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A world without TV advertising; could the unthinkable become reality?

Jan 28, 2015
A world without TV advertising; could the unthinkable become reality?

TV advertising has long formed the backbone of marketing around the world, with advertisers ever keen to achieve prime-time spots and major sponsorship deals. As a medium for advertising the popularity of TV among the general public and the frequency with which it is used on a daily basis means television has been able to withstand the growth of alternative platforms throughout the digital age. With an estimated 80% of the British population said to watch TV every day, it is little wonder it remains marketers first choice for spreading their message.

But in an interesting article by Marketing Week this week, Craig Mawdsley, joint chief strategy officer of advertising agency AMV BBDO questions whether the remaining focus on TV advertising is hampering progress in the industry and restricting innovation for the future. Using research from two major works in marketing, ‘How Brands Grow’ and ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, Mawdsley argues that the return to using television as the primary outlet for creating brand recognition and emotional attachment is in fact a step backwards for the industry. Mawdsley coins the term John Lewisesque, arguing that many organisations are seeking to use the same simple, emotional advertising as the highly successful John Lewis Christmas marketing campaigns, without diversifying their strategy to utilise more than the single platform. The article concludes that while this isn’t a problem in itself at the moment, the uncertainty of change within the future of advertising may mean that over-reliance on TV marketing may prove costly at a later date.

But could there ever really be a world without TV advertising? Although thus far the exponential rise of the internet has not threatened the primacy of TV as a choice for marketers but grown alongside it, the increased preference for sites like Netflix may yet change the advertising market place. As consumers continue to opt for viewing TV programmes and series via the internet as opposed to directly from the TV screen, the power to pick and choose which, if any, adverts reach their intended audience could prove costly for brands and marketing agencies alike.

A recent article by The New Yorker has highlighted the same problem, arguing Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has ‘succeeded, in large part, by taking advantage of what he calls viewers’ ”managed dissatisfaction” with traditional television: each hour of programming is crammed with about twenty minutes of commercials and promotional messages for other shows. Netflix carries no commercials; its revenue derives entirely from subscription fees.’ With an estimated 57 million subscribers in over 50 countries to the site and a number of competitor organisations seeking to join the latest developments, it is possible to see how internet streaming has the potential to shake up its more traditional TV counterpart.

While TV marketing may not be obsolete just yet, the market is most certainly changing. As with many a marketing platform, the ability to be flexible and adapt to change is of the utmost important to any brand hoping to ride the waves and maintain their customer base. While holding TV as the centre of a marketing strategy may be a smart move now, diversification and innovation may prove ever more important as the future of TV advertising looks uncertain.


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