Friday, May 21, 2010

MEDIAPOST: The Death of TV and The Rise of Digital Broadcast

The term TV doesn’t really apply anymore.

In the “olden days” of the media business, TV referred to broadcast on network television. That expanded to include cable, and most recently it expanded even further to encompass online video when said video existed as an extension of network or cable programming with sites like Hulu. These days media buyers are looking at mobile video, digital out-of-home and numerous other aspects of video as extensions of “TV”, so how do you plan accordingly?

In the media business today there’s a movement to just call it what it is; Digital Broadcast. Digital Broadcast is simply the broadcast of video content on any consumer screen. Whether it is a 105-inch screen in your house (yes – that does now exist) to a 2.5-inch screen in your pocket. The consumer doesn’t really differentiate between screens, but advertisers could and should because the experience of these formats is different and the opportunity to message is different as well.

Of course, this shift in thinking points out a tremendous missed opportunity in our business, that no-one has stepped up to manage cross-platform video ad-serving to the web, mobile, set-top box and digital out-of-home. There are many companies looking to get into the space and even more are talking about how they’ll be there, but no-one has accomplished this fact as of yet. If I were Doubleclick or any of the traditional ad-servers, these relationships would be the focus of my attention, but alas that’s a topic for an entirely different column so let’s get back to the primary point of this session.

The opportunity for a publisher in this Digital Broadcast era is to quote a premium price for content based on elevating points of differentiation. If served through a centrally located platform, publishers could determine the quality of the content (professional, UGC, even based on ratings) and the freshness of the content along with the size of the screen. If you marry this information with the competitiveness of the location (how many ads are integrated into the broadcast), publishers could become very adept at creating limited inventory packages with significant value for advertisers that even increase revenues vs. where they are now!

The shows themselves are the most important criteria, but why not have these shows rated in real-time and pricing set in an auction model, or more in line with the Google algorithm for determining pricing based on audience and interaction? That could create a model for traditional networks and other strong content producers to be compensated for their true value, increasing as the audience increases.

The freshness of the content is important for timeliness of the message delivery. Advertisers with a very time sensitive message could be rotated in at a premium, and other advertisers would follow suit, paying a premium when time matters.

If publishers could determine the size of the screen and limit the clutter, then a premium would be in line because marketers wouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. Their messages would break through more often, they could align with the screen size to determine follow-up capabilities (mobile vs. pc vs. television-based) and they could be more actionable by the consumer.

The last 10 years we’ve all heard whispers of the renaissance that is coming in broadcast and the problems with the upfront, etc. These are all potentially true, but they still do not lend credit to the fact that “TV”, or Digital Broadcast, is still the most impactful, most important component of any marketers budgets. With a couple tweaks in the marketplace, things could get even more exciting for them!

What else do you see coming for the broadcast business?