TV ads are dead, Long Live TV ads

Love them, hate them, but you cant ignore Television Ads..emm..ok maybe you can. In fact, when was the last time you saw a set of ads with your hands not going all twitchy over the remote? Be honest don’t we get a bit restless when an ads thrown right in the middle of a program. “Its time to check out what’s on elsewhere”.

Here’s a thought, maybe, just maybe, that doted TV remote was a strategic weapon planted by an underground anti-ads society. Maybe its the same society that developed the internet, the social networks, the smart phones and the rest. Except that boo-hoo! TV Ads survived.  Over the course of our lifetimes these short films have served the purpose for brands big and those that made it big because of these shorts. All these years they’ve been the number one choice of all advertisers.

But with the internet (here we go again) and the advent of other new media, social networking, outdoor 3D- 4D eventsguerrilla tactics etc, the question that has been playing for quite some time now -is the conventional TV advertising dying? Or is it evolving into a completely new format ?

Think about the time when TV ads burst onto the scene. Print medium was written off.We love making doomsday predictions (close to 2012 now, how exciting!). Know what, print ads are still around and serving the noble purpose of reaching out to prospects, quitely .However, one would assume that no sane advertiser would launch a mega campaign print first. Except, Volkwagen did that a few times in the last 2 years since its entry into the Indian Market, and that too, with reasonable success. Barring such exceptions though it is safe to say that print ads did lose out to TV ads in sheer mass appeal.

Similarly is the writing on the wall for TV ads?  Whatever it is,TV or the advertising on it isn’t going down with out a fight.

Lets look at some of the issues with TV against its current nemesis in new media

  • One way communication offered by TV is low in engagement. Online media offers inclusive touch points, helping people solve their problems
  • Number of young people watching TV is going down. So however good the ad maybe, it might not even be seen as even though there is reach it is perhaps not the right reach
  • Content usually generic, non customizable
  • Expensive
  • Has to compete with numerous media – print, online, radio, outdoor
  • No option of instant buying in case one feels like buying on impulse. That is an inherent loss of opportunity as you give the prospect number of opportunities to change his  mind before he reaches retail. Online advertising on the other hand facilitates more smoothly these impulse buys since the option of buying is pretty easy to choose with internet shopping
  • Instant feedback of consumer not possible on TV
  • Because of two way or open communication channel with consumer, you would be able to promote more trust and build a long term relationship better online.

Having said this all is not lost for the good old idiot  box. The media has its advantages, those that have made it so powerful in the first place

  • If there is one media that is cluttered right now, it is online. It has single handedly reduced our attention spans. Without the right expertise, it is so easy for a new product/service to get lost in this clutter. Not so in the case of TV ads. If you create it and place it right an art perfected over years, people would still stumble upon it. Online, even with subscription to feeds and social networks, would only expose users to content as per their behavior  and preferences in the first place. So if a completely new category is being introduced, you don’t even know that you would like it until you see it once.
  • Better connect with television ads due to the repeat viewings, which you may not voluntarily opt for, say when the same ad is online
  • Can reach out to completely passive audience. For example, after a busy 9 to 6 day, it seems like a great idea, surrendering to the couch and a big screen. Compare this to exploring  vast oceans of internet on that little screen that has been tormenting you all working day.
  • TVs are also much more commonly present in most middle-class households
  • They also offer group viewings, whether its a family or a group of friends. discussions about what’s on while sitting together are far more potent than say sharing something on your facebook wall.
  • Live productions are still more TV friendly than they are over the internet. They are likely to be more effective as well.

Inspite of these pluses it is fair to say that with competition from a wiser new media, the way TV advertising must communicate with us has found the need to evolve. And it has. From being able to get away with just droning about the product, to today, where everyone seems to be trying to make a deeper reaching emotional connect. The wheels have been in motion. They have moved from being mere informers to entertainers to conversationists.

Looking to the future there are a few Keywords that TV advertising must focus on

1. Content

Not much changes here as it has no substitute.Whether its simply witty or powerful insights projected intelligently, creatively done content will be a winner now as it was then. For e.g. the Fevikwik Fishing Ad was successful then and will be so today as it is clever,timeless and has been fabulously executed.

One can easily imagine an online campaign asking people for “stories that have stuck”, “things they’ve managed to put back together with fevikwik” etc.  A more recent example is the ZooZoo series – clutter breaking and extremely scalable.

2. Integrative

It is near impossible to win by just being on Telly. If i like something i want to see it again, i want to share it, i want to buy a t-shirt and play a game. I havent heard of a ZooZoo video game but at the time the campaign was making waves ZooZoo games would have been fun to observe. Point being, a great campaign these days is the one that creates awareness, builds intent, and takes the prospect right to the POS where it then closes the sale.

3. Interactive

Interactive Televison advertising is already being used globally, though its still not that widespread because the process is time and effort consuming since advertisers would need to customize their campaigns for every TV company, based on the specific technology being used. Interactive Television Ads or ‘iAds’ offer links in enabled-TV systems that the viewer can click on, using designated remote control buttons, keyboards, mouse or some such control device.

The first one to set buzz was an iAd on TiVo by Domino’s in 2008, where the viewer could build their pizza strating from the type of crust right to the sauce, all on the TV set. A local outlet would then deliver the pizza to your doorstep.

Budweiser had an iAd in 2008, in which the interactors could play a game and  win a trip to the world cup:

Reportedly, 890,000 people ‘interacted’ with this ad.

The biggest advantage, except for the obvious seamless interaction, is that the advertiser can know exactly how many viewers showed prolonged interest in the ad.

4. Brevity

How quickly can the message be delivered? 30 second spots with the brand right at the end run the risk of the viewer changing channels before the brand is even mentioned. 5-10 seconds quick delivery is the answer. Someone needs to hire this chipmunk:

The Bottom Line

There was a time when as youngsters we use to fight our siblings for that remote. We had our favorite channels our favorite shows and with them came ads that we pretty much knew by heart. Television was the only alternate reality then, now there are a plenty.

So yes, TV is being challenged by the new media, that’s a no-brainer. But to say that TV ads would be crossed out as a marketing budget item is pushing it. The way it’s going, what we’re witnessing is a shake-out. Media spends are being  distributed across other channels and it’s becoming tougher to make an impact on television with mediocre ads.

Creative, Integrated, Interactive and Short ads still have a place and can make people sit up and notice.

The stinking deodorant ads will have to go (Is anyone complaining?).



One thought on “TV ads are dead, Long Live TV ads

  1. hey nice….specially the keywords part….

    Posted by Meenakshi Nilakantan | December 20, 2011, 11:31 am

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