In a recent report from Accenture it was found that 87 percent of people watching television also have another screen with them as they watch. This means that every time a commercial comes on the television, almost 90 percent of those watching the program have their attention pulled to either, their smartphone, tablet or laptop. This does not include those people who have elected to watch their television via DVR or Netflix type technologies and skip the commercials altogether. Based on these changes in the behaviors of television audiences, it brings into question if there is the same value in television commercials as there was in the past. In the past, companies could look at the ratings of television shows and assume that they could reach a majority of that audience with their commercials. That assumption can no longer be made.
I believe that this will lead to a drastic change in how media is delivered. Television is reliant on generating revenue through commercials. Companies will eventually be less willing to spend what that have been spending on commercials if they are not receiving the same bang for their buck. When the advertisers go away, so will the revenue. When the revenue goes away, networks will be less willing to invest in programing that is made for television and look to create programing to be shown on different media. When programing stops being created, television will be in trouble. Without new programing, consumers will have to make the decision on if paying for their cable subscription still makes sense. If television as we know it goes away or shrinks significantly, there will be an unmet need for an arena for advertisers to fill. This will take some creativity from both marketers and the entertainment business to come up with new solutions to fill the void left by the current television set up.
In some ways, it is easy to see the shift already happening. Marketers are spending more money developing advertisements in new mediums such as apps and social media. Also, systems like Netflix and Hulu are based on subscriptions rather than advertising revenue. Some of the changes I expect to see grow in the near future are forced advertisements on apps that stream entertainment, more of a focus on advertising during live events and companies working their brands into the entertainment itself. For example, I believe it will become much more prevalent to see a character in a sitcom refer to products by brand name within the dialog of the show itself. This is a way to get a brand into customers’ minds outside of the normal commercials. I also think there will be in an increase in particular segments being sponsored as it is in soccer. Soccer games do not pause for commercials, rather the time is broken up and sponsored. During that time, a company’s name will be announced as the sponsor and their logo will appear on screen for that segment. It surely does not give marketers the ability to control as much of the message and visuals, but it does ensure the audience will hear and see the ad.
It can be easily overlooked how important marketing and advertising are to entertainment and specifically television. If commercials no longer are reaching the same audience and companies feel it is no longer an effective use of their advertising dollars, it could quickly be the end of television as we know it. As with every other technology, there will be new technologies created to fill the void. There will always be a connection between marketing and entertainment. It will be interesting to see how these new factors will change the method of how it is presented and how marketers figure out new ways to advertise and make sure their message is heard and seen by consumers.