Back in the late 90’s, when I started working in Television as an intern, I looked and admired my colleagues interpreting the Nielsen ratings that were left on top of their desk the day after our programs aired. A lot of little numbers and boxes that separated the Household shares, and simple demographics: men and women, the age groups we targeted were 18-34 or 25-54. The 55+ numbers were always up there, but it was general knowledge or popular belief (among producers) that advertisers were not as interested in those.
Truth of the matter is that we were all producing content for houses, average demographics and age ranges. No faces, no identities, no personalization. Nevertheless, we had the mission to entertain and inform, always basing our decisions in the numbers we could interpret from the day before. After all, this is the reason we studied communication or journalism.
20 years later, I find myself in a different but very similar scenario. We were looking at the numbers, but we no longer needed to guess who’s receiving our messages. With technology, came Data (lots of it). Technology also disrupted viewing habits, adding portability to our content consumption, and personalization. It is no surprise that nowadays viewers watch what they want, where they want, and when they want it. Simplistic minds have pronounced the death of television a thousand times, and although habits are changing I have always dared to say that television is here to stay (some now prefer to call them screens). As long as there are eyeballs to consume content, we will find new ways to advertise products. And for those of us in the media or marketing industry, the battle will be worth watching, and even better, participate in the evolution. (Hence the reason, I’m back in school).
It was just a matter of time that managing data and platforms to deliver the right message, in the right channel, at the right time, to the right person would come to dominate the television industry. Some have put their faith in OTTs such as Netflix, and it’s true that they have come to play a relevant role in the way content is being produced right now. Others put their faith in “Addressable TV” or the way networks sell their content to cable companies who know who’s watching and deliver a personalized commercial to the consumer of a specific type of content in a specific household. But it is always important to understand that these are all trends and that nobody really knows where the content vs distribution race will end. Some believe that distributors such as AT&T (who bought Time Warner) and Comcast (who owns NBC Universal) have the upper hand because they have the distribution platforms, and are now purchasing content makers. Meanwhile mogul content producer Disney just closed a deal and acquired Fox, as it prepares to launch its own OTT platform, Disney Plus. They have the content, but where are they with the distribution? Is Disney’s next target a technology or distribution platform?
But when it comes to personalizing content, and most important personalizing ads, my favorite platform has to be Google’s YouTube TV. Not only they deliver Live Television, but also give you the possibility to record your favorite show for later consumption. Yes, I know a lot of cable providers do this, but Google’s YouTube TV has a little caveat that makes a big difference for advertisers. YouTube TV has the platform to watch the programs, you want, when you want them, and where you want them, with commercials that are targeted specifically and more important, are unskippable.
So yes, when it comes to the future of TV, my bets are with “Addressable TV a la Google’s YouTube TV mode”.
The only issue here (for now) is that Google is a platform and not a distributor, meaning they don’t own the underground cables and still need the AT&Ts and Comcasts of the world to distribute their platform. And that is the reason my Google Alerts are set to follow Net Neutrality, Google Loon Project, and Google Fiber. These are efforts, and issues that would play a decisive role to understand where media consumption, and the future of content development is heading.
STATUS: This is the reason the Marketing and Communications majors should merge… I’m merging them to serve you better. By the way, I’m graduating soon and available #ForHire. RT if you can.