The future of TV. Interactive, connected, and…ad free?

The future of TV. Interactive, connected, and…ad free?

When we talk about the future of TV, we need to first make it clear what we’re talking about. Is it a piece of hardware in a living room or video content that can be streamed on any device?

A few years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone was going to sit in front of their mobile devices, next to each other on the couch, and never look at a big screen again. However, that is not where we’re heading.

The case for TV, whether it’s that piece of hardware in the living room or the video content streaming on your device, is bigger than ever and continuing to evolve in terms of capabilities. The media industry has transformed, reinventing content production and leveraging innovative technology.

Consumers have more control, choices, and are more connected than ever.

In the U.S. and the U.K., more than 50% of the population is connected TV users, and this trend is only projected to continue growing. Of course, there are a few clear winners in terms of who owns the delivery of content among Netflix, Amazon, Google, and traditional Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD). We're at a tipping point, where consumers have changed the way they elect to consume content—it’s no longer just early tech adopters or younger generations, but across all parts of society.

Connected TV devices and over-the-top (accessed via the internet without a television service provider) content are creating a huge shift in how marketers reach and connect with people. Tried and tested approaches in TV advertising are no longer failsafe because the technology and viewership behaviour has evolved.

Consumer experience

One of the things that made traditional television powerful for so long, from the perspective of advertisers, is the ability to create an immersive experience. Advertisers can captivate a consumer’s attention in the centre of the home, on a large screen, taking over sight and sound to send their message to the consumer.

A lot of it boils down to the where, when, and how consumers access content. Sometimes they may have three or four channels accessible at once or may be playing a game while watching TV. Other times, they may want to escape into a single program and not interact with anything—especially advertisements.

With the exception of sporting events and live, in-the-moment experiences like the Oscars, people are switching away from traditional linear and broadcast TV to flexible formats allowing them to watch what they want, where they want, when they want.

The content providers are now challenged to rethink the viewership experience for both the viewer and the advertiser. The industry is experiencing an explosion of ad-free platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime coupled with other content providers testing new ad experiences to improve the value exchange with viewers. What does this mean for advertisers?

The rise of connected TV

We will see technological investment in integration to allow ad-supported content providers to shift from direct selling to programmatic environments. Using data in a more sophisticated way will allow them to improve the consumer experience rather than hoping to clear space for more inventory. This shift also will deliver smarter, more relevant content to consumers in their TV platforms.

Advertisers must change the way they approach advertising on TV just as we’ve seen consumers change their viewing behaviours. Marketers need to unify their approach across devices to not only reach the right consumers but also measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

There is a huge role for technology to play to allow advertisers to look more holistically at the consumers a brand is trying to reach, as opposed to the platform on which they are being reached.

The explosion in video streaming on internet-connected devices is only set to rise with the global roll out of 5G on the horizon. With 5G we will see a real change in the infrastructure leveraged to deliver data wirelessly. It will grid entire countries, allowing them to deliver data ten times faster than they do now, connecting more people with a service that is astronomically better as compared to what it is today.

The impact of increased connectivity, in terms of further accelerating the use of internet-connected devices to stream video, will be profound. Data will flow like electricity in the coming decade.

TV is still unrivalled when you think about its reach, content production, ad effectiveness, ability to drive innovation, new ways of programmatic buying, virtual reality, and its ability to adapt to all audiences.

It’s still the king medium, but enhanced and boosted by digital and increased connectivity. Both complement each other—they aren’t opposed. Nor have they really ever been. There has never been more opportunity for TV and video advertising than in the current media ecosystem.

Advertisers will have to abandon the shackles of how it’s always been done. A new landscape requires a new strategy.

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