We're approaching a tipping point with broadcast advertising. Internet-connected TVs are going to change the way brand content works: how it's delivered, how it's made and how it targets audiences. And, according to Google, Internet-connected TV is the technology that will eventually kill traditional broadcast advertising.
At the recent Dive Into Media Conference, Google's chief business officer, Nikesh Arora
, had this to say: 'Right now Internet-connected TV is nice to have, not must have. When it is must-have, then we will be able to have advertising delivered off the Web. The moment you can do that, broadcast TV advertising doesn't have a role.'
But before all the outbursts of outrage, denial, hand-wringing and general knee-jerking emerge from the advertising community - complete with accusatory fingers pointed at Google for making this happen - it's worth pointing out that TV is going through the biggest change it's had in decades. TV content and interaction are changing - is it Google's fault for pointing that out? Darwin didn't create evolution, he just showed everyone it was happening. Platform Evolution
But how close are we to this tipping point? The hardware is already becoming the norm, with manufacturers both big and small dropping more advanced smart TVs off the production line. 17% of the TVs Samsung shipped in 2010 had Internet connectivity built in and the company forecasts that number will jump to 70% by 2014. 5% of UK homes already own an Internet-connected TV and Informa has predicted that worldwide adoption will reach 1.8 billion by 2016. With the hardware changing so rapidly, how long will it be before the content follows? How long before form follows function?
Rather than fear this change, the advertising community should embrace it and get excited about the opportunities it presents. Naysayers may abound, but the advertising industry isn't an unmovable hairy beast - it's adapted to changes in the past and the evolution of TV only presents a new way to do creative work. Autonomous Content
There's an opportunity to do some smart, targeted, multi-platform interactive campaigns - campaigns that link televised branded content with second-screen devices and related apps. Research by Nielsen Multi-Media Labs into Volvo
's ad effectiveness found that 74% of those exposed to the company's multi-screen output recalled the brand successfully, compared to 50% of those exposed only to TV.
And it can go further than that. Companies need to think beyond connected TVs as being devices able to stream online content. They can be part of a wider creative concept, where data taken from connected devices - like activity trackers and products that are part of the Internet of things - and social media can feed into campaigns and become part of them. This will lead to a host of complimentary content, much of which will be unconstrained by platforms, yet able to provide detailed analytics on how it's being consumed.
And perhaps that's why broadcast advertising as we know will come to end - because it's primarily anchored to a single platform. We're moving into an age where the device is no longer important - content is king. Content needs to be autonomous, independent of any one device, but compatible with all. And the businesses that prosper in this age, the ones that want to produce brand content - be they traditional advertisers or creative digital companies - will be the ones that adopt a platform agnostic strategy.
David Standen is Editorial Executive at Beyond