The death of TV advertising would be good for ad agencies

Posted: November 4, 2012

by Andrew Moore For at least half a decade, the demise of the traditional TV industry has been predicted. Much like newspapers before them, the changing face of technology and on-demand content is stealing eyes away from their traditional channels and the advertising that funds them.

The print industry ignored this for a decade – one of booming success – but these were death throes, and they eventually collapsed. At the

Andrew Moore

moment, TV is facing all the same warning signs; the same audience moving to consuming their entertainment through different media – online, on-demand and recorded on PVRs. And just like print before it, TV is going to have to eventually deal with their share of media spend shrinking dramatically.

This could be seen as a bad thing for the ad industry itself. With fewer TV spots being booked, it’s logical to assume there’ll be a proportional reduction in production budgets. In fact, that almost certainly is what will happen if the industry just keeps chugging along. Our clients’ advertising spend probably won’t change much, but the money will go to pointless web-banners, shouty Facebook intrusions or whatever else the media guys sell them.

It doesn’t have to go that way, though. People haven’t stopped watching TV shows, they just do it at times were traditional advertising doesn’t hit them. They certainly haven’t suddenly lost their appetite for consuming visual stories. Just look at the YouTube juggernaut, where a clip, branded or not, that catches the viral wave can rapidly reach millions of people. And the media cost? Nothing.

I know, I know. Viral doesn’t just happen. Guessing what the Internet is going to thrust up into the limelight seems as doable as juggling lolcats, but it’s quite easy to see that quality counts. While random stuff like the Nyan cat is going to get famous, the consistent Internet hits are well produced, imaginative and, most of all, entertaining.

There are brilliant brand messages out there, like Gymkhana, that doesn’t even resemble ads. They’re not cheap, but they are effective ways to get your messages seen by the world.

And this is where the collapse of TV advertising can be so good to ad agencies. Because suddenly all that money that was spent on airtime – and let’s be frank, that money dwarfed the production budget – could become fair game.

This is the key point, the key time. If ad agencies just sit and watch, then that large chunk of change will be shifted into various other media offerings, creating more awkward ads in places where you just don’t want to see them. (Note to everyone, QR codes requiring touchscreen phones, and toilet advertising do not mix.)

But if the argument is successfully made to our clients that the public have not given up on engaging with visual media. And that they are instead doing it in new, more discerning ways, which, if we take advantage of them, could allow us to can make even better connections with them using that enormous flighting budget.

We could do that by making many smaller, fun ads that speak to different parts of the market – backing the ones that spark our audiences’ imagination and leaving behind the failures. We could do that by making fantastic, larger pieces of entertainment that will draw attention by standing out from sea of Internet videos through sheer quality. We could make entire TV series built around the brand with for the price of some flighting budgets.

This will be an incredible opportunity for agencies to create more engaging, more interesting and more effective films for their clients, more often. So prepare for the day we say: “TV is dead”, and maybe it won’t be death of video advertising.