you're going to a concert at Carnegie Hall you're engaged with that information. If you're intending to go straight to the local pub for a dinner and beer, then most likely you zoned out and avoided the information.
What does all of this have to do with digital media? Its key benefit is the dramatic improvement it makes in matching people to messages that are important to them.

Let's get back to my buddy that went to the pub and not to the concert that evening. What I didn't tell you is that he's on his way to Carnegie Hall tonight. No fear, he'll know exactly how to get to Carnegie Hall because the information is sitting on the Internet and is his to get anytime.

Apply that to marketing, when consumers want information on brands they know. They don't need to bump into it on television or happen to hear it on the radio or come across it in print. They look for it now on the Internet, but on-demand information on the Internet is not enough.

People still spend more time with TV than they do with all other media combined. Digitizing TV content will enable consumers to experience their favorite medium with the same level of interactivity as computers.
They would be able to VOD applications is the Disney Travel Channel on the Cablevision system. As parents, Disney World is always on the radar screen. Through messaging placed on Cablevision's interactive channel guide, channel 650, a viewer is directed to the Disney Travel Channel. Disney Travel contains exclusive information on the parks designed to get the viewer excited about the possibility of a Disney vacation. The channel encourages us to ask for more information (so they can get contact data, we suspect) and, miraculously, invite a Disney Travel specialist to call within 15 minutes.

While no one's short term vision includes a television universe void of linear channels, we all would benefit from an explosion of digital programming. It will increase the speed and customization of news, information and programming. Most importantly, it will increase the frequency and quality of aperture moments any time consumers want.

Steve Farella, president-CEO, and Audrey Siegel, executive vice president and director of client services, are cofounders of TargetCast TCM. (

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