Media 2015: Same as it ever was. But different.

by greg stene, ph.d.

Bigtime news here. And the implications for newspapers and TV are large.

For years, a lot of people supposedly in the know have said that when one significant ad spender puts the dollars into the online medium in a committed way, it will force all the other majors, from P&G to whomever to do the same to remain competitive.

Basically, it’s the idea that when the first biggie makes the move, everyone realizes they’ve got to dive deeply into the pool, rather than just continue dipping their toes in and testing the water’s temperature (somebody else’s ancient analogy). If they don’t, they’re going to be way behind those who do.

We may see a swarm of this kind of commitment soon.

GM has announced that it will put fully one-half, $1.5 billion, of its advertising dollars into “digital and one-to-one marketing in the next three years.” Noting also that there remains a place for some TV and print work, dealers are now very much aware that often the buying process starts online, and ends online.

There are a number of more specific “facts” and predictions in the article, but the larger implications are of greater concern.

No one knows what those larger imps might be. We’re going into wholly uncharted territory. But we can use our imaginations based on the situation. Here are a few thoughts (only a bit tongue-in-cheek):

  • If we lose the advertising dollars going into television, we will likely lose the dollars for quality production of shows.
  • If we lose the ability to produce compelling programming, we may end up with broadcast and cable television becoming a wasteland of two alternatives: the advertiser-supported reality shows which cost little to produce, and the shows like ones produced by HBO and Showtime, which will remain pay-for-view.
  • What happens to local news? It has a chance of surviving as long as the furniture dealers keep spending money on placement (car dealers won’t). But that won’t last – the Web offers a world of better opportunity for the prospective customer of either cars or furniture, and as they become more concerned with smart, comparative spending, even the screaming furniture dealers will spend their money online. As will everyone else.
  • There’s a bit of a touchy issue here. It deals with the quality of the TV viewer in this wasteland of TV programming. What kind of person will watch TV then? What kind of dollars will they have to spend? If the answer is relatively few dollars, advertisers will just go to the Net, and TV continues to wither.
  • What happens to local news, once again? There’s bigtime trouble ahead. The advertising dollars currently pumped into broadcast and cable begin to shrink as they go to the Web. However (and it’s a Big However) the Web, at this point, cannot come close to matching the declared value of time on-air, so even if the TV news stations switch to online, they can’t make anywhere near the dollars they’re used to. People get laid off, travel to locations is tightened, and possible consolidation of news programming and stations becomes the norm. We see less competition. We see fewer perspectives on the news. We become less informed as a people.
  • What happens with the Web? The Web begins to gain acceptance by the advertisers, especially since it can show how it is actually returning invested advertiser dollars. Measure the click-throughs on a banner ad, measure the number of sales made online … it’s all immensely far greater in terms of accuracy and overall knowledge than any current measurement capability offered by TV, radio, or newspapers. If you know where your ad dollars are returning on investment, that’s where you’ll spend those dollars. And that’s on the Web, not TV, radio, or newspapers.
  • Big-screen HDTVs will become increasingly hooked up directly to the Net, where they’ll double up in service as computer/Web screens, and TV screens. As a result, the value of advertising on the Net will increase, and the cost to advertisers on the Web will rise dramatically, making for a pool of money to replace that lost to the current networks.
  • We will see a dramatic surge of high-quality TV-style programming emerge on the Web.
  • So that eventually, maybe in less than a decade, if we can figure out ways to keep bandwidth clear and available enough, we see TV and radio and print replicated online. And the advertising base will grow likewise.

With one big difference. The media are now interactive. And that’s a whole ‘nother issue that will change any attempt to replicate the current advertising/programming schema.

So, even though what’s coming looks like it will be the same, it will be something very different.

Greg Stene has a hard decade in the advertising business as a copywriter/creative and strategist. He’s seen money well-spent, and money wasted. He knows what makes for the difference. He also teaches advertising at Wichita State University, with a total of 10 years or so in university teaching. His research specialty is in creativity. His wife’s an award-winning graphic designer, and as a team, they’re a creative/strategist boutique in traditional and new media.

E-mail Greg here.

Categories: Business/Finance

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4 replies »

  1. Very different, indeed, if advertisers actually allow that interaction you mentioned. So far, it looks like they aren’t looking in that direction. The current course of “targeted advertising” is a sham. Consumers need direct feedback to the online advertisers. Consumers should be able to choose not to be shown a particular ad, or class of ads. Free content exchanged for my attention is fine,if they would just quit pushing these singles ads at me.

  2. Enlightening. Whoever thought TV’s star would dim so fast. It seems like only yesterday that its emergence was threatening the movie industry.

  3. Just a few questions:

    1. How will the Web absorb all this new advertising? If everyone wants a banner, won’t the cost/return ratio decline? Won’t that tend to drive advertising money elsewhere?

    2. If you get your on-line connectivity on a cable, what’s the difference between getting moving pictures over the Net and moving pictures without a modem? It’s all digital, right?

    3. If the networks fight back by making better programs, won’t that tend to increase TV viewership? Couldn’t that reverse a trend?

    4. If advertising on the Net is all about great moving pictures, won’t that open up whole new avenues of creativity for creative people?

  4. See my commentary re: New York Times. As for the teevee corps, they, along with those lovely enabling prostitutes in our elected government whose votes they casually buy, have completely eradicated the now-laughable principle of honest public service as the essential part of their privilege (another so-quaint term) of licensing (yet another) what is supposed to be a public utility.

    Good riddance to all these greedy monsters, whose only motivation to keep their hearts beating is to serve the even greater greed of their traitorous oligarch owners. Ta ta, lemmings, have a nice jump. Electronic irrelevance, a tabloiditude a la National Enquirer, awaits you at the bottom of the cliff.